So many imagined technologies that were previously thought to exist only in the realm of science fiction have become a basic part of our lives. In Stanley Kubrick film version of the future 2001: A Space Odyssey, a man videophones his daughter on-board a space station. Now, you have the power to Skype with anyone around the world from your laptop, or even with Facetime on your iPhone.
If the past ten years have proven anything, it’s that innovations in technology will no longer have a subtle impact on our lives; rather, they will transform them completely. Emerging technologies in the past year alone possess such potential in commercial, residential, and even military applications.
With an eye towards a more hopeful and globally-connected future, here are 10 of the top technologies that will mostly likely change your life forever.
10 Technologies That Will Change Your Life
If you’ve never heard of the Blockchain, then you may be interested to know that it’s one of the smart innovations that allow cryptocurrencies like bitcoin to function securely.
How Does the Blockchain Work?
Let’s say you want to send me 100 cryptodollars. How do I know that after you sent me the 100 cryptodollars that its not still sitting on your computer? After all, copying things on computers make two of them. This would render my received funds worthless, and all this sending around of cryptodollars a huge farce.
That’s where the blockchain comes in. The transaction is recorded in a secure ledger using the wonders of cryptography. This ledger is distributed amongst thousands of people. With each new transaction everybody gets the same notification.
Hack a copy of the ledger? It won’t help as thousands of other people version of the truth will override the ledger copy you hacked.
So the bitcoin is all about creating scarcity (no infinite copies of the same 100 cryptodollars), and more importantly it is all about trust.
What most people do not realise is that the Blockchain is so much more than just a vehicle for bitcoin.
What Does This Mean For the Future?
It opens all manner of exciting data storage and financial implications outside the realms of Bitcoin and banking. The world’s big four accountancy firms are already heavily investing in researching uses of Blockchains for their data storage needs. Additionally, it could lead to the further democratization of markets such as entertainment. Where creators of content no longer require middlemen/platforms to sell their wares.
Companies like Uber, AirBnB could be disrupted in the book-to-drive and book-to-stay spaces. No corporate monopoly eating most of the profits – replace them with a blockchain to record ride/stay transactions and create an open source sidecar app to arrange bookings. In such a model the drivers and landlords share most of the profit that would have gone to the corporate middlemen.
Additionally, it’s entirely possible that you may see the end of financial institution hacking. As, Blockchain will make it near impossible to sneak into a network and modify or alter transaction data for illicit gain.
If all of this boggles your mind and you’re having a hard time picturing it then don’t worry because the take-home message is simple: data storage just reached the ultimate level of security. Something which in the digital age is going to be more critical than ever, in fact, it will change the world as we know it.
Hydrophobic material is anything that doesn’t get wet when you put it in water. Ever wondered why your jeans stay soaking wet for hours after a downpour, but a piece of plastic just wipes dry straight away? That’s hydrophobicity getting to work.
With a new class of super hydrophobic materials starting to take shape in some of the world’s leading labs this is opening up all manner of exciting new opportunities. In the not so distant future, new textiles will arrive that stay dry no matter what you’re doing. That will transform everything from sports kit to school clothing, but the benefits aren’t, just confined to what you wear.
A particularly interesting fact is that many natural fats and oils are hydrophobic too. This has led to the development of a whole host of new non-invasive ways to treat water. Spread the net a little further, and it shows great promise as an efficient way to help clean up oil spills. Currently, the vast majority of spilled oil washes up on shores thousands of miles away and has detrimental impacts on the local wildlife. Being able to quickly and efficiently separate out oil from seawater would enable costly spills to be cleaned up before damage was irreversible.
This may be the one innovation that truly boggles the mind, but it is scientifically possible to transmit electricity from one source to another through the air like radio signals. But it’s been around since Nikola Tesla first designed alternating current to power civilization; it just hasn’t been able to be imagined in an efficient and expansive manner until now. This process involves transmitting energy from a transmitter via an oscillating magnetic field to a distant receiver.
This used to be an extremely labor intensive and inefficient process, but now with the creation of resonant power transfer devices, that are easier to manufacture and reproduce, it no longer is something beyond our capability. There are already wireless phone and tablet chargers and soon this technology can be applied on a larger scale.
Graphene may be a material that is a mystery to most laymen, but it’s a revelation to those in the physics and engineering professions. It’s a material derived from carbon, but this is too simple a description. It’s actually a honeycombed sheet of carbon only one atom thick used for various applications. It’s 200 times stronger than steel, yet it is also elastic like certain plastics.
It’s also an excellent conductor of heat, is impermeable, and has fascinating electronic properties – affecting protons and electrons in wondrous ways. And the uses for such a material are vast, which includes more efficient computer chips and replacing certain engineering projects that normally use metal or wood. All the while being extremely light and thin.
Carbon Emission Extraction
You may already be aware that the rising levels of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere have been repeatedly identified as the main culprit in causing rising temperatures and global warming as a whole. What if it were possible to not only extract excess CO2 emissions from the air, but to also refine these emissions into solid carbon materials? This is no longer in the realm of the theoretical, as scientists from George Washington University have recently revealed to the public. This involves placing electrodes in a mix of molten lithium carbonate and lithium oxide on a large scale to perform a type of electrolysis that extracts carbon from the atmosphere and creates carbon nano-fibers of various shapes and sizes with this process.
Though it’s still in its early stages, and has yet to be tested on a large scale, this technology has the power to solve a great ecological dilemma, and also to help provide cheap and plentiful building materials for future generations.
Self Driving Cars
Getting from A to B is currently all about sitting in traffic and monotonous hours on suburban roads and motorways. Soon this will be a thing of the past with self-driving cars taking the lead. And that means you can sit back and relax as you cruise to wherever it is that you’re going.
The really interesting thing is that companies like Tesla already include all of the hardware necessary in their on sale vehicles. This means that when the concept is sufficiently proved and made road legal, you should be able to download a software update and overnight have the self-driving vehicle that until now has been largely confined to the movies.
This will not only save effort, but it’ll also save time. Can you image how liberating it will be getting all of your pre-meeting work done before you arrive at the office? Or how about enjoying a good book and a movie as you head off on holiday? Before we know it human driven cars will be only seen in museums, and our grandchildren will laugh at the very notion of manually turning the wheel in case the unintelligent cars of the earlier 21st century hit something.
According to engineers and physicists, CNTs (or carbon nanotubes) are the next big thing. These are ultra-thin materials that have the potential to revolutionize modern electronics since you can fit more transistors onto a computer chip that are made of carbon nanotubes than you could with transistors made of traditional silicone.
Even though they have been around for 25 years, there have always been problems with how they respond to electrical currents, which has kept them from being widely used. But in the 25 years since their inception, many of these problems have been solved. Soon, that brand new iPhone in your pocket will be obsolete, only to be replaced by one that is 25 times faster that uses CNT-based processors
Advances in the Potential for Immortality
Previously limited to ill-conceived industries like cryogenics, immortality technology has always been based on human lifetime expansion rather than actual indefinite human life spans. Now, with the advancement of artificial intelligences and soon to be created synthetic or bio-mechanical brains, it may be possible to transfer a human consciousness at the end of its natural lifetime into a holographic avatar.
This image of the person you once were is powered by the artificial brain your consciousness is downloaded into. Even better, it may be even possible after a time to download this AI of yourself into a human-like robotic body controlled by this brain. Of course, we can only assume this may be available only for the wealthiest of clients.
Memory Crystal Data Storage
It is highly likely that if human civilization were to become instantly extinct tomorrow, there would be very little to indicate the existence of human civilization after 1000 years other than the ruins of our urban centers.
Most of the data stored on hard drives, or on cloud servers, would be inaccessible after a time period when the materials where this data is stored deteriorates. For example, flash drives have a lifespan of 10 years before they begin to breakdown and disintegrate. If, also, the accumulated knowledge of human history is to be kept for future generations, we’ll need more than a good back-up drive.
This is where memory crystal data storage come in. These are chips made of crystalline materials that can store 360TB (terabytes) on a single disc and can last up to 13 BILLION years! It involves using a laser to write dense amounts of data onto small slivers of nano-structured glass discs using 5 dimensional rather than 3-dimensional storage.
You may have already noticed the tech industry’s growing love affair with virtual reality, so this is nothing new. What is new is how VR can change the way you interact, not only with technology, but with other people as well. Soon, not only will you be able to attend concerts while not even present at them, you’ll be able to attend important business meetings from the comfort of your own home and experience both as though you were actually there.