Is it a promise of the future or...is it a promise of technology? Or, is it the future of technology's promise?
I don't claim to be a future seer, what I clam is a hope of promise, and, in technology. Some people hate technology but I love it. Many think, and it can often be true and frustrating, that technology eats up a great deal of time. I, however, embrace the notion of change that will improve our lives.
I will provide a brief review of what Technologies Promise will to give society over time.
Hatel, in Technologies Promise (2008), he presents what is a prediction about the future of technology by a collection of educated individuals known as TechCast LLC who forecast breakthroughs in technologies for the future. These pros give what is considered as the best forecasting known to date. Forecasting goes from today's date out to the next 40 years and covers energy and environment, information technology, e-commerce, manufacturing and robotics, medicine and biogenetics, transportation, and even into space travel. Enclosed is a summary of what these predictions forecast that span from science to technology.
Energy and the Environment
Alternative energy - while the experts have no real idea of how much carbon fuel remains in the ground, experts predicted in the early 70s this fuel would end before the turn of the millennium, the prediction is this fuel source will be consumed within 2 - 3 decades. It is also clear that a sole dependency on carbon fuel will become too costly to remove, store and carry - either way, its usefulness will end abruptly. Alternative energies now comprise around 17% of global use and is increasing by 30% each year. By 2020 (plus or minus five years) 30% of global energy will come from this source.
Water - drinkable water is a necessity for our civilization to survive. Desalination costs were $20 per gallon in 1950 to now near $.01 per gallon. Ovation Products claims they can distill water by removing any contaminants for a penny a gallon. Predictions of desalination will also be mainstream near 2020.
Precision farming - technology improves quality assurance (QA). In a study, 63% of 108 sites researched showed better profitability with computerized control. In fact, having a section of land (1 mile by 1 mile square) that produces corn, when harvest comes we use a combine to remove the corn. The combine not only has a GPS on board, it uses computer technology to evaluate the moisture content and calculates average weights to determine the yield and consistency. This way, farmers have the ability to continue harvest or wait a specified time for the crop to dry further, if need be. All this combined helps determine crop yields and even harvest values and this research material can be gather and provided to the US Department of Agriculture for data warehousing and analysis for area productions. Precision farming will be mainstream by 2010 - 2015.
Biometrics - security is paramount. Using one form of security is never enough. Multimodal systems, using two or more technologies, produce an almost foolproof method of security success. Fingerprint recognition methods prove to be accurate and are used by 67% of the identity verification systems used in government and corporations. Biometric use will be mainstream in 2010 (plus or minus two years).
Quantum Computing - while yet to be effectively harnessed, using a basic unit of an electron (called a "qubit") can produce a 0 or 1 (spinning it clockwise or counterclockwise) for data representation. Electrons can co-exist in one place so one electron can produce two qubits, two electrons can produce four qubits, three electrons can produce 8 qubits, and 20 electrons can calculate over a million computations. While no short-term breakthroughs look promising at this point, harnessing data at the quantum level will likely appear commercially around 2021 (plus or minus five years).
Entertainment on Demand - we all want our own content as we deem desirable. Everyone that has used Netflix, for example, has sworn off regular cable style deliveries looking for their own custom online content. And...no commercials! The push is to create a digital home. While many obstacles exist, there will be a mass ascension to this type of delivery. The impact on the current infrastructure is immense to provide such streaming media to the digital door front. While this technologies existed by 2008, predictions show that it has only gained 30% adoption and this doesn't take into account any new technologies released since that time. For other ideas, visit my blog on the release of technology for the mobile, digital human at: http://bmaloneco.blogspot.com/
Global Access - let's face it, we are all wireless here in the US. For other countries who don't have our infrastructure, wireless will be the key to providing communication to the rest of the world. It's cost effective compared to that of other communication technologies (such as putting cable in the ground). Estimates for access to telephones, IT technology, the Internet, and to TV will achieve 30% of the global world population by 2016.
Virtual Education - distance education has made sense for years - learn on your time. We work, we have families and vast obligations and yet desire information. Presentation doesn't have to be provided in a traditional two-way presentation style anymore. Before the internet existed, there was TV-based education which started in late 1970s in Canada. Nonetheless, only 10% of education is delivered online. Current corporate E-training is 30% and virtual education will be mainstream around 2015.
Manufacturing and Robotics
Nanotechnology - coming in at one billionth of a meter, this new competitor is taking technology and science by storm. Behaviors at the nano level are different as electricity flows much easier and material change properties much more quickly making them much more desirable for development. Basic nanotechnology will reach mainstream around 2015 but widely varying forecasts exists depending on the complexity of nanotechnology use. Regardless of the area, this technology will likely see the biggest growth because of the diverse applications which avail themselves.
Smart Robots - using human-like features, robotics have covered every aspect of our live; even speech development is being improved toward in a more natural. Robots can even think and process (to a degree) with artificial intelligence. The future vision is that robots will be incorporated into for help and support around the home. Robotics, while currently available in a variety of forms, will appear mainstream around 2020 (plus or minus five years).
Medicine and Bio Engineering
Artificial organs – from visual enhancements to limb replacements, artificial organs have become astoundingly more complex in their design and use. Combing computer chip implants, micromachines, tissue engineering and other technology, advancements are such that it appears that it may be available soon to replace the entire body. Replacement of organs along with other body parts may appear in the mainstream by 2022 (plus or minus four years).
Telemedicine – let’s face it, healthcare treatment is expensive no matter how you cut it (no pun intended!). Medicine is therefore least likely to be enhanced with computerization because healthcare is so complex. Nonetheless, medicine offers perhaps the highest possibilities for improvement. Areas such as online medical records, virtual exams with a physician, and computerized diagnostics are in place and will continue to be used. In fact, I see a time wherein the patient will be meeting/working with the doctor in platforms such as Second Life when time and distance is not practical. These advancements in medicine may appear in the mainstream by 2015 (plus or minus four years).
Cancer cures – there has been little change and only limited success in the area of cancer treatment over the last few years. The current methods of treatment are invasive and expensive and seldom produce the desired results. With the introduction of nanotech agents, these rouge cells can be attacked and removed with a least intrusive means thus far. Cures for cancer could grow successfully rapidly and may appear in the mainstream by 2023 (plus or minus five years).
Life Extension – trends suggest that we could all live to be 120 years old…what a concept! But the sociological impact on healthcare, retirement, etc., will be huge. Lifespan will most likely hit 100 years of age by 2030.
Hybrid/fuel-cell cars – our dependency on carbon fuels is deeply entrenched. With a limited resource, it is now time to seek alternatives. Everyone claims that diesel vehicles produce more pollution – not true, many of the newer, more efficient vehicles now have the ability to be more efficient than gasoline powered engines. And, with new biodiesel being produced from the Jatropha seed, the ability to remove the oil from the seed and produce a biodiesel is promising, especially when this is a drought resistant plant. This plant is also a non-food form removing pressure off of food crop production. Combine this biodiesel with the notion of fuel-cells that can be recharged and we are being not only fiscally responsible but globally responsible. Hybrid use will reach 30% adoption by 2016 (plus or minus three years) and fuel-cell cars within a few years of this date.
See http://www.jatrophabiodiesel.org/ for more information.
Automated highways – here comes the Jetson’s, only…on ground! Traffic continues to grow in need. Given computer models, they simulate that we could effective double or even triple highway capacity and a markedly reduced price - $10,000 per mile versus $1 million per mile for new highways.
Hypersonic planes – new planes will not only be lighter in weight but faster in speed. Using air to “ram” into the engine increases speeds such that travelers will be able to travel transcontinental from the Eastern U.S. to Asia in three hours, a journey that now takes 30 hours! Hypersonic planes should appear in the mainstream by 2020 for 30% of the existing longer flights seen today.
Space tourism – while not available for the vast majority, there will be those who are willing to take a space flight for around $200,000 per flight up into 50 – 100 miles above the earth. Private facilities will land near home for me with a facility scheduled for New Mexico most likely in the White Sands area. Now, all I need to do is to come up with $200,000. Flights into the 50-100 mile range should be available some where around 2014.
See http://www.spaceportamerica.com/ for more information
Moon colony and humans on Mars – it’s been dreamed about for years, now it could be closer than we think. Using the moon as a launching point, we could be headed to the red planet Mars by 2025.
There are many predictions that are moving rapidly. So rapidly, in fact, that many are in place and being funded as this is written. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There will be more to follow and much more progressive than we can imagine. The desire is there but the fundamental concerns will be the good of the global world, how this technology will be produced cost effective with a financial responsibility along with the resources to accomplish our future. I don’t know about you but the more I read the more I get excited about the prospects!