Right now, it seems like technology is changing the world in which we live more than ever. We see it all around us. The phones in our pockets. The computers in our living rooms. Electronic reading devices. But what about technologies that are still in their infant stages?
Here are the top four transformational technologies to look out for in the future:
Right now, drones are a major topic of controversy because they’ve been mainly used to keep an eye on our enemies, or for targeted assassinations. But what else do drones have in store for humanity apart from war?
Drones have also opened the world to medical patients who have been devastated by paralysis, allowing them to operate the machines by remote control. They can travel by camera. Amazon might soon be using drones to make same-day deliveries of simple, light products. What will our skies look like a few years down the road when companies all over the world are using drones in order to expand commercial ventures? Facebook and Google have shown interest in bringing wireless internet to the parts of the world that are unconnected. What will Africa look like after they’re effectively connected to the rest of the world (via Facebook, duh)?
Scientists are currently studying the movements of small air creatures in order to manufacture a much more realistic (or stealthy) generation of the machines. You might someday be receiving a pizza delivery via a mechanical delivery bird–no tip necessary. You might see the television and cinema industries start to use drones to deliver breath-taking, cheap new visuals to audiences everywhere.
Whatever we think of drones, make no mistake: The commercial wave of drone technology is on the horizon. What else do you think drones will be used for in the future?
3. 3D Printing
We’re already able to create basic items from the comfort of our own homes if we’re willing to shell out quite a bit of cash but, because certain patents expired earlier this year, 3D printing technology is expected to get a whole lot cheaper, and soon. If it does, it will likely become as common as our smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. And what then?
The possibilities are endless when considering the types of items that could theoretically be created. The technology has already been used to manufacture entire homes without the need for builders. Sooner or later, we’ll be able to conceive better methods of 3D printing food, pharmaceuticals, and even human organs. Star Trek replication technology looks an awful lot like the 3D printing technology we might expect within the next few decades.
3D printing could potentially affect everything about the way we live our lives from the structure of our economy, to the way we build and explore, or even to the way in which our government functions. 3D printing might solve many of the problems that confuse our world today, or it might unlock a host of new ones. What do you think?
2. Augmented Reality
Video game creators have recently started to play around with the concept of augmented reality headsets in order to give gamers a more realistic experience. Simply moving your head around will allow you to change your view of the video game screen, granting you an insanely wide range of motion. A couple of these headsets are due out soon, and you might expect the technology to advance by leaps and bounds not long after that.
Vehicles are introducing augmented reality in an entirely different way, bringing your dashboard to life with onscreen information about your surrounding environment. This information is displayed via sensors that use high definition cameras to grab a plethora of data about your driving speed, how to avoid red lights, or even how best to maneuver around your neighbors on the road. During periods of low visibility, the augmented reality dashboard is even able to light up your screen to highlight paint on the road or advise you of upcoming obstacles.
Some scientists theorize that someday we’ll have created augmented realities so complex and so realistic that they’ll be indiscernible from our own world. How many of these electronically manufactured worlds would be created? Some scientists believe the answer to be millions…And if millions of electronic worlds can be created, then what are the chances we’re not already living inside of one? The theories that technology gives us can be scary!
1. Autonomous Vehicles
The technology is already here (take a look at this video of Google testing their vehicle), and researchers have spent countless hours on the roads in vehicles that drive themselves without the need for human intervention. Of course these complex technologies haven’t fully evolved, and so they can’t yet operate in more complex environments where weather becomes an issue.
But still, the introduction of the technology might have a major impact on the transportation industry. Right now, you can press a single button on your smart phone only to have a taxi-like driver pull up to your location within minutes. They take you anywhere you need to go, and they’re even considered a safer method of transport over traditional taxicabs because no physical currency is exchanged. You pay upon exiting the driver’s vehicle after you arrive at your destination. You rate the driver, and the driver rates you. Crazy drivers and passengers get bounced from the system quickly.
If cars become fully autonomous in the near future, you can expect that the government or taxicab companies will begin to purchase a slew of the vehicles in order to maintain a much more functional, people-friendly public transport system. You might even be able to imagine a future in which no one owns a vehicle! If a public transport system is adopted, we’ll push that button for immediate access to a vehicle of our choosing. We might pay a tax for the service, and in the process we could eliminate traffic congestion, cut greenhouse gases, and slash the amount of money we spend on gas and transport all in one fell swoop.
Of course taxicab drivers would be out of a job. And so would commercial truck drivers. In fact, it looks like autonomous technologies are only increasing in number. What will that transformation do to the number of jobs available across other industries? What will the economy look like in another decade or two when computers and machines can do so many of the tasks we normally do? Even Siri provides me with decent customer service–and she’s relatively new.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, and I hope I’ve provoked a little bit of thought as to where the future is taking us. Let me know what you think in the comments section below, and show me some love by reading one or two of my other articles!