Technology is developing and progressing at an accelerating rate, and as a result we are changing the world around us. We are increasing productivity, combating illness and disability, feeding the hungry and discovering more. For the most part our progress has followed Moors law â€“ with each year bringing devices that are exponentially faster, smaller and more affordable than the year before them.
But the hardware and the capability alone is not what creates a paradigm shift and is not what changes the way the world works â€“ it’s the imaginative and creative ways in which we use those tools.
A great example is the internet. Computers changed the world when they first landed (with spreadsheet software really helping people to understand what they were for) but from there the most significant change was when we started using the web. That’s what altered the way we do business, the way we stay in touch with friends, and the way we research information.
Technology is going to continue to improve in power and efficiency â€“ that’s a given â€“ but which developments and ideas are really going to change the world? What exciting ideas are going to completely transform the way we live in the next few decades?
Video game controllers are already being developed that allow you to play using your thoughts alone (no head-shaving required) and in some cases paralyzed patients have even been fitted with implants that allow them to use computers and surf the web by controlling a mouse in the same way. But when this technology becomes widespread and when it becomes more exact and precise, it’s going to drastically change the way we interact with technology. Imagine what would happen if you combined an Oculus Rift-like virtual reality headset with the ability to walk around with your very thoughts â€“ it would be liberating.
But more than that we could one day be able to write articles simply by thinking them. That would mean you could work anywhere and incredibly quickly â€“ the internet would literally swell with new content and you’d even be able to communicate with your friends through thought alone.
Augmented reality has a lot of promise but is yet to fully take offâ€¦ just yet. Google Glass may well provide the first step in this exciting direction and once the kinks have been ironed out it’s easy to imagine what the benefits of being able to look up anything might be. Imagine how useful that could be when combined with smart video and voice analysis software? You could look at a mushroom in the wild and be told whether or not it was edible, and you could know the answer to maths questions without even needing to think about itâ€¦ Combine this with the thought-control described above, and perhaps a more innocuous hardware (a contact lens perhaps?) and you would essentially become a telepath. This isn’t something that’s miles away from being possible either â€“ it’s potentially only mere decades away.
Many of our most ground-breaking scientific discoveries come from research aiming to help those with illnesses and disabilities. For instance, many of the technologies that have been developed to help the blind see better, and to help amputees regain use of their limbs, could actually be used to give average people enhanced abilities. Implants have already been developed that allow the blind to see in low resolutions, so it’s not that far-fetched to imagine that people might soon be able to opt to have implants that give them night-vision or infrared sight at will.
Even more amazing is gene doping â€“ the use of single injections that can alter the DNA to bring all kinds of body-wide and often permanent (in the case of ‘insertional gene doping’) changes. An injection already exists that can knock out the production of myostatin in a healthy individual, and this then in turn leads to a huge increase in muscle mass with no additional training that lasts permanently. It’s not a question of if this becomes available either â€“ as even if the law prevents it it’s relatively easy to replicate meaning we are going to see it on the black market.
So really the internet is just one of many transformative technologies that’s going to change our world in the coming years. The question is: are you ready?
Credits to Images:
- Image 1 :Â License: Creative CommonsÂ image source
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- Image 4 :Â License: Royalty Free or iStockÂ source
This article has been authored by John Pellet. John is a freelance blogger currently working at Freedom Lift Systems, leading manufacturers of handicap lifts for home. John loves soccer and is a season ticket holder at Toronto FC.