By: Andrés Benavente A.
“I do not predict the inevitable, but the
possible, the conceivable… sometimes only a dream”. Isaac Asimov
The way that
things are going today makes it fairly simple to predict that over the next 20
years the world will see transcendental changes coming at an even faster pace
than we have ever seen.
human creativity will be inseparable elements that will guide us into the
future. A good or bad tomorrow will
depend on our capacity to learn and react to mistakes and specifically on the
global values that our species embrace and globalize in the coming years.
Is a happy future
for the planet possible, or are the pessimists right?
with which humanity presently moves, progresses, learns, consents and advances
itself is unprecedented in our history, and allows us to be much more
optimistic than what the many ‘apocalyptic messiahs’ would like you to believe.
It is certain
that humanity has at times been very slow-witted and at times tremendously
stubborn when it comes to change, but in the long run humanity has always
demonstrated the knowledge and capacity to learn from errors and mend the
course. This is the beautiful thing about the human race: We can learn…quite often the hard way, but in
the end we always come out ahead… with good lessons in our pockets.
The near future: The
next 20 years, consisting of 7,300 days, will provide our species with 175,200
hours, filled with 10 million minutes. Precious minutes that our hyperactive
and curious race will creatively embrace second after second.
Let’s peek into
the future and into the new toys, sciences and possibilities that will bring
tomorrow into the different spheres of our lives.
begin with this advancement since it is likely to be the most drastic change that we have seen
to-date and one that will affect each and every aspect of our lives. If this
young science succeeds in totally controlling individual atoms, then society
will have the unbridled capacity to manipulate the world around us at leisure,
to make new elements, to make incredible materials or construct astonishing,
highly efficient microscopic machines. The nano will change everything in
Today there have
already been interesting advances, but we haven’t yet come even close to all of
the promising possibilities – which would go far beyond our imagination.
For example: Can
you imagine a house with ultra-resistant walls that are only 5mm thick? And
what if these walls could change color in a matter of seconds, or could even
become transparent by only giving the word on demand? Imagine microscopic
robots that can circulate around in your blood, monitoring your health and
correcting the problems it detected? Or how about nano particles that are able
to neutralize and eat pollution?
These are just a
few of the incredible possible fruits of nanotechnology.
Nanomachines or Nanobots:
Groups of a few hundred atoms capable do
we can imagine and instruct. The construction
posibilities are endless.
To learn more
about this incredible science, visit a complete previous article at: Nanotechnology-The-next-revolution
Medicine, Biotechnology and Nano Medicine: Get used to these terms, because
they will take care of your health in the future. These sciences are still in
diapers, but are growing and growing.
In five or 10
years, medicine could be completely different: Local insertion of a gene that
will kill cancer in just days. Or an intravenous injection containing thousands
of nanorobots that will break up kidney stones in minutes. Biotechnologically
improved or cloned organs to replace parts of our bodies. And eventually…the
cessation of the aging process!
This will present
us with various ethical and social dilemmas in respect to the possible genetic
improvement of our strength or intelligence, the design of super babies or even
the controversial issue of human cloning. It is very probable that at a point,
strict worldwide agreements with limits and boundaries for the application of
these disciplines will be developed.
Internet: Among computer nerds, there’s a general consensus that
before the year 2020 the Internet will be omnipresent, satellite-distributed,
and maybe… free of charge for all. And
not just computers; telephones, game consoles and televisions will also be
online. Cars, household appliances, intelligent factories and buildings,
blackboards in schools and countless other things that we have not even
invented or imagined yet will be online.
even promises that one day we will have Internet connected… directly to our
very brains. Maybe at that point we don’t even call it Internet anymore!
screens, super high-velocity processors, unlimited cloud storage capacities,
high-resolution 3D printers, personal IPs for each person and even the ability
for the face or brain to send instructions to machines. These are just a few of the novelties that we
will soon be able to enjoy as a daily reality.
But we can
project even farther into the future: If quantum computation succeeds, humanity
will be able to multiply the speed of our computers by 1000 times the current
capacity. Even if quantum computers do not become a reality, nanotechnology
promises similar possibilities by turning microchips into nano chips: 1000
times more efficient and 100 times smaller.
exponential growth in computer science and the inevitable mega leap that will
happen in the near future, it is even possible that artificial intelligence
will come true within these 2 decades, which could eventually lead to machines
that are many times smarter and faster than our own human brains.
you know? The tiny
telephone in your pocket is about 10 times more powerful, capable and faster
than the best computer available at NASA in 1985.
Nutrition: In the near
future, we will be designing our food. Genetically modified food involves
scientists exploiting the natural evolutionary phenomenon, the crossing of
genes. Farmers have used these hybrids to better our food over many centuries. Now
the phenomenon is moving inside to controlled laboratories.
Resistance to plagues/viruses, less need for water and
a faster cultivation time will lead to better yields per hectare and allow the
human race to feed more people. The new advances are bettering the
possibilities and diminishing the risks of the present methods of transgenia.
The future possibilities seem like pure science
fiction. For example, genetic engineers of the future will eventually be able
to create and “cultivate” large masses of live muscle tissue - immobile groups
of cells - without brains or nervous systems, able to transform 100% of the
food it receives… into tender juicy steaks for human consumption.
Although it seems like a disgusting idea at first,
it’s very likely that after a wrathful of debates, we will probably end up
incorporating these bizarre options into our standard way of food production.
Energy: 10 years from now, thanks to new,
much more efficient forms of energy, we will be saying goodbye to fossil fuels.
Bio-fuels will also most likely leave the scene.
At the end of the next two decades, a great part of
the new energy we create will be produced and used in the same general
Our 3 main sources of energy will likely be nuclear
energy 2.0, the sun and hydrogen taken from common water.
At some point we will also be able to have in each of
our homes and maybe within every apparatus nano-dynamos constantly creating
electricity by the friction of atoms in perpetual rotation around an axis.
The thick solar panels currently made of silicon will
be obsolete and replaced by layers of photovoltaic nanoparticles finer than a
hair. We could use this to make
photovoltaic paint and cover any surface exposed to the sun. Eventually all of
our windows, cars and roofs will be ‘sources’ of electricity.
Space exploration and exploitation: The
plasma motor that Adastra Rockets has been developing right here in Guanacaste,
will provide a huge leap in fuel performance and vastly accelerate our space
travel capabilities. Beyond the push on space study, these efficient motors
will also allow us to initiate a space mining adventure – that is, obtaining
gold, copper, lithium and possibly the entire periodic table from asteroids or
comets, diminishing mining in our planet.
It’s completely like science fiction, but these
changes will likely happen in less than 20 years…all thanks to the brilliant
mind of Franklin Chang and his team of young Costa Rican scientists.
Robots and automation: Forget about the
concept of a humanoid robot. They will be available in all sorts of shapes and
sizes. Artificial intelligence will one day be applied to everything that we
use, including our clothes, utensils and many ordinary objects in our homes and
offices. The automation and advancement that we have seen in the past 50 years
will look like child’s play compared to what is to come in the next 20.
Transportation: Thanks to the
ability to communicate instantaneously on a global level, the need for the
daily transportation will continue to diminish.
In about 10 years, it is very likely that we will no
longer have human pilots in airplanes, and as Google and Toyota’s current
experiments indicate… soon it may not be
necessary for us to drive our own cars! Each car will have dozens of cameras and
sensors, and will be connected to the Internet. This will enable the cars to
have the ability to make decisions more quickly and securely than we are
currently able to react, thanks to be “speaking” all the time with the
Tele-windshields, augmented reality and many other
functions of navigation will enable us to either opt for manual driving, or let
the car drive while one watches television, surfs the Internet or invents the
next great technological advancement.
Enjoying this long article, take a break to watch this video...
Values: Given the magnitude of the new technologies mentioned
above and all of the new “powers” that we could acquire, the moral, political and cultural path taken
by societies will be extremely important– and above all, the consensuses
reached at a global level.
Even though there
is still much to fix, humanity has always been working to better itself. In the
past few years, humanity’s greatest values have been globalized and
such as democracy, environmental responsibility and respect for human rights
are now more globally accepted. Even the global economic system is being
reevaluated and becoming more monitored.
Although we still
have many ideological divisions and there are still wars and a long list of
problems needing to be resolved, as a species we have learned to work together
and achieve agreement. Today immoral
practices are more easily exposed and more frequently punished. The citizens
are more connected, demanding and organized. They have extended their influence and taken a more active role in the
direction of their society and in the supervision of their governments. Global
ignorance continues to diminish rapidly in the hands of a universal knowledge
available only a few mouse clicks away.
Without a doubt,
in the past, our societies have been slow to learn and accept new knowledge. We
procrastinated for millenniums to accept that the planet was round, without
angles or corners. It took dozens of centuries to rationalize and abolish
slavery and hundreds of years to give proper respect and equal rights to women
and children. We did not accept that we
could be damaging our planet through our modernization for three long
decades…and it took another ten years for us to begin to better our attitude
concerning the precious ground upon which we walk.
Yes, we have been
slow in the past…
“The future has many names: For the weak, it means
the unattainable. For the fearful, it means the unknown. For the courageous, it
José Ingenieros (1877-1925)
Today however, we are experiencing a dizzying pace of
change. Here is a small example: It’s estimated that in the last three years,
humanity has discovered and understood more new things than all we have learned
as a species in all previous millennia combined. Tons of new knowledge is
generated each day, and new information is now socially spread in a matter of
days, hours and even minutes.
The telegraph took almost 200 years to be available in
all countries. The telephone took 89. Television, 23. Internet, about 8. And in
only 3 years Facebook, Twitter and Skype have changed global
communications. And amazingly, it only
took a few months and a few million clicks and tweets to erase some of the most
obstinate dictators on the planet.
Clearly it is another world… But are we ready for it?
The fact of the matter is that although we are ‘wise
elders’ in relation to science and technology, on a moral and emotional level
our species is still a scared and impulsive child. This is where there is great opportunity for
improvement…and a lot of it!
Fortunately, today’s mankind is now influenced at a
more global level than by mere personal whims, and as a whole our species is
making better decisions.
The risks of climate change, poverty and other evils
that haunt may find solutions in science. Soon, carbon will be able to be
absorbed by machines and grounded again in the earth. Energy will be produced
at a much lower cost. Our food will be produced locally and in a more efficient
manner. And many more sustainable solutions will be available to us.
certainly have the tools; the key will be to recover the ethics and awareness
necessary to take the correct path.
What do you think? Are you optimistic? Can
we make it?
“Men and nations in decline live
remembering from where they came from. Brilliant men
and strong nations only need to know to where
they are going”.
Víctor Hugo (1802-1885) French
A cool video about 10 'future' toys...already invented.
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