With every passing year, computers are becoming increasingly powerful and have now reached a point where they have more power and potential than we actually have any use for. The latest IBM computers, developed in conjunction with Google and Harvard, could be able actually to design new molecules. The practical effects of this kind of technology are incredible; for example, chemists could create stronger proteins for medical use or physicists could produce more efficient fuels. IBM has already used a quantum computer to model a small atom and could be capable of so much more over the next decade.
What if we lived in a world where we know a baby’s chances of developing cancer or having a high IQ before he or she is even born? Institutions like Myriad Genetics and the UK Biobank are working together to create astonishingly accurate methods of DNA analysis. By reading genetic code, scientists are effectively able to predict the future and learn so much more about every individual. This sort of technology could predict the onset of diseases and help to prevent them ever happening; for example, if a man was seen as a high risk for testicular cancer, he could be monitored more closely to catch the disease and treat it early.
Technology like the internet has effectively helped to make the world smaller and bring people closer together, but there are still some significant barriers separating us. It can take years to learn just one language effectively, so how could we ever hope to communicate with people all over the world? Well, this power is already available in the form of Google’s ‘Pixel Buds,’ which make use of the Google Translate app to provide real-time translations. The person you’re trying to speak to just has to talk into a phone and the technology will translate the words they speak into your native language, allowing you to have a conversation.
The internet has made our lives so much better in a million different ways, but many people are still wary of relying too heavily on this technology because of the vast number of security deficiencies and cyber attacks we always seem to be hearing about on the news. People have lost their money, and even their identities to cybercriminals, but players like JPMorgan Chase and Zcash have created a new tool that effectively allows people to prove and transmit information online without ever revealing more personal information than necessary. This is a massive boost for online security, especially in the cryptocurrency market.
We need the energy to survive, to further the species, and to innovate, but as we can see with global warming and climate change, the use of energy comes at a significant cost. Green energy could save the world, however, and a collective of companies called Net Power have created a power plant near Houston, Texas that could be the next big step in eco-friendly fuel. Possibly available for commercial use in the next few years, this project aims to use natural gas but capture and recycle the carbon dioxide released by the process, rather than allowing it to be emitted into the atmosphere.
Artificial Intelligence has been in development for many years and is steadily improving. The latest innovation in this field is the creation of ‘dueling neural networks,’ which are being used right now by major companies like Google Brain, DeepMind, and Nvidia. This technology essentially pits two AIs against each other to improve their intelligence levels. One of the AIs is tasked with creating variations on pre-existing images, while the other has to determine if the new images are fake or real. Eventually, the first AI becomes so good at creating unique images that it can effectively fool the other AI, which also becomes smarter over time.
You only have to watch a sci-fi movie to see that the cities we imagine being in the future are entirely different to our own. In many visions of the future, self-driving cars drive the streets, with robots and drones roaming and flying around and all sorts of flashy tech being used to enhance the way we live our daily lives. It’ll take several years to bring all of that to life, but Sidewalk Labs is trying to make it happen in Toronto, Canada. The company has revealed a project to transform part of Toronto’s waterfront area, integrating various forms of tech like robots and autonomous cars to create a futuristic neighborhood.
3D printing was a significant breakthrough of recent times, but the materials able to be used in 3D printers were relatively limited. Well, all of that has changed. Major players like Markforged and Desktop Metal have worked to develop the practice of 3D metal printing, allowing people to create objects from metal more quickly, efficiently, and cheaply than ever before. For significant manufacturers and small businesses alike, this is a tremendous innovation and could revolutionize the production lines of countless companies all over the globe, and the best thing is that this tech is only going to get more efficient over time.
AI could change so much about the world we live in, but it seems to be more or less exclusively restricted to tech labs and big companies like Google. Well, that is all starting to change. Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, are all launching new AI platforms and services under names like Cloud AutoML and Azure. It remains to be seen which, if any, of these, AI services will come out on top, but making AI available to smaller businesses and individual users all around the world could trigger countless additional innovations.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge in England have effectively broken the rules of biology by creating realistic mouse embryos without actually using any eggs or sperm. All they needed were stem cells. These artificial embryos could be used for all kinds of research, but the subject has triggered a few debates about the ethics of ‘playing God’ and creating life in such a way. This is just one example of the incredible power of stem cells, which could be used for many purposes in the future like replacing lost limbs and treating all sorts of diseases.