Three Emerging Technologies that Will Change the World
Copyright 2006 Jack Knows Inc.
I was speaking with a friend the other night about his
great grandfather. His great grandfather was born in 1875.
He lived until 1965. Can you imagine the technology that
this man saw come online? Let me name a few: the
typewriter, the electric dental drill, the telephone, the
phonograph, the incandescent light bulb, the hearing aid,
the electric fan, the dishwasher, the escalator, the
airplane, the Model T automobile, the air conditioner, the
defibrillator, the atomic bomb, the electric guitar, the
nuclear submarine, nylon, the polio vaccine, and the laser.
He died right when the first minicomputer was coming to
fruition. All of that in the span of his lifetime. Which
leads me to the topic of this article. Technology has
completely changed the way we live. And technological
advances have accelerated at unbelievable speeds.
Technology is converging in ways no one could have
foreseen. I want to highlight some of the most interesting
technologies out there. These are technologies that will
change the world, for good and bad.
Probably the most interesting and frightening of the
emerging technologies is nano technology. Nano technology
is a cross disciplinary field that deals with building and
synthesizing materials at scales of 100nm or less. Nano
technology usually works in one of two ways. It either
pulls smaller parts together to build or it breaks bigger
parts down. The parts are then used to form smaller, new
materials. But why is nano technology so important?
Nano technology is important because it will have massive
effects across every area of life. As I write this,
researchers are working on a nano particle to target cancer
cells in lungs. In 2004, Rice University tested gold nano
particle cancer treatment. In this treatment, these 150
nanometer gold particles were injected into the blood
stream of cancerous mice. Gold particles at this size pass
into tumors, but not healthy tissue. The researchers then
passed infrared through the mice. The tumorous cells
absorbed the infrared, heated up, and were destroyed. They
are also working on quantum dots that allow doctors to
easily identify multiple diseases quickly and accurately.
But the uses don't stop there. Nanotechnology will drive
down the scale of electronics. This will lead incredibly
small devices. The applications are limitless. And you
can bet that the military will be clamoring for nano
technology. The military is looking to have numerous
nanotechnologies online by the year 2015. Such advances
include performance enhancing nanotechnology that aids
bodily functions. These will include response times,
oxygen use, and heightened senses. But nanotechnology can
also be used for reconnaissance and combat. Nanobots could
scout areas without being seen. They could also enter into
enemies for espionage. They could kill targets from within
the host's body. The possibilities are frightening.
Alternative Energy & Fuels
When gas prices skyrocketed this past year, many people
suddenly took an interest in alternative energy and fuels.
And because demand rose, companies suddenly found
themselves forced to take interest. Most of the common
arguments for alternative energy and fuels center around
issues of pollution, cost, dependence, and jobs.
What most people don't realize is that alternative energy
and fuels always have environmental effects. This can be
in the form of heat generation, air pollutants, waste
by-products, land usage, extraction, etc. Instead, we have
to talk about pros and cons around each type of energy and
fuel. There is no silver bullet. Costs, dependence, and
jobs also vary depending on the energy type.
There are a host of alternative energies being tested.
Wind powered energy plants are already in place in many
parts of the world. Solar energy production has taken huge
steps forward with the help of nano technology. One such
company is Nanosolar. Nanosolar is producing solar cells
that are 100 times thinner than conventional cells. Not
only are the cells cheaper to produce, but they also
convert the solar energy much more efficiently. Ocean
thermal energy conversion (OTEC) uses the temperature
differences in the ocean layers to produce energy. And
OTEC can utilize this colder water (36 degree F cooler) in
other things like on shore agriculture and refrigeration.
And the list goes on.
Massive interest was generated in alternative fuels this
past year when gas prices hit record levels. New
developments in battery technology could help. One such
development is Millennium Cell's hydrogen battery
technology. This technology differs greatly from
traditional rechargeable batteries in that it's instantly
rechargeable. It also has a much great efficiency for
energy conversion, so it is much smaller and lighter.
There is also greater reuse efficiency since you don't need
to replace the entire battery. You only need to replace
the energy module. Developments are continuing in
biodiesel, electric, hydrogen, methanol, etc. I think
there could be some serious future synergy between nano
technology and alternative energy.
This is my name for the incorporation of technology into
the body. The dermal display is a great indication of
things to come. Though I have yet to find a working demo
version of this concept, I have no doubt that it will
become a reality. The display would be driven by millions
of nanobots. These nanobots would display light when
touched. This would print a display onto your hand, or
wherever the nanobot display would be housed. And this is
where it gets really interesting. The display nanobots
would be connected to millions of other fixed and mobile
nanobots throughout the patient's body. This would give
instant readings on hundreds of vital statistics. Again,
nanotechnology plays a strong role here.
The bionics revolution is already underway. There have
been four major cases of robotic limbs recently, the latest
being a woman. The robotic limbs take advantage of the
functional nerve endings in the limb stump. These nerve
endings are used to actuate the robotic limb and to provide
feedback to the brain. More money is being poured into
robotic limbs every year.
"Functional bionetics" are implants that enhance our lives.
And you may be surprised to know that people are actively
doing this as I write. People are inserting tiny
electronics in their bodies that will unlock their front
doors and their cars. The same technology is being used to
unlock computers. But it doesn't stop there. There is
talk of implanting devices that will carry health
information. You could be carted into a hospital totally
unconscious and they would be able to access all of your
past medical history. Most of this is done through RFID
"Bionetic networks" will be networks of connected bionetic
devices. This would allow people to share sensation,
feelings, and communication. If this sounds completely
fictional, I invite you to consider the work of Kevin
Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of
Reading, England. He has implanted an extra-sensory device
that interfaces with one put in his wife. They were
implanted in their arms. The first experiments are aimed
at exchanging sensory inputs, like pain. The hope is to
extend that to other, more complicated neurological
processes like thoughts and emotion. Obviously, that would
drastically change relationships and indeed the world.
Forget about your teens text messaging, maybe they will be
brain linking in the future. Now that's really scary!
What will we be able to say came online in our lifetimes?
I'm sure we could already list a lot of important
technologies. But keep your eyes out for these emerging
technologies. They are set to change the rules of our
world. These technologies will upset economies, change
military tactics, empower people, and be used to control
others. Keep an eye on them.
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