Future Technology :: 2020 and Beyond
Gordon E. Moore predicted almost 50 years ago that technological performance would double approximately every 2 years. There is a certain beauty in Moore's Law, when you look at all humanity has gone through, and yet nothing has stifled this exponential improvement.
The past decade has been amazing for technology. This means the next decade is going to be even more breathtaking and, beyond 2020 we can only begin to imagine. We are quickly approaching the point where technology of the future thought only to exist in science fiction are bound to materialize. Some in fact, are already in the works.
Replicator Technology of the Future
If you know anything about science fiction, then you're surely aware of one of the most famous pieces of sci-fi technology in history, Star Trek's food replicator. (If I remember correctly, a similar device was featured on The Jetsons) This amazing piece of technology would allow a person to ask for any food they could dream of, and have it appear instantly, like magic.
Technology like this may be a complete disaster for the restaurant industry. For everybody else, it may be the best thing since the invention of fire.
The concept design to the right may not be quite what you imagine, but it's a start. The design currently still in concept and development stage at MIT works like a 3D printer for food. Insert cartridges of the proper ingredients, and have your food printed for you - layer by layer.
For those hoping for a true "create food from thin air" replicator, don't despair. This is technology is certainly in our future. Physics do allow this to happen believe it or not. Furthermore, we know how to do it. All it takes is a little bugger called a nanite, or a nanobot.
If you know that everything from your eyeball to the rocks at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean are all made from the same limited set of ingredients, then you can have a basic understanding for how nano-replication works. Every molecule in our body just like every molecule in the universe is composed of an arrangement of elements. Most of us know that water (H2O) is composed of 2 hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.
Now imagine for a moment that you have a tiny little robot, small enough to manipulate objects on the atomic level. Better yet, you've got a small army of these nanobots at your disposal. And a bowl of water. If you were to instruct your nanobots to add a single oxygen atom (grabbed from the air) to each water molecule, you would then have yourself a bowl of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Pretty cool, huh?
Nanobots could essentially do the exact same thing for food. The catch is that nanobots won't be small enough to change the atoms of one element to another (They would have to be capable of manipulating protons and electrons, which nanobots will not be small enough to do). This gives us the limitation of only being able to make food from the elements we currently have on hand. Fortunately, most of the elements in our food are incredibly abundant, so we shouldn't have too much trouble creating a juicy steak from a pile of dirt.
Bionic Technology for the Future
Bionic technology is approaching critical mass, and if you aren't prepared for it - you'd better get ready. Not long ago, the only technology people generally carried around was a wristwatch (This isn't including medical technology such as pacemakers). Now we have portable computers far more powerful than a $3,000 desktop would have had in 1999; and we use them to make phone calls to boot.
Cell phones and tablets are quite "bionic."
By next year consumers are expecting Google Glass to hit shelves, providing you with a GUI interface worn over your eye. This may or may not be considered biotic, depending on how you use the word.
What you can not deny however, is just how close these things are bringing us to bionic technology. Developers can create as much technology as they want in an effort to bring convenience to our lives; but it is in our nature to desire more, more, more. Merging these convenient technologies of the future with our bodies is an inevitable future, and it's almost here.
Augmented Reality Contact Lenses
Google Glass is paving the way, but just like the portable GPS, it is a technology doomed to rapid obsoletion.
After we've had our fun wearing augmented reality glasses, we will surely get tired of having to wear the damn things on our heads. Fortunately the next step is already in the works. In 2011, a working prototype was developed and successfully tested using a wireless transmitter. Unfortunately it only had a single pixel. This may seem like it has a long ways to go, but the classic NES system was released in 1983 (In Japan) while the Xbox 360 was released only 22 years later.
We can expect that most of the technologies developed for Google Glass over the years will be quickly ported over to this bionic contact lens, so the transition should be quick. If you can survive the next decade, there is a good chance you will live to see these contact lenses hit mass production.
Nanobots :: The Cure for Aids?
Yes, nanotechnology is set to solve a lot of our problems; and yes, disease is on that list.
Within the next couple of decades we can expect to see more and more nanotechnology used in the medical field (In fact, a cancer fighting nanobot has already been created, and tested successfully). While the pharmaceutical companies toil away trying to create yet more drugs to "curb" diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS (All the while causing other undesirable side-effects), innovators are already hard at work to design an efficient, side-effect free, bio-mechanical cure.
To help fight diseases such as HIV/AIDS, we will have a technology injected in the bloodstream to assist or possibly even replace our T-cells. These robots will not be fooled into working for the enemy after being exposed to the HIV virus, allowing our immune systems to continue working as good or even better than before. For a disease like HIV we really wouldn't even have to cure the disease, since its presence would be rendered completely irrelevant by the robotic T-cells.
Sleep No More, Eternal Life, and the AI Revolution
The things mentioned in this article are inventions currently being developed, and can be expected relatively soon. But they are just the start.
We are on the verge of a new golden age that is bound to completely flip our current lifestyles upside down. It is likely that in just a few more decades we will be able to completely eliminate the degradation of age, sleep will no longer be a necessity (but an optional way to relax and pass time), and computers will surpass the speed and complexities of the human brain. These are the technologies for the future, and they are coming.
If you are interested in reading yet more about our future lifestyles, try out a book called The Fantastic Voyage by Ray Kurzweil. He is a man that has been declared the "best prophet for technology alive" because of his accurate (and not by any means vague) predictions for where technology would take us to date. The Fantastic Voyage makes a convincing argument for where we are headed in the next 50 years, all the while maintaining an entertaining read.
What technologies are you looking forward to in the future?
Edmund Custers on May 22, 2013:
Indeed, technology is constantly on the rise. This article is very interesting. Thanks for sharing this with us. Thumbs up!
Credence2 from Florida (Space Coast) on April 02, 2013:
Great article, As a futurist, it is truly a great read..
Cuttler from HubPages on February 02, 2013:
Very interesting...amazing what nanobots can do...hope it works in cure and prevention of HIV/AIDS and cancer. Am not not sure how they work so maybe I'll have to do more research on that. Anyway, great hub...definitely useful and worth a vote up and a share. Cheers