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We forget to stop and take stock of where we are sometimes. We’re always talking about the future and what it...
We forget to stop and take stock of where we are sometimes. We’re always talking about the future and what it will bring without taking a moment to think that...maybe it’s already here?
Google’s making smart cyber lenses that help measure your blood sugar. You’ve probably passed someone in the street with a pair of Smart Glass. We’re driving electric cars and talking about moving to Mars. We’re curing diseases with nanobots and we get irritated when the Wi-Fi isn’t free, fast and omnipresent.
Technology solved the problems we had, now we’re solving problems we never even dreamed about having. Like, how do we colonize other planets? How do we make ourselves stronger, faster, smarter, using technology?
We can’t talk about science fiction becoming reality without mentioning two companies that are making it happen, radically different in approach but equally visionary in their ideas. The first, Google, thinks inward, finding technological solutions to map, heal and enhance our bodies and the world around us. Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors, on the other hand, looks to the skies and aims to explore the unknown reaches of space, and maybe even get us to move there. Even their futuristic exploratory divisions are similarly named – Google X and SpaceX, respectively.
For example, take Elon Musk’s statement that humans will live on Mars in 10 to 12 years. Convinced that the future of mankind lies beyond the stars, back in 2012 he stated that he could do a round trip to Mars for $500,000. His SpaceX company is actively developing the means to get us there, using the newly developed Falcon Heavy launch vehicle or the manned Dragon spaceship, and aiming for a 2016 window for starting extraterrestrial colonization.
A more modest project is Japanese company Obayashi Corporation’s plans to build a space station reachable from Earth by elevator. Located 22,000 miles above the earth’s surface, the station would use a nanotube cable to connect itself with a grounded spaceport that would lift up to 30 passengers at 125 miles an hour, reaching the space station in about eight days.
Closer to Earth, we come back to Google. Leaving the space stuff to the others, Google has been announcing for years that it’s developing a completely driverless vehicle that could be used either as a safe mode of shipping and transporting goods, or as a personal driver for people who don’t feel like getting behind the wheel.
While we’re at personal drivers, a personal robot butler is long overdue. That’s just what the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, is building. Announced two years ago, their Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) project aims to create an autonomous robot that operates better than the current human-operated robots, doing tasks like "grasping and manipulation tasks using vision, force, and tactile sensing with full autonomy — no active human control." This means that the robot is capable of using a key to unlock and open a door, operate a power drill, pick up and use tools and tons of other menial, manual tasks that could theoretically lead to a full-fledged personal robotic assistant.
Speaking of robotic “assistants”, how about drones? Once mentioned only in sci-fi novels and first used (in great controversy) by the US government in war campaigns, drones are now becoming an easy and cost-effective delivery method, as shown by Amazon, who started using drones as delivery boys for shipping light packages straight to your door. Although still controversial, once the legislation figures out the best way to regulate drones, it’s not far-fetched to think that in a few years, most households will have a drone of their own.
Another futuristic technology, although still in its infancy, is gaining traction in households worldwide. We’re talking about the Nokia Lumia and its wireless charging plate, since we’re sure you’ve come across them, if not actually used them. A plate that charges your phone simply by physical contact, the wow-factor is there at first use, but the multitude of applications becomes apparent once you wrap your head around it. Imagine if your laptop was constantly charging in your house. Imagine not worrying about socket placement and tripping on wires. Imagine not plugging a cable in your household electronics, because there won’t be one. Wireless electricity is a long and arduous process, but its first commercial use signals that the ubiquity of the technology isn’t too far away.
Finally, we can’t help but be amazed at Google X’s Baseline project, and the sheer science-fiction flavor of it. Google wants to find out what an optimal human being is, and work towards getting us there. The Baseline project will map genomes from a closed pool of people and work out the genetic traits that help certain people build resistances to cancer, allergies, or other human shortcomings so we could overcome them. Visionary stuff.
So what do you think? Do we still have miles to go, or are we already there? How did you imagine the future? Sound off in the comments below and tell us what you think.