Thursday, September 20, 2012

Timeline of future technology

Space Elevator (© Bruce Irving)
The Space Elevator could be a revolutionary means of transport beyond the earth's atmosphere
Technology is a constant catalyst for change as we humans are encouraged to embrace new medical advancements, transportation methods, means of communication, etc. Take the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone as a prime example of how technology is becoming even more intuitive - moulding to the new demands we face every day, and taking inspiration from our surroundings - nature.
Predicting the future of technology is always a fun thing to consider - especially when you realise what might inspire these advancements to take place. Here's how we think technology might change our lives...
Five years from now medical lasers that can seal wounds could be commonplace on battlefields and in hospitals. The technique, known (slightly ominously) as "laser welding", has been pioneered by a team of Tel Aviv University researchers, and could even be used by surgeons when operating inside the body. Flexible LCD screens that can be rolled up like a newspaper will also be widely available, and home 3D printing will be giving copyright holders a headache. Thought-controlled prosthetic limbs will revolutionise life for amputees.
By the beginning of the third decade of this century Nanotech clothing will have reached the shop shelves. These garments will be stain and water resistant, able to change colour to suit their wearer's whims, and protect the emergency services from toxic chemicals. A crash-proof car, which can alert drivers to potential danger and even take over the controls, should also be ready to roll off the production line. In fact, Volvo has pledged that beyond the year 2020 no one will be killed or seriously injured in one of its new cars.
Learn how the technology in Samsung's Galaxy S III was designed with you in mind
New treatments for Alzheimer's will be available by 2027. The disease currently affects more than 27 million people around the world, and the number of sufferers is expected to quadruple by 2050. Innovative gene therapies developed over the next decade should point the way toward a cure, sparing a generation of people from the indignities of this cruel disease. By this point in time it should also be possible to successfully revive a mouse from cryopreservation. Trials of medical nanobots will also be well underway.
The EN-V (© General Motors, Segway)
The EN-V is a concept vehicle featuring dynamic stabilisation technology
The majority of vehicles on the road are now electric. People will increasingly use smaller cars too, such as the EN-V concept vehicle. The EN-V features dynamic stabilisation technology, allowing it to carry two passengers and a light cargo despite being around a third the size of a traditional vehicle. Stem cell "pharmacies" that can issue treatment for damaged body parts or organs on the high-street could also be a common sight in two decades. Home internet speeds will have rocketed to more than a terabit per second.
Today's PCs and tablet devices will seem about as powerful as a pocket calculator by 2037, thanks to the advent of quantum computing. The technology is still in its infancy today. But the speed of progress means it could form a part of everyday life as we move toward the middle of the century, unleashing a new wave of human creativity and ingenuity. The teleportation of complex organic molecules should also be possible by this point, paving the way for a real-life Star Trek-style transporter.
The Samsung Galaxy S III sees, listens and responds to you - find out how
Claytronic atoms - effectively nano-scale computers - will allow people to create 3D objects at will. The idea, known as Claytronics, involves manipulating the claytronic atoms using specialist software, forming and reforming them into a limitless number of items. In communications, this will allow people to see, hear and touch each other over long distances, just as if they were in the room together. Cars made from claytronic atoms could also be endlessly reformed into different vehicles.
We predict by 2047 robots will begin to take up roles in homes and workplaces (© Getty Images)
We predict by 2047 androids will begin to take up roles in homes and workplaces
We are now approaching the point of singularity, when a greater-than-human super intelligence emerges through technological means. Transhumanism will also become a mainstream concept as more and more people augment their bodies with technology. Intelligent military aircraft that can operate independently of a human being will become a reality, and thanks to the emergence of true artificial intelligence, androids will begin to take up roles in homes and workplaces.
Find out what inspired the Samsung to create its most intuitive smartphone yet - the Galaxy S III
The sheer range and pace of technological change means the world of 2052 is hard to comprehend. Genetically engineered babies are now commonplace, as the elite seek to give their children every advantage possible - including super-intelligence and heightened physical prowess. Human beings have also begun to link their minds directly to the internet in order to make sense of all the information now available online. Nanobots will be able to augment people's vision to produce totally immersive virtual worlds.
The home computers of 2057 will have more processing power than all the human minds that have ever existed, and thus many high-level political decisions will be handled by artificial intelligences. Handheld MRI scanners mean people can be scanned quickly and cheaply, greatly improving diagnosis and treatment for a variety of diseases. Internal organs and brain activity can be seen in real-time using these devices, which will also revolutionise medical treatment in the developing world.
Ageing is a curable disease by this point in time, with a variety of gene and nanotechnology therapies effectively halting, and eventually reversing, the ageing process. At first the treatment is likely to be expensive, but competition between pharmaceutical companies should bring it within reach of most people in the developed world by the end of the century. Invisibility suits are now a common piece of military kit, along with force field technology. The world's first space elevator allows for the rapid transport of people and equipment beyond earth's atmosphere.

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