Ahh, the future. It holds so many promises and possibilities. We never know what it truly might hold, right? Well, that’s not entirely true.
Once confined to the realms of futuristic novels and science fiction films that seemed too far-fetched to ever be possibly considered a tangible reality, technology has crept up on us at a frighteningly exponential rate.
So sneakily in fact, that those promises and possibilities that might have once seemed a distant and unobtainable reality are fast becoming within our grasp.
Bradbury and Asimov would marvel in stunned and silent awe at the palpability of their prescient imaginings. James Cameron’s filmic genius may have extended to that of bearded prognosticator of futuristic things to come.
To wit: futuristic IT technologies that will appear in the not-too-distant future.
Artificially Intelligent Personal Assistants
To some extent, it all started with Microsoft’s Clippy, that animated and ever-smiling office assistant that popped up on your screen. Apple have recently gone one step further with the invention of SIRI for its iPhone – basically an intelligent assistant capable of responding to language cues and access the internet.
But it’s the future we’re talking about here, and that invites the tantalising promise of greater things. We can expect personal assistant to respond to language, including its oddities, colloquialisms and idiosyncrasies. We’ll even be able to have conversations with them and share personal details that could, in essence, mean they manifest themselves as our personal clones – us in digital form, our own holographic avatars.
Writing emails, booking appointments, knowing what we want – it’s all within a conceivable, futuristic reality.
Big Brother’s Out There – We Just Can’t See Him
The heated and vociferous debate about the intrusion of technology and security cameras in our lives rages on – and shows no sign of diminishing. Government and local councils seem to extract hand-rubbing, gleeful pleasure in micro-chipping our wheelie bins, installing extra speed cameras, and mounting another CCTV camera. Big Brother has, in other words, got out of control.
Computers and cameras of some description are already prevalent in many of the things we use daily, such as cars and phones. And Google Glass is another version of vicariously witnessing, experiencing and monitoring people’s lives for the morbid curiosity of ever-curious (re: nosy) masses.
But these are often imposing, obvious devices. In a few years, technology will have perfected the miniaturisation of cameras to the extent we don’t even know they’re there. Computers and cameras will be intrinsically embedded in everything we do – in clothes, fashion items, contact lenses. They’ll literally be everywhere, and we won’t even know.
Virtual Animals With Digital Minds
The perfect cloning of a whole human brain is still beyond the reach of a foreseeable future – but that doesn’t mean the capability isn’t there to replicate the brains of smaller organisms. The Open Worm project – digitizing the brain of a nematode worm – has already plunged into this territory.
It’s conceivable that the next two decades with unleash the potential – and reality – of emulating the brains of simple mammals, such as mice. By extension, this means we’d have created virtual animals which, for all intents and purposes, live within a computer.
Autonomous Robots, Licensed To Kill
James Cameron predicted it with the futuristic killing machine portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator. And whilst you might think such cyborg-related visions are confined to the boundaries of filmic celluloid, think again. In fact, it’s only a matter of time before it happens.
Think about it. We already have the multifarious platforms of technology in an array of current weapons systems. The Aegis Combat System, found aboard naval ships, contains an autonomous mode that enables super-powerful radars and computers to track and guide weapons to destroy enemy targets. Samsung Techwin’s remotely-operated sentry bot is also currently deployed in the Korean DMZ. And the U.S packbot/REDOWL system has the potential to be modified so it can eliminate snipers on its own.
And this, of course, is for the better – it’s always preferable if a robot can be used in a war situation rather than risking a soldier’s life.
Lab Grown Organs And Meat
Brandon (son of horror maestro, David) Cronenberg explored the seemingly sinister and perversely unsettling possibilities of growing organs and meat in his visceral chiller, Antiviral.
And yet the potential for the harvesting of meat has been made more tangible by the advances in biotechnology. It’s conceivable that personalised medicine will be prescribed according to individuals’ genetic constitutions. Furthermore, biologists are on the cusp of being able to generate tissue from stem cells; this could lead to the growing of specific organs, precluding the necessity for organ donations and minimising the risk of rejection.
And the miraculous potential applications of biotechnology extend even further than that, with its synthesis with additive manufacturing making it possible to 3D print a cybernetic ear, and the within-reach possibility of printing human embryonic stem cells and synthetic tissue.
So the future may very well be a lot closer than you think when it comes to the mind-boggling potential of IT technologies.
What are your thoughts on the ways these technologies can be adapted and developed in the future? Share in the comments.