• AFP continues ongoing series on latest technological advances
By Victor Thorn
What does the future hold for mankind? If technology is any indicator, what awaits us is quite exciting. On January 11, this writer interviewed Dr. James Canton, founder and CEO of the Institute for Global Futures and author of The Extreme Future: The Top Trends That Will Reshape the World in the Next 20 Years. Canton has advised three White House administrations on science, and the mainstream media refers to him as “The Digital Guru.”
“We’re on the edge of a massive revolution combining freedom and creativity, and technology is pushing it forward,” Canton told AMERICAN FREE PRESS. “Technology is the biggest driver of entrepreneurship on our planet, thus giving each person more opportunities to shape the kind of world they want to live in. This ‘innovation economy’ will reshape the future, so rather than working for someone else, we can break free of the corporate environment by creating our own jobs and prospering at them. This more wholistic use of technology will enhance the quality of our lives.”
Such visions of expanding our horizons are best characterized by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) project where scientists plan on actually altering space and time, which will allow astronauts to travel remarkable distances through the universe at speeds faster than light.
In a September 17, 2012 article, Jesus Diaz explained the process of creating science fiction-like warp bubbles: “A spaceship’s engine will compress the space ahead [of it] and expand the space behind, moving it to another place without actually moving, and carrying none of the adverse effects of other travel methods.” While still in the theoretical stage, scientists—like NASA’s Dr. Harold White—believe that, in the not-too-distant future, United States spaceships will be able to move at speeds faster than light.
To help test the process of space travel, robots—complete with arms, shiny helmets, and soon-to-be climbing legs—have already spent two years aboard the International Space Station conducting minor repairs. Remotely controlled by Earth-bound engineers, these human-replacements are performing tasks deemed too dangerous or tedious for humans.
Providing even more potential for intergalactic travel may be the development of Nikola Tesla-inspired “free energy” that draws power directly from the atmosphere. Rather than carrying tons of bulky rocket fuel, future explorers could tap into the universe’s electromagnetic fields and literally pull power from the vacuum.
Other futurists are leaning toward solar energy as a source of liquid fuel. Akin to the way plants thrive via the process of photosynthesis, the Sun may someday replace so-called fossil fuels on a widespread basis.
Adding to these technological advances, International Business Machines (IBM) predicts that within half a decade they’ll be producing “cognitive computers” that utilize all five human senses. By combining cameras, microphones, touch screens and various sensors, these devices will replicate sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.
Such computerized robots, equipped with human-like senses, could explore distant planets just as an astronaut would, then report back on these alien environments.
What happens if a spacecraft has ventured millions of miles from Earth and a vital part malfunctions or fails? Obviously, every single component can’t be carried inside extraterrestrial capsules. But with breakthroughs in 3D printing, these problems could be solved. As opposed to the run-of-the-mill printers that sit beside our personal computers, these newfangled printers can produce actual objects simply by tapping into computer software schematics. So, if a fan wears out or a drill bit breaks, these printers can actually create new ones by melting and extruding plastic string into layers. These printers currently cost several thousand dollars, but tech companies believe that the price will come down soon, thanks to innovations and mass production.
Pros & Cons of Advancing Technology
• Many Americans may see life improved by innovations, while others may be out of a job
By Victor Thorn
If technology is supposed to make our lives easier, the 21st century may provide plenty of leisure time. Whether it’s robots programmed to mow our lawns or phone applications that can remotely start your washing machine, people will increasingly become reliant upon high-tech gadgetry. These machines will not only respond to human speech, they’ll also hold the capability of interacting with each other.
With devices that automatically clean the cat’s litter box or robo-servants that put a pot roast in the oven, people unburdened by these tasks can relax in front of holographic TVs that fill their entire living rooms with moving images. Rather than simply watching a screen held within a console, entertainment centers will engulf the space around us with virtual reality.
Today, digitally-enhanced projectors are able to create lifelike representations of musical performers. So, if you regret never having had the chance to see Elvis perform live onstage, someday soon you’ll be able to watch him sing “Blue Suede Shoes” right in the middle of your living room.
If people are worried about getting fat from these cushy lifestyles, rest assured, obesity could be a thing of the past. A company in Hong Kong has invented a fork powered by lithium batteries and a microchip that actually informs diners when they’ve eaten too much.
Along this same line, a new medical apparatus will actually pump about 30% of the food somebody has eaten from their stomach. Using a tube inserted into their abdomen, this contraption processes that unwanted Big Mac and large fries before depositing it through a tiny valve implanted in the belly.
Even bathroom scales will monitor our body mass, exercise schedule and caloric intake while making recommendations about how to slim down.
And if you still feel like exercising, new video games like Wii and Kinect, which hook directly to your TV, detect your body movements in 3D to allow you to jog in San Francisco or mountain bike in the Rockies—all without ever leaving the comfort of your living room.
But these trends aren’t limited solely to the home. Cars—already able to park themselves and caution drivers about oncoming traffic—will soon talk with each other via Internet connections. Thus, instead of getting stuck for hours on end following a four-car pileup, these autos will warn other motorists to make a hasty exit. More amazingly, imagine an interstate highway embedded with magnets that automatically guide buses or 18-wheel trucks—or even cars.
The physically handicapped also benefit from these advances. The University of Pittsburgh has developed a thought-guided robotic arm that allows paraplegics to hold eating utensils or sip from cups.
Innovations that tap into a form of mental telepathy will permit users to send text messages purely by the power of their minds. Wearing a headset laced with sensors that interact with brainwaves, people’s thoughts will be transformed by smart phones into digital images to be displayed on a screen. Even if a crippled person can’t physically unlock his front door with a key, security systems possessing facial recognition software will open it for him once he arrives home.
Of course, as with any societal paradigm shift, dangers do confront us. At a basic level, in February 2011 an IBM computer named Watson beat all its human competitors on the Jeopardy game show. One of the reasons for this defeat is attributable to a form of cyber-Alzheimers. Specifically, in a January 3 article entitled “Cerebral Circuitry,” April Dembosky wrote, “people have come to rely on the Internet as an external memory. We are less good at remembering information . . . [and] have outsourced our memory to the [I]nternet.”
A perfect case in point is the fact that hardly anyone knows phone numbers any more. They simply hit a button on their hand-held device and it dials the number for them.
This merging of man and machine has reached such startling levels that Ms. Dembosky warned, “We spend so much time on our computers and gadgets that we are starting to think like them. Brain circuits are being rewired to accommodate these tools of modern life.”
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 30 books.