We don't need to look too far back to understand the power of technology to shape our world. In one generation, we've seen space stations being built, the calculation of speeds accelerating exponentially, not to mention the Internet boom. In fact, technological advances are now so rapid that our current way of life will probably seem hopelessly obsolete in another decade. With this in mind, it can be fun and fascinating to look at what the future will look like and what cutting-edge technologies developed today that will be completely commonplace tomorrow. In what ways will these technologies radically change our world? Bryan Nelson wrote a paper in revmodo.comThis was the starting point from which UP' investigated the feasibility and reality of nine technologies that could soon make our reality unrecognizable.
– Atmospheric energy
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Most of the energy we produce today comes from finite resources, namely fossil fuels. But as these resources are being depleted and environmental consequences are becoming a growing concern, the development of new and renewable sources of energy is of paramount importance. Of course, industries such as wind, solar and biofuels are already booming, but these are only the tip of the iceberg.
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One burgeoning renewable source that has the power to revolutionize electricity generation is atmospheric energy. Electricity is always freely circulating in the air. This is especially evident during a thunderstorm or during the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. Capturing and controlling this electricity can be a challenge, but we could tap directly into this electric field, literally pulling electricity out of the air. The potential of this technology is immense.
One company is already working on the development of atmospheric energy: SEFE, Inc. They already have four approved patents, three pending, and nineteen in research and development. See the video on SEFE's mission:
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Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest impact. This is certainly the case with these nanotechnologies, which are essentially manipulations of materials at the atomic and molecular scale.
The many applications of nanotechnology are too numerous to mention here. Nanoelectronics has the potential to revolutionize computing, not only by making ultra-fast computing speeds, but by making smaller electronic devices. Machines the size of cells will one day be able to navigate through our bodies like an artificial immune system. Nano-devices may one day be able to manipulate our genetic code, or perhaps even merge with it. Nanotechnology will allow us to invent new materials with a wide range of applications: in 2008, more than 800 nanotechnology products have already been made public, and new products are arriving on the market at a rate of three to four per week.
Scientists have just developed a system for measuring blood sugar levels using nanotechnological advances: how could they help detect blood sugar levels in tears by integrating them into contact lenses? An AmericanPurdue University has just developed, again thanks to advances in nanotechnology, a system for measuring glucose that would be as effective in blood as in saliva, urine and tears, i.e. by means of a non-invasive measurement.
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Another example, Nanobiotixa nanomedicine company specialising in radiotherapy: nanotechnologies would make it possible to treat a variety of cancers more safely and effectively using conventional radiotherapy. Radiotherapy, which has been used for decades, remains a key element in the anti-cancer arsenal: 60% of affected patients benefit from it at one stage or another of their treatment. The principle is simple: X-rays can destroy any type of cancer cell. The only limit is the dose that healthy surrounding tissues can tolerate. The NanoXRay technology is based on patented nanoparticles. Only these "infinitely" small elements (50 nanometres, or 5 hundredths of a micron) are able to penetrate cells (of very variable size, the smallest ones still reaching a few microns). The crystalline nanoparticles developed by Nanobiotix, which are non-toxic to the body, have the property of multiplying up to nine times the dose of radiotherapy specifically received in the target cells. The promise of the group is therefore to allow much better efficacy at equivalent doses or to be able to treat patients who would not tolerate conventional radiotherapy with lower doses. (Source: Le Figaro.fr / 11 Oct 2012).
- Augmented Reality
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A lot of noise has been made recently around the Google glasses but even if the invention may seem "incidental", augmented reality technology has the potential to radically change our world and the way we interact with it.
You've heard of virtual reality, which is a computer-simulated environment. Augmented reality is a computer fusion of sensory data with the real world. Rather than creating a simulated world, augmented reality has the power to actually enhance our perception of the real world.
Technology has the potential to allow you to control information in the world in real time, much like you can control information with a touch screen device. Basically, augmented reality brings us a little bit closer to our reality fusion technology.
One of the most spectacular innovations at the last Paris Motor Show was certainly the presentation of the augmented reality windscreen. This technology allows the colour display of driving information (speed, traffic conditions, GPS, distance from the vehicle in front...) on the windscreen via a projection/surprinter system. A technology called Head-up display already marketed in Japan (around 3,000 euros) since last August. The Japanese manufacturer Pioneer has in fact presented its windscreen equipped with the Cyber Navi system which displays an interactive 90 x 30 screen in real time thanks to a laser projector attached to the sun visor. Currently being approved in Europe, this device should be marketed in France in 2013.
Motorola Mobilitya subsidiary of Google, recently acquired the American company ViewdleThe company specializes in facial, object and gesture recognition applications. Its products enable, for example, the automatic tagging of photographs on the Internet.
Another example is the company Smartsy This French start-up, based in the USA, is not only in the field of augmented reality but also in that of universal visual recognition. Smartsy makes it possible to link any object, document, image, consumer product, building or monument, ... to enriched and shareable information. A mobile information and distribution platform that links the physical and digital worlds.
- Solar fuel
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As we all know, the development of renewable energies is essential to move into the future. Existing technologies such as wind, solar and hydropower are excellent ways of producing renewable electricity, but what about actual fuel production? Biofuels are useful, but they also have many negative impacts on agricultural space and our food supply.
What if we could convert solar energy directly into a liquid fuel? Hence the idea of a solar fuel that could be produced with technology that mimics the way plants produce energy through photosynthesis. A solar fuel that could also revolutionize the way renewable energy is stored. It would allow us to keep the sun's energy in liquid form.
One company is working to make this vision possible in Massachusetts / USA : Joule Unlimited. Their technology is capable of creating a fuel using sunlight with carbon dioxide and non-potable water. They believe they may soon be able to produce this fuel at a price competitive with gasoline.
- Modified Stem Cells
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Few technologies have the power to transform medicine more than stem cell engineering. Not only are stem cells genetically programmed to attack diseases such as HIV or cancer, but they are now being used to generate living tissue.
The ultimate goal of such technology will be to stimulate organ regrowth. Once developed, it may be possible to extend human life indefinitely. Imagine if each of your organs could simply be replaced, like a simple car part...
The French biotechnology company Cellectis has just been awarded a five-year, $9.5 million contract by the National Institutes of Health. (NIH) and several U.S. government agencies for the supply of iPS cells. This is based on the technology that earned the 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine to its inventor, Shinya Yamanaka.
A lThe Free University of Brussels (ULB), embryonic stem (ES) cells were used for the first time to recreate the thyroid of a mouse that did not have one, opening up new prospects for the therapeutic use of these powerful "pluripotent" cells.
- Wireless power transfer
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Wireless devices are ubiquitous today, connected by a single wire, nothing more. While we can transmit information wirelessly around us, our electrical devices must still, by and large, receive their power from wired connections. But imagine being able to use beam energy from a power source directly into an appliance without the need for a wire.
Wireless power transfer technology already exists, but needs further development. This is usually a problem of efficiency: too much energy is lost when it is teleported.
As technology evolves, we can now imagine a world where nothing will be plugged in anymore. More incredibly, technology could revolutionize space exploration. Not only could power be directed to satellites, space stations, and space shuttles from Earth, but power collected in space could also be returned to Earth.
In 2006, Marin Soljačić and other researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) proposed a new application for wireless energy transfer, based on the theory of near-field electromagnetism and the use of "coupled resonators "7,8. On June 7, 2007 a prototype is realized by the MIT: WiTricité makes it possible to power a 60 watt bulb at a distance of 2 meters, with an efficiency of 40 %. The principle is based on the phenomenon of induction. A coil in which an electric current circulates generates a magnetic field which in turn generates current in an equivalent coil placed nearby.
- Space Based Solar Energy Space Based Solar" Space bases
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The vast majority of the energy on Earth comes from the Sun. Our ability to harness this power depends on how efficiently we can harvest it. Solar technology requires us to capture energy from the Sun, but all Earth-based solar collectors are limited because the atmosphere deflects a lot of the Sun's energy. What if we could gather large arrays of solar panels in space?
Astrium is currently investigating new technologies for transferring orbital solar energy to Earth. Such a technology would provide clean energy from an inexhaustible source and would be part of a long-term, neutral and urgently needed package of solutions to meet our planet's unbridled energy needs on a sustainable basis.
Called "Space Based Solar Power" (SBSP), this research project studies the possibility of using space platforms - mainly large satellites - to capture the Sun's rays and redirect them by laser beams, at wavelengths that are harmless to the eye, to specially equipped receivers on Earth. On-board lasers would transmit energy at powers comparable to normal solar radiation, and would therefore be totally safe for humans and animals passing through.
Preferably placed in geostationary orbit (GTO), the SBSP platform would thus be permanently visible to terrestrial receivers. From there, energy could be directed to sites on the visible part of the earth's surface. With the technologies potentially available in the relatively short term, a single satellite would provide about 10 kW to the end user on the ground with a laser transmission system. This basic component and its improvements could then be used to build multi-satellite systems, providing power to users without access to existing power grids.
Astrium already masters and has provided the essential technological building blocks to make these programmes a reality - high-power telecommunications satellites, space mirrors (such as the one developed for the Herschel observatory) and laser technology - for a number of programmes.
- Quantum Teleportation
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Teleportation is not just science fiction: quantum teleportation is the instantaneous transfer of a quantum state from one place to another.
Albert Einstein called it quantum entanglement, a kind of "phantom action" at a distance. And this physical phenomenon is at the heart of the coming new generation of ultra-powerful quantum computers "quantum bits" of information, as well as immune intercepting communication systems.
An international team of researchers, using ESA's ground-based optical station in the Canary Islands, has set a new world distance record of "...".quantum teleportation" by separating a photon over a distance of 143 km.. Funded by ESA, researchers from Austria, Canada, Germany and Norway transferred the physical properties of a light particle - a photon - to its 'double' via quantum teleportation over a distance of 143 km between the Jacobus Kapteyn telescope in La Palma and ESA's ground station in Tenerife.
Beyond surprising or fascinating, quantum teleportation is set to play a central role in the encrypted communications of the future. The problem of encryption concerns the security of the transmission between transmitter and receiver, as the decryption key can be intercepted. Quantum teleportation, by its intrinsic properties based on the laws of quantum mechanics, makes such interception impossible and transmission secure at 100%. By the method they have used and the results they have obtained, ESA researchers have demonstrated the possibility of realizing these quantum communications in practice. The next step for them is to establish quantum teleportation between the Earth and an orbiting satellite.
- Artificial Intelligence
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The first image we have when we think of "artificial intelligence" is that of Terminator, or perhaps HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is true that the development of artificial intelligence raises some major philosophical and ethical questions, but there is little doubt that the technology will succeed.
The processing power of computers continues to grow at a staggering rate. As a result, we are able to analyze data using increasingly complex computer models and solve problems in even more ingenious ways.
So far, we have yet to create a machine with artificial consciousness, or self-consciousness. But that, too, is probably inevitable... Engineers estimate that artificial consciousness will come out in 2045.
In the meantime, Google has unveiled software that mimics the way neurons in the human brain communicate and interact with each other. The companyhe developed a machineby connecting 16'000 computer processors, capable of recognizing things in YouTube videos, such as cats, human faces or other objects. This artificial intelligence technology will now be taken out of the laboratory walls and used in products from the web giant, starting with the company's voice recognition system. (Source : 20 minutesonline / 8 Oct 2012).
The Turing test is a proposed artificial intelligence test based on the ability to mimic human conversation. Described by Alan Turing in 1950 in his publication Computing machinery and intelligence,This test consists of a verbal confrontation between a human being with a computer and another blind human being. If the human initiating the conversations is not able to tell which of his interlocutors is a computer, the computer software can be considered to have passed the test. This implies that the computer and the human will try to have a human semantic appearance. (Source Wikipedia).
However, the myth of Man being overtaken by the machine he himself has created is becoming a reality, or almost. Indeed, during a competition sponsored by 2K Games, the BotPrize, two teams of scientists, one from the University of Austin (Texas), and the other from Romania, managed to demonstrate that they had created a model of artificial intelligence for Unreal Tournament 2004 whose behaviour and reactions were more "human" than those of a real human! More concretely, it was a matter of opposing in a competitive mode a panel of players composed half of humans (judges) and half of bots, each human having a kind of tagger in addition to his conventional weapons. This tagger is used to mark a target, to indicate whether the person thinks he is dealing with a bot or a human. In the end, the most tagged bot wins. In this case, the winning models, UT^2 and MirrorBot, each scored a humanity index of 52 %, while the first human came far behind with an index of only 42%.
The principle of Singularity defends the emergence of a society whose progress would no longer be the prerogative of Man, but that of a superior artificial intelligence. We can see here, that within the University of Austin, these scientists are working to make this theory more than a myth...