“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our imagination”
Technology as we know it evolves every day. The human civilization has been so persuasive in discovering and inventing new technologies every instant, that it would seem very strange if, for a certain timestamp, technologies stop evolving. In recent times, Information Technology has been very successful in delivering excellence in technology evolution. But however, evolution is more than that. It should impact mankind and Earth on a physical level as well. It should be able to battle the threats and difficulties endangering our civilization like climate change, mass extinction, and meteorite threats. And at last, it should have a long term influence.
So here’s a list of top 10 emerging technologies that have been influencing human life or are currently undergoing research for future implementation.
1. Bioplastics for a recyclable future.
Plastic has been causing harm to the biosphere ever since its invention. A non-biodegradable yet useful petroleum product that is mostly used on a single time basis, has caused much harm to aquatic life as well as terrestrial life as a deadly meteorite shower. These materials clog the land surface of vegetation, indigestible by organisms and furthermore never degrades but invades the natural food cycle process.
Hence to eradicate this problem, researchers have come up with a new formula that creates bioplastic. A material having the same structure as the conventional plastic but only less invasive, created using cellulose and lignin extracted from plant wastes. This plastic is fully biodegradable with nature and is considered as a breakthrough for the circular economy
2. DNA Data Storage.
The IT community has been rapidly developing and with the advent of large tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Dropbox, and with its ever-increasing community of customers, data storage has become a prime issue of hinderance. Every day, huge petabytes of data are generated which are handled by various Data Structure Algorithms and the hardware-accelerated servers. However, time is against us, and a data saturation period is not far enough. Hence to tackle this situation, researchers in Bioinformatics have been trying to create a data storage system using the DNA genome extracted from organisms.
The deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has the ability to store various genetic traits that are passed down from the parent to the child organism. These molecules comprise four major sub-molecules, Adenine(A), Guanine(G), Thymine(T) and Cytosine(C). The mapping of these sub-molecules is what makes the DNA able to store genetic traits (data) and pass it on. However, if we can extract the DNA molecules and store it in a controlled environment, and use bioinformatics algorithms to map the sub-molecules as per the digital data, we are able to store the digital data inside the DNA molecule. This will exponentially increase the global data storage and we shall have no threats of data saturation, ever.
3. Social Robots.
Hollywood has always been successful in showcasing a future where humans and robots coexist and create a wonderful bonding. Well, the future is not so far away. Robots are smart autonomous technologies that have the ability to carry out tasks done by humans with enhanced accuracy. Today, a robot can not just carry out physical tasks, but can also listen, recognize voices, detect faces and emotions, translate and understand speech patterns and also show human-like emotions. In fact, Artificial Intelligence has paved the way for robots and AI programs to communicate amongst themselves by autonomously generated machine language. Strange but true. However, if we can tame this technology for better use, we can create a world where humans and robots can co-exist. Today, slowly and steadily, robots like drones and autonomous vehicles, are providing services like delivery systems and transportation. There are ongoing developments on precision-strict robotic surgeons in medical science and robots can take care of elder citizens and infants alike. This is the future.
4. Smart Fertilizer Management
The conventional fertilizers used in agriculture comprises of certain unwanted elements which along with providing nutrients to crops, also devastates the land and other natural resources. In most cases, due to topographic and meteorological deviations, fertilizers often fail to provide complete effectiveness to the crop. Hence there is a huge scale wastage and run-offs. Smart fertilizer, on the other hand, is a software-driven platform developed with the sole intention of optimizing the fertilizer according to the crop type, geographic location, etc. which shall result in increased crop yield, reduced wastage of fertilizer and a sustainable approach to agriculture. The good news is, it’s already out there in the market and making huge crop yields. But the bad news, we don’t know when it will be implemented in the Indian subcontinent.
5. Quantum Computing
It is estimated that by 2050s, the computational power of a silicon device shall reach its peak. So the only option that shall be available, is to move from the traditional atomic level computation to the new quantum level computation. Classical computers carry out logical operations using the definite position of a physical state. These are usually binary, meaning its operations are based on one of two positions, 1 or 0.
In quantum computing, these bits are called qubits. Qubits have the special property of storing some quantum data like the spin of an electron, the polarization involved, and the level of superposition involved between the qubits. These properties are harvested by some complex mathematics and quantum algorithms, which as a result, produce a stronger and faster computation device. Recently, Google claimed to have achieved the ‘Quantum Breakthrough’, by solving an impossible-to-solve problem using its prototype quantum computer called Sycamore.
6. Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality
Interacting with the virtual components generated by the computer in real-life with muscle moments has always been a dream for many tech fans all across the group. Well, the dream has already become a reality after all. Virtual reality devices like Facebook’s Oculus, Google’s DayDream are all but amazing examples of how humans can interact with the virtual world. Currently, huge-scale research by corporates and research institutes all across the globe are involved in creating interacting with these devices in real-life with hands, which in technical terms, known as Augmented Reality. A hologram is a great example of Augmented Reality. Combining the power of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is what we call a Mixed Reality. This is a situation in which the user can both see and feel and interact with the virtual environment like it is the reality. This is a topic of research that is soon to be made a reality in no time.
7. Smart Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the study of nanoparticles with the intention of creating materials that can be of great use to mankind and fulfilling their extravagant endeavors. The greatest application of nanotechnology is in glass industries, like the flight windshield of jet fighters and advanced Boeing Jets. However, with recent works going on, the interests have shifted to creating nanoparticle reinforced materials like bulletproof jackets, the body of space shuttles and much more. Now, newer technologies and research are being implemented in creating programmable nanomaterials that shall have artificial intelligence embedded into their structure which shall be used for creating smart materials that can regenerate itself in times of wear and tears.
8. 5G Network Technology
The 5G network has been on the rise since the beginning of 2019. Although expensive and confined to certain regions of major cities of the world, this technology is bound to take over the global data communication network by the year 2020. With enhanced bandwidth and less fluctuation of signal, this network shall enable the machinery, IoT, autonomous vehicles and robots to transfer huge loads of data without any issues, resulting in better overall performance and accuracy.
9. Digital Twins
The term ‘Digital Twin’ was first coined by Dr. Michael Grieves in 2002. Digital twin refers to the process of developing a digital replica from the real physical asset using the sensors deployed to collect all the data. Once the digital twin has been created, certain optimization processes can be carried out on the test replica to ensure better performance of the physical asset, with cost reduction and sustainable procedures. This technology was first used by NASA to create a digital twin of the surface of Mars, which paved the way for the selection of landing sites for future Mars projects. Creating a Digital Twin within a shorter period and the lesser cost is the next big thing for the currently undergoing Fourth Industrial Revolution.
10. Autonomous Transport System
Although partially being commercialized in certain regions of the globe, self-driving vehicles are the next big thing in the evolution of the global transport system. Highly trained with a real-life dataset of the pedestrians and other vehicles on the road, a vehicle can finally recognize the obstacles on the road and drive safely just like any conscious driver. But with further advancements being underway, this technology is also being implemented in aerial as well as marine transport facilities as well. With the huge array of technologies like the gyroscope, accelerometer and proper GPS tracking powered by Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, transportation becoming autonomous forever are the next big thing. This will result in more comfortable journeys and lesser cost as compared to the conventional public transport system.
These are some of the many technologies shaping the near future and beyond. It may vary from statistics to statistics, but the major point to be noted here is that these technologies are here to make human lives and the world a better place to live in. A technology is only valid if it does not hamper the natural sustainable development process and mitigates the rise of natural warnings like Climate Change and Global Warnings.