10 tech­nolo­gies that are chang­ing the world

Tehran Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Fu­tur­ists of the 1950s and ‘60s pre­dicted that by the 2000s, fly­ing cars and air­borne ro­bots would be a part of our ev­ery­day lives. In­stead, we live in a world dom­i­nated by live stream­ing, smart­phones and so­cial net­works.

While those fore­cast­ers didn’t quite get the tim­ing right, they got the tech­nol­ogy right. To­day, we are at the brink of an­other tech­no­log­i­cal boom. This time, tech­nolo­gies like self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles and ro­bot as­sis­tants are un­der de­vel­op­ment. Soon, these and the other ex­cit­ing tech­nolo­gies de­scribed be­low will go main­stream, chang­ing the world in the process.

1. Voice as­sis­tants

In four years, the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­can house­holds are ex­pected to own a voice as­sis­tant de­vice like an Ama­zon Echo or an Ap­ple Homepod. Thanks to the power of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI), voice as­sis­tants will grow in­creas­ingly help­ful.

Even to­day, Ama­zon re­leases reg­u­lar up­dates to Echo in or­der to help own­ers get more from the tech­nol­ogy. The com­pany re­cently re­ported see­ing larger-than-ex­pected gains from its voice as­sis­tant, which is why Ama­zon is now dou­bling down on the tech­nol­ogy.

Voice as­sis­tants are mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact in mar­kets across the globe, and some ob­servers ex­pect that in the fu­ture we will com­mu­ni­cate with tech­nol­ogy through voice rather than text.

2. Crispr

Imag­ine a world where crush­ing ge­netic dis­eases like Hunt­ing­ton’s and cys­tic fi­bro­sis can be cured. Thanks to crispr, ge­netic dis­ease may be elim­i­nated.

CRISPR Cas-9 (an ab­bre­vi­a­tion stand­ing for “Clus­tered Reg­u­larly In­ter­spaced Short Palin­dromic Re­peats”) is a gene-splic­ing tech­nol­ogy ca­pa­ble of find­ing and re­mov­ing mu­tated sec­tions of DNA. Once this ma­te­rial is elim­i­nated, crispr tech­nol­ogy can re­place the mu­tated sec­tions with non-mu­tated vari­ants.

As a re­sult, crispr has the power to per­ma­nently elim­i­nate cer­tain types of ge­netic dis­eases from blood lines. The tech­nol­ogy has al­ready been used to elim­i­nate can­cer in some pa­tients, and early re­sults show that it may be pos­si­ble to cure ge­net­i­cally caused blind­ness as well.

3. Ro­bot as­sis­tants

Com­pa­nies like Bos­ton Dy­nam­ics have al­ready de­vel­oped a wide va­ri­ety of ro­bot as­sis­tants that can be used in fac­to­ries or on the bat­tle­field. The com­pany orig­i­nally started as an arm of MIT and has since pi­o­neered the de­vel­op­ment of in­tel­li­gent ro­bots that op­er­ate ef­fec­tively in the real world.

Knightscope is an­other com­pany work­ing on a line of ro­bot as­sis­tants for se­cu­rity ap­pli­ca­tions. For ex­am­ple, its K5 ro­bot fea­tures four cam­eras and can rec­og­nize 300 li­censes plates per minute, per cam­era. It can also de­tect sus­pi­cious net­works that may be op­er­ated by hack­ers.

4. Aug­mented and mixed re­al­ity

Just a few years ago, it was un­clear whether aug­mented or mixed re­al­ity would take off. Given the fact that tech gi­ants like Ap­ple are in­vest­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in aug­mented re­al­ity hard­ware, it’s pretty clear that it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore the tech goes main­stream.

For ex­am­ple, Ap­ple’s lat­est phones are equipped with aug­mented re­al­ity ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and a re­cent re­port sug­gests that the com­pany is work­ing on an AR head­set that will re­place the iPhone in two to three years.

5. Re­gen­er­a­tive medicine

Though it may sound like science fic­tion, doc­tors are al­ready pro­duc­ing made-to-or­der body parts. To get started, doc­tors scrape cells off the body part in ques­tion and grow them in a petri dish. In time, the body part grows strong enough that it can be im­planted in­side the pa­tient.

One com­pany, Organovo, has de­vel­oped a printer ca­pa­ble of 3D print­ing body parts. In time, this new tech­nol­ogy will be­come in­creas­ingly main­stream, pro­vid­ing pa­tients with life­sav­ing or­gan re­place­ments.

6. Driver­less ve­hi­cles

Au­tomak­ers like Tesla, Gen­eral Mo­tors and Volvo have al­ready de­vel­oped semi-au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles. But self-driv­ing tech­nol­ogy is rapidly evolv­ing. Gen­eral Mo­tors an­nounced that it will launch a car that has no steer­ing wheel or ped­als by 2019.

Uber, mean­while, is lead­ing the push for pi­lot­less fly­ing ve­hi­cles, and has teamed up with NASA to de­velop an air-traf­fic-con­trol sys­tem. Uber is also work­ing with air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers to de­velop pro­to­types, with the in­ten­tion of launch­ing a beta pro­gram in 2020.

7. Reusable rock­ets

One of the costli­est as­pects of space ex­plo­ration is the build­ing of so­phis­ti­cated and pow­er­ful rock­ets ca­pa­ble of trans­port­ing thou­sands of pounds of equip­ment into space. The fact that we have fig­ured out how to land rock­ets -- even the large ones used to launch the Fal­con Heavy -- will help to re­duce the cost of space travel.

8. Cryp­tocur­rency

At one point this year, Bit­coin was worth more than $19,000 per coin, and while the value of the cryp­tocur­rency has since de­clined, a sin­gle coin is still worth thou­sands of dol­lars.

Cryp­tocur­rency may be con­tro­ver­sial to­day, but it has steadily be­come in­creas­ingly main­stream. Some of the largest hedge funds are bet­ting on Bit­coin -- which is just the be­gin­ning of a cryp­tocur­rency rev­o­lu­tion.

Plat­forms like TrustTo­ken are poised to con­nect the global trad­ing power of blockchains with real-world as­sets. On the TrustTo­ken plat­form, the own­ers of an as­set -- a home, a small busi­ness or gold -- would be able to sell fac­tions of those as­sets, and co­or­di­nate the as­set’s own­er­ship through unique blockchain-based to­kens. As a re­sult, sellers can make illiq­uid as­sets liq­uid, and buy­ers can gain con­trol of a di­verse port­fo­lio of as­sets.

Other crypto plat­forms like Hy­bridBlock are de­signed to give crypto en­thu­si­asts greater ac­cess to silo-trad­ing mar­kets, help­ing to ex­pand the in­dus­try to a new wave of crypto en­thu­si­asts. By of­fer­ing mo­bile-friendly prod­ucts, Hy­bridBlock is pro­vid­ing the Asia mar­ket with a new form of crypto ed­u­ca­tion and the tools to ex­e­cute crypto trades.

9. Quan­tum com­put­ing

The typ­i­cal com­puter uses a se­ries of ze­ros and ones to com­mu­ni­cate in­for­ma­tion. While to­day’s com­put­ers are quite pow­er­ful, they still have con­sid­er­able lim­i­ta­tions that make it dif­fi­cult to process chal­leng­ing ma­chine-learn­ing prob­lems.

Quan­tum com­put­ers rely on quan­tum bits to carry in­for­ma­tion. These bits can ex­ist in a state which al­low quan­tum com­put­ers to process chal­leng­ing datasets much bet­ter than tra­di­tional com­put­ers do. As a re­sult, quan­tum com­put­ing can help to pro­duce se­ri­ous ma­chine-learn­ing break­throughs that might oth­er­wise be im­pos­si­ble solve.

While the tech­nol­ogy is still in its early stages, com­pa­nies like Mi­crosoft and Google are in­vest­ing bil­lions in de­vel­op­ing su­per­com­put­ers ca­pa­ble of de­vel­op­ing highly ac­cu­rate pre­dic­tive mod­els. These mod­els can be used in ev­ery­thing from self-driv­ing cars to mar­ket­ing cam­paigns.

10. Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and au­to­ma­tion

Some of the world’s big­gest brands are in­creas­ingly turn­ing to au­to­ma­tion in or­der to bet­ter serve cus­tomers and to re­duce costs. Big-box re­tail­ers use au­to­mated ware­houses to sort and ship prod­ucts, while so­cial me­dia net­works use au­to­ma­tion to mod­er­ate com­ments, and credit card com­pa­nies use au­to­ma­tion to de­tect fraud.

For ex­am­ple, Sy­napse is build­ing a net­work that gives any­one the abil­ity to con­trib­ute his or her data and train au­to­ma­tion and ma­chine-learn­ing mod­els. The im­pli­ca­tions here are mas­sive, be­cause a new AI econ­omy, in­clud­ing de­cen­tral­ized blockchain AI, could change the way busi­nesses op­er­ate and learn around the world.

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