We are living in a time of accelerated technological development where robots will look and act more like humans.
In the Law of Accelerating Returns, futurist Ray Kurzweil argues that the new world will be unrecognizable. “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).”
He points out that we are living in a time of accelerated technological development and will reach a point when we won’t even be able to comprehend our own future. Instead of looking at a linear future, one that emerged from a constant stream of innovations, we will witness an exponential future, one that emerged in discontinuous quantum leaps.
Expect Almost Miraculous Drugs
There are many rabbit holes we could go down when talking about medical technology, but one that has received little public attention because of its Delphic nature is cell line development.
Although the use of a cell line to test a drug for toxicity or efficacy is not new–scientists developed it in 1951–what is new is that we now have a much more sophisticated technology to isolate single, viable cells. This will dramatically improve drug discovery. A lingering issue with cell lines in the past was that they delivered inconsistent results. Scientists were having a challenging time reproducing research findings and promising drug candidates failed to perform in clinical trials.
However, our new technological resources will increase the potential for getting biologically relevant information on how a drug candidate affects a course of treatment. We can expect an increase in efficacy in vivo experiments because of our ability to mimic the exact processes occurring in a living organism.
Interact With Humanoid Robots
Robots already play a role in many areas of human life, from building automobiles to enhancing worker safety in the workplace.
Many are even more sophisticated. Some perform tasks that are too dangerous for humans to do. In space exploration, for instance, they explore the surface of inhospitable planets or go around space stations repairing equipment. Meanwhile, others perform tasks that are too hard for humans to do. In medicine, for example, they do surgery too delicate for the human hand to perform.
However, engineers are working on making robots less like intelligent machines and more like smart humans. Robots will look and act more like humans. They will have natural-looking hair and skin with embedded nerve-like sensors that will make it possible for them to respond to the stimuli in the environment. Think of Data, the android in Star Trek.
Erica is an example of a humanoid robot. She has silicon skin, two 16 channel microphone arrays, infrared depth sensors, facial recognition capability, and a speech synthesizer. However, while Erica is an engaging conversationalist, she does not have much mobility–unlike, say, Asimo, who has speed, grace, balance, and agility.
Manufacture Your Own Stuff
3-D printing is already impressive. Inventors have been able to print out 3D cars and 3D homes. In the future, these anomalies will be the new normal. Most people will manufacture what they need for their homes or offices with a professional 3D printer. This freedom to create functional objects will expand creative thinking. Traditional manufacturing with expensive machinery will slip into obsolescence because 3D printing is faster and more convenient.
Experience Fewer Road Accidents
Most car accidents are caused by human errors or aberrations — like miscalculation, risk-taking, cell phone calls, texting, blind spots, intoxication, substance abuse, and road rage. Self-driving cars will eliminate all such quotidian risks, and pedestrians, bicyclists, and people in other cars will be safer when humans are not piloting their own vehicles. Already engineers have tested self-driving cars on millions of road miles. Technology has every potential to become mainstream.
In conclusion, drug testing, robotics, 3D printing, and electric cars are still in their nascent stage but poised for growth. They have yet to evolve to a new level of sophistication. In the future, there may be a drug for every illness, robots as realistic as people, in-house manufacturing as well-designed as factory products, and roads populated by autonomous cars driving people around cities.