All tagged technology

Have you ever thought that the process of making a light bulb seemed a little too complicated? Well the people at the University of Connecticut have found an easier way. All you have to do is extract DNA from fish, add fluorescent dyes, spin them out into nanofibers. This process allows the light to make a material that absorbs ultraviolet light and gives it off as visible light. You can even adjust the color of the light with the amount of dye used, making it brighter or softer. Not only that but these new light bulbs could last far longer than the type you are used to, and they probably don't smell too much like fish. You might naturally assume that the scientists who are creating this new type of light bulb have some greater plan in mind, but they aren't admitting it, so I will reveal how I would use this plan. These new light bulbs using DNA will be far better than the old ones, slowly over the next years they will replace all other light bulbs, then at the scheduled time the scientists will emit a strong burst of energy to each of the light bulbs that will impart the  fish DNA to anyone nearby, turning us into a half-fish slave race. On the other hand it could simply be an interesting example of the many things that we are able to do as we learn to understand DNA better. --Thanks to Tifu from Deviant art for the fishman picture. see the article about it here
One of the things I love about science fiction is that it helps us prepare for the future. Not all science fiction does this but often the best stories look at how things are going to be in ten years and warns us. It seems to me that the spam we get isn't that far off from the books written in 1984 and neither are the cameras everywhere. So looking at the modern technology from the point of view of science fiction what technologies are going to change us and how? What parts of human nature are so basic that they will remain the same and what parts can we change with technology? First we need to identify the technology that are changing us. There are hundreds of them. There are the older technologies like the car and the phone and the TV that have already made a generation of people who aren't quite the same as before, but the differance between those and the new technologies is that people got away from the old technologies. One of the biggest technologies that is going to change our society in ways we're just beginning to understand is instant and constant communication. Text messages, facebook, myspace and twitter may not seem like much and in the end they may be a fad, but there are some serious implications. The issue that we are running into is that teenagers can now remain in their peer group all the time. I'm not that much older then them, but I used to come home at the end of the day and have to deal with adults. Now kids come home, and get on the internet and talk to their friends more. The fear is that it will lead to a generation of children who never acclimated to adult society. Next is the easy access to information. There is a major debate going on in academia currently as to whether children are getting smarter or stupider. This results largely in the access to information. Its almost hard to remember when if you wanted to know something you had to go to the library and research and even then it wasn't easy to find. The library where I grew up had a card catolog when I was younger. And as much as we have now we are in the infancy of true universal connection to knowledge. Twenty years ago the internet was small and you had to go to a university to see it, 15 years ago you could get an expensive desktop to get 56k at home, ten years ago you could get laptop, 5 years ago broadband became accessible to everyone and now we have smart phones that can access the internet from nearly anywher e anytime. What about 5 more years? Perhaps small devices that slip around the neck that can scan everything we see in real life and show us a heads up display about it? (It's in development). These technologies still leave humans in the equation and because of that they seem relatively mundane, but what about the technologies that have the potential to truly change us. Computers in general are improving at such a rate that its hard to imagine that at some point they won't be able to do anything people can. At that point we will either have a mindless army of servants or a new species on the earth that will compete with us for the leadership of the planet. Either would change us. And of course the mother of altering technology is genetic engineering. With this technology we can even throw out all the natural instincts and ways of thinking if we want. Make people who are smarter, faster, smarter and healthier than those who live now, but at what cost? It all seems like science fiction if you project it too far into the future, but when you look at the effect that technology is having on the world today and understand just how quickly it is improving it's hard not to see the exponential growth of technology and understand that it is going to change us.
Some friends and me are going camping this weekend and as we were preparing it struck me just how much technology has invaded our lives. We are going to a camp, not a camping ground so some of that is because of the location, but not all of it. There are certain technologies no one would even consider leaving behind. The cell phone is the most obvious. There was once a point where going camping meant that you were isolated from the world. (There was once a time when going to the bank, or a restaurant or the movies also meant you were isolated from the world but that is a different point).There is something good and healthy about being unreachable occasionally, but the very idea makes most people uncomfortable. The MP3 player is the next on the list. The truth is that I probably won't have time to listen to it much during the weekend, there is simply too much going on, but I still have it charging so that its battery will last through as much of the weekend as possible. The Internet in the final step. There is some type of draft happening this weekend and they want to be able to see what happens but they pay for it all the time. Now, I love the Internet, use it all the time, but I think I can safely go  a weekend without being tethered to it. None of this is bad. I like all the technologies that I am taking with me, but I can imagine the same trip in a few decades when the option to leave behind the technology has become even less of an option. It seems like it will only be a matter of time before computers that interact directly with the human brain emerge, that cell phones get put directly into the ears and we begin to replace body parts with ones that work better and all these things will be good, but they are also going to make escape even for a few hours impossible and humans need to occasionally escape.
Often technology is shown in science fiction on TV and movies with very little real effect. People can teleport from place to play or cut through walls with laser swords without thinking about the repercussions of how this would effect everyday life. Some of those changes would be good, these are the ones which would be far to dangerous for modern human civilisation.

10. Flying Cars
These are one of the less dangerous of the dangerous inventions on this list because in large part the people who got killed would be killing themselves. Still, if you've been on the road recently you know just how bad of an idea it would be to allow these people a flying car. Also, imagine your parents trying to understand how to program the AI which ran it if we went that way. My parents still have trouble with the TV remote.

How it could be good - long lines of cars in perfect formation of cars in long rows, floating traffic lights, and getting to work far faster.

How I imagine it - They have finally worked it out so that the constant fender benders and bad driving don't get me killed in the chaos of the sky where thousands of cars go in thousands of different directions, i get in my car type in my destination and halfway there the engine dies. I plummet to my death. You think it's annoying when you have car trouble now, try it at 10,000 feet.

9. Nanites
Microscopic robots which are already being worked on. They can go inside the human body or create machinery thousands of times smaller than any human could hope to. More importantly they are able to copy themselves so that you don't have to constantly replace them.

How It could be good - People inject themselves with these devices and can heal in seconds, become super strong and smart. aging stops, computers become thousands of times faster thanks to micro circuitry, and nearly anything can be made by these tiny helpers.

How I imagine it - Assuming again that the grey goo scenario in which nanites reproduce until everything on earth is a nanite won't happen I go to the more annoying problem with these, adware, spyware and viruses. You think that pop ups are annoying on your computer then imagine what happens when hackers start to put them into the nanites which are improving your vision, constant popups advertising Viagra which you won't need because the nanites have already made you perfectly health but which they continue to put out because 1/20th of 1% of the population still fall for them.

8. Invisibility
This technology appears to be possible at some point in the future. New tests have found that they can bend light around people. The technology today makes the person inside invisible and isn't completely useful but it's likely to happen at some point.

How it could be good - Everyone gets a great view. You could observe wildlife without interfering with them.

How I imagine it - Security cameras are bad enough when you can see them. Now they are everywhere and you can't see them. No one one has any privacy anymore and every military weapon is completely invisible. You have to go through infrared scanners to get into everything.


7. Weather Control
Since people began to predict the weather they have thought about what it would be like to be able to control it. From the space shuttle being delayed due to weather to thousands of weekends ruined the idea of being able to control the weather is a great idea.

How it would be good - It only rains at night when everyone is asleep, there is never a drought, snow days are planned weeks in advance and no one is ever killed by hurricanes or tornadoes because they are harmlessly routed into empty sections of land.

How I imagine it - No need for wars, we don't even have to use tornadoes lightning. We simply just turn off the water for a few years. People starve to death and the land turns into a desert and that's all assuming that our messing with the weather doesn't cause huge unexpected changes in the weather in other places.

5. Replicators
Push a button and get anything you want. A replicator rearranges matter into anything you want.

How it would be good - No one ever goes hungry and you get what you want every meal. Saves hours a day and you never have to go to the store because you can simply push a button.

How I imagine it - I don't really care that the economy collapses and every Wal-Mart in the country is closed, but you think Americans are fat now imagine what happens when you can eat anything you wand anytime you want and you never have to leave your home.

4. Artificial Gravity
Who knows how gravity really works but at some point it might be possible. this isn't the minor technology that it typically is seen. being able to control gravity could change everything.

How it would be good - those flying cars might not fall out of the sky, we could move huge amounts of cargo with anti gravity hand carts and space travel becomes cheep as we simply turn off gravity and float into the sky and walk around the ships like we're on earth once we get there.
How I imagine it - Want to destroy a building you don't need explosives or planes, simply adjust the gravity on one part of the building. Any technology this revolutionary is going to be used not only by our military and others and that's all assuming that someone doesn't alter the orbit of the earth or rip apart the earth with it.

3. Time Travel
Zipping up and down the time stream is problematic in TV and movies because of how complicated it is so it hardly seems any point in explaining how it would be dangerous which is why it's not higher on the list.

How it would be good - History could be revised to a more correct vision, we could pull people who are about to die out of time into ours to keep them alive without changing anything and collect lost masterpieces.
How I imagine it - We don't need the butterfly effect or time criminals to cause problems. How I see it is that we step into our time machine power up the ten nuclear reactors which power it and jump backwards through time and find ourselves millions of miles from earth because for those entire thousand years the earth has continued to move and even if we solve that the government uses it to spy on not only on what you're doing now but what you've ever done.

2. Teleportation
Orbiting satellites can be used to get from anyplace on earth to anyplace else as well as getting into orbit cheaply.

How it would be good - I've always wanted to visit the pyramids and walk the streets of Jerusalem. Americans would actually begin to understand the rest of the world. Troop moment becomes much faster and cheaper and they can go home at the end of the day.

How I imagine it - You think security is bad now imagine what it would be like when people can teleport in. Concerts, sports even movies become next to impossible to sell tickets to and money disappears out of every bank in the country. Sections of buildings are teleported away collapsing the buildings. Every trouble in the world becomes a local problem so the instability of any place in the world becomes a problem for everyone.

1. Holodeck
The most dangerous technology ever thought of. Step into any world you want, live out your fantasies. Become James Bond or explore the stars without ever leaving your home.

How it would be good - This ends most of the problems of the things on the rest of the list. People don't have wars anymore because they can just go into a world where everything is the way that they want. Every skill can be practiced until you're good at it, doctors become experts without having to learn on the job and people are happy all the time.
How I imagine it - Holodecks become universal and 9 and a half months later the last human child is born. People never interact with anyone directly. At best they enter into massively multi player online holodecks where they talk to other virtual people. Research stops because you don't need to invent things that actual work when you can program it into your holodeck. No one cares about success they already have everything they want. The human race goes out not with a bang but a whimper, but at least they are happy doing it.