The more I read about the Oculus Rift or other virtual reality (VR) goggles, 3-D printers and what they are creating, self-driving cars from Google, Tesla, or Apple, and how drones are really taking over our skies, I start to wonder where is our society headed?
We already revolve our lives around technology, whether social media updates, taking pictures or running our schedule with our smartphones, playing video games, streaming movies on Netflix or Amazon prime, working on the computer at our office, or talking to our family members using FaceTime. We live in a technological society.
Decades ago people fantasized about flying cars, teleportation, traveling to other galaxies, and other science-fiction stories that made us think about what was possible. If you look deep into our world, you will see that we really do live in the future. We are starting to show signs of artificial intelligence, and we already have a plethora of technological advancements that will eventually drive our society to the Singularity.
Being able to 3-D print an organ when it’s failing, is going to be the beginning to the end of disease. Self-driving cars will decrease fatalities while saving time for those who have to commute to work since they will be able to work in the car while their car drives them. Drone deliveries will help people in emergency situations, or that 3 AM wakeup call from the baby because you ran out of formula (Amazon to the rescue in 30 minutes via drone delivery). Virtual reality will allow us to travel to places we only dreamed of, while immersing us into a world that we only dreamed of.
The real question is: How will all of this new technology affect us, and how is it affecting us now? Since everything is so new, there are not that many studies geared around each technology, so therefore we will have to wait and see what happens in the next few decades. I for one embrace each one of them, because each one brings something valuable to the table. Here are just a few ways I believe each technology will be used in the future:
Virtual Reality (VR) – Imagine if NASA sent an android to a planet in a faraway solar system and were able to control it and see everything it sees using VR. It would be as if they were really there right? Well it’s completely possible to do that instead of just seeing through the camera of a rover or satellite imagery (quite primitive if you ask me). Imagine if there were a team of 100 androids on Mars with 100 experts wired in with VR each day maneuvering Mars and building a base station…As if they were really there doing it. That’s what I envision. You could even do this on Earth. The most dangerous jobs are no longer dangerous.
Same goes for an expert surgeon who just can’t’ be everywhere at once. With VR, the surgeon can perform surgeries anywhere in the world by using very precise robotic arms at the surgery table and VR to actually “be there”.
A more consumer friendly use for VR is obviously video games, traveling, flying…you know…fun things (porn industry here we come). All of this is already possible with Google Cardboard, Oculus, and other VR goggles. My worry is that more and more people will start to get sucked into this virtual world and start to lose touch with reality in some ways by becoming even more socially inept. Only time will tell.
3D Printing – You’re 65 years old, retired, and your health is failing. You need a new heart or liver, but getting one is expensive and the waiting list is long. You are upset because you worked very hard for 65 years at the same job only to die when you retire. But wait, you can just create a new organ with your 3D printer and have yours replaced. Yes, this will be possible one day (it already kind of is). Print a new fully functional arm for our vets or new eyes (to cure blindness), and the list goes on.
Soon you’ll also be able to order products or food online and print them immediately. Want to make a new coffee mug with your dog’s picture on it? No problem, just print one. Need a pair of socks? Print them. Want some sushi? Print it! Eventually we will live in a fully printable world. Anxious yet?
Self-driving cars – Google has now driven a self-driving car over 1 million miles without any accidents caused by the car itself. That’s impressive. What does this mean for society? Well, nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day. An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled. This could end with self-driving cars. Once you take human error, drunk drivers (or just bad drivers) out of the equation, the roads get much better. Oh, and remember that pesky thing…traffic? Yeah that will be gone too.
Imagine driving to work (well sitting in a car that’s driving you to work), while you work on your laptop for your 1 hour commute. Your job counts this hour, plus the hour home, since you are getting work done in your “mobile office”. So now you work 5 hours in the office and still get 1 hour lunch break. 5 hours versus 8 hours is a big difference. Your productivity sky rockets, and you have more time for your family, and your social life since you get home at 5 instead of 6. Remember you are working from 4 to 5pm in your mobile office. Now you don’t dread traffic, and you don’t waste any valuable time driving. You could actually spend time in the car with your kids watching a movie together, eating dinner, playing games, while the car takes you to Disney world.
Drones – They are already a part of our lives. We use them to film amazing videos, rescue people, drop supplies off to remote locations, find and destroy terrorists, save peoples’ lives with defibrillators, find lost animals, and many more useful tasks. As we continue to find new ways to use drones, companies like Amazon and Google are preparing for the next evolution in drones: deliveries. Imagine you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner with your entire family and the stores are closed but you realize you forgot to buy cranberries, gravy, and a carving knife. Well you’ll be able to order the items on Amazon and within 30 minutes a drone will deliver them to your door. Problem solved. Even better, you’re a single mother and your baby is sick at 3AM, crying incessantly. You live too far from a pharmacy and you don’t have a car anyway. So you just order the medicine on Amazon and within 30 minutes the medicine shows up at your front door. Baby problem solved.
Ambulances are our main source of rescue when someone is having a heart attack or needs to get to a hospital. But with drones we can bring the hospital to the patient, quickly. Within minutes of a 911 call, a drone will be at the site of the patient with a screen showing an EMT, speaker to hear them, and a built in defibrillator, or crucial medicine. Bystanders will be able to perform tasks using the drone and the EMT instructions.
Finally, drones will be used as a means for surveillance. Neighborhood patrols, sharks in the ocean, crowd management, and many other things.
Overall, our world is in for a big change in the coming years. We are Humans living in a robotic world. Once the Singularity arrives, we will surpass this technology and enter a whole new world. At least for now we are getting a small taste of what that world will be like.