Future technology

Some food for thought over Christmas and the new year:
A few things I’d love to see developed in the future (organised in rough order of near-far future):

1.) Quantum Computers. Obviously. I believe we’re already well on the way to this goal 😀 And everything that comes with that development… quantum simulation, bio apps, problem solving, and hopefully answering some deep TCS questions along the way.

2.) A good, lightweight, hi-res Head-Up Display (HUD) for access to the internet (and more) on the move. The best I’ve managed so far is a EeePC and a mobile broadband dongle. Good for coffeeshops and train journeys, but not exactly the ‘information on the move’ technology as portrayed in some sci-fi (e.g. the ‘glasses’ in Charles Stross’s Accelerando)

3.) Smart materials, which control the environment surrounding the human body in a way similar to the Stillsuit from Dune, recycling waste, regulating temperature, harvesting waste heat energy to (possibly?) power small mobile computing devices and the suit itself. The clothing could perhaps give you health status updates too.

4.) Commonplace space flights for the general public, a la Virgin Galactic. I’d love to go into space at least once in my lifetime. We’re going to have to move into space when we make the transition to a Type I civilisation anyway, so we might as well get used to the idea now.

5.) Some form of personal flight device – like this SKYCAR. Although personally I favour more natural wings. Whilst human-powered ornithopters are probably impossible, some form of machine-powered personal ornithopter would be rather cool. (Anyone who knows me will know I have a minor obsession with wings).

6.) Computing systems with (presumably parallel) processing power similar to that of the human brain, just to have some neat hardware for artificial intelligence research. I’m personally (currently) a proponent of the STRONG AI viewpoint (apologies to Roger Penrose), and I’d love to see systems with our level of intelligence developed on alternate (non-meat based) platforms.

7.) Brain-Computer interfacing (BCI) – direct upload and download of signals to the brain from an on-body or desktop computer. This also relates to point 2.) in that you could have the HUD as a direct feed to the visual cortex. In combination with point 6.), I like the idea of downloading the instantaneous ‘state’ of the brain (including the neural ‘wiring’ schematic) and and seeing if it can be ‘written’ to a brain with the same physical hardware configuration, and then observing the behaviour of the ‘artificial’ brain.

I may add to the list if I think of anything else 🙂

5 thoughts on “Future technology

  1. Geordie says:

    Re #6, I really don’t think we need a lot more computer power than we already have. What we need is a couple more heaping spoonfuls of insight into how the algorithmic architecture of such things should look. I don’t think we’re that far off. Once we’re at the point where silicon-based systems can do everything that humans do better than humans, we’ll find that the required processing power is not as stupendous as many think. I’m willing to bet that a modern cell phone is capable of doing nearly everything an average human can.

  2. rrtucci says:

    Something obvious, for which all necessary technology is already available, but, paradoxically, doesn’t exist yet. Eye glasses for the hard of hearing, that will translate the sounds of speech into text, and show the text within the field of vision of the user of the eyeglasses. “Eyeglasses with captions”

  3. Geordie says:

    rrtucci: that is a really good idea. I wonder if the hardware required might be too bulky to make this work. Although you could just use the glasses as transmitters/receivers and do the calculations remotely…

  4. physicsandcake says:

    Geordie: I agree it’s the advances in architecture and algorithms that we’re lacking rather than sheer processing power. The level of connectivity, efficiency and fault tolerance that the brain exhibits always amazes me, as I rambled on about a bit in this post.

    rrtucci: You should patent that 🙂

  5. Alexander Kruel says:

    You might want to read Rainbows End 🙂

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