The future is virtually a reality

TECHNOLOGY: It’s a great time to be alive if you’re lazy and like machines.

By Zachary Sierra, Staff Writer

The future is now.

We might be a little bit behind the schedule laid out by science fiction writers Isaac Asimov and Arthur Clarke, but we’re definitely trending toward a wild sci-fi future.

While current technologies continue to improve, whole new ideas are beginning to present themselves, and old ideas previously limited by things such as battery power and material restrictions, are getting a new lease on life.

When the idea of the Internet was first posited by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in 1962, it was so revolutionary that DARPA, America’s mad scientist branch of government, began work on the very first interconnected servers. Now, fast forward more than 50 years, and we are on the verge of a new form of Internet.

The Internet of Things.

Imagine every object you interact with has a network profile and is hooked up to every device in the area, city, even the world. Using cloud computing allows for devices equipped with basic sensors and a network access terminal to interface with other machines.  How about smart vending machines that track your calorie intake, smart bicycles that sync with your health app on your phone, smart parking meters that send text warnings and houses that lock themselves when owners leave?

And that is just scratching the surface of a technology that is expected to have fifty billion connected devices by 2020.

It remains to be seen how the IoT will affect another burgeoning industry, 3D printing. A relatively new concept dating back to the late 1980’s, 3D printing has gone through something of a renaissance in recent years and is only expected to become more prolific.

Companies are hard at work creating 3D printers designed for home use that can dishes, clothes and even a house. With the prevalence the IoT is expected to obtain, one might imagine that one day you will be able to design your clothes for the next day, complete with health sensors and glow lights that sync to your smart phone. This will of course allow for revolutions for almost any object-based industry.

With the emergence of Augmented and Virtual Realities, this could become more organic than ever before. With the total immersion of VR, would-be designers, scientists, architects, doctors and more will be able to get up close and personal in a way they never could before.

The doctor won’t be working from a small screen while doing the surgery, he will be seeing the surgery up close and personal, reduced in scale until the surgery is all he sees. The architect will walk the halls of his creation years before it is built.

One might ever wonder what this might do to labor in varying fields. Why go to the office when you can put on your VR goggles and be there instantly? How about sunglasses that come with an AR display? How will our social interactions change when someone’s Facebook profile shows up next to their head as soon as you meet them? So often we already look at the world through our phones, what happens when you are missing out if you aren’t looking through the rose colored glasses of AR?

These technologies, like those that came before, promise great possibilities. But as history has shown, every blessing is also a curse. We are on the verge of the next renaissance, the next great leap in human history, we must make sure we dedicate ourselves to the advancement of mankind and not its destruction.

Because either way, we are destined to succeed.


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