A Glimpse of The Future
When people think of the future, quite often an image of Star Wars or Star Trek comes to mind. Flying vehicles, replicators, and interstellar travel are also common themes. There are quite a number of visions on how the far future can or should look like, and many people are very excited for it.
But when asked to try look into the near future, say a few decades from now, most people draw blanks. Some might say better video game graphics or better smartphones, but almost never new technologies that are not completely unrecognizable, but still a decent leap forward that will nonetheless make life better and more exciting.
Artificial Intelligence: Machines Coming To Life
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has captured the imagination of sci-fi enthusiasts at least since HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. AI is essentially a machine that can engage in certain lines of thought with a degree of independence. Even though it is programmed, the AI can behave in ways that cannot be predicted.
For years, governments and now increasingly private tech companies have been developing large supercomputers with outrageous amounts of raw processing power, and a number of these supercomputers have surpassed the raw processing power of a human brain. However, at least for now, computers have yet to match the human brain in terms of creativity and original thought.
But sometime in the near future, this might very well change. Computer engineers are working tirelessly to develop an AI program that will match the human brain in every aspect. This could potentially open up brand new avenues for economic development that could never have been possible before.
The uses of AI range from diagnosing diseases and treatments with pinpoint accuracy, to designing a bridge, and everything in between. The potential to increase human effectiveness and wellbeing is truly endless. And with the exponential growth in information technology, there is no telling how far this can go.
DNA Testing: Find Out Who You Are
The improvements made in biotechnology in recent years, coupled with exponentially decreasing computational costs, have made DNA testing available commercially to the average person. You can now find out your genetic makeup and what nations your ancestors came from, and at the same time not break the bank.
Basically, how it works is that a testing kit will be sent to your house, you will spit into a test tube up to a demarcated line, and the saliva will then be sent to a lab to sequence your genes. There is usually a waiting period of a few weeks between sending your sample and obtaining the final results.
The most common things they will look for would be your ancestral background as well as your susceptibility to certain genetically inherited diseases. You can usually increase the number of traits and items you would like the testers to look for by paying a little more. Other popular things people like to look for include dietary sensitivities, predisposition to certain diseases, and many more aspects.
It is generally believed that larger data banks would provide a more accurate reading of your DNA results. This is because researchers there have a larger sample of genes to look at and therefore can better notice patterns amongst different groups of people. They also usually have shorter waiting times for the same reason.
Looking into the future, we can only hope that DNA technology used to further humanity for the better. Looking to history as a reference, we must not fall prey to discrimination against someone based on genetics. The political ramifications have proven deadly and this should be avoided at all costs.
Medicine: Living Longer and Better Lives
The field of medicine has made significant strides in recent years. This is in large part due to the link between biotechnology and information technology, which has enabled the medicine field to experience a snowballing effect on its research and development. The field will make as much progress in just a few years' time as it did in the last few centuries.
Living longer might not mean much if you spend those extra few years bed-ridden or not remembering the names of your children. It is just as important to live healthier lives. And increasingly, new medicines are coming online that enable people to experience the best of both worlds.
There is so much potential for collaboration between medicine and other biotechnology fields. By combining the specialties of different fields together, truly amazing things can happen. Sometimes, entirely new fields come into being as a result of collaboration.
As human life expectancy continues to increase, the issue of quality alongside quantity will become increasingly important. If we as a society are able to optimize the two, we could potentially create a world beyond anyone's wildest imagination for the benefit of all humanity.
The Task of This Generation
We are truly on the cusp of completely transforming our species. With new developments coming left and right and, in every way imaginable, the future has the potential to be absolutely fantastical. The world of science fiction can truly become science reality within our lifetimes.
It is so exhilarating to think about the countless sleepless nights spent at labs across the world, with people working tirelessly and passionately on what could be the next big thing. Only time can tell how far we go and how high we soar and how closely we can reach the stars!
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