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A Futurist Report

By Director of Technology Robert Derby
Happy Spring! I consider myself a futurist with a passion for learning how technology will impact society in the next 25-50 years. I admittedly spend a great deal of time on the internet reading and watching copious amounts of news on technology. Here are a few technology and futurism updates to share.

Billionaire Elon Musk has started his latest venture, Neuralink, a company that is developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers. In a recent interview, Musk discusses his goal to help people with brain injuries and enable brain-to-brain telepathic communication. He hopes the future technology will help fight artificial intelligence (AI) from surpassing the human brain.
 
Speaking of AI, AI has great potential to change our defense and national security. This interactive visualization of military defense technology could alter the battlefield as we know it. Click around the visualization to see current, prototype and conceptional defense technology using robotics and AI. Technologies include swarm robotics, autonomous kamikaze drones, and AI-powered cyber-offense. Think this is too farfetched? In current news, Connecticut lawmakers have proposed a bill, which would allow law enforcement agencies to use weaponized drones.

Before you get too depressed about a potential dystopian future of killer robots, let me share an inspiring initiative called the Venus Project. Conceptualized by 101-year-old futurist Jacque Fresco, the project proposes using technology to provide goods and services without the use of money, also known as a resource-based economy. The group imagines a society, where the common good with no concern of money is the driver for innovation. Considering the potential job losses due to robotics and AI, this might be an option to explore.  
 
Although this grandmother has quite the reaction to a self-driving car, they could be a significant benefit to the elderly. However, parents, don’t get too relaxed about future cars for your teenagers. Have you seen the flying car backed by Google founder Larry Page? Germany is also testing a flying taxi. I suspect there will be far more anxiety during those driving tests.  
 
In environmental news, the new SmartFlower solar creates up to 40 percent more output by following the sun throughout the day. Europe has a floating seabin that can autonomously collect garbage from the sea. To help fight pollution, China has developed vertical forests. Finally, scientists have developed a highly-efficient graphene-based system for desalinating sea water, which could aid millions of people without access to clean water.

Feeling tired from all this technology talk? David Lloyd’s health clubs in Europe have started napercise classes.

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