Findings from the Pew Research Center suggest that “The American public anticipates that the coming half-century will be a period of profound scientific change, as inventions that were once confined to the realm of science fiction come into common usage.” I submit that we’re already seeing these inventions in our daily lives, most of which have been in the making for decades, and in some cases even centuries.
Some of the technologies that we take for granted as part of our routine environment have been fermenting as conceptual ideas for hundreds of years before their inception. Leonardo da Vinci’s helicopter in 1493, Rene Descartes’ contact lenses in 1632, Charles Fritt’s solar cells in 1883, and Nikola Tesla’s AC induction motor from the 1880’s have all found their way into our daily lives. What’s more, the incubation time for the implementation of these ideas is quickly decreasing. We are seeing today the manifestations of some technologies that were theorized as little as 50 years ago:
- Touch screen technology from 1965 is ubiquitous today.
- The underlying science for autonomous cars from the 1970’s.
- The ideas behind virtual reality in the 1950’s with the Sensorama or 1960’s Headsight that incorporated individual video screens and a magnetic motion tracking system.
- The concept of a “low-power paper-like” e-ink display was conceived in the 1970’s.
- With inspiration stemming all the way from LORAN in 1940’s, GPS technology was invented and perfect throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s by the US Navy.
Suffice it to say, we live in an exciting time where technology is brought to consumers and monetized faster every day.
What predictions do you have for under-utilized technology and how it will affect our daily lives in a period of profound scientific change? Are you optimistic about a future technocracy or do you believe a cold mechanistic dystopian judgement day is coming? Share your thoughts in the comment section!