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Theoretical Technological Advances that Seem Like Magic part 2

by Beth Divine 14 Jun 2018

It would be easy to think that there is nothing really new under the sun, that any new inventions or innovations will simply be variations on things that already exist. But given the huge acceleration in technological achievement over the last hundred and fifty years or so, specifically the last forty (the advent of modern computing) such a belief would be facile and will almost certainly prove to be wrong. Here are some things that sound futuristic, but that are probably just around the corner:

We will soon be able to explore the depths of the ocean and what lies underground as easily as we can use an x-ray or ultrasound to explore the depths of our bodies. We already have ground penetrating radar which can clearly show differences under the soil to a depth of a few feet. Given the huge amount of money in the mining and construction industries – both of which would make tremendous use of the innovation – it seems almost certain that any method of quickly revealing the whereabouts of precious stones and metals as well as any deterrents to drilling or digging (loose friable stone, fissures that cannot be seen from above, etc) would be encouraged with finance and research grants. It is almost guaranteed that within a decade or two, we will be able to see metres and metres below ground level, mapping out tectonic plates and fault lines, in plenty of time to plan for major earthquakes and volcanoes.

Downloadable lessons, a la the Matrix series, may be just a few years away. Man has long yearned for the ability to learn without any stress or sweating over books, with ancient rulers hiring literate servants to read to them throughout the night, in the hope that in the morning the information would have lodged itself in the folds of the cerebrum. The movie The Matrix showed the protagonists learning all sorts of skills by having the information downloaded (rather brutally) into their brains via a computer port. Imagine the time that could be saved if information – languages, mathematics, laws, anything at all – could be downloaded into the brain in, say, one or two hour long ‘lessons’ – during which time you could catch up with your sleep!

Many sci-fi stories and movies have toyed with the idea of uploading one’s consciousness to the internet, usually implying that this is a very bad thing, the assumption being that once one is freed from the constraints of a fallible human body, the disembodied entity will turn evil, hunting down and killing anyone who threatens its existence or who has the power to download, control or otherwise erase said data. Again, the ins and out of this will probably be very different from the fictionalised versions (after all, fiction thrives on drama and conflict, real life is happy to be calm and peaceful!) but it is highly possible that memory imprints could be left behind for loved ones to feel in communion with their departed relatives and friends – rather like the portraits in Harry Potter – not living as such, but moving cognate impressions of once-living people…

Imagine being able to ask Einstein about the latest developments in Physics, to show Picasso some modern art or even being able to ask Shakespeare for his opinion on a new poem? With memory/ consciousness imprints, this might be possible for modern equivalents of these greats. The first may well be that of the person who works out how to do it all…