The Next Big Things You Didn’t Know About


Technology is growing in leaps and bounds and what seemed like a distant dream once may very well be the near future. Faster smartphones and computers, more efficient transportation are all on the horizon. So are these massive things that are all set to be part of the future, that you probably didn’t know about.

1. Lab Meat

Lab grown meat and its ability to reduce the footprint required to sustain eating it. [VerbableNouns]

Same thing as regular meat, only instead the cells developing into a full cow, they scrape off a few choice cells and just develop them into a 500lb piece of steak (obviously simplifying here). [LifeIsBizarre]

2. Water Wars

There is nothing in this world that is going to tear nations, states, and even local communities apart faster than water/clean water shortages. The “civilized” world is going to quickly turn into hell on earth when people in the western world are faced with a lack of water. [DetestPeople]

Assuming for a second that’s true, the value of water will eventually rise to the point where large-scale desalination will be viable. Plus the threshold of viability for desalination only gets lower and lower as time goes on and the methods of desalination become cheaper due to cheaper energy sources and increased efficiency.

Add in the fact that most places in the Western world aren’t really geared towards serious water conservation measures yet, but presumably will be if water becomes a scarcer resource, then you’ve got a loooong time before a lack of water becomes more than an inconvenience to Western civilisation. [Ex_Macarena]

3. Artificial Intelligence

I don’t think many people are aware of just how profound an impact machine learning and artificial intelligence are going to have in the near future. People are focused on robots replacing human jobs, which is absolutely true, but that just suggests a transition into a society where the robots do the same work that we’re doing right now.

But machine learning enables so, so much more than that. You’re talking about basically building systems that can reason over millions of experiences, and deploy the results they learn to every other system nearly immediately. Take self-driving cars, for example: much is made of the questions regarding insurance and liability, but an integrated system of self-driving cars is like a single driver logging thousands of hours of driving per day. If we hold that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something (a somewhat arbitrary heuristic, but a commonly-respected one), then an agent used in 10,000 self-driving cars gathers the necessary experience to be an expert in a single hour.

Healthcare is another great example. Every day, an absurd amount of healthcare data is generated in a form that is increasingly usable by computer algorithms. With that quantity of data, machine learning methods can start to identify subtle early warning signs that we would never detect using traditional methods.

Many people focus on novel delivery mechanisms like those explored in nanotechnology, and those are important, but we’ve always known early detection is one of the most critical factors in successful treatment as well — and here we’re talking early detection at both the individual and population levels.

Machine learning can detect the patterns in that data that we would never think to check for on our own. It’s being used in crime prevention already to predict areas where crime will rise to dynamically allocate resources. It’s being used similarly to build smart power grids to predict where power demands will rise to dynamically allocate resources.  It’s capable of supporting any data-driven enterprise, and the world is increasingly data-driven. [DavidAJoyner]

4. Organic Plastics

Organic Plastics. When we run out of oil we’ll need them bad. Lego is already investing hundreds of millions in them. [The_Didlyest]

5. 3-D Printing

How crucial 3D printing is going to be for the consumer. [Natedizzoggy]

My brother broke a little plastic part in a vent in his Volkswagen a few months back. The dealer told him the only way to fix it is a full replacement of the vent, quoting $130. I took the broken part, photographed it, built it in 3d, printed it, and sent him on his way. A bit of effort, but saved a chunk of cash and a HUGE hassle. (Time off work, scheduling with the dealer etc.). If Volkswagen had the .stl/CAD file for download, all in it would have taken me 20 minutes.

Black part is the original, grey ones were 3d printed. (I made him some spares): . Last I heard its still working perfectly. If I had to do it over I would have used a better color and would have made it stronger than the original. [FartsForKids]

6. Genetic Engineering

Geneteic Engineering. With CRISPR, you can literally edit someone’s genetic code. Any disease, abnormality, whatever that has a genetic cause will be erased like snipping a segment from a ribbon. [Anecdotal_Moron]



Image Sources: 1,2,3,4,5,6