Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What does the future hold?

Just as the industrial revolution swept through the world of the 19th century, so will the technological innovations of the 21st...

...Wow, I didn't think it was possible to write something that tacky. Anyway, with the speed at which our technology is evolving, our world is bound to change. At the forefront of these changes, I see the emergence of nanotechnology, genetic engineering and sustainable innovation.

Nanotechnology, the control of matter at molecular and atomic levels, has the potential to create materials and processes previously thought to be impossible. My interest in it lies in the controversy surrounding it. On one hand, we have the potential for incredible breakthroughs in fields like medicine, electronics and energy production - breakthroughs that could greatly benefit the human race and our world. On the other hand, there is the potential for disaster. Undetectable nanoweapons, manufactured microbes that can destroy an entire city, and the devastation of our environment are just a few of the reasons that there is an air of apprehension surrounding nanotech. Science has not yet destroyed the earth, though some have tried, and I trust that we will be cautious enough to keep it from happening. Nanotechnology is, at the same time, full of hope and despair.

Human evolution no longer exists. Take me for example. I have asthma. If nature had its way I would have suffocated as an infant and died. I did not, and my debilitating mutation will be passed on to future generations. Genetic engineering could potentially fix this problem. Altering, and hopefully improving, what makes us human has the potential to artificially revive our evolution. As with nanotech, there are potential dangers. If perfected someone could create an army of super-soldiers (all of which would be named Ivan Drago,) but this is an area of science where I believe the benefits far outweigh the risks.

In the last few years, I have seen a drastic change in the world's awareness of environmental issues. Going green is hip, and many are becoming truly committed to living, and helping others to live, sustainable lifestyles. Sustainability is less technology and more mindset. The world is coming around the realize that we have a responsibility keep the earth a beautiful, hospitable place. With this new way of thinking will come innovation at the highest level. We are already seeing the big guns of pollution, the automotive industry, try to save face with hybrid and electric cars. Seeing a company like GM take environmental initiative, even if it's just to help their image, gives me hope for our world's future.

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