Technology is getting so advanced that it’s hard to even fathom the things we’re capable of these days. And good luck explaining what’s going on behind the scenes in layman’s term, to someone who isn’t tech savvy. That’s why having an IT degree or something computer-based is very smart in today’s world.
We know that in the next decade, connectivity is going to become even tighter, more widespread, and expansive, as technology advances even more. Just in the past 10 years, we’ve seen leaps and bounds where advancements in the medical, engineering, and other scientific fields have expanded exponentially.
It’s only going to get crazier, and we’re going to be able to explain less and less of it. So, when in doubt, call it magic, make the sign of the cross if you want, and ward off the scientific black magic with your chakra, or whatever.
Here are 20 crazy new technologies that we think are witchcraft.
20 Sewerless Sanitation
About 2.3 billion people in the world don’t have good sanitation. Energy-efficient toilets can operate without a sewer system and treat waste on the spot, in theory. Researches are working to build this technology that’s cheap, and in 2011 Bill Gates created the X Prize in this area, the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge. Several prototypes since then have been put into the field, and hopefully, we’ll have self-contained, sewerless sanitation before too long.
Whenever you can’t see something, just blame witchcraft. If only it was so easy. Imagine wars fought entirely via computer—no bombs, no human deaths (directly), but just as much if not more damage done. There are systems that control emergency response services, banks, electronic commerce, water and fuel pipelines, defense weaponry... In 2013, FBI Director James Comey predicted that cyberattacks would soon overtake traditional international terrorism as the greatest threat to homeland security, and it’s already happening.
18 Self-Aware Artificial Intelligence
We all know that self-aware AI leads to Skynet, which leads to machines taking over the world. While we are still very far from this ever happening, in 2015 a robot passed a classic self-awareness test for the first time. A Nao robot at Ransselaer Polytechnic Institute in the US was given a “wise men puzzle” and passed, which does not bode well for the future of humanity, if AI leaps much beyond that point, which is very likely.
17 Lamborghini’s Self-Healing Car
Perhaps even more astounding than driverless cars is the technology that’s coming out that allows cars to “self heal,” or repair themselves. Lamborghini’s Terzo Millennio has the ability to detect cracks in its body work and repair it by filling the cracks with nanotubes, which also prevents spreading. In the future, cars will be able to detect problems with your car and repair itself while still driving—replacing your battery, or puffing up your tires, or even messing with your car’s suspension and infrastructure!
16 Gut Probe Pill
Right now, practical screening for diseases such as Environmental Enteric Dysfunction (EED) is difficult: you have to use an endoscope, which is painful and invasive, to check the stomach. Pathologist and engineer Guillermo Tearney is developing a small device that can be used to inspect the gut and even obtain tissue biopsies. Unlike an endoscope, these devices will be swallowable capsules that contain mini microscopes with flexible almost-non-existent strings attached to provide power and light, while sending images to a console with a monitor.
15 Custom Cancer Vaccines
The idea here is magical: inciting the body’s natural defenses to destroy only cancer cells, by identifying mutations unique to each tumor. This is groundbreaking, and further research could actually have us beating the big C. Scientists are on the cusp of commercializing the first-ever personalized cancer vaccine, which would be used to trigger a person’s immune system and effectively shut down mutated cells, destroying tumors.
14 Lab-Grown Meat
By 2050, we’ll have 9.8 billion more people in the world (according to UN predictions), and we’ll be consuming 70% more meat than we did in 2005. Raising animals for human consumption is terrible for the planet, especially contrasted with raising plant proteins. Lab-grown meat involves extracting muscle tissue from animals and growing it in bioreactors. This isn’t an Impossible Burger we’re talking about, but real-life meat that doesn’t come from killing animals.
13 Carbon Dioxide Catcher
How can you catch something you can’t see? Is it witchcraft? If we can slow carbon dioxide emissions, we can prevent a dangerous rise in temperatures from global warming. We need to remove 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere this century, according to the UN’s climate panel. Harvard scientists are already doing it with magical machines that could, in theory, pull this off for less than $100 a ton, through an approach known as direct air capture. But once we capture it, what do we do with it? Where do we put it, if not back in the atmosphere? Let’s turn it into synthetic fuels (says startup Carbon Engineering)!
12 Audio Spotlight System
Holosonics is a company that has developed a frightening technology called the Audio Spotlight System, which takes subliminal messaging to a whole new level. Their system uses tiny speakers to force sound into narrow beams, with ultrasonic frequencies that are distorted by the air to create perfect in-store advertising right in your ears. Imagine passing by some bananas and a little voice in your head saying, “You should buy some bananas,” but it’s not actually your subconscious, but Holosonics’ system!
11 DNA Hacking
DNA Hacking is another magic-like ability in biotechnology, where we aim to not only understand the entire human genome (which was fully mapped in 2003), but also to dissect the pairs that decide diseases like Alzheimer’s and common cancers. We’ve reached a new milestone where the world’s first synthetic, self-replicating chromosome can be uploaded into a bacterial cell of your DNA, grow and divide, and change the structure of the bacteria, all but “creating life,” as put by bio-entrepreneur J. Craig Venter.
10 Google Glass
Google Glass apparatuses look like sci-fi techno-witches developed them. The high-tech specs have built-in cameras and pop-up displays, which can lead to spy cameras on every corner, and nerds recording every waking moment of their lives with a nod of their head. Privacy is the biggest concern with Glass, and several casinos, bars, and movie theaters have already banned Glass. To take a video of something, Glass wearers simply wink—which doesn’t sound creepy or magical at all!
9 Predator Drones
CIA operatives in the US can fly silent Predator drones through the sky, into Pakistan, locate a target on a video screen, and rain down Hellfire missiles from a cubicle. Unmanned drones are great for keeping people alive, but when is it all too much? The prospect of domestic spy drones is also a huge issue around the world, where privacy is becoming less and less sacred with the emergence of incredible technology. Before long, even the witch hermits in the woods won’t be safe.
8 MakerBot Replicator 2
The MakerBot Replicator 2 is a 3-D printer that can make plastic models of just about anything: gears for wind turbines, toys, weapons. 3-D printing has been around for a while, but it’s getting to the point where it’s going to start being useful for terrorists and military organizations, and that’s scary. A man used a MakerBot Replicator 2 to print a plastic front of an ATM terminal, and then placed the terminal on top of a real cash machine and was able to skim unsuspecting victims of their ATM cards, stealing over $400,000 from their accounts.
7 Driverless Cars
Who honestly wants to own or drive in a driverless Uber or Lyft? Some people do, but the majority of people are still are scared of these self-driving cars as Christians were of witches during the Inquisition. The Google self-driving car promises to steer clear of accidents and keep traffic flowing smoothly, but how can that promise be kept when human error on other people’s parts is always going to be a factor? We’ll never have freeways 100% full of driverless cars, in the foreseeable future, so this is a scary idea.
Another crazy engineering innovation is the idea that we can “hack” the planet back into shape using science and technology, or geoengineering. To battle global warming, scientists have proposed creepy and expensive ways to artificially cool the atmosphere, by blocking the sun’s rays and sucking up excess CO2. But geoengineers also warn of unintended side effects, such as out of control algae blooms that could create massive dead zones in the ocean.
5 Dactyl (Robot Reinforcement Learning)
Robots are already becoming a bit self-aware by teaching themselves how to handle the physical world. Industrial robots are still clumsy and inflexible, but new robots can pick up components on assembly lines with amazing precision. One project is Dactyl, where a robot has taught itself to flip a toy building block on its fingers. The practice is called reinforcement learning, using neural-network software to teach robots in simulated environments before going into the real world.
4 New-Wave Nuclear Power
Advanced fusion and fission reactors are edging closer to reality, according to Technology Review. These power sources will be safer and cheaper than ever before, so hopefully we won’t have another Chernobyl. Generation IV fission reactors are an evolution of traditional designs, and by the 2020s we could have small modular reactors producing tens of megawatts of power on a massive scale, overpowering traditional 1,000-MW traditional nuclear reactor outputs. Blasphemy, we say.
3 Premature Birth Prediction
Anything that deals with the human body is startling, such as being able to predict if a woman will give birth prematurely with a simple blood test. Stephen Quake, a bioengineer at Stanford, has found a way to tackle premature birth by understanding free-floating DNA and RNA that can yield information to detect under-developing blood cells, and can even check for prenatal conditions like Down Syndrome. Soon, testing for these genetic mutations might be the norm.
2 AliveCor Wrist ECG
Electrocardiograms, or ECGs (or EKGs) measure the electrical activity of the heartbeat. Imagine if you had a tiny ECG on your wrist. Fitness trackers aren’t quite there yet, but ECG-enabled smart watches are possible with new regulations and innovations in software and hardware. Silicon Valley startup AliveCor has an Apple Watch-compatible band that can detect atrial fibrillation (a frequent cause of blood clots and stroke), and they received clearance from the FDA in 2017. Apple released their own ECG feature embedded in their watches, too.
1 AI Assistants That Learn
Right now, our AI assistants like Siri and Alexa are pretty limited in scope—they can easily be tripped up b deviations from their narrow range of directives. But recent advances will soon expand your digital assistant’s ability. OpenAI has developed improvements in speech synthesis, moving us from giving AI assistants commands, to having full conversations with them. The next evolution of AI is here, and it’s here to stay, and that’s frightening and exciting at the same time.
References: technologyreview.com, sciencealert.com, sciencefocus.com, telegraph.co.uk