For the past 25 years, humans have crossed boundaries in ways no one ever thought possible until recently. The introduction of smartphones, new gadgets and other technology has shaped this world to become extraordinary. But who cares about what happened in the past? Humans can only be more comfortable and have easier lives if they let go of the past and focus on making the future as brilliant as we can make it. Technology is always improving and if we focus on the future, we can create new inventions to truly change our world.
Already, computers are fast enough to beat a world champion at chess. But can we push these artificially intelligent (AI) machines to become even better? Machines are already developing to automatically drive a car, create virtual reality and have robots take over our jobs (e.g.. 3D printing taking over sculpting). If we have some more time, machines could be smarter than humans, and replace us completely in jobs. However, this new change can also be disastrous for humans. I don’t mean there will be a robot invasion that you would see like in the movie Terminator, but these robots and AI machines could completely take over jobs, which would mean humans would have minimum job opportunities. At the same time, humans could begin thinking of finding a home somewhere on another planet. This brings up Mars.
Mars is the closest planet to Earth, and probably the only planet that could ever have a sign of life on it. Already, humans have begun sending robots like the MER (Mars Exploration Rover) and have been trying to detect life on it. We have already discovered that there used to be water on the Red Planet, however wouldn’t it be better to take the next step and send a human being to Mars? Mars is the only planet other than Earth to live in, so why don’t we send in humans so Earth can be less cluttered and Mars will become the new life for us Humans. For now, we don’t have the resources to move away from this planet and a couple million kilometres to our neighbouring planet.
With technology evolving like this, by 2020, we are probably set to own self-driving cars. Being able to make a normal car took millions of years, but transforming it to move by itself barely took us any time at all. These cars are the next step to taking time to relax, and slowly we may even be banned from driving a car on highways because the AI is a safer driver. Another close-to-possible technology that is being developed is a Brain-Computer Interface. Imagine being able to use your computer using your mind. This machine has been started to being made however is still in its infancy. This can have a major impact on our lives but it can also be pretty cool. With inventions like these, humans can pretty much stop working altogether.
In conclusion, in the next 25 years, humans are set to cross limits that were never thought possible. We can go from moving on the roads faster to nanobots that make food out of thin air. People say that machines will never be as smart as human, but by 2030 they probably will be! Virtual Reality can be made to become 100% realistic and humans will have their jobs either simplified or wiped out. This can be both a problem and a benefit. Until new jobs have been invented, millions of people can lose their jobs and have to look for other opportunities.
The writer is Samar Zaheer is a high school student (Grade 8 of The Ponds High School, NSW)
We are already reaping the benefits of digital technology. For example, marketplaces such as Uber, AirBNB and AirTasker have started to make inroads into the daily lives of people in the mainstream, not just tech-heads. In future, digital technology-based innovations, and especially in combination with sensors, 3D printing and robotics, will play an increasingly important role. But this reliance on technology may also make our future dangerous. For example, how will you position yourself, your skills and capabilities in a world with a 60% unemployment rate. Today, we are seeing factory workers and taxi drivers who may be already or leading to redundancy. Tomorrow, the cuts will extend to middle class professionals such as recruiters, sales people, bank tellers, customer service representatives, teachers – the professions that form the bulk of employment in the large cities.
Governments in a few countries are already experimenting with basic minimum income - you will get paid a basic income even if you do no work and there is no need to prove that you were looking for one. Because they understand that work can keep busy less than half of the population.
It’s the generation that’s in school today that will go through the accelerated changes as a result of digital technologies. So, parents should prepare the young ones to survive our technology-driven future and find significance in the new world. The industrial revolution took 200 years to spread throughout the world and is long over in Australia. The information revolution took less than 50 years and is spending itself. It is the next revolution, which may perhaps be called the automation revolution, which will bring in transformation at a faster rate than any of the earlier changes and will affect our daily life, employment, leisure, health and wellness and economics.
Hasnain Zaheer is a researcher in technology entrepreneurship and adjunct lecturer at Macquarie University.