From fire to fibre optics, the human race’s technological prowess has come a long way in the comparatively short period for which we’ve been on the planet. What is most fascinating about this progress is the fact that it seems to advance exponentially, with each decade cramming in more and more revolutionary ideas and inventions than the last.
Over the past couple of years, the rate of technological advancement has become so lightning fast that it’s a little difficult to keep up. No sooner have you gotten your head around a new technology than it is made obsolete by the invention of something newer, better, faster. And this constant innovation is underway in every part of our lives, irrevocably changing the way we eat, shop, communicate, exercise, travel, heal, teach, play casino games, learn and live.
Although it’s impossible to list all of the great innovations – big and small – that have touched our lives lately, we can get a general overview of the biggest tech trends in over the past few years.
What makes this tech trend particularly significant is the fact that it enables other technological advances to reach far more people around the world. There was a time when computer and internet access was a fairly exclusive luxury enjoyed by only a fortunate few but this is fast becoming a thing of the past.
The introduction of smart phones and wireless Internet has enabled people with slimmer budgets to access the Internet, often in very remote areas. What’s more, the geographical reach of internet services has also expanded exponentially. A staggering three billion people (up from 1.8 billion in 2010) are now connected worldwide. If the leading tech companies have anything to do with it, this number will rise to at least eight billion by 2025. Project Skybender, Google’s 5G solar drone internet service initiative, is set to provide internet with speeds of up to 40 times faster than the 4G we have now to a far greater portion of the population. Facebook is on a similar mission to provide high-speed internet to the masses via drones. Elon Musk and OneWeb, meanwhile, are racing to reach these goals via expansive satellite constellations, while ViaSat and Boeing have teamed up to provide 1-tetrabit-per-second internet to remote areas, military and maritime vehicles, and aircraft.
What all of this translates to, among many other things, is a more informed and connected world.
Something that would have sounded like science fiction just a few years ago has now become a reality in the form of self-driving cars. 2016 was a big year for autonomous vehicles, with various manufacturers jumping onto the self-driven bandwagon. In Pittsburgh, USA, the ever-innovative cab company, Uber, deployed its first self-driving cars last year. The same company was also behind the first autonomous truck delivery of 50 000 cans of beer. Self-driving tractors, meanwhile, are already revolutionising the farming industry.
Savvy vehicle manufacturers are making every effort not to be left behind as technology advances and so are finding ways to stay ahead of the trend. Ford has announced that it will release a high-volume autonomous vehicle for multiple passengers by 2021 and GM has revealed its intention to produce electric self-driven cars in the very near future. Chrysler has joined forces with Google in developing a semi-autonomous Chrysla Pacifica model, to be released by the end of the year.
Of course, wherever there’s a tech wave, you can be sure to find Elon Musk right on the crest of it. So it comes as little surprise that Tesla has beat everyone to it by releasing all new cars with Level 5 autonomy (i.e. requiring no interaction at all with the human driver) as of this year.
According to experts, with all these autonomous ridesharing vehicles on the horizon, car ownership will be a thing of the past before the decade is out.
Flying Cars and Drones
As if self-driven cars weren’t space-age enough, another booming tech trend at the moment is the development of cars that can fly! Uber leads this race with plans to roll out Uber Elevate – essentially, a flying-car passenger transportation service. Google’s cofounder, Larry Page is also said to be investing heavily in two flying-car start-up manufacturers.
Another ongoing tech trend that is by no means up in the air is the proliferation of drones in a very wide range of applications. Even 7-11 (as well as Amazon) is now making deliveries to its customers via drones. Mercedes-Benz has developed a concept car called the Vision Van, which launches drones from its rooftop, and Chinese company eHang has begun delivering organs for transplant via drones.
Commercial Space Travel
The tech revolution continues beyond the sky. Roughly half a century since the first man went to space, the age of space tourism has dawned. In response to Google putting up the $20 million Lunar XPRIZE for the first private team to land on the moon, four companies have signed private contracts in 2017 to make the lunar trip in the near future.
And finally, never to be outdone, Elon Musk has made the jaw-dropping promise of getting a person to Mars by 2025!