Elon University

Your Future

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Spot Puppy PhotoAre you ready to experience life as it may be in the future? Learn with Spot the Nanodog about many of the possibilities.

Remember, when something is “nano”-size it is tinier than one billionth of a meter. A human hair is about 100,000 nanometers wide.

Most of the big changes in the future will come in the ways invisible technology is used to help shape our lives and our world.

You can browse down this page or you can use the quicklinks below to jump ahead to a particular item of interest.

What Will Your Future Be Like?
Guessing What Might Happen
Inventions Bring Changes
More About Your Possible Future
Predictions from Kids

What Will Your Future Be Like?

Spot the Nanodog asks you to imagine a world where the dishes are always clean, the garbage takes itself out, your bed makes itself, you have a machine that creates any food you would like anytime for free (and you can eat as much of it as you’d like without getting fat or unhealthy), and cars drive on their own.

This could be your future. And it may be closer than you think. The world is moving faster and faster all the time.

Within the next 10 to 50 years or so, new inventions and science breakthroughs will make big changes in your life. When people look ahead, they help us plan and prepare for the future. Some people do this as their jobs – they are called “futurists.” Many predictions from futurists are included on this site and in the book tied to it. Both are called “Imagining the Internet.”

Scientists predict that in your future…

  • Virtual-reality worlds will be the new instant messenger.
  • Humans will be connected to computer networks.
  • Nanites (from nanotechnology) will be making life easier and changing the way everything works.
  • Humans will live much longer.
  • Human minds will receive computer uploads to make people smarter.
  • Smart technology will be incorporated into fabrics, so you can e-mail using your shoe or coat sleeve.
  • Video wristwatches will allow you to see and talk to anyone, anywhere.
  • Microchips implanted in your arm will serve as library cards, a driver’s license and emergency medical records.
  • Robots will be able to recognize your thoughts and respond to your commands.
  • Most robots will be invisible, and they will outnumber humans.

Guessing What Might Happen

Spot Puppy Confused PhotoResearchers and people who study the future – called “futurists” – have predicted that a technological “singularity” is coming in the next 40 to 100 years.

This is also known as “the Spike.”

These experts say this Singularity might happen because our machines and tools are:

  • Getting so smart they will soon become smarter than us;
  • Learning how to build themselves, without human help;
  • Operating on their own without any humans giving them commands.

If a technological singularity happens, it could bring changes so fast it could be like they are bringing us all on a fast rocket ride straight into space – ZOOM! Whether there is a ZOOM!-singularity or not, developing technological advances are already having a huge impact on our lives. These include:

Virtual Reality: Computer programs can imitate different realities and give you the ability to feel as if you are in another place in another role – for instance, landing a jet, lying under a palm tree on a beach, battling bad guys on another planet in a distant galaxy or playing basketball in the NBA.

Nanotechnology: This is the ability to make tools and helpful robots that are a billion times smaller than we can see. Scientists have already made many nano-sized tools that they can use. When this science is improved and becomes more common and affordable, it will change everything.

Artificial intelligence: Scientists are learning more about the human brain every day, and they are working toward making smart robots we can use to help us. Some people say that nanobots – super-tiny robots may help us in invisible ways in the future. They say they will be everywhere, outnumbering humans many times over!

Superintelligence and G-N-R: We continue to get smarter about genetics (the pattern by which every little part of humans and every other living thing on earth is made, right down to the smallest pieces that make us who we are).

Nanotechnology and Robotics: When our nanotechnology tools are smart enough it is possible that we and/or our creations will invent super intelligence. This may be put into the machines that work for us or it may be that in the future we find ways to help make humans superintelligent without even having to study. This might mean that your grandchildren will NEVER have to go to school. They may be born with superintelligence or they may have this intelligence “uploaded” or “downloaded” into their brains by computers or delivered by nanobots.

Inventions Hurry Changes

Some scientists, including Ray Kurzweil, a man honored for his inventions by the US government, say that genetics, nanotechnology and robotics will bring really big changes very quickly. Here is how Kurzweil described it in 2005 to a group of children he met with when talking about his book “The Singularity is Near”:

Ray Kuzweil Headshot“Within a quarter century, nonbiological intelligence will match the range and subtlety of human intelligence. It will then soar past it because of the continuing acceleration of information-based technologies, as well as the ability of machines to instantly share their knowledge.

“Intelligent nanorobots will be deeply integrated in our bodies, our brains, and our environment, overcoming pollution and poverty, providing vastly extended longevity, full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all of the senses (like in the film ‘The Matrix’ but hopefully nicer), ‘experience beaming’ (like in the film ‘Being John Malkovich’), and vastly enhanced human intelligence. The result will be an intimate merger between the technology-creating species and the technological evolutionary process it spawned.”

The Spike will be marked by a point in which technical progress will be moving so fast that some human intelligence won’t be able to keep up with it. Nonbiological intelligence will be improving itself rapidly. Kurzweil sets this date as 2045. It is hard to see into the future because our brains are limited in this regard right now, but Kurzweil says this is the date by which nonbiological (computer or robot-built) intelligence will be a billion times more powerful than human intelligence is today.

Many people argue that Kurzweil’s “Spike” will not happen, but it is important that we have a discussion of these possible future developments. We must share insights and imagine how our future civilization will unfold in order to prepare ourselves for it.

More About Your Possible Future

Many years down the road, humans might not even be recognizable as artificial intelligence merges with our natural states. Computers and machines will be just as smart as and even smarter than we are. Cancer and AIDS will be cured through developments of nanotechnology. Here are some interesting points to learn about the future.

Future Maze PhotoRFID: Schools of the future will not be like the schools you know today. Radio Frequency Identification technology will be used to take attendance, meaning no more skipping class or sneaking out without your teachers realizing it. In some cases, you won’t have to leave home to be a part of school. Teaching is already being taken over by computers and virtual classrooms as well as RFID tracking systems. An RFID tag is a small object that can be attached to or incorporated into a product, animal or person. This means if your dog is lost you can find it or you can find your favorite toy or your glasses when they are lost.

Nano Tube ImageNanotechnology: What if spills cleaned up after themselves, vacuums ran on their own and by thinking a thought your clothes would be clean? With nanotechnology, household chores will be made easier and mom and dad won’t have to get on your case about cleaning up. But that’s not all nanos can do. Microscopic computerized robots called nanobots work together to perform tasks like these. Nanomaterials will be able to aid in surgeries and much more. In fact, you may not have to leave your house for groceries, new furniture, clothes and other items you need because nanos will be able to build things from scratch for you, right in your home. Scientists are building things out of “nanotubes” right now. A nanotube is 80,000 times smaller than the width of one human hair. Imagine having a microscopic computer sewn into your shirtsleeve or “painted” on the fabric of your shoes. Computers of the future will be “nano size.”

Brain ImageBrain-to-Computer Communication: Nanocomputers will probably be linked to your thoughts, voice and your emotions, and be able to react to your needs. The future will rely on wireless technology and everyone and everything will be linked. This will hugely impact the way your life is run. Your brain will be able to receive downloads or uploads from computers to fill your head with knowledge or teach you new things. When you want to learn a new skateboarding trick or dance move, a simple, direct delivery of information directly to your brain may allow your body to use the tips and apply them – no studying involved! Artificial intelligence (also known as AI) will greatly impact society and bring about massive changes in our expectations and in the way things are accomplished.

Virtual Reality Image Virtual Reality: You already love virtual-reality games – they make imaginary worlds in which you can play. But what if virtual reality allows you to have a cool new school or not even really travel to a school but to be able to join kids from all over the world in what seems to be one shared classroom? Virtual worlds are being created so computer-generated environments will allow you to socialize or learn school lessons with your teacher and your friends seemingly present without actually being there. Technology will give you a 3D image and link to your brain in a way that makes you actually feel as if you are there. It will be a new way of communicating.

Kids’ 2005 Predictions for Our Future in 2025

Spot the Nanodog asked fifth-graders at Elon Elementary School in North Carolina to write what they think the future will bring. Read some of their ideas, and then write about what you think will happen! Share your ideas with your classmates, friends and family. You never know; they might come true sooner than you think.

Ross S. – Teleportation; Hologram TV; Tastebud scanners that tell you what you want to eat; Sea suits that go below 100,000,000 feet; Rocket boots.

Barrington L. – Soon to come: Time machines. Flying cars. Jet packs that really work and are easy to use.

Jacob T. – Robots doing all the chores; flying cars; everything is free because we can make it out of thin air with special machines.

Natalie K. – When grocery shopping, everything in the buggy will ring itself up. No more car accidents and less traffic because cars will fly.

Chandler L. – Floating computers that follow you around like dogs. When you need them, they fly to you and you can use them. Robots that clean your house, make your bed and do your chores. A car that goes wherever you tell it to. An elevator in your house that goes anywhere in the world.

Jackie M. – Virtual worlds will let us do whatever we imagine. Robots will be doing everything for us while we are in the virtual worlds.

Jesse A. – You can do grocery shopping right in your house.

Rian B. – Floating TV; Voice-activated computers; Robot maids; motion-activated TV; All school is on the computer.

Lindsay S. – When you go to stores, you type on a keyboard what you want and it appears. Instead of driving regular cars we’ll drive hover cars. Robots will do chores.

Maddie F. – Pens that write by themselves. Headphones that give you knowledge. Never-ending food that never gets old.

Haley K. – Scientists might invent a real human companion, and you can pick what it looks like and it will live with you. There will be a thing or game that tells you the truth whenever you ask it. Also you can use a time machine to see what you will look like years ahead (like when I get married) or to look back to see things – what my mom and dad and grandparents looked like when they were young.

Amanda F.– In the future there will be hoverboards, flying cars and pocket-size computers.

Sydney Y. – We will have robots that clean up after us. The X-box game will be so small it will fit in your watch. Time machines will be amazing.

Jordan W. – There will be enough technology so we can communicate with aliens. There will be a time machine to travel through time. There will be the power to die and come back alive.

Danielle M. – There will be a remote where you type in where you want to go then push the button and you will be there. Also we will have chewing gum that never loses its taste.

Patrick D. – There will be robots that clean your house, walk the dog, make your bed and stuff like that. There will be computers so small you can’t see them.

Kacie A. – People will have nanopets and nanobots to have fun with and do things for them. We won’t have to go grocery shopping – you can just tell your nanites to form fruit or meat and they will do it. You can even tell your nanites to form money, but you really won’t need money, your nanites can form the things you need or want.

Hannah P. – We will have mini-computers in our clothes – like on the inside of your sleeves. You will also be able to type into your hairbrush how you want your hair to be styled. Nano’s can get everything for you because you can tell them to make you something.

Future Elon Students Photo

These are the visionary children from Elon Elementary School who shared their ideas of the future.
Also, thanks to Kacie A. for her drawings of Spot the Nanodog, a character used throughout the
KidZone sections of this site. Kacie drew all of the pictures of Spot and the Spot comic.

Join Spot the Nanodog in another part of KidZone:

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