Technology for Future Generations

Grand Engineering ChallengesJust a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon an article about Nanotechnology on BBC NEWS’ site. The article suggests that by 2029, machines will achieve human – level artificial intelligence. And also that tiny robots will be implanted in our bodies to improve our intelligence and health. It sounded like a thing from a Science Fiction Movies or Games! I admit that I am a little skeptic about that claim. Well, I have to wait another 20 or more years to see if it turns out to be true.

It seems that the person who said those amazing things is Ray Kurzweil, and he is one of the 18 influential thinkers who are chosen to identify the great technological challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. The thinkers also include Google founder Larry Page and Dr Craig Venter, a genome pioneer. They are chosen by the US National Academy of Engineering.

Now, I know nothing about Ray Kurzwell or Dr Craig Venter. But I’m sure any blog owner who cares even a little bit about their Google PageRank knows Larry Page. And this helped fuel my curiosity. I’m curious to find more details about who is included in the full list of thinkers, and also about the challenges itself. So I paid a visit to the US National Academy of Engineering’s website. There I found the link I was looking for, the link to the full list of thinkers. The list of the great technological challenges itself is included in the site, but you can also read it on the BBC NEWS article.

As it happens, the great technological challenges itself have a website, and the link is included. So I decided to go and visit there. The project official name is Grand Challenges for Engineering. Their website is very nicely designed, and I decided to do a little exploring. As it happens you can vote which of those technologies you deemed more important and should be focused upon first. I never thought that such a thing will actually happen in my lifetime. We have the opportunity to choose which technological advancement that we want our scientists to make. That in itself is very moving and inspiring.

But I do feel the need to exercise caution. Technology is a double edged blade. Our Earth is deteriorating, and humans are to blame for it. I hope that these wonderful new technologies are not being made to justify our existence, in which we keep on doing terrible things to our earth. That we think we can do as we please because we have the technologies to undo those things. But I hope we use these technologies as a means of salvation, so that with those technologies we are given another chance of living life in this beautiful earth in peace and harmony. Can this actually happen? Only time will tell.

Picture is © Copyright 2008 National Academy of Engineering. All Rights Reserved.

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