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“The future is coming, and we must be ready”: Wired magazine tried to predict the fate of future technologies

Cyberpunk is already very close, you just did not notice it.

Buyers before the entrance to the automated store Amazon Go, where there are no sellers and cash departments. Photos of Guardian
Buyers before the entrance to the automated store Amazon Go, where there are no sellers and cash departments. Photos of Guardian

The editorial office of the American magazine Wired, specializing in the field of technology, arranged a general gathering to discuss the future of the future: with robots, blocking, unmanned trucks and other innovations. They started with technologies that most likely will soon enter the life of mankind, ending with distant, but still promising innovations of impending changes.

The original text is supplemented by examples and histories of technology work, which Wired journalists spoke about.

Kiberatak on important infrastructure facilities will be much more

Ten years ago the word “hacker” sounded appropriate only in Hollywood insurgents, but now they have no less dangerous real counterparts. In August 2017, the unknown attacked the control system of a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia in order to provoke an explosion. This is a unique case, which did not end with tragedy only by a lucky chance and technical error of intruders. From history it follows that with due skill the authorities of one country can undermine the work of infrastructure objects of a political competitor, while finding customers will be very difficult.

Construction of the plant Saudi Aramco, which in 2012 was attacked hacker. Getty Photos
Construction of the plant Saudi Aramco, which in 2012 was attacked hacker. Getty Photos
According to the former analyst of the NSA and the founder of the cyber-security firm Dragos, Robert Lee, only in 2017 there were five groups of hackers who work for the government of their countries, including Russia. The activity of these specialists is to find vulnerabilities in the infrastructure facilities of the enemy states. These may be power grids, water supply systems or plants, the malfunctioning of which can temporarily paralyze the region and lead to casualties.

Lee believes that all the leading countries are moving toward the state when they begin to invest in the development of technologies for cyberattacks and cyber defense. The consequences of the new arms race are most likely to affect private entrepreneurs and citizens who are unable to protect themselves from remote attacks.

Shopping centers will turn into automated e-commerce warehouses

January 22 in Seattle opened an automatic store Amazon Go, which has no cashiers and sellers: instead they installed cameras and an artificial intelligence system. The buyer takes the goods from the shelf, puts them in the bag and leaves, and at this point the system sends a check to the special application and takes the necessary amount from the card.

Photo @typesfast
Photo @typesfast
Wired believes that there is a future for such stores, and soon more and more retailers will experience this system. When the companies and buyers get used to this, the store can be converted into a large warehouse. Products from there will be ordered through applications, and their delivery will be taken by robots.

Above similar experiments, the American start-up Boxed, which created the autopilot machine-delivery. At the request of the customer, the company’s employees load the ordered products into the trunk, and then the car independently (but while under the supervision of living people) travels to the destination. Similar developments are conducted by both the American company Amazon and the Chinese giant Alibaba.

Demonstration of the work of robots in the Chinese automated warehouse of the company Alibaba
Emotions will be shared with Internet services as often as photos and videos

Technological companies have always wanted to penetrate as deeply as possible into the users’ heads, believe in Wired. With the development of face recognition and emotion recognition, this future has become even closer. In China, facial scanners installed in public toilets, so that locals stop stealing toilet paper: the built-in camera scans the person’s face and gives out 60 centimeters of paper, and before receiving a new one you must wait nine minutes. Advertising screens in Beijing eateries are equipped with a system for recognizing people who offer food based on the age and emotions of a person.

A KFC employee demonstrates the operation of the face recognition system. Photo by Amy Hawkins, The Guardian
A KFC employee demonstrates the operation of the face recognition system. Photo by Amy Hawkins, The Guardian
Giants of the smartphone industry such as Apple and Samsung have built in their latest models the function of animated emotions , which are formed on the basis of user’s facial expressions. While this is just childish, but the technology demonstrates the development of a system for capturing movements. iPhone X fixes up to 50 movements of facial muscles, and Apple certainly will find this use.

Do not forget about the plans of Amazon – the company promises to teach its “smart” column Alexa to distinguish the mood of the user by voice and on the basis of this self-learning and form a tone of dialogue. At the same time, Sonos , which produces a home music system, patented the idea of ​​a technology that can customize a playlist based on a person’s emotions or biometric data.

Technologies for changing DNA for healing diseases will become closer to ordinary people

It seems that in the last few years nothing has attracted such public interest to scientific discoveries more than CRISPR technology . It allows you to find the gene in the DNA, remove it or correct it, which can help cure many genetic diseases and mutations, as well as open the possibility of creating “designer children.” We are talking about children, genes that will change in advance, for example, that a low child and a high child are born in a low mother and father.

Before such changes are still far away, but full-scale experiments with CRISPR began relatively long ago. In 2019, a research team will go to Nigeria to apply the CRISPR-based system to analyze local residents for severe infectious diseases. The technology can diagnose the disease in 90 minutes, using the minimum amount of material for analysis. This is not a utopia, where parents choose the appearance of a child, but already a chance to save the lives of thousands of people in remote regions of the world, diagnosing in time.

Truckers will give way to truck robots

One of the main prospects for the emerging market of unmanned vehicles is autonomous truck-carriers. To keep up with the growing population of mankind and the world economy, the multibillion-dollar industry lacks 50,000 workers. By 2026, the number of people needed can grow to 174,000.

Uber unmanned truck

The possibilities of unmanned vehicles in this area are obvious: the robot does not get tired, does not miss its relatives, does not require salaries and medical insurance. Considering that most of the traffic the truck is traveling on a direct highway, it is not so difficult to set up an autopilot.

For the possibility of the first full-scale withdrawal of their unmanned tractors on the road struggling for Volvo, Daimler, Waymo (owned by Google), Tesla Ilona Mask and Uber. The truck of the last company carried out a successful flight to a distance of 193 kilometers as early as 2016, having debugged the technology in two years. As Wired reports, as soon as federal regulators in the US are convinced of the safety of such transport, it will appear on the roads much more often. First, under the supervision of specialists, and then without them.

VR and AR will be perceived as a mandatory working tool, not entertainment

Five years – approximately so much separates the current reality from the world, where people use VR (virtual reality) or AR (augmented reality) instead of the monitor, Wired believes.

First, there is a universal opportunity to manage work programs and applications in virtual reality. Over time, people will get used to the virtual keyboard, and real ones will remain for those who do not want to retrain. The need for an expensive computer to use VR will gradually disappear due to the appearance of a new “iron” on the market.

Helmets of virtual reality will get rid of wires, which will make them an analogue of a smartphone, which you can carry with you all the time. For this, the device needs to be reduced, but this is a matter of time.

Blocking technologies will lead to a complete change in the Internet

Blocking will allow to abandon the services of giants like Uber, Amazon or Facebook, which make decisions independently of users and in favor of decentralized counterparts. The policy of such services will be formed on the basis of common solutions of users, thereby protecting themselves from any form of monopoly: information or services. It is almost impossible to stop the work of the system, since data about it are located at all its users and do not have a center.

However, there is still no resources to implement such a development. The founder of the most popular blockbuster platform (in fact, the designer for creating crypto-currencies and “smart contracts”) Ethereum Vitalik Buterin considers one of the main problems of the technology scalability.

Even if tomorrow millions of people want to use a detachment, the resources will be enough to serve only a few thousand people. Specifically, Wired journalists did not mention this problem, probably believing that in due time specialists will find a solution for this too.

When the block technology technologies mature, they will recede into the background and become one of the fundamental systems that feed the Internet. It may sound boring, but for technology surrounded from different sides by deceptive schemes, the word “boring” can be a blessing.

Sandra Upson
reporter for Wired magazine
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