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The next great technology & change?


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I've been delving into a variety of historical and political topics and analysis recently - which I won't post about here - but an interesting thread emerged in a couple of them, that I think works with the theme of and people who populate this forum: The concept of 'cycles' or game-changing technological inventions that effectively brings on a new age of development and prosperity (although and albeit via massive disruptions and disenfranchisement of the prior beneficiaries). 

The examples given (largely focused on the US/West) are:

  • Factories
  • the Railroad 
  • Electricity 
  • the Automobile, and finally, 
  • the Microchip

Each new technology had a massive impact - a transformative impact - on not only the economy, but also society and how humans use our time and interact with the world. 

One part of this thesis is that we are (with Social Media & the ubiquity of the Microchip in pretty much everything) at the end of the current era / cycle

If true - we are ripe for the next big 'game changing technology'. 

Prognostication isn't my strong suit* but maybe some of you have ideas? 

 

What's your guess about the next game changer? 

 

 

 

*(or I'd have picked a different long-shot in the Derby!) 

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Thing is - I haven't really agreed with the prognostication I've heard - that's why I think folks here might be better than political scientists and historians at guessing about the actual Need that the game changing tech will exploit / resolve. 

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, JoeSchmuckatelli said:

One part of this thesis is that we are (with Social Media & the ubiquity of the Microchip in pretty much everything) at the end of the current era / cycle

What do you have to support the end of a cycle? New tech could easily extend from the microchip.

Maybe the next big advancement will be a leap in AI. That's a continuation of the microchip and wouldn't show a clear distinction between cycles.

Or maybe the next big thing is implantable medical technology. That's also a continuation from the microchip. Wide scale gene editing, though, a different medical technology, might be seen as a start of a new cycle.

Disruptive technologies are often only disruptive in hindsight. Maybe we're already partway into the next era with "remote work" or "facial recognition" but need a few more years to see if/how those developments transform society.

Edited by DeadJohn
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2 minutes ago, DeadJohn said:

Wide scale gene editing, though, a different medical technology, might be seen as a start of a new cycle.

That would be one common guess I hear.

Mine, however, is power density storage. Not sure about the potential, but the demand is massive, and it's in the way of so many "dream" technologies...

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Posted (edited)

im still maintaining that its going to be biotech. computers, at least the kind that normal people use in their day to day lives, are about at their peak. there is some headroom in enthusiast, datacenter and supercomputing and of course quantum computing left to explore, but those are not the kinds of systems everyone will be using. you can of course make them available for cloud computing. when we get to the point where you can have a beast of a gaming rig (pc gamer standards) in your pocket, it will probibly just be a terminal for cloud infrastructure that far exceeds what you are capable of owning. but thats not where the future lies. 

seems there are those who want to usher in the posthuman era, and biotech will play a huge role in that. we have seen first hand how rapid manufacture of vaccines can be achieved on the order of a couple years. that will only get shorter. we already have the technology for rapid deployment of genetic engineering which will be used as soon as it clears the ethics hurdle (or those get shifted to new norms). there is also life extension which seems looming on the horizon. and there will be a desire to unify human conciousness with technology. 

another tangent might be towards space if elon and his ilk prove successful. biotech might solve the issues with long term space habitation and the creation of new human derived species that are capable of living and thriving on mars, in space, in the greater jovian moonscape, etc. even making a species that can survive the rigors of interstellar travel. 

fusion power is also on the horizon but thats not really going to have a major impact on society at large. as far as most people are concerned its just another way to charge your phone or your car, or your personal vtol aircraft.

Edited by Nuke
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1 minute ago, Nuke said:

im still maintaining that its going to be biotech. computers, at least the kind that normal people use in their day to day lives, are about at their peak. there is some headroom in enthusiast, datacenter and supercomputing and of course quantum computing left to explore, but those are not the kinds of systems everyone will be using. you can of course make them available for cloud computing. when we get to the point where you can have a beast of a gaming rig (pc gamer standards) in your pocket, it will probibly just be a terminal for cloud infrastructure that far exceeds what you are capable of owning. but thats not where the future lies. 

The problem here is that, until the recent plateau, everyone's consumption of computing power grew explosively. So we should be careful making pronouncements about the future consumer not needing something.

abstraction.png

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26 minutes ago, DeadJohn said:

What do you have to support the end of a cycle? New tech could easily extend from the microchip

I gather from the pundits that they mean a process by which the leading technology of the day is either ubiquitous or is bypassed in importance by the next 'killer app' that proves transformative. 

Cars and trains certainly did not disappear when the microchip came out, but by and large they'd already been as transformative as they could be (obviously they've continued to improve (faster, more efficient etc) - but in large part by utilizing the microchip. 

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5 hours ago, DDE said:

The problem here is that, until the recent plateau, everyone's consumption of computing power grew explosively. So we should be careful making pronouncements about the future consumer not needing something.

abstraction.png

its not a assumption of need but an assumption of cost combined with a change in the way the technology is used. rather than owning the expensive hardware, and you can if you want to throw a lot of money at it (think datacenter hardware).  but most people are not going to do that. instead you use it remotely in the form of cloud services. you can rent time on super computers, dedicated neural networks, and quantum computers if you have a need for those kind of computations. the computers you own might even go down in performance, and you have already seen this with smartphones. they don't exactly have the fp64 performance of an x86 rig, but you can always phone it out, so to speak. the biggest issue is the cooling solution which has gone from an afterthought to a critical and expensive share of a pc building budget in the last 10 years. water cooling has gone from a nice to have to almost being a hard requirement for high performance home computing. quantum computing requires cryogenic cooling, and unless you are in the upper crust of society, you aren't owning one of those as a pc. the cost of silicon, which is close to its minimum possible process node, is proportional to the area of your silicon and so there is a hard limit to how much power you can reasonably afford. most people are content to tap away on their screens and let others worry about keeping the hardware it depends on running. for me its more important that my computer not take up so much desk space than it is that it be fast, and its plenty fast. i have more cores than i can simultaneously use, i got more ram than i need, and i got enough gpu resources that i can turn a profit on them when im not playing games. 

 

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The technology of the chip is already close to the physical limits of the technology currently available to mankind. So I think that if we take a technology like the chip process as the vertical axis, and the various related services and applications that follow from it as the horizontal axis, I think we should move in the direction of the horizontal axis in the near future.

I think it will be in bioscience, environmental science, materials science, quantum computing and quantum communications

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Posted (edited)

The progress is a linear scale represented as a converging logarithmic spiral, where you move centripetally, till the singularity point where "physics" (the empiric reality) and "mathematics" (the abstract  model of reality) get totally merged, and a "mathematical catastrophe" happens, making the current reality undefined and starting the process from scratch.

Spoiler

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQzIKdcNZIWZkQqHUznCBx220px-Nautilus_Cutaway_with_Logarithmic_


The model of "cycles" is ancested from the moonly and yearly recurring events (natural and astronomic), like the moon phases, summer/winter, living beings life cycle, etc.

The biological and technical progress has little to do with cycles, at it is running as a sequence of linearly increasing quantity growth with periodic quality leaps, when the biosphere opens a new ability to manage the electromagnetic bonds. The system complexity is rising with no reverse since the Solar System had appeared.

The time interval between the leaps is permanently decreasing from leap to leap, but every time the previous interval is much greater than the next one, to call them "cycles" except on a very logarithmic scale.

Edited by kerbiloid
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Maybe it will be biotech.

Maybe it will be fusion power.

Maybe it will be Artificial Intelligence.

Or maybe it will be something entirely new and unexpected, like it happened many times before.

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1 hour ago, Scotius said:

maybe it will be something entirely new and unexpected, like it happened many times before

That there is the clencher. 

Interestingly, those looking back see the game changing tech as 'something that fulfilled a need.'

(the problem is identifying that need) 

One story was of a guy who held one of the first calculators* in his hand in 1972 and thought 'this is never going to take off'.  (Being able to look at a 1972 HP Calc and anticipate the iPhone & etc?) 

So - for those participating... I don't think we should to try to foresee the endstate device...  Rather - can we identify the current '1972 calculator'? 

What current curiosity (whether mil-tech or prototype or whatever) is going to blow up and be the next thing? 

... 

Part of me wants to point at Starship - maybe Space is ready to go from something only rich governments do to the region where lots of people live and work. 

Or maybe biotech - and 80 years from now everyone has biomedical implants and lives at least 200 years. 

The thing I wrestle with is which historical analog is likely.  Factories, trains and electricity were all huge projects where if they weren't done by the government were government adjacent (super rich investors protected by the govt) - whereas electricity, cars and microchips (once produced) were personal and proliferate (my lights, my car, my phone). 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/museum/personalsystems/0023/index.html#:~:text=The HP-35 Scientific Calculator,world's first handheld scientific calculator.

 

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The nuclear bomb. OK, so it's not new technology, but it's been underused since its invention. This wll of course not be a positive change.

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7 minutes ago, cantab said:

The nuclear bomb. OK, so it's not new technology, but it's been underused since its invention. This wll of course not be a positive change.

Grin - unless you are part of the Giant Radioactive Spider lobby 

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Drones and autonomous transport/navigation are both currently in periods of rapid expansion.

Transportation might well be the next industry where we go from 'most people participate' to 'a few specialists take care of everyone' like happened with farming.

Sure there will be hobbyist drivers, just as there are hobbyist gardeners, but I could see a 'self-drive' license become a rare thing for which most people have little need.

Automakers from Tesla to GM are working hard on autonomous driving, and drones are becoming both cheaper and more capable.

(I think GM even had an 'autonomous personal transport drone' in their super-bowl ad for point and click in-city autonomous air transport)

I would be surprised if these technologies were not a game-changers at the very least.

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Quote

The earliest account of Vault-Tec found in the Fallout games is the creation of Vault-Tec University in Morgantown in 2031, as seen in Fallout 76. However, it is not until the 2050s that the government contracts Vault-Tec to construct fallout shelters with Project Safehouse.

 

More or less.

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2 hours ago, JoeSchmuckatelli said:

That there is the clencher. 

Interestingly, those looking back see the game changing tech as 'something that fulfilled a need.'

(the problem is identifying that need) 

One story was of a guy who held one of the first calculators* in his hand in 1972 and thought 'this is never going to take off'.  (Being able to look at a 1972 HP Calc and anticipate the iPhone & etc?) 

So - for those participating... I don't think we should to try to foresee the endstate device...  Rather - can we identify the current '1972 calculator'? 

What current curiosity (whether mil-tech or prototype or whatever) is going to blow up and be the next thing? 

... 

Part of me wants to point at Starship - maybe Space is ready to go from something only rich governments do to the region where lots of people live and work. 

Or maybe biotech - and 80 years from now everyone has biomedical implants and lives at least 200 years. 

The thing I wrestle with is which historical analog is likely.  Factories, trains and electricity were all huge projects where if they weren't done by the government were government adjacent (super rich investors protected by the govt) - whereas electricity, cars and microchips (once produced) were personal and proliferate (my lights, my car, my phone). 

http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/museum/personalsystems/0023/index.html#:~:text=The HP-35 Scientific Calculator,world's first handheld scientific calculator.

The usefulness of an calculator is pretty obvious, granted they had mechanical ones who worked well enough but was heavy and limited or if you was an scientist you could probably use an console to access an computer.  The spread between these two was an huge marked however. 

Smartphones is another tread, making feature phones more like laptops.  I had an smartphone before 2000,  the Nokia 9110 Communicator.
Yes they has gotten better :)  But it used an x86 cpu. 
I used one to fix an customers web page using ftp and and notepad style interface waiting in an queue in a bank. 
Things has changed a bit :) 

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Posted (edited)

Twitter. It will allow 1400 chars per post and unban.. you know...

***

Actually, further making humans total online (smartphones, etc.) and substitution of augmented reality instead of the trivial one.

Standalone human units will be becoming a human network.

Edited by kerbiloid
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22 hours ago, Nuke said:

there is also life extension which seems looming on the horizon

I'm studying (undergraduate) molecular and cell biology with the aim of working in this and I've gotten the (admittedly fairly superficial) impression that it's happening a lot faster than most people think. I don't think it's going to be a gradual, high-publicity thing like fusion that builds up over decades. More likely than not it'll be research done quietly (relative to the general public, at least) until one day someone publishes an experiment featuring mice that simply do not die of old age.

That being said the group that does this might not even publish if it's that sudden. There was some research that demonstrated the restoration (or outright generation) of fertility in infertile horses or some such thing, and the group involved has sat on their data for years because it's so controversial.

There's also some poaching going on where companies set up by high-profile individuals (e.g. Altos Labs by Jeff Bezos) have been going around recruiting prominent researchers. I doubt Jeff's ability to sit on data as big as what they might eventually find, though.

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4 hours ago, cantab said:

The nuclear bomb. OK, so it's not new technology, but it's been underused since its invention. This wll of course not be a positive change.

Speak for yourself.

project_orion.png

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, JoeSchmuckatelli said:

That there is the clencher. 

Interestingly, those looking back see the game changing tech as 'something that fulfilled a need.'

(the problem is identifying that need) 

One story was of a guy who held one of the first calculators* in his hand in 1972 and thought 'this is never going to take off'.  (Being able to look at a 1972 HP Calc and anticipate the iPhone & etc?) 

So - for those participating... I don't think we should to try to foresee the endstate device...  Rather - can we identify the current '1972 calculator'? 

What current curiosity (whether mil-tech or prototype or whatever) is going to blow up and be the next thing? 

... 

Part of me wants to point at Starship - maybe Space is ready to go from something only rich governments do to the region where lots of people live and work. 

Or maybe biotech - and 80 years from now everyone has biomedical implants and lives at least 200 years. 

The thing I wrestle with is which historical analog is likely.  Factories, trains and electricity were all huge projects where if they weren't done by the government were government adjacent (super rich investors protected by the govt) - whereas electricity, cars and microchips (once produced) were personal and proliferate (my lights, my car, my phone). 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/museum/personalsystems/0023/index.html#:~:text=The HP-35 Scientific Calculator,world's first handheld scientific calculator.

 

you can now get an altair 8800 kit (a real kit mind you, no emulation) that fits in an altoids tin. im thinking about getting one, its only $80-ish. i always wanted a blinkinlight computer, and not one of those gaudy led clad monstrosities that gamers build. 

4 hours ago, cantab said:

The nuclear bomb. OK, so it's not new technology, but it's been underused since its invention. This wll of course not be a positive change.

i know we shouldnt talk about politics, but i should have a right to bear nukes. i should also have the right to nuke bears.  and yes nothing good will come of this. 

4 hours ago, JoeSchmuckatelli said:

Grin - unless you are part of the Giant Radioactive Spider lobby 

Crawly McCrawlerson for president!

Edited by Nuke
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That incident recently with the Tesla being "summoned" and crashing into a multimillion dollar airplane made me think about AI. While it's true a human might make that mistake, I think most people would be more cautious driving around an airfield, because we know planes are expensive. The AIs we currently have are being "trained" on narrow tasks, they don't have the lived experience that a person does, and I wonder if that might limit AI in some respects. It's not that Tesla's AI didn't recognise an airplane, it's that it doesn't know what an airplane is. All it knows is that there's stuff it's allowed to drive towards and stuff it's not allowed to drive towards. Just what level of safety can such a narrow mind have? There have been other examples of the Tesla autopilot veering towards cyclists and stuff.

To get an AI that can replace a human, might we not have to essentially raise it as a human? Is anyone attempting that? Would such an experiment even be considered ethical?

And then there's adversarial inputs against image-recognition AI. Get an object, put a specially-designed sticker on it, and the AI is fooled into thinking it's a completely different object. It's a mistake no human would make. Of course we make our own mistakes, they're called optical illusions. But we live in a world designed for what human vision can and can't do. Machine vision that's unlike our own - which means ALL currently existing machine vision - will always struggle in that environment. Redesigning our world for the machines, well, it might happen some day, but I don't think that would be a good thing.

Ten years ago I though self-driving cars were just round the corner. I learned to drive feeling like I was learning an already-obsolete skill. But now, self-driving cars outside of limited geographic areas seem further away than they were in 2010.

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1 hour ago, cantab said:

That incident recently with the Tesla being "summoned" and crashing into a multimillion dollar airplane made me think about AI. While it's true a human might make that mistake, I think most people would be more cautious driving around an airfield, because we know planes are expensive. The AIs we currently have are being "trained" on narrow tasks, they don't have the lived experience that a person does, and I wonder if that might limit AI in some respects. It's not that Tesla's AI didn't recognise an airplane, it's that it doesn't know what an airplane is. All it knows is that there's stuff it's allowed to drive towards and stuff it's not allowed to drive towards. Just what level of safety can such a narrow mind have? There have been other examples of the Tesla autopilot veering towards cyclists and stuff.

To get an AI that can replace a human, might we not have to essentially raise it as a human? Is anyone attempting that? Would such an experiment even be considered ethical?

And then there's adversarial inputs against image-recognition AI. Get an object, put a specially-designed sticker on it, and the AI is fooled into thinking it's a completely different object. It's a mistake no human would make. Of course we make our own mistakes, they're called optical illusions. But we live in a world designed for what human vision can and can't do. Machine vision that's unlike our own - which means ALL currently existing machine vision - will always struggle in that environment. Redesigning our world for the machines, well, it might happen some day, but I don't think that would be a good thing.

Ten years ago I though self-driving cars were just round the corner. I learned to drive feeling like I was learning an already-obsolete skill. But now, self-driving cars outside of limited geographic areas seem further away than they were in 2010.

Which I believe is what the “Dojo” supercomputer is is supposed to be doing: taking all the experiences from millions of Teslas and “training” the AIs with everything it has learned  so far. Hopefully now Dojo knows what an airplane is now, but it still has to learn to recognize a myriad of airplane models from a myriad of angles. 

As for the “sticker on a familiar object,” gambit, again, once a human tells Dojo what to look for, hopefully the AI will be harder to fool. But that’s also another level of analysis to ask the FSD AIs to do in real-time, requiring more processing power. OTOH, deliberately fooling any kind of intelligence, human or otherwise, with the intent to cause mischief opens one up to criminal charges if it causes harm. 

I could see large photo-realistic advertising (like on the side of a trailer, or a wall) being banned to facilitate safer autonomous vehicles. Wile E. Coyote would be getting himself into more trouble…

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