Cutting edge technology

Origi­nal post: http://​​bear­​​cut­ting-edge-tech­nol­ogy/​​

When the micro­scope was in­vented, in a very short pe­riod of time we dis­cov­ered the cell and the con­cept of micro­biol­ogy. That one in­ven­tion al­lowed us to open up en­tire fields of biol­ogy and medicine. Sud­denly we could see the microbes! We could see the ac­tivity that had been go­ing on un­der our noses for so long.

when we started to im­prove our abil­ity to re­fined pure ma­te­ri­als we could fi­nally make fur­nace bricks with spe­cific com­po­si­tion. Spe­cific com­po­si­tions could then be used to make bricks that were able to reach higher tem­per­a­tures with­out break­ing. Higher tem­per­a­tures meant bet­ter re­fin­ing of ma­te­ri­als. Bet­ter re­fin­ing meant higher qual­ity bricks, and so on un­til we now have some very pure tech­nolog­i­cal pro­cesses around mak­ing ma­te­ri­als. But it’s some­thing we didn’t have be­fore the prior tech­nol­ogy on the skill tree.

Be­fore we had re­friger­a­tion and food pack­ag­ing, it was difficult to get your fresh food to sur­vive to your home. Now with pro­duc­tion lines it’s very sim­ple. For all his deca­dence Cae­sar prob­a­bly would have had trou­ble or­der­ing a cheese­burger for $2 and hav­ing it ready in un­der 5 min­utes. We’ve come a long way since Cae­sar. We’ve built a lot of things that help us stand on the shoulders of those who came be­fore us.

Tech­nol­ogy en­ables fur­ther progress. That seems ob­vi­ous. But did that seem ob­vi­ous be­fore look­ing down the micro­scope? Could we have pre­dicted what bricks we could have made with purely re­fined ma­te­ri­als? Could Cae­sar have en­vi­sioned ev­ery cit­i­zen in his king­dom watch­ing TV for rel­a­tively lit­tle cost to those peo­ple? It would have been hard to forsee these things back then.

With the idea that tech­nol­ogy is en­abling fu­ture growth in mind—I bring the ques­tion, “What tech­nol­ogy is cur­rently un­der-util­ised?” Would you be able to spot it when it hap­pens? Touch screen rev­olu­tion­ised phone tech­nol­ogy. Bit­coin—we are still watch­ing but it’s here to stay.

“What tech­nol­ogy is cur­rently un­der-util­ised?”

For ex­am­ple “AI has the power to change ev­ery­thing. (it’s al­most too big to talk about)”. But that’s a big thing. It’s like say­ing “the in­ter­net has the power to change ev­ery­thing” great but could you have pre­dicted google, face­book and uber from a cou­ple of con­nected com­put­ers? I am hop­ing for some more spe­cific ideas about which spe­cific tech­nol­ogy will change life in what way.

Here are some ideas in ROT13 (chrome ad­don d3coder):

  • Com­puter use will change when we build the next thing to re­place “key­boards”

  • Trans­port tech­nol­ogy will change if bat­tery or “en­ergy stor­age” tech­nol­ogy im­proves.

  • Au­toma­tion will change pro­duc­tion and de­liv­ery of goods and ser­vices. And even­tu­ally bring about post-scarcity economics

  • If IE cracks bet­ter colour and sound tech­nol­ogy (think, not just CMYK but all the other colours not on the LED spec­trum), we might just see IE ex­plode.

  • Ma­chine learn­ing and statis­tics have the power to change medicine

  • CRISPR and gene edit­ing will change food production

  • Quan­tum com­put­ing will change gene edit­ing by calcu­lat­ing things like pro­tein fold­ing in sig­nifi­cantly less time.

  • Quan­tum com­put­ing (while it’s still not con­sumer grade) will also change se­cu­rity.

  • I would have said 3D print­ing would change lock­smithing but now I am not so sure.
    3D print­ing has over­all done a poor job of chang­ing any­thing.

  • if the con­struc­tion in­dus­try can au­to­mate that will change the way we build hous­ing.

As much as these don’t all fol­low the rule of be­ing con­sumer-grade de­vel­op­ments that might rev­olu­tion­ise the world, I’d like to en­courage oth­ers to aim for con­sumer vi­able ideas.

This mat­ters be­cause this is how you see op­por­tu­nity. This is how you find value. If you can take one thing on my list or your own list and make it hap­pen sooner, you can prob­a­bly pocket a pretty penny in the pro­cess. So what’s on your list? Do you have two min­utes to think about what’s com­ing soon?

Cross posted to less­wrong: http://​​less­​​r/​​dis­cus­sion/​​lw/​​pil/​​cut­tingedge tech­nol­ogy/​