The U.S. military’s scientific and technological wing, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is essentially tasked with constructing the future. Robotic soldiers and artificial intelligence (AI) have both been in development for some time, as have instantaneous language translation systems and advanced contact lenses. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that DARPA has given its predictions for what the world will be like in 2045, as reported by Tech Insider.
In a video series entitled “Forward to the Future” released on YouTube, three DARPA researchers have explained how the technologies they are actively working on could transform the world in 30 years’ time.
The first of these predictions comes from Pam Melroy, an aerospace engineer, former astronaut, and deputy director of DARPA’s Tactical Technologies Office. This department, along with others, handles the development of drones.
Militarized drones are becoming increasingly spooky, with one DARPA project aiming to create “vampire drones,” those that sublimate into nothingness in direct sunlight, leaving no trace of their exploits.
Melroy takes this one step further. Instead of merely ordering drones and other machines around, advanced AI will “allow us to work as partners with machines and have them understand our intent for much more complex tasks.” Instead of having rudimentary voice recognition and keyboards, machines – drones, aircraft, and even spacecraft – will respond to our commands dynamically and control multiple systems simultaneously.
DARPA is currently developing an empathetic system that will even allow robots on the battlefield to detect and analyze our emotional and physical state in real-time; this will permit them to predict our needs before we even need them. Even before this system is operational, a quarter of combat soldiers will be robots by just 2030, according to one U.S. general.
Stefanie Tompkins, a geologist and director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, believes the world of 2045 will be dominated by nanotechnology. Our ability to manipulate materials at the atomic level already means we can produce incredible materials, including prosthetic limbs that have the ability to “feel” and night vision contact lenses only a few atoms thick.
The future will bring with it increasingly strong and lightweight materials, according to Tompkins. “You can now start to control properties of materials that we always thought were impossible to exist… but by building it at the atomic level, we can force them to [exist].”
Justin Sanchez, a neuroscientist and one of the program managers in DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, is convinced that thought-powered technology will become far more common by 2045. Neuroscientists are already working on prosthetic limbs that are controlled by your mind, and prototypes of mind-controlled cars already exist. Sanchez thinks that by 2045 we might be able to communicate with our “friends and family just using neural activity from [our] brain.”
The future may see this technology come in leaps and bounds, with the electronic architecture of your home, from the heating to the lights, possibly controlled by just your thoughts. Combining this ability with miniature sensors that power themselves, the homes of the future will be almost unrecognizable to the ones we have today.