WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR SOLVING WORLD PROBLEMS?

Introduction

Since the beginning of recorded history, technology has helped to overcome many problems faced in the world. From the first stone tools, to the latest Martian rovers and everything in between, technology has, in some way, been proven to solve a multitude of problems and improve life in general. Throughout the world, people have faced problems such as a lack of food and water, disease, natural disasters, poverty and war. Technological breakthroughs in innovation such as electricity, the internet, computers and cellphones have helped to solve many issues. In this article, we will explore some of the most important technologies that are currently in development, which will greatly benefit mankind in the near future.

1. Removal of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

The rise in global temperature is a threat to all humanity; however, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions aren’t sufficient to keep the global temperature in check. The removal of carbon dioxide can greatly help in this regard, but it is a very expensive process. There are many start-up companies that are researching ways to recycle carbon dioxide into synthetic fuels, carbon fibre products and polymers. While experimentation in the removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide is still in its infancy, it offers promising benefits for the future.

2. Cleaning Up the Oceans

There is a very large amount of small pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans, the major source of these waste products consists of plastic bags and straws, which have disintegrated into small pieces over time. These small pieces are detrimental to the health of marine animals, birds and humans. According to modern research, it may take hundreds of years to completely remove the millions of tons of plastic that pollutes the world’s oceans. As the ocean pollution is so widespread, the process of removing it systematically is difficult. There are currently systems at the prototype stage, which are capable of removing clusters of accumulated plastic, but more research is needed in the removal of cleaning coastlines and waterways.

3. Grid-Scale Energy Storage

Renewable energy sources are becoming more widely available around the world as more governments begin offering incentives for their use. Their major drawback is that, if the event of insufficient wind or daylight, these sources fail to generate energy. At the current stage, the cost of building battery infrastructures that are sufficient to provide power to entire power grids is simply too high. There are scientists and startup companies working on long term solutions to build cheaper forms of grid-scale energy storage which can persist for longer periods of time.

4. Energy-Efficient Desalination

The amount of salt water on Earth is roughly about 50 times that of fresh water. With the increase of global population and frequency of droughts around the world, the demand for fresh water will continue to rise. Israel sources most of its fresh water supply with the use of the largest reverse-osmosis desalination plant in the world, though unfortunately a system such as this isn’t feasible to work on a global scale. There is currently research being brought forward into new type of artificial membranes and electrochemical techniques with the aim to make salt water useable for agricultural irrigation. Similarly, these techniques could be used to make harnessing fresh water from the ocean more freely available in the future.

5. Secure Pilotless Transportation

There have been thousands of driverless vehicles in use on public roads, in total covering millions of miles. While there have been great strides in the maturity of this technology, they are still not quite ready for more widespread adoption. There still problems to be addressed, such as the handling of disordered traffic and negotiating adverse weather conditions. If these problems can be overcome, traffic congestion may become a thing of the past and will likely drastically reduce the number of deaths that occur due to traffic accidents.

6. Dementia Treatment

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are widely known throughout the world; it is estimated that 10% of Americans over the age of 65 suffer from these debilitating conditions, while approximately one third of those over the age of 85 are affected. At present, Alzheimer’s disease is still not fully understood as a definite diagnoses can only be done after death has occurred, while even then there may be dispute as to whether the patient was afflicted by Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. With the advances in neuroscience and genetics that are currently underway, there is evidence that modern medicine may be able to slow down or even stop the negative effects of these conditions.

7. Earthquake Prediction

Earthquakes are among the most devastating natural disasters; in 2004, a tsunami caused the deaths of more than 250 000 people in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines while the 2010 earthquake in Haiti resulted in 100 000 deaths. In recent times, scientists have made great advances in predicting hurricanes, but there is little that can be done in the prediction of earthquakes. If the technology was available to predict earthquakes, even if only a few hours of early warning could be provided, would go a long way to save many millions of lives around the world.

8. Brain Decoding

The human mind remains elusive to neuroscientists’ understand; all thoughts that we have and all memories created are encoded in the billions of interconnected neurons in our brains. The exact workings of this encoding remains deeply obscure to modern science. The understanding of how our brains work may lead life-changing breakthroughs in the curing of disease such as schizophrenia and autism, and the relief of degenerative brain disease. This would also open up the opportunities of communication between the brain and computers, the various applications of which are practically unlimited.

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