The past decade may have been astounding for scientific advances – we have made unimaginable advances in areas such as bionics and space exploration and finally verified what Einstein was talking about – although 2020 will still be far from the idea of the "future" for most of us distant grew up with. While we have many technologies today that we couldn't even dream of a hundred years ago, progress in the cooler and more visible fictional technologies of the future – like flying cars – seems to have been slow.
The reason we believe is that the fictional technology we're looking for, like flying cars, is almost always inefficient and unnecessary. Truly groundbreaking and futuristic technologies are currently being developed. We just never get to hear about it because they don't sound that cool. In the spirit of a consistent reminder of how scary science will be, here are eight new breakthroughs that prove that we already live in the future.
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8 AI doctors
Medicine is one of the areas that we believe is never fully automated since you always need a human brain to diagnose the multitude of things that can go wrong with the body. This argument is definitely correct, but only if we assume that the robots that have replaced the real doctors will not also learn from their experience. With machine learning and AI, robotic doctors in the field already match the level of our medical knowledge – and in some cases exceed it.
Take the British National Health Service (NHS), which found that the chatbots that have recently been used to diagnose problems remotely outperform their human counterparts several times, especially for abdominal diseases. According to the company's own tests, the accuracy rate was also much higher than ours.
It is not that AI-controlled machines have significantly surpassed their human colleagues – at least in the field of medical diagnostics – in many recent studies. However, due to our inherent distrust of machines and robots, their spread in hospitals and government institutions around the world has been slow to develop.
7 Bringing the dead back to life
Resurrecting the dead has, in a way, been a staple of popular fiction for as long as we can remember. Above all, it reflects humanity's fundamental desire to free itself from the bonds of death, even if it is often inexplicably expressed by monstrosities such as Frankenstein's monsters and zombies. Although we know that someday we can undo death somehow, nobody expects that day to come soon.
However, according to a recent study, we're not close to reverse death, but we may have already learned how to do it. Some researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have successfully revived the brain of 32 pigs after they were declared dead. They put all the brains together into a mega structure called BrainEx and injected them with a solution to mimic the body's natural blood flow. To her surprise – and possibly to her horror – the brains were functioning normally again. Some of them even reacted to drugs just like a normal, non-zombified animal brain.
6 Nuclear Fusion
Most of us think nuclear fission is a stronger form of reaction than nuclear fusion, and it makes sense. For a layperson, something that splits must release more energy than something that is put together, regardless of the science behind it. In reality, nuclear fusion is not only much, much more powerful, it is also the main power source for our sun (and all other stars). It is also a much cleaner source of energy, although it is also much more difficult to achieve. Despite our efforts to replicate this on Earth for our ever-increasing energy needs, it has always been a dream for our scientists to use the energy of fusion like the stars.
It would be some time before we can really replace the sun with an energy source that we manufacture, a recent study in China has shown that the conditions necessary for nuclear fusion on the sun can be restored on earth.
At the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor in Hefei, China, the team of scientists succeeded in simulating an artificial sun using nuclear fusion. They were able to reach temperatures of over 100 million Celsius, which were sufficient to turn into plasma. Right, some scientists from China have just found a way to completely recreate the SUN on Earth using plasma.
5 Recognizing Parkinson's by voice
Parkinson's disease can be attributed to a class of serious diseases that we do not fully understand – another is Alzheimer's. It is not caused by an external body and is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, although that's pretty much all we know about it. We still don't know exactly why, or whether it's a normal disease as we understand it, or something completely different, like prions. In addition, recognizing has always been as difficult as understanding, as symptoms appear slowly and over a long period of time. There is also some discussion of what these symptoms are, since patients do not have clear biological markers.
Although we are still a long way from finding out and eradicating Parkinson's disease, we can now identify it much earlier – thanks to some recent research. In a clinical study, researchers from three universities developed a method for detecting Parkinson's only with voice samples. It's not really available for medical use yet, but its system was able to detect Parkinson's with an accuracy of 87%. Since it's based on machine learning, it just gets better.
4 Robots that can follow orders
If you think about it, robots have hardly influenced modern life. Sure, robots that are combined with other technologies like VR and AI are likely to play a big role in the future, even though they don't do much good in themselves. Although they have existed for decades, they are hardly part of everyday life, as the fictional works of the 20th century predict. What gives?
One of the main reasons is that they cannot understand what we are saying. Robots are still out of the ordinary because they don't have the cognitive skills to process our instructions in real time. Although we have developed robots that can perform backflips and run as fast as a human, it is incredibly difficult to code them to process any instructions you throw at them.
It would be some time before robots could understand and speak. As a real person, we have made some unprecedented progress in their cognitive abilities recently. The U.S. Army has recently developed software that can be used to program field robots to understand verbal instructions, execute them, and report without supervision. They could also learn by machine to learn from their mistakes and make their work even better over time.
3 Quantum entanglement
Quantum entanglement is one of the most important and mysterious phenomena in quantum physics. It is the theory that a pair of quantum particles always mutually influence one another, regardless of the distance or type of active forces between them, which has also been touted as a solution to everything going faster than light and quantum networking. Although it has been theoretically assumed in the past and has also been observed on a small scale, we have not yet been able to determine whether it is possible over long distances.
Only a team of Chinese scientists made history, beamed twisted pairs of photons over a distance of more than 1,200 km. In simple terms, they have proven that the state of a particle can change depending on another particle thousands of kilometers away, regardless of any other factor. As expected, it has applications in a variety of areas. China is well on the way to developing a censorship-proof quantum network that is faster and more secure than anything else. It also enables other breakthroughs that were previously considered impossible – such as communication that is faster than light.
2 Eye Tribe
The ability to control a computer with just your eyes sounds like a futuristic (and rather impressive) statement, although there hasn't been much effort to make it a reality. When developed, it has some uses in a variety of areas, particularly for the disabled. This would fundamentally change the way we interact with our devices and something that many of us would not even think possible.
It is true that no technology of this kind is currently available, but this was the case for a short time. Eye Tribe was a short-lived startup that, according to videos, had successfully built a prototype that would allow you to control each screen with your eyes only. Of course, the number of things you could do was clearly limited, as it wasn't so much a finished product as a prototype developer you could build on. The possibilities were endless and it was really something out of a science fiction book.
Unfortunately, the company discontinued all operations in the middle for unknown reasons and was soon bought by Facebook's Oculus.
1 Converting Brain Signals to Audio and Images
If you told a person in the nineteenth century that in about two hundred years time we could read other people's thoughts that they'd probably laugh at. This is still the case, as it's still so futuristic and unrealistic that even science fiction hasn't used it too often. Scientifically, there should be no way to examine what someone else thinks for the simple reason that thoughts are nothing but electrical waves that the brain can decipher. So, privacy.
If current research results on this topic are available, we already have the opportunity to read people's thoughts to a large extent. A team of neuroscientists from Columbia University recently developed a system for converting brain signals into audible speech that is surprisingly accurate. Other studies have shown that brain signals can also be converted into images, which we honestly did not know.