( Twenty minutes read)
Because returning to a world that relies on human and animal muscle power is not an option.
The 21st century will see technological change on an astonishing scale. This scale will be so small that none us alive today will comprehend it.
Our lives, relationships and ways of looking at the world are changing in ways we can’t predict because these changes will be on a nanoscale.
Nanotechnology is a common word these days, but many of us don’t realize the amazing impact it has on our daily lives.
Some of the implications surrounding nanotechnology are ethical, not economic like whether nanotechnology could be used to forge new weapons at the molecular or atomic scale that would be easy to build and impossible to detect.
Nanotech is opening up a whole new spectrum of how the world worked.
Whereas the evolutionary path of the atomic world has occurred over billions of years, the evolutionary path of the synthetic nanoparticle world has just begun.
Man-made nanoparticle assemblies are beginning to revolutionize different fields including thermoelectronics, photo electronics, catalysts, energy generation and storage, as well as medical diagnostics and therapeutics.
The fusion of inorganic nanoparticles with living matter can provide new systems that combine the advantages of both worlds.
Right now, most of the nanotechnologies you come across are incorporated into existing products. However, the societal impacts of new technologies are easy to identify but hard to measure or predict.
Nanotechnology is one of the fastest-emerging areas of scientific research that will have significant social impacts in the areas of military applications, intellectual property issues, as well as having an effect on labour and the balance between citizens and governments.
Are we the great unwashed concerned? Of course not.
What you cannot see has little or no impact till it’s too late.
Now it the time to make every reasonable effort to anticipate and mitigate adverse effects and unintended consequences of nanotechnology.
As nanotechnologies are developed, we’ll reap new benefits but also face new risks.
Its generalization could not be farther from the truth as nanotechnology research and development is truly global.
The digital universe – all digital data worldwide – has grown to over 16 zettabytes (1021 bytes) in 2017.
So what is Nanotechnology?
Here are a few facts to open your eyes that will make it more appealing and fascinating for everyone. Most individuals don’t know much about it…
Nanotechnology is a different type of science, respecting none of the conventional boundaries between disciplines and unashamedly focused on applications rather than fundamental understanding.
Nanotechnology is an amalgamation of different technologies that may be totally unrelated, thus it would be wrong to consider the nanotechnology industry as a stand-alone sector – it would be akin to grouping steel, copper, gold, silver, and aluminium under one umbrella.
- Nanoparticles are being used commercially in many products like food, cosmetics and others as they result in brighter colours, richer flavours and also less wastage.
- One notable application is known colloquially as the Bionic Hornet. No bigger than an average wasp, the flying device is designed to seek out, follow, photograph and even kill selected opponents.
- It may even transform what it means to be human.
- We’ll probably be able to plug information streams directly into the cortex for those who want it badly enough to risk the surgery. There will be smart drugs to enhance learning and memory and a flourishing black market among ambitious students to obtain them.
- Nanotechnology, which promises to rebuild matter atom by atom, molecule by molecule, and to give us unprecedented power over the material world.
- We will be sharing videos, simulations, experiences and environments, on a multiplicity of devices to which we’ll pay as much attention as a light switch.
- Nanotechnology is already on the shelves of your supermarket. Tiny nanostructures make ice cream look and taste better, while nanoparticles in plastic bottles keep beer fresh. In the future, nanotechnology could be used in all stages of food production, from cultivation to processing to distribution.
- Already, there are computer chips with self-assembled nanocrystals.
- In the future, ferrofluid which is a fluid is made of tiny, nano-sized particles of iron oxide suspended in the liquid might be used to carry medications to specific spots in the body.
- Today, nanogold is being used in an experimental cancer therapy that targets
tumours, leaving healthy tissue unharmed. Nanogold is also used to detect specific
strands of DNA.
However by 2035, we will be talking about the coming of quantum computing, which will take us beyond the world of binary, digital computing, on and off, black and white, 0s and 1s.
Nanoparticles are difficult to detect, which makes it hard to monitor their use and dispersal into the environment.
Future nanotechnologies will address issues of global importance, such as energy, medicine, water, and food. Nanoparticle assemblies will open the door to an era where DNA-based living nanoscale materials are ‘genetically’ modifiable and can undergo structural ‘evolution’.
It might allow us to abolish ageing and death.
However, we don’t know if nanotechnology will really change the world.
Take our cities, for example, they have become too big and complex for any single power to understand and manage them.
The nanotechnology can be expected to concentrate political power in the hands of governments. It can be expected to be applied to further miniaturize and advance surveillance technologies such as cameras, listening devices, tracking devices, and face and pattern recognition systems.
WHATEVER HAPPENS, OUR LIVES NOW NEEDS TO BE BUILT AROUND A NEW MODEL THAT RECOGNIZES GAINING KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS WILL BECOME THE KEY CREATOR OF ECONOMIC VALUE.
Since the size of today’s silicon chip memory cards and mechanical hard drives have limited just how small our personal electronic devices can be, the use of nanotechnology should remove these limits and thus shrink the devices down to the size of a grain of sand. This could eventually lead to the development of futuristic DNA computers.
It’s worth emphasizing that these applications of nanotechnology are not theoretical or “in-principle” achievements. The hardware exists.
The problems associated with the tech don’t lie in finding out if it will work, they lie in finding out if it will scale.
The possibilities are endless.
In the future, nanotechnology could enable objects to harvest energy from their environment. By harvesting electricity from human motion. This opens the door to creating clothing with built-in sensors to monitor health or fitness metrics, or clothing that uses an app to change patterns and colours.
Overall, nanotech and nanorobotics look extremely promising for applications in space exploration and colonization.
All this assumes that environmental catastrophe doesn’t drive us into caves.
The one thing we can be sure of is this:
No matter how wacky the predictions we make today, they will look tame in the strange light of the future.
Not only that, but the performance of such tiny devices could surpass the latest and greatest of today, thanks to carbon nanotubes.
An idea that nano-scale assemblers capable of fabricating any object, as well as self-replicating, could run amok and consume everything in their path—
Another 25 years of development will lead us to a new world of cheap and ubiquitous computing, in which privacy will be a quaint obsession of our grandparents. We’re already designing our identities online – manipulating imagery to tell a story about ourselves.
Facebook and Apple are spawning cloud capitalism, in which consumers allow companies to manage information, media, ideas, money, software, tools and preferences on their behalf, holding everything in vast, floating clouds of shared data.
I bet there’ll be many products we’ll be allowed to buy but not see advertised – the things the government will decide we shouldn’t be consuming because of their impact on healthcare costs or the environment but that they can’t muster the political will to ban outright.
The developing world, meanwhile, will work to bridge the food gap by embracing the promise of biotechnology which the middle classes in the developed world will have assumed that they had the luxury to reject.
OF COURSE, ALL OF THIS NEEDS ENERGY.
People already use up to 40% of the world’s primary production (energy) and this must increase, with important consequences for nature.
Energy is a means, not an end, but a necessary means.
Disappointingly, with the present rate of investment in developing and deploying new energy sources, the world will still be powered mainly by fossil fuels in 25 years and will not be prepared to do without them.
Crucially, we are still rapidly losing overall biodiversity, including soil micro-organisms, plankton in the oceans, pollinators and the remaining tropical and temperate forests.
These underpin productive soils, clean water, climate regulation and disease-resistance. We take these vital services from biodiversity and ecosystems for granted, treat them recklessly and don’t include them in any kind of national accounting.
We will be invited to trade invasions into our privacy – companies knowing ever more about our lives – for more personalised service. We will be able to share but on their terms.
As the web goes Nano those who pay more will get faster access.
We’re going to be interrupted by advertising like never before.
They’ll have enough intelligence and connectivity that they’ll see our faces, do a quick search on Facebook to find out who we are and direct a message at us based on our purchasing history.
The most serious threats will arise in the vortex of Nano instability.
With 6.7 billion people on the planet, more than 50% living in large conurbations, and these numbers expected to rise to more than 9 billion and 80% later in the century people can be better informed about what’s really happening in nanoscience and nanotechnology, without the hype.
The best part is that all of this could happen immediately if we simply spread the information in an understandable way. People don’t read science journals, so they don’t even know that all of this is possible.
There is a need now for regulation of nanotechnology.
PERHAPS THE PARADOX OF A TECHNOLOGICAL WORLD WILL BE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE AND PROTECTIONIST WILL BE GOOD NEWS.
New philosophical and sociological challenges will be derived from the societal transformations propelled by nanotechnology, and the tight relationship between access to technology and human fulfilment in life will have to be explored and discussed in great detail.
Dare I suggest that nanotechnology should feature more prominently in the education of school children. To come to an understanding it will require “a long-term educational strategy.
It is therefore imperative that we all learn about nanotechnology and become aware of its implications early in our lives.
As with all aspects of the fourth Industrial revolution, we need to explore the multiple connections of nanotechnology to all aspects of human endeavour, and to lead society into ethically harvesting and responsibly enjoying the many benefits that will be derived from it.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.