It seems like only yesterday that the idea of having artificial intelligence, interactive holograms and self-driving cars were reserved for sci fi films – but that cinematic reality might be closer than it appears.
As technology leaps forward in the new millennium, we see once abstract concepts become the norm. Here are some of the innovations you'll see for familiar technologies in the near future.
From the first moment that John fought with HAL, a defiant, self-aware super-computer in 2000: A Space Odyssey, the idea of Artificial Intelligence became a compelling yet terrifying abstraction. In real life though, machine learning has already become a powerful force in the tech industry.
The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) describes the use of computer programs to complete human-like complex tasks such as pattern recognition, learning, planning and problem solving.
Chatbots and virtual assistants are already widespread in customer service, but the future holds so much more for AI.
Multinational companies like UBS have been documenting how future industries will be driven by Artificial Intelligence. Futurists are already predicting that smart robots will be advising in the finance, insurance, legal media and journalism spaces by offering instantaneous research and information. AI software is set to assist with faster medical diagnosis and treatment as well, which could shift the medical field in a big way – particularly with the introduction of smart devices and biometric learning.
AI is expected to be a pay-as-you-go service in the near future, meaning businesses can take their data to larger companies that will supply the machine learning algorithms and AI infrastructure.
There’s a familiar image in next-gen space exploration cinema of holograms being manipulated by hand - warping, transforming, expanding and contracting at someone’s fingertips - the future shedding antiquated computer screens like snakeskin.
This image felt purely hypothetical until Coachella 2011, when a hologram of Tupac was projected on stage in front of hundreds of thousands of people – and then handed a smoking cigarette to the real-life Snoop Dogg.
It wasn’t until then that many people realised how rapidly technology was evolving in the extended reality space. In the years since, the Oculus Rift, Playstation VR and HTC Vibe have made virtual reality into an entertainment and education tool in many households. While it seemed surreal at first, there are many interactive Alternate Reality experiences people can enjoy using their phone or tablet – such as the popular Pokémon GO, or the Rolex app that let you to project watches onto your wrist. Then there’s the cutting-edge Microsoft HoloLens, an advanced mixed reality headset that can be applied in news ways across industries – letting the user project digital objects into the real world like a hologram, and then interact with them.
While we haven’t yet perfected Back To The Future-like flying cars, we are still making leaps in the area of automotive advancements. Even Elon Musk has announced that he expects to see completely autonomously driven vehicles on the road by some point in 2020.
We’ve been seeing the first hints of these cars emerge for some time in the automotive industry, such as fully developed ‘hazard reduction’ cars that intuitively prevent collisions, and self-parking cars. Other parts of the industry have been developing autonomous driving tech, such as self-flying ships, drones and robot delivery.
Thanks to major infrastructural improvements such as the 5G network, self-driving cars are a closer possibility than ever.
Science fiction films like Elysium focus heavily on the idea of the incredible capabilities of future medicine. When we think of these kinds of medical breakthroughs, we usually conjure images of Petri dishes and Bunsen burners, rather than android phones and Apple watches. It may come as a surprise, but the impacts of health and fitness applications on our everyday devices like smart phones and smart watches could have significant impacts on pushing medical advancement forward.
The combination of biological information gathered through these applications, together with improvements to AI and breakthroughs in genomics, means that we are better capable of understanding personal medical needs.
Technologies such as heart monitoring and body condition analysis, give improved the predictive capabilities to medical practitioners. This means we can tailor medical treatment to more specifically benefit the people who need it most.
Monitoring health with the Apple watch could even potentially extend your life up to 2 years. Broader monitoring can help targeted treatments specifically to you, detect genetic makeup and offer personalised health regimes.