The British author Arthur C. Clarke is renowned for his three laws of prediction involving technology, and the third and most famous law can be stated thusly:
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
We live in an amazing time. Every day, we utilize technology that would seem like magic in any other era of history. For example, we use mechanical vehicles for transportation instead of riding horses or walking, and rely on electronic communications devices instead of writing letters or sending mail. It’s easy to forget that some of the technologies we use every day, especially electronic ones like cell phones, simply didn’t exist only a few decades ago. My job of Android developer didn’t exist even 10 years ago!
It’s staggering to consider the rapid pace of recent technological development, especially computer science and medical advances. It wasn’t until 2003 that the first draft of the Human Genome project was completed, essentially spelling out the entire DNA structure of the human body. Recent advances in prosthetic and bionic limbs allow amputees to resume their previous activities and lives. Tesla has created a car that runs entirely on electricity, potentially lessening our reliance on fossil fuels. Wearables are becoming the norm, thanks to Google Glass and the Pebble smartwatch, while at the same time the Oculus Rift is innovating virtual reality. Technology has been swiftly marching onward and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.
However, the future is even more exciting to me. There are technological advances that we still consider science fiction: the flying cars of the Jetsons aren’t quite a reality, and the androids of Blade Runner are thankfully not a dilemma (yet). But in the future, flying cars and human-like robots may become a fact of life. If you’re skeptical, simply remember that advanced technology may seem magical to the unfamiliar, but that nearly anything is possible with enough time and dedication.
If we want the world to improve and for science to achieve great advances, then we must help foster growth and inspire the future that we want to live in. That’s why I’m taking part in the Atlanta Science Festival, a week-long celebration of local science and technology. I’ll be visiting 10 elementary school classes to talk about the future, advanced technology, and daring to think that anything could be possible with science. I want to foster the spirit of scientific adventure within these students. I want them to imagine the future and the crazy technologies that could be. I want them to dream about creating and building and making. Those kids have a chance at engineering the future, of making our science fiction a reality, and I want to do everything in my power to help them dream big.
Most of all, I want to impress upon them that anything is possible. After all, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and the magic of the past is simply the science of today.
Interested in leveling up your coding skills from the same authors of the Big Nerd Ranch Guide? Subscribe to The Frontier today!