Digital ants will one day protect us and our utility infrastructure from cyber threats. Connected cars will rule the roads and spare parts will be manufactured at home eliminating those pesky trips to the hardware store. Wallets and keys will be a thing of the past and wooly mammoths and dodo birds may be given a second chance. Disease epidemics will be stopped in their tracks.
In November, Popular Mechanics (PM) Special 110th Anniversary issue surveyed 110 predictions for the future. With the help of leading research scientists, they drew a picture of a future that is much brighter for humanity in vivid colors. In most of these cases it is not difficult to see how data networks and cloud computing will be integral to enabling the future PM describes.
- Digital ants that mimic their real-life cousins roaming the network looking for anomalies and threats to destroy will need an information highway to march along.
- Connected cars that communicate with traffic lights for improved traffic flow and interact with other vehicles to prevent accidents will need pervasive wireless and big-data computing muscle only found in a cloud environment.
- Three-dimensional printers that can “print” any part from titanium dust will need a database to fall back on.
- We are already seeing the beginning of mobile devices used as a wallet or a key by means of near-field communications.
The network to the rescue – the future is in the cloud
But how will the network bring back the wooly mammoth or stop a pandemic in its tracks? Consider the massive amount of data that goes into each genome map of each living thing on this planet. For example, a human being has about 100GB in raw data in her genome map. In order to bring back an extinct species, comparisons need to be made between living relatives and extinct ancestors. Once fully mapped, changes to these complicated gene patterns must be employed. While the science is staggering, the amount of data that needs to be processed, sent and stored is as overwhelming. Ultra-fast and secure computing storage that is found in cloud data centers, along with a sufficiently fast network, are indispensable in creating this future..
The genome of disease-spreading bacteria may be much simpler. But in order to halt an outbreak, time is of the essence. Real-time genome sequencing is at the heart of techniques being researched by scientists to observe how a disease-spreading organism is mutating and adapting. Understanding and stopping the organism in time will save countless human lives. Again, a reliance on quickly crunching massive amounts of data taken from the microbes DNA will be at the heart of this effort, casting cloud and network in the spotlight once more.
Investing today in the speed needed for tomorrow
While scientists are doing their part to bring us the future, we are obliged to do our part and provide the network necessary to enable this very cool future. Unprecedented investment is required at the carrier level make wired and wireless speeds adequate. Cloud initiatives are needed to update and centralize data centers to give them the power and space needed to allow collaboration on these future technologies. Finally, processing speeds must continually improve to move and index the big data that is ubiquitous in so many of the future technologies mentioned in the PM article.
About the only thing I am not looking forward to that is slated for near future is “synthetic meat,” but maybe it is just the name that has me troubled. This new substance will enable us to feed a growing population and is plant-based in origin and supposedly tastes like the real thing. Biz Stone of Twitter fame has invested in the stuff, so no doubt you should be on the look out for it soon.