Furthermore after the Russian hacking of the 2016 US election, many people worry that technology has gone too far. And yet it continues to evolve rapidly. Largely because of the success of companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, investment in tech research continues to climb.
Meanwhile at the same time, because of the sudden maturation of mathematical methods that can deliver what is commonly called AI, the possibilities are expanding
Over the past half-decade, with help from the complex algorithms deep neural networks, computers have learned to see. Loosely based on the web of neurons in the human brain, a neural network can learn tasks by identifying patterns in vast amounts of data. By analysing millions of bicycle photos, for instance, a neural network can learn to recognise a bicycle.
This means that services like Facebook and Google Photos can instantly recognise faces and objects in images uploaded to the internet. Using these same techniques, machines can also learn to identify signs of disease and illness in medical scans. By analysing millions of retinal photos, a neural network can learn to recognise early signs of diabetic blindness. In the longer term, similar methods promise to rapidly accelerate drug discovery and so many other aspects of healthcare
Neural networks are not limited to image recognition. Far from it. These same techniques are rapidly improving coffee-table gadgets like the Amazon Echo, which can recognise spoken commands from across the room, and online services like Skype, which can instantly translate phone calls from one language to another.
They may even eventually produce machines that can carry on a conversation. Firms like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are at the forefront of this movement, which promises to fundamentally change how we interact with phones, cars, and potentially any machine.
Nevertheless some people argue there are even better ways of interacting with computers by using brain waves. Rather than telling a computer what you want, many companies say they believe you could just think it.
However using electroencephalography, or EEG — a longstanding means of measuring electrical brain activity from sensors placed on the head — the start-up Neurable is building a virtual reality game that can be played with the mind. EEG is limited for this kind of use, but other researchers, including at Facebook, aim to build far more powerful systems using optical sensors.
Afterward facebook hopes that, in a few years, this technology will let people type with their minds five times faster than they can with a smartphone keyboard. Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, is going several steps further, hoping to read brain activity from chips implanted inside the skull
The flying car
Furthermore as entrepreneurs like Musk work to put a chip in your head, others are working to put cars in the skies. Even as he sets the pace in the race to autonomous cars, Larry Page, the chief executive of Alphabet, is backing Kitty Hawk, a startup that wants to move commuting into the air.
And many others, including the startup Joby Aviation, Uber, and Airbus, are working on vehicles capable of flying above congested roads. These vehicles take many forms, but generally, they carry a single rider and take off like a helicopter: straight up
The Quantum Computer
However even more outlandish? It’s the prospect of a quantum computer. Drawing on the seemingly magical properties of quantum physics, such a machine would be exponentially more powerful than computers of today. Think of it this way: A quantum computer could instantly crack the encryption that protects the world’s most private data.
Nevertheless the problem is that these machines are enormously difficult to build, but progress has accelerated. Google, IBM, and Intel are investing heavily in this push, as are startups like Rigetti Computing. Researchers say they believe that quantum machines eventually could accelerate drug discovery, streamline financial markets, solve traffic problems and more.
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