It's hard to avoid the feeling sometimes that the future is already here, that the gap between science fiction and reality has been bridged. Science and technology have advanced at such a rate that it is difficult for most of us to keep up. We get comfortable with something only to find it is already being superseded.
Here are three things to look out for on the tech horizon as we speak, from blockchain advances through to printed weaponry. We live in interesting times indeed.
1. Forget blockchain, how about hashgraph?
Still struggling to get your head around cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and the underlying technology of blockchain? Well, get ready for the next stage of blockchain products like hashgraph.
Hedera Hashgraph is valued by early investors at $US6 billion and just closed a deal with private investors to the tune of $US100 million. It promises better verification processes than traditional blockchain technologies and claims to be faster and more efficient too. “Instead of a single chain, it’s actually a graph,” CEO Mance Harmon told The Information newsletter.
The company says its “hashgraph distributed consensus algorithm” was invented by Dr. Leemon Baird out of a “desire to be able to carve out your own piece of cyberspace, to share with those who you want to share with, and not have to be dependent on the whims of a big technology company to host your data or collaborations.”
2. China leads on 5G
China has made incredible advances as a technology superpower over the past decade. Its rollout of 5G mobile networks is proof that it is squaring up to the US in this area, outspending the US by $24 billion on 5G deployment since 2015.
5G is the successor to the 4G mobile communications standard that currently powers most of our smartphones and wireless devices. Experts say it will have greater capacity, higher speeds, and more rapid reaction times, making it the perfect conduit for running things like autonomous vehicles, VR headsets, and the Internet of Things devices.
From an Australian perspective, there's already been plenty of speculation 5G will render the NBN obsolete – even before the much troubled national broadband network is fully rolled out.
3. Annie print your gun…
As if the gun control debate in the US wasn’t already messy enough, now comes the news that access to firearms will be as simple as download and print, as long as you have a 3D printer. Gun rights activist and founder of the company Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson, is one of the leading proponents of making 3D weapon blueprints available to the public. “I’ve demonstrated ... especially these last few weeks [that] the idea of gun control in the internet age is inoperable,” Wilson has said. It’s the thin edge of the wedge as 3D printing technology becomes cheaper and more accessible to the general public.