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Featured What will be the next big revolution?

  1. Sep 16, 2016 #1
    Some say block-chain economies, some say driver-less cars and some say clean energy. What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2016 #2
    I think it will be when we are able to harvest the energy of matter (E=mc^2) (which is a lot)
  4. Sep 16, 2016 #3


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  5. Sep 16, 2016 #4
    Specifically what in biotech?
  6. Sep 16, 2016 #5


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    I'd think genetic engineering. We already do this with plants and I don't see a reason why and even more important who should stop us from doing with animals, including us. It'll likely start shielded under some "good" reasons, e.g. sterile mosquitoes or similar. Prenatal diagnostics is already here.
  7. Sep 17, 2016 #6


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    As @fresh_42 wrote - genetic engineering has a potential to revolutionize everything.

    We already tried to made goats producing silk (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioSteel) and we already produce insulin on industrial scale using modified bacteria. Hard to predict what will be possible and what not, but opportunities are infinite - why not use bacteria for concentrating gold from sea water or oxidize TNT in land mines? I believe I have read about people working on these, or similar, ideas, these are not my weak attempts at SF!

    One of the options is completely wiping out Home sapiens from the Universe though.
  8. Sep 17, 2016 #7
    Call me old-fashioned, but I don't have high hopes for self-driven cars and especially not genetic engineering. Leave the genes alone; this is an example of naive human hubris that's going to create an abomination(s). Even if we got the engineering right, what kind of mind is going to direct how the genes are manipulated, Donald Trump? Think about it. I say we leave nature alone and work on creating intelligent machines, that's a domain we can legitimately say we own.

    Edit: Ok, on further thought let me qualify this a bit. There are some legitimate reasons to pursue gene modification research. For example in treating human diseases postnatal. Plus, I wouldn't be against some sort of genetic solution to extinguish mosquitoes. So, to put it simply, I'm OK with genetic research as far as a prophylactic effort to ease human (and animal) suffering, but I'm not OK with it as a hobby for biomedic entrepreneurs playing around and trying to make a buck by outwitting nature. Does that make sense?
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
  9. Sep 17, 2016 #8


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    I would much rather go with a less consumer centred economy - want less, waste less.
    Financial markets suck.
  10. Sep 17, 2016 #9
    I guess that while the technological progress is indeed important, the largest changes will be caused by social and economical factors. Not one, but many. SOME of them include :
    Demographic change - Low natality in the West, postponing of marriage (if married at all) retirement reform
    Terrorism ( including small scale attacks)
    TTIP (increase of power of transnational companies, less control to governments)
    Spread of electronic communication, social networks- both positive and negative effects, unknown influence on the youngest generation
    Robotisation- potential risk to employment, need to invent new jobs
    Economic crisis, impossibility of eternal growth
    Need of school reform, no use in teaching what everyone can Google in seconds
    Climate change, it's impact on agriculture, lack of water in some areas, and increase in natural disasters
    Increase in tolerance to the LGBTI community
    Improved health care
    Possibility of new sects, rise of extremism and nationalism on one hand, increased tolerance to differences on the other hand.
    Slow disappearance of national identities and folklore, new global culture will be created by the Internet and increased mobility. But there may be strong even radical movements to reverse this process. This will not happen immediately, but definitely will become more evident in the future.

    These are only some factors that I can think of now. I'm sure there are many more. I feel that humanity is at a huge crossroads right now because there are too many changes that occur too fast and it becomes more difficult to predict what will happen in few years.

    In fact, I would call the phrase "many changes happening fast" the key thing that I think will affect near future.
  11. Sep 17, 2016 #10
    I guess it's hard to single out a one specific thing that could make a revolution like it was back in the 19th and 20th century.Today everything is a sort of revolution.

    My guess is that artificial intelligence could do magic, I'm also a fan of Stanley Kubrick....
    Gene engineering surely is on the table.
    But I am almost sure that before any of these two can happen we must find a viable energy source/es, energy is key to everything much like food is the backbone of all human life , food and water is the first thing without which we wouldn't think about the future here instead we would run around trying to find some leftover apples and stuff.
    Especially given the numbers of humans living on this planet energy indeed will be a big problem.
    By the time oil runs out we will be probably 10 billion or more , wind and solar will be unable to cover our needs that's for sure.
    So we either keep more than half the world in poverty and without anything more than a piece of bread or we all thrive towards a house a car a job etc and then we have a real problem that we simply don't have enough energy to live that lifestyle.

    But all of this will only happen if somehow this world keeps itself together until we get to that point because as it is happening now, I think we have a high chance of terminating ourselves before we invent a machine that could revolt against us.

    @Sophia , yes robotization and other challenges we now face are I would say rather important because as the human race only gets bigger in numbers the average IQ doesn't grow like the quantity so the question is if we remain in a capitalist economy and it's model then surely large masses will be unemployed permanently.
    Unemployment and depression is like a match near a gasoline can that sits in the sun.

    Maybe the better question should be whether the next revolution will be of a technological scientific type or more of a human/social type.
    Although I guess those two things are somewhat indistinguishable from each other and one affects the other.
  12. Sep 17, 2016 #11


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    What will be the next big revolution?
    Nice Question @Greg Bernhardt! Nice and open ended.

    Depends on what big revolution applies to. I see research and global interests as two possible avenues.

    Research Impact:
    1) LIGO and large more sensitive related technologies (Duh!) and the cool stuff they find out about gravity affecting things.
    This will be informative about things otherwise not visible.
    2) Genetics research will find still more stuff out. Much remains unknown. Life is complex. Genetics touches most aspects of biology and is becoming increasingly more manipulative. It has reached the its granular bottom (molecular sequence), sequencing is quick and easy, and computer analyses make it possible to deal with the resulting huge amounts of data. By using these genetic tools, cell biology, development, neural function research will be greatly enhanced.
    3) Brain functioning and behavior: Many new tricks now available (fMRI, real time optical display of neural circuit functioning in small animals, way better microscopes like 2 photon confocals, sheet microscopy, enhanced resolution microscopy, using infrared light). These will make new observations possible

    Global Impact:
    1) Climate change is going to happen and it does not currently look like enough is being done to damp its effects. This can be dealt by reacting to its effects after they occur or by taking thoughtful actions before they occur. Places that can do this the best will have the most well sustained local environments and will the most prosperous in the future.
    Some of this might involve moving ecosystems from one place to another as they move polewards as temperatures rise.
    Other approaches might involve engineering organisms of local environments so that they can survive and thrive their new hotter (or whatever) local environment. This would involve determining which species in an environment would be good choices for changing and how to make those changes successfully. Large controlled environmental plots would have to be set-up for testing the effects of things before releasing them.
    2) Moore's Law has been driving brunt forces advances in computer processing for many years. Will it run into an atomic limit? Will quantum computing extend the duration of Moore's Law like advances? Maybe something else. If there is a computation wall, that will have effects. If there are work arounds, that will be a breakthrough. Stay tuned for details.
  13. Sep 19, 2016 #12


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    I think automation leading to loss of jobs will force major social changes. As the permanently unemployed fraction of the population grows, we must learn to break the tie between personal identity and career, and the association between work and social status. I find it hard to imagine anything more deeply embedded in our identities than the work ethic.
  14. Sep 19, 2016 #13
    I think it will likely be more like the authoritarian revolutions of the early 20th century than the technological and medical progress of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. People thinking, "Oh, there's no way something like that can happen again" is precisely why it can.
  15. Sep 19, 2016 #14


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    My vote is 3d printer technology. Once perfected, a 3d printer could replicate unlimited copies of itself - making them accessible to everyone. The ability for anyone to produce consumer goods on demand would inflict chaos, and ultimately revolutionize world economies. Only raw materials and replicant programs would have any intrinsic value as everything else could be replicated.
  16. Sep 19, 2016 #15
    I like to think that the future is made of two kind of things: those we can think about and those we can't - the unthinkable.

    Among the things we can foresee there are biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, quantum computing, nuclear fusion, artificial intelligence... and of course fundamental research about the nature of our world. Each has the potential to 'change the world'. Which will happen, to what extent and when is anyone's guess. And then there is the unthinkable which of course we cannot talk about or even imagine, but that will also have a profound impact on the future.

    I have to admit i'm partial to IA. I tend to think it is not a matter of how or when it will happen (it is unavoidable IMO) but how we are going to use it and what incredible things we will be able to achieve with such a tool. It's already happening in fact.

    However, the next revolution may well be a crisis. Climate change, over population, natural resources depletion, natural or man made disasters, epidemic, war...
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
  17. Sep 19, 2016 #16
    Well i personally don't think 3d printing will be a revolution , take the internet for example or social media which is possible thanks to the internet those I think changed more lives than 3d printing ever will.I don't think any new technology can be a big revolution in a time when we are so used to " new technology" and changing stuff all the time.

    @anorlunda yes , the job factor is indeed an issue because unemployment especially in a capitalist system is a big issue and drives up crime and the instability of the ruling class , if the percentage of unemployment gets too high for too long that can spark various "flammable" situations.
    The Great October revolution or the "Red October" of 1917 was in large part possible because the ordinary people of the Czarist Russia were very poor.
  18. Sep 19, 2016 #17


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  19. Sep 19, 2016 #18


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    There are already many revolutions under way. I would characterize the next big revolution to be the reach or achievement, of a very remarkable/highly influencing state.
    I would put, as a safe bet in my opinion, Biotechnology and AI. On the other hand, economies of the countries, economic crises, unemployment at large (global scale) and conditions of poverty, tend to some crucial point and maybe can outperform the technological revolution. I can't be really sure which is to finally take the lead and their impacts, will obviously be diametrically opposed. I think that it's more of a race against time...
  20. Sep 19, 2016 #19


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    Since no one seems to have mentioned it,.... what we REALLY need is for someone to invent a robotic vacuum cleaner (or better -- entire home domestic slave) that ACTUALLY WORKS. :partytime:

    Even better if it can double as a sex toy. Oh,... wait,.... :olduhh:
  21. Sep 19, 2016 #20


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    What defines a scientific revolution? Ideas that are too crazy, too awesome not to be true.

    "Earth is not the center of the universe."

    "Every body attracts every other."

    "Time is relative."

    What comes next should be, and will be of an equal magnitude in craziness and awesomeness to deserve being called revolutionary.

    The next scientific revolution is likely a physics model that unites dark matter with ordinary matter. One even further down the road would explain what we call dark energy. Those are the types of ideas that could create a sense of awe comparable to the ideas of Copernicus, Newton and Einstein at the time each proposed his theory. IMHO.
  22. Sep 19, 2016 #21


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    I think the climate change debate will take over everything and the electrical economy will be the answer where everyone uses electrical devices including cars and the power plants handle the necessary climate controls such as carbon capture and emissions cleaning. The climate change will also cause us to rethink human migration as islands disappear and people need to move to better climates,

    I think AI tech will seep into more and more areas especially in the design of new personalized drugs and in mastering the art of protein folding and genomic and epigenetic analysis.
  23. Sep 19, 2016 #22
    I think quantum computers have the potential to be humanities next biggest revolution
  24. Sep 20, 2016 #23
    Developing access to fresh water is going to drive a lot the civil sciences in the future. It could also including surface modification to direct prevailing high humidity wind to interior sections currently under the rain shadow of mountain ranges.
  25. Sep 20, 2016 #24
    I think reading from this thread alone one can conclude that there are so much advances going on and at the same time so much possible disasters awaiting that it's next to impossible to speculate on what each of those events long term impacts will be.

    Since machines don't have emotions like us and even with AI I doubt the human spectrum can be fully replicated I would say the next revolution as all the ones before will have to do something with us as always , either WW3 because of the unrest between different groups or something else but the one who "pulls the trigger" will be a man.History shows it's in our nature to break something before we learn to make it better.
  26. Sep 20, 2016 #25


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    Too bad most of the melting ice will be going directly into the oceans!
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