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Good morning!

I'm Adrien. Welcome to The Pourquoi Pas, the weekly newsletter for the inherently curious. As usual, you can hit Reply to chat, sign up by following this linkor help The Pourquoi Pas grow by using the icons below.

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Quote of the week
 
I'd make a joke about how sucking the economy dry apparently wasn't enough, but I'd need a glass of orange juice first.
The Next Big Things In Tech (Part 3)

This is where it gets exciting. Following last week's look at technologies expected to emerge within the next 10 years, we're now looking at those which could change the world within 15 years, if not even further down the line. As a quick recap, we've already discussed: 

The Boring, Expected Stuff
  • A.I / Machine Learning / Deep (Reinforcement) Learning
  • Commercial UAVs / Drones
  • Robotics / Cobotics
  • Blockchain
  • Cryptocurrencies / ICOs
  • Voice
  • Chatbots
The Pretty Ok Stuff
  • Augmented / Artificial / Virtual Reality
  • A.I Cloud Services / Platform-as-a-service / Data-as-a-service
  • Autonomous Vehicules
  • Connected Home
  • 5G
  • Quantum Computer
  • Human Augmentation
The Very Exciting Stuff
  • IoT / Edge Computing / Intelligent Edge
  • Micro / Bio-chips
  • Nanorobotics
  • Genetic predictions
  • CRISPR
  • 3D metal printing
  • Earables
  • Zero-Carbon Natural Gas
Refer to the link above to read about all those exciting develoments. But why would you want to when we're going to talk about evern more fun techs? Onwards!
The Very Obscure Yet Very Exciting Stuff (I'm not very good at titles)
Smart Dust
Smart dust is a swarm of incredibly tiny (.15 x .15 mm) sensors which would gather huge amounts of information over a large area without disturbing the ecosystem. Some of the applications include detection of  corrosion in aging pipes before they leak in factories (Or drinking water... oh, hi Flint), tracking mass movements in cities or even monitoring inaccessible areas, however large they may be. One of the issue with this technology being discussed is the ecological harm these sensors could cause, as well as their potential for being used for unethical behavior. Another is how actionable the data gathered may be as opposed to satellite images.

4D printing 
The name 4D printing can lead to confusion: I am not implying that humanity will be able to create and access another dimension (Only Rubik can do that). Put simply, a 4D-printed product is a 3D-printed object which can change properties when a specific stimulus is applied (submerged underwater, heated, shaken, not stirred...). The applications are still being discussed, but it could be a way for many industries to become more sustainable, and for some products to be much more practical. How cool would it be to own clothes and footwear that optimise their form and function by reacting to changes in the environment?

Neuromorphic Hardware
Now this is what I call real SciFi. Taking a page from biology, physics, mathematics, computer science, and electronic engineering, neuromorphic engineering aims to create hardware which copies the neurones in their response to sensory inputs. We're not really sure how far this idea can be taken, but exploring it is, if anything, great for theoretical A.I research. Should said research go further and become actionable, you'll find me knocking on Sarah Connor's door. 

Digital Twin
Digital twins integrate artificial intelligence, machine learning and software analytics to create a digital replica of physical assets that update and change as their physical counterparts change, hence providing a variety of information throughout an object's life cycle.  With an estimated 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints by 2020, digital twins will exist for billions of things in the near future, if only for the potential billions of dollars of savings in maintenance and repair. Improving operations and optimising the IoT's performance is also very much on the table.
All the above is very cool, but imagine how much cooler it’d be if instead of objects we could make a digital twin for humans to see diseases in real time, or even for entire cities! See you in 2050 for the details. 

Volumetric displays / Free-space displays
If one cuts through the blah blah, volumetric displays are essentially holograms. Their use in advertising may be either greatly entertaining, or absolutely terrible because of potential impracticabilities (you can imagine which easily by watching Blade Runner 2049) The same can be said for more or less any industry which would claim to use such a tech. I'm also dubious about the tech's importance: computers were supposed to kill paper and I still print every single presentation I receive to read it. I don't see hologram being anything else than a hype-tech attached to other more interesting techs (such as adaptive projectors). 
Brain-Computer interface
A brain-computer interface, sometimes called a neural-control interface, mind-machine interface, direct neural interface, or brain–machine interface, is a direct communication pathway between an enhanced or wired brain and an external device. It sounds super cool and futuristic, but you've probably already seen it at work in prosthetics, for example. But it's the 24/7 access to internet which would be most transformative. Beyond the sociological, ethical and financial worries, it is the theological issue which interests me more: if everyone has access to the entirety of human knowledge at all time, every single human will be, in essence, a god. And if everyone is god, nobody is. It's a comforting thought. 

Zero-knowledge proof (aka: zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive argument of knowledge)
Privacy: ever heard of it? Computer scientists are perfecting a cryptographic tool for proving something without revealing the information underlying the proof. It sounds incredible but not impossible once you wrap your head around the concept and the fact that it's a bit more complex than saying "c'mon bro, you know I'm good for it"). For all their promise, though, zk-SNARKs are computation-heavy and slow. They also require a so-called “trusted setup,” creating a cryptographic key that could compromise the whole system if it fell into the wrong hands. But researchers are looking at alternatives that deploy zero-knowledge proofs more efficiently and don’t require such a key.

Flying autonomous vehicles
This one is easier to grasp as it has been part of the collective imagination for dozens, if not hundreds of years. Waiting curbside for an Uber or Lyft driver might one day be the old-fashioned way of getting around, though it is very unlikely in the short term. We're already struggling to stop people from attacking "classical" autonomous cars

Smart Robots / Autonomous Mobile Robots
This has also been a staple of SciFi for many years, for obvious reasons: imagine mixing robotics with enough General Artificial Intelligence to entertain the idea of the digital world becoming physical. 
Welcome to your tape.
Before any of this can ever happen, we will need to improve robotics (robots don't move so good right now) and create a new branch of A.I research. AMRs will also need nice a strong batteries, hence the current research into Lithium–silicon technologies. Elon Musk can't get ALL the glory, can he?
In any case, EdX actually offers a free class to learn about Autonomous Robots' basic concepts. Check it out.


Biotech / Cultured/Artificial tissues
These biohacks will fall into four categories that will redefine what it means to be human: technology augmentation, nutrigenomics, experimental biology and grinder biohacking.
  • Technology augmentation is the use of various tools to improve our poor limbs (think augmented vision, 3D printed limbs or artificial tissues).
  • Nutrigenomics is the study of the effects of foods and food constituents on gene expression, and could be use to slow down aging, cancer or obesity once properly grasped.
  • Experimental biology is primarily and experimental science (as per its name) and I don't fully understand it soooo...
  • And finally, grinders are people who apply the hacker ethic to improve their own bodies with do-it-yourself cybernetic devices or introducing chemicals into the body to enhance or change their bodies' functionality. Turns out, DIY might in fact be the way of the future. Thanks IKEA.
There is ALWAYS something new coming. That's been the way of the world for the past 4 centuries, give or take. You can look at it as tech coming to us, or as us picking a tech to get excited about and pouring money into it. No one know which way the correlation runs anyway. As such, the future is looking bright regardless of the reality of the advancements described above.

Let's try to keep it that way, if not for ourselves, then for future generations. 
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Thank you for reading through. 
Have a kitten Gif.
A lil' piece of wholesomeness
The Pourquoi Pas lives through its readers. If you liked this newsletter, forward it to a friend and/or send me your reactions, whimsical thoughts or cocktail recipes by hitting Reply.
 
Have a great week.
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