News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

The Next Revolutionary Change


The Communications Revolution (including the Internet and, even more profoundly, the future Grid and Mesh) has brought us extraordinary change, but there is a less obvious revolution in the wings that I believe will be every bit as catastrophic in its impact on humanity.

The coming Transportation Revolution will bring a decentralized and networked robotic transport system, as well as personal vehicles with speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour. Imagine purchasing an item online and having it delivered to your doorstep in just a few hours or even minutes, or taking cheap weekend trips to the furthest points on the planet, or driving across the entire continental United States in less than ten hours.

I am not exactly sure yet how we will get there. NASA is funding research into a future transportation grid of personal flying cars, coordinated by advanced AI overseers. Marshal Brain expects transportation to become fully automated, starting with airplanes by 2015. Teleportation of objects appears to be physically possible, though so far only a few fundamental particles have been successfully teleported in experiments. Hybrid engine/battery systems and fuel-cells point the way to more energy-efficient vehicles. Atom lasers (as opposed to the photon lasers used today) have been successfully demonstrated.

Computer science, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, medicine, cognitive sciences, and much more continue to fascinate me, but the convergence of a communications revolution and a transportation revolution that will combine many if not all of the above progress is of particular interest to me. On I will often highlight those trends that appear to have the most bearing on this particular convergence.

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