Soonish | Kelly Weinersmith

Summary of: Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything
By: Kelly Weinersmith


Delve into the fascinating world of emerging technologies that have the potential to radically change our lives with ‘Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything’ by Kelly Weinersmith. This book summary covers innovative ideas that range from space elevators and asteroid mining to nuclear fusion and programmable matter. In your journey through these breakthrough possibilities, you’ll also explore the ethical concerns and potential consequences associated with these cutting-edge advancements. This engaging summary serves as your window into the future, helping you understand the possible technological revolutions on the horizon.

Space Exploration on a Budget

With traditional rocket-based space exploration being an expensive business, researchers are looking into alternate affordable methods to embark on space missions. Spaceplanes that use a combination of air and fuel to create a high-pressure force powerful enough to propel the plane out of the atmosphere is one such alternative. Another option is the space elevator, essentially a giant cable stretching from a sea platform on Earth all the way to a giant asteroid in orbit. The US-based Tethers Unlimited has already proposed a system for capturing asteroids and using them as a base for space settlements, called “the Wrangler.” Furthermore, asteroid mining is a potentially less expensive alternative that could provide materials for space voyages and settlements. While there is still much research required to make these ideas viable, they offer hope for budget-conscious and sustainable space exploration.

The Future of Fusion Energy

Fusion power has the potential to serve as a reliable, clean source of energy in the future. Scientists are exploring various methods to make fusion power efficient, with the ITER configuration being the most promising one. The plan involves confining plasma in a donut-shaped chamber and heating it with magnetic fields to create multiple fusions. Though budget overruns and delays have hindered progress, scientists hope to have a functional fusion reactor by 2027.

The Future of Programmable Matter

Programmable matter has the potential to revolutionize the world, from origami robots that travel through the body to houses that change shape based on the weather. However, the ethical implications of this technology are also worth considering.

Programmable matter is a technology that has already begun to emerge, and it has enormous potential to transform the world we live in. For example, origami robots made of pig intestine can fold into different shapes and travel through the body to deliver medicine directly to the desired location. Researchers at MIT are also developing a programmable house called the HygroScope that changes its structure based on humidity levels.

However, this technology also raises ethical questions. For example, it is possible to imagine a “Bucket of Stuff” that can be programmed to turn into whatever object a person desires, such as a gun or weapon. This example highlights a potential danger of this technology and its potential impact on society.

Thus, as programmable matter continues to develop and advance, it is crucial to consider the ethical implications and ensure that appropriate regulations are in place. Only with proper oversight can we ensure that this technology is used to the benefit of society in the best possible way.

3D Printing Revolutionizing Construction

Innovative 3D printing in construction is allowing houses to be built with greater speed and customization, using robots and autonomous vehicles. While this new construction method raises the risk of job displacement, it has the potential to provide safe and affordable housing to impoverished people. Additionally, architects can now create stunning designs previously impossible to construct.

The Future of Augmented Reality

Augmented reality or AR technology creates virtual layers on real-world objects. Unlike virtual reality, it offers excellent benefits in surgeries and complex jobs if handled responsibly. For instance, DAQRI’s Smart Helmet speeds up trainees’ learning process and reduces potential errors by up to 94%. Pokémon GO is an example of a game that celebrated AR technology, but it failed to address the privacy concerns of players. Additionally, AR technology also poses significant threats that relate to privacy and control, which could lead to significant problems if left unguarded.

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