Remember enjoying sci-fi movies as a kid and thinking we would have jetpacks someday? Or teleporters? We don’t have these technologies yet but we do have lots of remarkable technologies that seem straight out of a science fiction movie. Our cars can direct us around a city, via GPS. We can carry tablet computers around with us that hold all of our data. And we can get in touch with associates all over the world at the push of a button.
So, with all of this technology, why don’t we have jet packs yet? What factors are keeping us from making these technological leaps?
Building a Better Battery
Batteries power nearly all of our technology, particularly as we move into a more mobile world. For that reason, the more limited our batteries are, the greater limitations we have technologically. They are an integral part of our technology, so we need to focus on improving them before we can really make leaps in technology. Luckily, researchers at Chicago’s Northwestern University are designing a more efficient lithium-ion battery, which we discussed in a blog post last week. This may solve this constraint in the next few years.
Improving Internet Access
The second limiting factor is related to access. Basically, not enough of the world’s population can access high-speed Internet access. It may well seem as if every public library, bookstore, and cafe’ provides its patrons with access to high-speed wireless Internet, but this is mostly a mirage. The vast majority of humans do not have quick access to the web. Until this happens, we’ll be needlessly limiting the growth of technology. The more minds that are connected on the Web, the greater the odds are of reaching the next tech breakthrough.
The Business of New Tech
Finally, there is the business end of things. Technological progress is stunted by arcane things such as patent law. Businesses take their time introducing new gadgets and services as they must first traverse a minefield of laws and government regulations. These laws are necessary. However, they need to be clear and easy to understand so new technology isn’t bottled up needlessly.
While these are a few of the things that prevent technology from advancing, it still is developing at a rapid pace. So who knows what is in store for us in the next year or two.
Posted on: 05.04.12