The Future is NowWebmaster
What a time to be alive! Thanks to the world’s best scientific movers and shakers, we are experiencing an era of incredible innovation. From operating helicopters on Mars to reprogramming our immune system to target cancer cells, there seems to be no end to the wonders that await mankind. We take this opportunity to share with you three mind-blowing inventions that have made the news recently.
Previously a term of interest only to doctors and biologists, 2021 has injected this technology literally into the arms of the masses. Traditional vaccines use live viruses, dead ones, or bits of the viruses’ shells to trigger the body’s immune system. The mRNA vaccine is different: short strands of the virus’ genetic material (think of them as ‘recipes’ for making different parts of the virus) are introduced instead.
What’s so great about that, you ask? Well, mRNA vaccines are safe, cost-effective, relatively simple to manufacture, and can produce powerful immune responses: by December 2020, large studies concluded that the mRNA vaccine could prevent about 95% of Covid-19 cases. Researchers are also already looking ahead, with plans to use the same technology to treat certain cancers, sickle-cell disease, and maybe even AIDS.
Have you ever wondered if artificial intelligence (AI) could write stories? A robot could never produce coherent sentences, let alone entire paragraphs, right? Well, think again because this has already happened. In September last year, autoregressive language model Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (or GPT-3) published an opinion piece with a suspiciously reassuring message that it does not intend “to wipe out humans”. To GPT-3’s credit, its article is well-written, concise and logical.
Though it seems a bit disturbing, this deep-learning marvel has incredible potential across industries. More than 300 apps have adopted GPT-3 to tailor answers to complex queries, create interactive characters in games, and more. With its ability to read and write at near-human levels, GPT-3 certainly augurs an exciting future for AI.
Environmentalists have been calling for alternatives to fossil fuels for decades, and green hydrogen is promising to be one of the most revolutionary contenders.
Produced using renewable energy, green hydrogen has the potential to provide clean, carbon-neutral power for manufacturing, transportation and more. It is versatile, can be used in gas or liquid form, and converted into electricity or fuel. Best of all, there’s only one by-product: water.
In sunny United Arab Emirates, Siemens Energy, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, and Expo 2020 Dubai have teamed up to establish the region’s first solar-powered green hydrogen plant. During the day, the plant harnesses photovoltaic electricity to produce green hydrogen using a technology called PEM electrolysis. At night, the green hydrogen is converted into electricity to power the city of Dubai with sustainable energy.
All of this sounds futuristic, but they are already part of the here and now. New vaccine technology is a game-changer of modern medicine, while AI may yet be the everyday companion we never knew we needed. With clean, sustainable energy, we can also look forward to a zero-carbon future across the globe.
These innovations bring to mind the words of American Olympic athlete Bob Richards: “Ingenuity, plus courage, plus work, equals miracles.” Indeed, miracles are around us and we have much to be excited about.
By Tengku Amina Munira