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Here’s How DARPA Describes What 2045 Will Be Like

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Here’s How DARPA Describes What 2045 Will Be Like

DARPA or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is one of the greatest organizations when it comes to developing leading-edge technology (1). The technology that DARPA develops goes into building better weapons systems so that the United States military can prevail against an enemy. However, as with NASA, a lot of the technology that DARPA works on finds its way into the civilian marketplace.

Recently, Business Insider put the question to three of DARPA’s top scientists about what the world would be like in the year 2045, just 30 years hence (2). It is as if someone in 1985 was asked to predict the reality of 2015, with smartphones, the Internet, and the emerging science of nanotechnology. Of course, DARPA is uniquely positioned to predict the future because it is already working on it.

Dr. Justin Sanchez, a neuroscientist and program manager in DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, suggests that in 2045 we’ll be able to control machines and communicate with other people using only our brains (3).

The idea is that a chip could be implanted in a human brain, allowing it to do everything from turning on the dishwasher to sending a memo to people at the office. Some advances have already been achieved, allowing paralyzed people to operate a computer (4) and empowering people who are missing limbs to control cybernetic replacements.


Stefanie Tompkins, a geologist and director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office concentrated on advances in materials science, especially in the emerging technique of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology has already seen great advances in such areas as the precise delivery of drugs to cancer tumors, for example. Thirty years in the future, nanotechnology will be advanced enough to create materials that will be stronger than steel but lighter than carbon fibers. The obvious applications for such an advance are mind blowing.

Automobiles would be both fuel efficient, thanks to being light, but safe in a collision, thanks to being built of materials that are as strong as they are light. Planes could benefit in the same way. Imagine light-weight, super-strong buildings (5) that can withstand earthquakes and fires because of properties that have been programmed into them.

Other qualities that could be incorporated into buildings include inhibiting heat loss, better water proofing, and even making the outside of buildings into photovoltaic cells.

Pam Melroy, aerospace engineer, former astronaut, and deputy director of DARPA’s Tactical Technologies Office looked at artificial intelligence and robotics and how advances in these areas will affect how we’ll interact with machines (6). Currently, we have to push a lot of buttons and manipulate a lot of controls to get everything from an automobile to a kitchen to do what we want them to do.

comparison chart nanomaterial sizes

Machines Will Do It All

But, by 2045, all we might have to do is just to say what we want, and the machine in question will do what we want.

For instance, you can get into your self-driving car (7) after a night on the town, too inebriated to safely drive one of those old-fashioned cars that needed a human driver, and say, “Take me home.” A while later, you’re pulling safely into your driveway, having not caused an accident as a drunk driver.

Air travel could happen the same way, with the pilot saying, “Go to Dallas” and then sitting back while the plane takes off, goes to cruising altitude, and heads for the requested destination.

Take the principle to its logical conclusion and you could find your house doing your bidding. Upon waking up, you could say, “Fix breakfast, two scrambled eggs, runny, two strips of bacon, crispy, toast, and OJ. And draw a bath.” It would be like having a butler named Jeeves, but without having to deal with a human being.

Sadly, the DARPA scientists did not answer some of the burning questions, such as when we’ll get to have flying cars or cities on the moon. But some of the technology they envision could well make those and other things more possible.

References & Image Credits:
(2) Facebook

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