If Jeff Bezos, the billionaire CEO of Amazon, has his way, thousands of drones could soon be hurtling through the airspace above our heads, delivering millions of packages to Amazon's customers. Instead of having to wait the eternity of a day to receive their orders, consumers could get them in 30 minutes, or less.
When researchers need to compare complex new genomes; or map new regions of the Arctic in high-resolution detail; or detect signs of dark matter; or make sense of massive amounts of fMRI data, they turn to the high-performance computing and data analysis systems supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
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Self-restraint is not a characteristic of the companies developing robotics for businesses that want to replace tens of millions of both white collar and blue collar jobs. Look at the latest factories, refineries and warehouses to illustrate what is coming fast. Even the work of lawyers is being automated.
Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize our world for the better in fields like energy, medicine and aerospace. As consumers, we all need to educate ourselves about nanoscience rather than fussing whenever we find "nano-" in our products. Unfounded ignorance could ruin the prospects of future innovation.
I think we're headed toward a dystopia that will look for all the world like utopia. We may already have entered this new paradigm and be well on the way toward its irreversibility, which has profound consequences for individual and social action, and for making the best of this moment of transition that may well last centuries.