A Glimpse into the Next Thirty Years

Can you remember life without Facebook? What about life without the World Wide Web? I can. I can recall training for combat operations using a compass, not a GPS device. I remember when I would send pictures using the U.S. Postal Service, not email or Instagram.

I recently attended the White House Frontiers Conference and heard some wonderful news about the future of innovation, with a focus on building U.S. capacity in STEM, new technologies, challenges, and goals for the 21st century; and what's to come in the future. My experience at the conference got me thinking, what will things be like in another thirty years?

WTF – What's the Future?

By year 2046, driverless cars will be normal. What does this mean for our nation? Well, as we all know, we use our cars for maybe 20 percent of the time, and the other 80 percent the car is parked somewhere. At the conference I learned that driverless cars have the potential to replace the need for five cars with just one. The reduction in cars will create less carbon dioxide, meaning less pollution. The fewer vehicles on the road, the less congestion, as well as a reduced amount of parking structures and parking spaces, and could possibly eliminate the need for garages attached to our homes. This innovation on a national scale can create a huge reduction in carbon dioxide.

At the conference, I also had the opportunity to hear about a new technology that will use electricity to transfer atmospheric carbon dioxide into its components—reducing the harm that comes with climate change. I discovered how big data will help identify problems we don't know about yet; how traumatic brain injuries will be mapped; and how solar energy, social innovations, and healthcare will all be expanded by pulling together and aggregating the data we have—all within the next thirty years.

Have you ever met a space exploration architect? What about a flight software product team manager? Those were the people I was privileged to meet at this conference. People who discussed how a carbon dioxide reduction technology will be used to provide oxygen during a manned space program to Mars, which is currently being planned.

Curiosity = Ingenuity

Remember when you were in kindergarten and your teacher would ask a question, you'd raise your hand even if you weren't sure you actually had the correct answer. Or perhaps you remember always asking an adult to explain why something is the way it is. The eagerness and curiosity of today's youth will one day, or 30 years from now, develop into the driven and passionate men and women that will make these exploration missions to Mars. Our youth, including my two granddaughters, will inherit a future we can't yet see, all due to how the American people's brilliance and ingenuity is shaping the next 30 years and beyond.

  • Michael Walsh
    Michael Walsh
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