DARPA predicts that in 30 years we will have intelligent conversations with the machines around us, use our thoughts to control the environment and the things around us will be built with materials that are “impossible at the moment”.
These are the predictions of three of DARPA’s staff, who are imagining the world in 2045.
The employees, which include the deputy director of tactical technologies, a program manager in biological technologies and the director of defense services, all predict radical changes to how we interact with the world and technologies around us.
Pam Melroy, DARPA’s deputy director of its tactical technologies office, said that by 2045 we will be communicating with the intelligent machines around us. She said that we will be able to “communicate directly our intent and have very complex outcomes by working together”.
The example given is a pilot simply telling a plane they are flying to prepare for landing, in the same way that a co-pilot would be told, and the plane reacting by preparing all its systems for touchdown automatically.
“Today we see ourselves just at the cusp of the ability to communicate with machines,” Melroy said.
“The investments that we’re making here at DARPA are human machine interfaces that are much more natural and allow us to work as partners with machines and have them understand our intent for much more complex tasks: things like the ability to control more than one aircraft at once, the ability to have a ship automatically recognise other craft on the surface of the ocean and use some very sophisticated logic to avoid those craft following the rules of the high seas for collision avoidance.”
Cars, planes and buildings will be made from materials that we can’t even envisage at the moment, says DARPA’s Stefanie Tompkins.
The agency’s director of its defense sciences office says that “things are going to be made up of materials that have properties that right now instinctively we think are completely impossible”. To get there she says we have to move away from the constraints that nature has given us, and she compares this process as being similar to creating structures like the Eiffel Tower.
“If we can think about how we can apply those basic principles down at the atomic and molecular level. Imagine those Eiffel Tower trusses being done in molecules to molecules, where you can now start to control properties of materials that we thought were impossible to exist in one thing but by building them at the atomic level we can force them to co-exist,” Tompkins says.
“Imagine a building made of bricks where each individual brick is not only incredible strong but be as light as a feather.”
Advanced brain interfaces
Using our thoughts to control the environment around use will be possible by 2045 according to Justin Sanchez, a program manager in DARPA’s biological technologies offices.
He says he imagines a world where people can control “different aspects of your home just using your brain signals, or maybe communicating with your friends and your family just using neural activity from your brain”. Sanchez goes on to say that this will have an impact across a number of fields.
“So think about people today who are paralysed and cannot move, we can develop direct brain interfaces to enable them to have near natural control of a prosthetic limb for example,” he says.
“Or maybe somebody living with a brain injury who can’t remember anymore.
“We can develop direct brain interfaces that could allow them remember in a way that a normal person could ultimately do this. DARPA takes on some of the world’s most challenging problems, it’s an agency that can go after these kinds of visions and bring together key stake holders in order to make this happen.”