The greatest thing about advances in technology is that they allow for ambition to have a greater scope. There are not many people who have the requisite vision and insight to become inventors. One of the reasons for this is that what they do requires skills that a lot of people simply don’t have. To try to imagine something existing that does not yet exist is an abstract and strangely difficult thing to do. It is like trying to imagine a new colour. A person is let down by their senses in that regard: there is only a narrow spectrum of colour that the human eye is capable of seeing. To create a new one is, therefore, an attempt to transcend our natural limits. However, in many instances, technology allows people to do something like that. For example, flight was invented by the Wright brothers in 1903. A few people had imagined the possibility of human flight before that, including Leonardo da Vinci, but no one had actually made it happen. For the first time ever just over one hundred years ago, creatures that for the entire duration of their existence had been forced to stay on the ground managed to fly. Just 63 years later in 1969, man walked on the moon. That sort of progress is a credit to human ingenuity and persistence, but the common factor in both of those achievements was the advancement of technology.
Humans have obviously mastered flight (which is not to say that the process is not being refined all the time) but one of the major problems that faces us now is the issue of clean energy. With the planet becoming warmer and sea levels rising, the degree of urgency felt seems to correspond to whether someone believes that it is taking place. However, that is rather immaterial since not believing in it does not preclude it from occurring. In any case, tech is providing solutions to this problem. Here are a few interesting examples:
The environmental impact of certain industrial processes can still be improved (the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico is a good recent example) but the issue of powering these sorts of projects is becoming easier. Remote power supply is a feasible and efficient reality that is facilitating lots of otherwise impossible processes.
The technological advances in clean energy are impressive too. MIT reported last year about an exciting breakthrough: artificial photosynthesis is now possible. Two Harvard scientists managed to create a bionic leaf that is able to capture and convert about 10% of the energy in sunlight, which is about ten times better than the capacity of an average plant.
A lot of people have heard about self-driving cars and that they are still in their infancy. A recent crash by a Tesla model involving a police motorcycle was a small example of the work still to be done with autonomous vehicles but that work is being done, and the cars are improving all the time. Apart from Tesla, Google is investing a lot of resources into these cars and they will help conserve energy because it is thought they will facilitate more car sharing. Besides, they are electric, which is a much better use of energy compared to traditional fuels.