No, it's not quite over yet. The other posts in this series can be found here. The first one with an explanation of what this is about is here.
Eva Jacobus, Boston, USA
2006 is going to be remembered as the year global warming, and all its associated inconvenient truths, finally made the big-time. (With the year closing out on an Arctic ice chunk the size of Manhattan unexpectedly breaking free from Ellesmere Island and George W. Bush acknowledging the plight of the polar bears, one can't help but think it's not a moment too soon. It's exactly the kind of thing our mothers warned us about so many years ago – always brush your teeth, date nice boys and girls, and beware of apocalyptic melting polar ice caps when global warming comes.) Which brings us to 2007...In the past year, the environmental movement been able to bring understanding about the current problem, and now it's time to look forward and bring a vision for the future. The popular perception of environmentalism is of the "we've got to get ourselves back to the garden" mentality, which leaves most people uncertain about how to arrive at solutions within their post-industrial society, and often a little depressed at being unable to see light at the end of the
tunnel. Our next step is mapping out what an environmentally-conscious, post-industrial future actually looks like. 2007 is when we dream big, along with the next round of engineers, architects, and business leaders, and create a vision of people's homes and everyday technology that will help them understand how to live as part of the solution.
Biomimetic robots – robots that either physically or behaviorally mimic organisms found in nature – are my first pick. Will robotic rats inspect our bridges and buildings for damage, or be dispatched with first responders to natural disaster sites to search wreckage? Will robotic turtles inspect our ships? Will swarms of robotic ants help clear fields of landmines? Absolutely, because studying nature to understand both the problem and nature's solution makes our machines more efficient and more effective. Biology and engineering aren't so far apart as they first seem, and we should nurture a vision of future technology that brings them closer together.
My second pick is Justin's compelling vision of a home that combines ubiquitous computing and passive or low-energy features with an architectural model focused on responding to the natural environment with small, subtle changes to optimize efficiency: a house of quietly moving walls and windows, capturing sunlight and heat, where breezes and moisture are guided through the house, and sculptural glass brings light to dark rooms and passively heats water.
Both visions of our future involve technologies that model and respond to their environments. Both require that we understand and work with nature, rather than work against it. Both think small, getting a bigger impact out of tinier machines. That's the inspiration for our technological future: 2007 is the year we need to show people what that promising green future's going to be like.