19 January 2013

Kenya: Three Exciting Technologies for 2013

Many times, a technology comes along and radically changes our world, sometimes even turning it upside down. As the year begins, these are the technologies I think will radically change our lives, this year, and in years to come.

1. 3D printing.

In 3D printing, you would print very much as you print your CV or cover letter in a cyber café. The ink that you use this time will be liquid plastic or metal.

Futurists lament that this technology will usher in the age of mass customisation, where you will for example, be going to the Toyota website, download the design for the gear part of your car that has just broken down, and then print the part.

So, cyber cafes will soon be converted into places where gear parts, cups, jugs and plates are printed. Jua Kali businessmen and artisans who adopt this technology early may have the head start, if they could afford the printers, currently retailing at about Sh150,000 abroad.

2. Space technology.

Astronomy is arguably the most engaging and predictable science. This year, it is likely that NASA's curiosity will bring more data from the red planet, Mars, and make a case for future human exploration of the red planet.

It is likely that scientists will also be piquing in on the conditions of the early days when the universe was formed, thanks to data from experiments such as the Higg Boson Particle at European Center for Nuclear Research- CERN- and the Square Kilometre Array Project-SKA.

3. Stem cell research.

Stem cell research is an area fraught with a lot of moral questions. At the heart of the debate is, "When does life begin?" Is it at conception, at birth or when the sperms and the ova are still within the man and woman respectively?

Supporters of stem cell research argue that it is a technology that could offer cures to cancer, diabetes and many life threatening diseases. However, the counter argument by the religious conservatives is just as forceful.

By taking living human cells, then germinating them in a test tube, and flushing them down the sink if the experiment is not successful, is it not the same as flushing down the toilet millions of unborn babies?

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