3 things direct from the future

57th Edition

Once every 2 weeks I will deliver “3 things direct from the future”. A 2 minute read that will always give you:

  • one thing that can help,
  • one thing to be wary of, and
  • one thing to amaze.

If this sounds interesting to you then please subscribe.


1. One to help

Augmented Reality Surgery

AR (augmented reality), usually seen in gaming, has been used in a successful spinal surgery by a team of doctors from  Balgrist University Hospital (don’t click the link if you are squeamish!).

In preparation for the surgery, a 3D model was created from CT scans of the affected anatomy. Using holograms, the surgeon can make accurate measurements during the operation as the holograms inform the surgeon of vital data such as exact distance, position and angle when inserting screws. It even helps the surgeon to see the exact length of rod he needs to fabricate for the operation. 

This success hopefully ushers in a new era in medical science where surgeons are using AR to enhance their senses. AR can make surgeries faster, more accurate and have a higher chance of success. I’m much more comfortable with the idea of an augmented human surgeon, than that of being operated on by an autonomous robot!

2. One to be wary of

Is End-To-End Encryption Bad?

The best way of keeping all your messages private is by using a service that has implemented end-to-end encryption. I switched to using the Signal or WhatsApp messaging services because of the extra security. But why now is there a huge push to stop the rollout of end-to-end encryption in things like Facebook Messenger?

In simple terms, encryption is a way of scrambling data so that only authorised devices can decipher or read said data. End-to-end encryption takes this one step further so that no one but the devices involved can decrypt the data exchanged. It is secure, yes, but it comes at a huge cost in the effort to detect and prosecute people using these platforms for criminal activity.  Most worryingly, in trying to identify and convict paedophiles.

Services with end-to-end encryption are unable to decrypt the messages on their platform. This makes it impossible for them to provide these messages as evidence to prosecute those who engage in criminal activity. Tech companies and politicians are now trying to find the balance between data privacy and children’s safety – not an easy task.


3. One to amaze

Space Village

The International Space station may soon have a neighbour. Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, along with its partners, wants to put up a commercial space station in low earth orbit called Orbital Reef.  Normally anything attached to Jeff Bezos goes straight into the “wary” category of this newsletter – but this is pretty amazing.

Orbital Reef will accommodate up to ten people onboard, circling the earth around 500 kilometers up. It’s portrayed as a village where each occupant goes about his daily tasks. However, Orbital Reef is not strictly for research purposes as it also aims to offer a different kind of space tourism where people can stay in space for a longer time than present-day space flights. 

Orbital Reef isn’t the only project set to take up real estate in space though. Voyager Station wants to be the biggest structure and hotel in space. It’s more luxurious than Orbital Reef, complete with elevators and “lifeboats” just in case something unexpected happens! Nanoracks, another space company, plans to recycle dead rocket-stages into business centers such as laboratories, fuel depots and even human habitats. 

These projects are hoped to be completed within the decade so there’s still time to see which one will move beyond concept and be launched into space. Would you be keen to hang out in low-orbit for a while?


Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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