3 things direct from the future

Edition 71

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 thing that helps

Nanobots In Your Mouth

The toothbrush has been around since 1938, with the extent of innovation being that we added some batteries. The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine is doing away with toothbrushes and dental floss, and filling your mouth with nanobots!

Iron oxide nanoparticles can remove detectable pathogens on the surface of teeth and magnetic forces are used to control the nanoparticles’ motion and shape. Not only does this method provide a better clean, the nanobots also cause less damage to the gums than your prehistoric bristles. On top of that, your friendly nanobots don’t care if you have a perfect smile or crooked ivories – they are flexible enough to get everywhere.

The nanobots can be programmed to change their stiffness and length. They can also carry helpful substances that aid in keeping teeth healthy, which can be released directly to the surface of the enamel. An advance such as this will improve health outcomes, especially for people who may lack the dexterity or mobility to perform a thorough clean.  And hey, anything that means I can go to the dentist less is a winner for me!


2. One to be wary of

AI Art Stealer

Say you create a lovely picture of a kangaroo. You’re so proud of it that you upload it, then sit back and wait for the little dopamine hits of “like button” praise. Then an AI tool scrapes your image and uses it as part of its knowledge base. The next time it is asked for an image of a kangaroo, it may show something very similar to what you’ve uploaded. The question is, who owns the AI’s product?

As we continue to adopt and accept AI in our lives, more user generated content is being scraped to train them. While personally identifiable information (PII), such as name, address or telephone number, are off-limits, the things we upload to the internet are a bit of a grey area.

We’re caught in quite a dilemma. If we prohibited data scraping altogether, algorithms won’t have viable data sets to train on. This would restrict the ability of private companies, governments and professionals to deliver better services. On the other hand, some systems like GPT-2 still incorrectly generate PII from its database which is dangerous. Perhaps, it’s time to have legislation around how data may be used so that, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), we have the right to erase our data. In a similar way to how you can opt to turn cookies off on a website, data you generate needs to be able to be marked as off-limits to data scraping.


3. One to amaze


Yes, you know it regular readers – we’re another step closer to that elusive hoverboard!

This one’s for real and it’s soon to be for sale. The XTURISMO hoverbike has been showcased in the United States and it’s definitely turning heads. Inspired by Star Wars, Suhei Komatsu of A.L.I. Technologies Inc. says, “It’s a land speeder for the Dark Side.” 

The bike uses a gasoline-electric hybrid setup with a range of 40 km and max speed of 100 kph. Much in the same way that motorbikes are used by both enthusiasts and government agencies, the hoverbike is seen to cater to both recreational and emergency use. 

Imagine first responders arriving in force on a hoverbike. Travel is definitely faster by air than by ground as they happily skip endless lanes of traffic. Rescuers will be able to assess the situation from above before going in. Needless to say, hoverbikes can be deployed in all kinds of terrain. And that is where the fun begins.

At US$777,000, the XTURISMO isn’t exactly an easy buy. But the company plans to launch a smaller version at US$50,000 by 2025. I figure another 2 years is all they will need to compress it to skateboard size. 🙂 


Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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