Updated: Nov 23, 2021
If you have found yourself reading this article, you are likely in the age bracket that can mostly remember a time when smartphones didn’t exist, social media wasn’t a thing, and self-driving cars were just a thing that happened in sci-fi movies. All this to say that… technology moves fast. And as exciting innovations spur and change the world as we know it, we do not doubt that emerging technologies will be powered by clean energy. Clean energy like solar (of course, we are biased), wind, and water.
So let’s outline 5 emerging technologies we are excited to see evolve and powered in a more sustainable way.
1. Bitcoin and Solar
Here’s a wild stat that will blow your mind. Bitcoin alone makes up 0.5% of global electricity consumption. This is more energy consumption than entire countries like Argentina and Holland. And it get’s even wilder… A single Bitcoin transaction equals about 1 million Visa transactions (this equates to about 78,000 hours of youtube binging. Yes, that is a single bitcoin transaction. There are about 330,000 daily transactions.
All of these wild stats may lead you to ask yourself as we did, “Is this kind of energy use sustainable for bitcoin and the cryptocurrency world?”
The answer is no.
This type of energy consumption has been a core criticism of cryptocurrency.
Even Tesla tychoon, Elon Musk has taken a stance against cryptocurrencies unless they focus more on their green and environmental footprint. In May 2021, Elon tweeted that they would no longer accept Bitcoin payment for cars. Tesla will only transact with Bitcoin when “mining transitions to more sustainable energy.”
The crypto sector has been responding to these concerns as green alternatives and eco-friendly cryptocurrencies have been on the rise.
Although Bitcoin is a new kind of financial technology, we don’t foresee it going anywhere, anytime soon. As it continues to grow and become even more commonplace, solar will be a core component in fueling this energy-intensive form of currency.
2. Electrifying a Self-Driving Fleet
In thinking about the exponential growth and speed of some tech, self-driving cars are a perfect example. In less and 10 years, self-driving cars have gone from not possible to widespread reality. In the last few years, there have been huge investments made in the autonomous and electric vehicle sectors.
What self-driving autonomous cars can offer is exciting for multiple reasons.
Transportation is one of the biggest contributors to pollution and climate change. A self-driving fleet of cars will be able to transport individuals safer, faster, and with less fossil fuel consumption.
In a recent Forbes article, they outlined 5 ways self-driving cars could make our world (and lives) better.
Making our roads safer
Easing parking woes
Making the daily commute more bearable
Cutting down domestic air travel
Read the Forbes article here to learn more about the future and benefits of an electric fleet of self-driving cars.
3. Home Technology is (& Will Continue) to Get Smarter
I’m showing my age with this comment, but I was raised on Disney Channel Original Movies and their magnum opus (in my opinion) was Smart House. This 1999 film premise according to IMDb is: “A boy tries to stop his father from dating by programming their computerized house to be a surrogate mother.” So yeah, the premise is weird but it captivated my childhood imagination with a home that could be advanced and innovative. Many of the forward-thinking functionality of the Smart House is now pretty commonplace—things like smart lighting, smart locks, smart thermostats, giant TV screens, interconnected devices, and robot vacuums.
In these 20 years, we’ve come a long way but there is a ton of innovation left to be had with smart home technology mainly in 1) developing new interconnected features and 2) innovating so that this technology is more accessible and affordable to the average household.
We like the following excerpt from the New York Times article that paints a picture of what a fairly typical smart home could look like in 10 years:
“It’s 6 A.M., and the alarm clock is buzzing earlier than usual. It’s not a malfunction: the smart clock scanned your schedule and adjusted it because you’ve got that big presentation first thing in the morning. Your shower automatically turns on and warms to your preferred 103°F. The electric car is ready to go, charged by the solar panels or wind turbine on your roof. When you get home later, there’s an unexpected package waiting, delivered by drone. You open it to find cold medicine. Turns out, health sensors embedded in your bathroom detected signs of an impending illness and placed an order automatically. Good thing you already knocked that presentation out of the park.”
4. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is Already Here
Artificial intelligence is a fairly broad category and has a wide set of use cases.
We often think of AI as scary supercomputers, the Matrix, or the computer that competed on Jeopardy, but AI is already playing an active role in most people’s lives. Of course, there is Siri, Alexa, and other personal assistants, but there are many other types of artificial intelligence happening in the background of many aspects of our life.
Uber uses artificial intelligence to predict arrival times and transportation patterns. Tesla uses artificial intelligence to develop smarter cars so that self-driving cars are safer and make better driving decisions. Whichever social media platform you use likely uses Artificial Intelligence to serve you an experience that is best suited to keep you on the app. There is also facial recognition software that does things like unlock your phone, manipulate your appearance, and tell you what historical figure you look like. The popular learning thermostat Nest learns what temperature your home should be to keep you comfortable.
So AI is already all around us but we are confident that it will play a more involved role in our societies in industries like education, marketing, operations, and healthcare. Speaking of healthcare, let’s jump into how technology will shape the future of our health.
5. The Future of Digital Health
2020 and 2021 were years that the Covid-19 pandemic affected huge portions of our life and economy. Because of this, health, vaccinations, biotech, and overall wellness have been on our minds more than ever. The development of the Covid-19 vaccination was a prime example of technology and science working together to save lives.
In the future, AI will be powering our healthcare system to provide faster and more accurate diagnoses. Virtual care will allow for more frequent and careful patient monitoring. Big data and artificial intelligence will allow for a more personalized experience for patients with less room for error and clerical mistakes which cause hundreds of thousands of deaths a year (this is the third leading cause of deaths in the US.)
Whatever your opinion is about these 5 emerging technologies, hopefully, we can agree on the following point. Our world runs and innovates on energy—until very recently the vast majority of our energy was from coal, oil, and other destructive forms of energy. We look forward to a world where our daily lives are improved by technology and the clean energy that powers our daily lives.