AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
With the ongoing war in Ukraine, the midterm elections, and the highest inflation and crime rates in a generation, it is perhaps no surprise that some major scientific achievements this year have received relatively sparse coverage given their potential to radically reshape the world we live in. Here are a few tech breakthroughs from 2022 that could make major headlines in 2023 and beyond.
Net-Positive Fusion Reaction
What could ultimately prove to be one of the most significant technological achievements of the 21st century came late in 2022 when scientists at the U.S. National Ignition Facility (NIF) announced that, for the first time in history, a laboratory had created a net-positive nuclear fusion reaction.
Since the dawn of the nuclear age, nuclear power plants have used fission reactions, or the splitting of atoms, to produce energy. The process, while statistically safer than most other energy production methods, has led to a few high-profile disasters, and produces large quantities of highly radioactive waste.
Conversely, fusion reactions, which are what power our sun, involve combining atoms together. In addition to producing exponentially more energy than fission reactions, fusion reactions produce virtually no radioactive by-products. Scientists have been working to achieve a net-positive fusion reaction for decades. Until now, fusion reactions in a lab have required more energy to create than they have produced.
Commercially viable fusion energy is still likely decades away. But it is no exaggeration to say that a network of fusion reactors could fundamentally reshape our world, providing an unlimited supply of reliable, cheap, clean energy.
Artificial Intelligence Takes a Major Step Forward
For decades, automation and robotic technology have replaced manufacturing and similar jobs dependent on physical labor. However, this year saw the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to replace white-collar positions as well, from financial modeling to script writing.
A prime example of this was the release of ChatGPT, a text-based artificial intelligence platform which was made available to the public for the first time. The website not only answers general questions, but can also write full papers, analyze program code, and even write creative stories. On December 12th, Fox News host Steve Hilton opened his show with a compelling monologue created entirely by ChatGPT.
Similar AI programs have also revolutionized visual arts. The app DALL-E 2, released by OpenAI, creates original artwork based on no more than a sentence. The user types into a prompt what they would like to see visualized. Popular examples include “an astronaut riding a unicorn through space” or a simple “warm meadow.” Another new app, Lensa, creates stunning comic-inspired self-portraits in minutes from just a handful of “selfies.”
Both systems have generated significant controversy, however. Many artists feel these platforms make their work obsolete and, in some cases, seem to use “borrowed” aspects from existing art.
Self-Driving Cars Go Mainstream
Self-driving technology has been around for a few years now, but 2022 saw self-driving cars make major leaps into mainstream use. In November, Tesla founder Elon Musk announced a beta version of a new “full self-driving” software that would make Tesla genuinely automated. General Motors has also launched self-driving taxi system known as “Cruise.” For the first time in history, people will be able to hop in their car, plug in an address, and arrive there without touching the steering wheel or gas pedal.
Brain Computer Chips Successfully Tested in Chimps
A major advancement in self-driving cars wasn’t the only significant achievement for Elon Musk in 2022. The eccentric billionaire also announced this year that his “Neuralink” – an implantable brain-computer interface – had successfully completed test trials in chimpanzees and would be ready for human testing within the next six months. In theory, a Neuralink chip, once implanted in the human brain, will allow the recipient unprecedented access to technology without using any additional device.
During the unveiling, Musk showed a Chimpanzee with Neuralink that could type on a screen in English using the telepathic link between its mind, the Neuralink device, and a wireless monitor. Musk has touted the potential benefits for disabled individuals, suggesting that they could use the device to control robotic limbs or run a computer.
However, critics note that his device is currently being investigated for the notably high number of chimps that died during testing trials. Nevertheless, this technology still represents a major inflection point in the evolution of man’s relation to technology.
A Glimpse Into the Birth of the Universe
In July, NASA captured the imagination of the world by releasing the first images from the James Webb telescope. One of the snapshots, which appeared only as a blurry red sphere, shows light that left its source more than 13 billion years ago, from near the very beginning of the universe.
As more photos come in with astonishing clarity, scientists will likely be able to better piece together the story of how our universe was created. In effect, the James Webb telescope is the closest we will ever get to a time machine, allowing us to look back billions of years into the past.
Each of these new technologies has the potential to alter the course of history and dramatically broaden our understanding of the world around us. While the full impact of a scientific breakthrough is often not felt for years or even decades, we can even now appreciate how such developments might shape the world that future generations will inherit.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.
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When AI is out of control…HAL: I’m sorry Dave I’m afraid I can’t do that.
This article points directly to the end of time. Nothing to celebrate here.
They should try the Neuralink on Biden! If. anyone needs help, he sure fits the mold – Why waste Chimp’s when you have a Chump available?
Fusion sounds promising, I won’t see it in my life. All the artificial stuff, who’s going to be working, that is aimed at elimination of the middle class , put all those people on welfare then the house of cards falls apart.
Sad scenario – the Dems have basically killed our futures.
Neuralink has the potential for some very positive outcomes. Sadly, it also has a possibility of linking Big Brother to complete control
Neuralink Has potential for many podeliver outcomes also has potential for Big Brother.
Hyperloop for later use
Space X rockets
The fusion advancement sounds promising but I’m not a fan of artificial intelligence. There are so many ways it can be abused and used for evil. Artificial intelligence will mirror the intentions of its creators and programmers, probably highly educated, highly indoctrinated, young socialists. That is scary.
We, ourselves are time machines according to the logic in this article. We can look into the past. The light we are seeing from distant stars was created long ago and far away!
As one person mentioned, I am an old soul and not in love with all this tech stuff. For years there has been the pushing aside of anything to do with creation and explanations to replace God with technology. But if one understands that God created a fully mature universe with light years already mature, just like the plants and animals and humans were already mature, it is not hard to believe God created all that we see even the millions of light years. All brought into existence by His hand. Sometimes it can make you feel small or make you feel very significant that this mighty God created you because He wanted you. He did not need you but wanted you for fellowship with Him and all His might. Wonders to behold
I’m not getting into a self drive car! What happens if something goes wrong in front of the car? What happens if the car malfunctions? Maybe someday after I’m gone the bugs will be worked out but I don’t want to be anyone’s guinea pig!!! And the Neuralink sounds like the first step to upgrading people to Cymbermen and I’m down with that! If it helps handicapped folks, fine but for everyone, no thanks! I don’t want to be connected to anything that can hive mind a population!
Yes great for handicapped people and those who want to sleep on the way to work but it just adds more cost to the price of the vehicle, and cost of repeairs. Besides, most people need to drive, they need the exercise. We don’t have to wind the windows down anyore and now we don’t want to steer?
I wonder if Neuralink would work on Democrats to give them the Power of Reason?
:-) That is good! :-)
Not a chance. Can’t fix stupid.
Just because this technology has shown promise with chimpanzees, it can’t be assumed that equally impressive results will be achieved with less advanced primates (Democrats).
Not billion of years old.
I am an “old soul” and would just as soon that technology was still in the pre E= mc2 era. I don’t like it when a car is smarter than I am.
Not to worry, the car cannot possibly be smarter than you, so put that thought aside and don’t even contemplate it.
AMAC forgot one…DICTATOR Beijing biden the Biggest Bully and Hater of America.
A generally interesting article and a bit different from the usual fare.
On the breakthrough of fusion ignition, it should be noted that the net energy value of 1 was only achieved when measured from the output of the energy generated from the target pellet versus the laser output directed at the target itself. Not the power actually required to fire the laser to an output sufficiently high enough to achieve the necessary temperatures required to create fusion for an instant. It was still a great accomplishment, but we are at least 40 to 50 years away from any potential prototype commercial test facility. There are other fusion reactor designs that show greater promise and would scale up easier.
Still I would rather see all the money currently being wasted on both wind and solar instead being redirected towards fusion research, which has the real potential to eventually deliver on what the greenies call “clean power”. Obviously, if the goal is so-called carbon free power now, the answer is simply to construct 100 to 150 nuclear fission power plants around the United States today. Much like China is already building scores of nuclear power plants all across China today. Except the enviros don’t actually want “clean energy”. They just want the perpetual transfer of trillions of dollars associated with idea of “green energy”.
On AI, what we have today is basically algorithmic programming designed to accomplish specific, highly detailed tasks. Yes, this sort of very complex programming can accomplish some very impressive things, but tt is NOT a sentient lifeform capable of independent thought and actions. That is something completely different from what is being discussed in this article.
Neuralink is an interesting technology that shows promise in advancing the field of medicine significantly for people suffering from various handicaps or neurological issues. On that basis, it is worthwhile. However, the idea of “wiring” up everyone with a chip implant has obvious social and ethical concerns. Technology is a tool like anything else. It can be used for good or bad purposes. How it is applied makes all the difference.
Finally the James Webb telescope is another leap forward in the understanding and exploration of space. Knowledge in any form is always good, as it helps us understand so many things better. it is an amazing technological achievement.
Amazing to be sure but a view into the past and how the world was made is straight from the far flung imagination of science. The past is just that, the past. Anything goes in these people’s imaginations so long as it doesn’t include intelligent design or God, which makes far more sense and is better documented than their assumptions (full of gaps and speculation) that it all just happened on it’s own starting from a huge explosion in space.
For me, finding out how the universe really began–seeing what it looked like “soon” after it was born–is far more thought-provoking than closing the book and declaring it the result of intelligent design. No incentive for inquiry there.