[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B003F1KETI” locale=”us” height=”107″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41oRx9gCiWL._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″] No, this is not about Sky Net from the Terminator franchise. This is not about machines and robots taking over the world. This is about technology that would hardly ever go obsolete, because it will keep evolving itself. Whether it is self-powering electricity generators or self-evolving computers that innovators aspire towards, one of the fundamental factors is always material, and its durability to last through changing conditions and environments.
While 3D printing continues its progress towards becoming an afforable, mainstream, game changer, 4D printing is being jointly researched and developed by 3D printing company Stratasys and leading university MIT. What is 4D printing about? It is about programming non-electronic materials to enable self-assembly. This means that material can be programmed to assemble and reassemble itself when needed automatically. This includes for the purpose of restructuring, self-preservation, self-restoration, self-repair and self-evolution.
At present, the focus of research on 4D printed material on large-scale structures are like those of buildings. However exciting that might sound, consider the prospect of Personal Computing Devices (PCDs) of tomorrow being assembled with such material? PCD’s are truly indestructible and damage resistant because they are made of materials that help them self-recover or self-restore. Imagine that each time a new advance is made in terms of hardware design and capability, and your PCD downloads that new finding, it will reconstruct itself to the modified specifications to remain up-to-date. Also, there might be an army of microscopic nano-robots encased inside PCD’s that constantly work on evolving the memory system or processor within using intelligent capabilities. This would be made of material that is self-evolving, allowing those nano-robots to constantly adapt and self-preserve.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B00CRGJFPG” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41LRImiYaYL._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″] Why stop at computers? What if every robot home appliance such as the washing machines or ovens, televisions or even your car is made of 4D printing material? Imagine changing the color of your car everyday without repainting it, by interacting with the programmable feature of the material that makes up the surface. If non-electric material can be rendered programmable to self-assemble, the possibility is certainly open to program it as such, so that we can interact and interface with it using computing technology. Because such a possibility exists to transcend electric and non-electric, so does that the probability.
In the future, there may also be space craft and satellites that never die or never malfunction, because they are built inside out of material that is meant to ever prevent that from happening. There would be ships that never sink or resurface themselves in the event of accidents or damage because they would reconstruct and fix the damage themselves.
Of course, the ideas presented herein are skipping well ahead of what currently is available or explored in the areas of self-assembly, material science and 4D printing. Though perhaps, 4D printing itself may not turn out to be the answer to the deliver the sort of self-evolving capabilities to whatever we produce in the future. We would perhaps require some other form of technological development. However, it is and will remain a valid forecast that self-evolving materials and constructs, and therefore technologies, will be an eventual reality, whether in the form of 4D printing or another technological form. Based on scientific probabilities, interest for such a development exists within the boundaries of physics and computing. The driver of human progress in technology has always been; if something is feasible and has been considered of value, it will be pursued.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B00A9KLHP8″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41%2BRn9rgzFL._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″] When material and technologies will begin to self-evolve to the extent of 4D printing is difficult to map. However, with the help of other currently progressing technologies in the areas of nano-technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and bio-computing, we will likely see the production of the first self-evolving computers within our lifetime. This will be regardless of whether 4D printing succeeds or not, and whether by then we achieve self-assembling material. It will be a beginning of a truly New Age.
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