Four Technologies That Are Currently Making the World a Better Place

Not all new technology is necessarily helpful for the well-being of human societies around the world. When coal-powered energy generation was developed, millions of people suddenly had to take on the dangerous job of coal mining. When railroads were invented, millions of people had to risk their lives to blast tunnels into mountains. The list could arguably go on forever. It is true, however, that nearly every technology has also good consequences – especially including both electricity and railroad infrastructure in the above cases.

Fortunately, we have now come far enough now that new technologies lean more toward the side of making the world a much better place. Still, anything new tends to scare people. And because of this, new technologies are frequently misunderstood. Here we will look into four examples of the ways humans are using technology to improve the world in which we live, with the hopes of assuaging the fears and misconceptions that many people have about technological innovation.

Robots That Repair Coral Reefs

One of the clearest consequences of global warming is the rapid deterioration of coral reefs, most notably the great coral reef of eastern Australia. Without prompt human intervention to repair the last two hundred years of damage, the climate has already changed so much that most of the existing coral reefs will be lost. While we are well aware that something needs to be done, the sheer size of the coral reef precludes the ability of humans to realistically fix the issue with manpower alone.

Fortunately, Australian universities have recently developed something they call LarvalBot. This is an underwater drone that shepherds existing coral gametes into a safe environment within a region where they can safely grow. Once they have matured enough to survive on their own, LarvalBot takes 100,000 of the coral larvae to the parts of the reef that are the most damaged. This new technology will allow humanity to leverage its knowledge to solve problems that we would not otherwise be able to realistically tackle.

Creating Edible Pollution

Okay, so the idea of edible pollution is not terribly appetizing – and the phrase itself is certainly a bit hyperbolic – but a way to turn carbon dioxide pollution into a food source really does exist. And we already use it all the time: plants. Plants, of course, use oxygen and sunlight to create more complex molecules that we eventually eat. A new kind of bio-solar panel is taking this idea to the next level. The idea is to coat a solar panel-like device with a layer of highly efficient algae. These algae are the algal carbon-eating equivalent of professional athletes.

They are far more efficient at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than their larger plant cousins. As an added benefit, the algae themselves are edible and can be used to help relieve food shortages in areas of the world struck by famine. It really is a win-win technology, and as the engineering hurdles blocking its adoption fall one by one, we can expect to see these green solar farms popping up all over the world soon.

Replacing Humans in Dangerous Jobs

It used to be the case that the only way to get a dangerous job accomplished was to find a person desperate enough or daring enough to take on the risk of accomplishing the task. Especially in more developed countries, this is quickly becoming a thing of the past thanks to the introduction of robots. Better safety laws, paired with a newfound ability to use these robots to accomplish the most dangerous and dirty tasks, represent a huge leap forward for workers’ safety rights. And a less-often considered benefit of this shift is the fact that robots can not only do jobs more safely, but they can also do jobs better.

For instance, soldiers can now use a robot to detect and destroy explosives, factories can use a robot to interact with especially dangerous machinery, and first responders can now use an inspection robot when responding to sites with hazardous materials. In the example of explosive ordinance disposing robots, an explosive charge can be destroyed far more quickly with a robot simply because far fewer safety precautions are necessary. Instead of slowly approaching an explosive and analyzing every possible angle before inching any closer, robots can charge right in, detonate the device, and allow troops to continue their advance unabated.

Much Safer Streets

Advances in acoustic triangulation and engineering have given police quite a leg-up on gun violence in the last few years. The devices that these technological advances have enabled now allow police to know the exact time and location of a gunshot, meaning that it will be far easier to both catch criminals and to get the law enforcement officers to the scene of a crime right after it happens. The technology behind this is based on sound triangulation. When a gunshot occurs, it is picked up by several sensors around the city.

By calculating how long the sound took to reach each sensor, computers can then identify exactly when and where the shot took place. And while this advancement – as well as all of the others that have been brought to us by science and technology – seem impressive by themselves, they represent only the tip of the iceberg. New technological innovations have already created exponentially more technologies than have been addressed here, and they will only continue to do so at a faster rate in the future.