Nonfiction in response to Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
September 2018

The Future Today

By Grace Muresan

Back in 1992 when the first smartphone/flip phone was invented by IBM, people must have believed that the future was happening right at the moment. It must have been revolutionary for them, to know that they could communicate with people from miles away from a handheld device that can do almost everything and flips open and closed. However, younger generations must think that is ridiculous, because nowadays we have self-driving cars, robots that think for themselves, we’ve visited outer space, and every toy imaginable is already being sold.

Many inventions have strictly recreational uses, but in this article, I will talk about 5 new innovations made between 2016-2018 that could help support the 17 United Nations Sustainable development goals or save lives.

1. Dengue fever vaccine:

In 2016, The World Health Organization started recommending the first vaccine to prevent dengue. Four different viruses can cause dengue, so it took researchers around 20 years to develop it. About 40% of the world’s population lives in an area of high risk, so if 20% of that population gets vaccinated, dengue cases--and fatalities--could drop around 50%.

2. Cell that can kill cancer:

In 2017 the FDA approved the first human gene-edited therapy for cancer. The treatment includes removing healthy T-cells, cells that fight germs in the body, and adding a tiny receptor to them so that they can recognize the infected cells. In 2016, a similar type of therapy was introduced, but the T-cells were removed and “trained” in a petri dish to fight tumors.

3. A bioabsorbable cardiac stent:

Metal cardiac stents are small tubes that unclog and heal blocked arteries. However, because that metal is most likely to stick around, plaque can rebuild around it. A bioabsorbable stent made of polylactide will be absorbed into the bloodstream after the arteries have healed, and it can save lives.

4. Firefighter super vision

Hand-held thermal cameras have been used for decades to guide firefighters through smoke filled buildings, but in 2016, innovation allowed firefighters to have their hands free to save lives. The camera sensors were moved into goggles attached to a face mask, therefore every firefighter could have one and find people in a burning building more easily.

5. Infected mosquito army:

Female A. aegypti mosquitos can infect humans with diseases like dengue fever, yellow fever, and zika virus. In 2017, more than 1 million male A. aegypti mosquitos were raised by an automated system and infected with the virus Wolbachia pipientis. Females that mate with these infected mosquitos have eggs that never hatch, and this was planned to lower the mosquito population severely.

 

Those are 5 innovations that could save lives. With all our new technology, it seems so strange that not all of our futuristic dreams have come true yet. However, I think that even rival countries should help developing countries improve the lives of their citizens before continuing to make devices to spoil rich children. Inventions for convenience or recreation, such as self-driving cars and new fancy smartphones, are not a priority to making humankind is safe.

 

Sources:

Popular Science magazines website: https://www.popsci.com/

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