2050 Future Shock
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“Your sport coat is checking your pulse and blood sugar; your micro-compact car is communicating with retail stores and parking meters; and your medicine chest is reminding you to take a pill. Also, while entering the golden age of biotech, Boston is on the brink of class warfare.
With the mapping of the human genome, medicine will become increasingly preventative. David Elvin, a pediatrician who teaches at Harvard Medical School, says infants today are tested at birth for genetic diseases, but these tests primarily screen for ailments that appear in infancy and early childhood. Elvin predicts that in 10 to 15 years, children will be routinely tested at or before birth for the common diseases that tend to manifest later in life. If a child shows a predisposition to a disease, he or she could be treated with specific drugs before any symptoms occur. A child not prone to obesity but predisposed to lung cancer, Elvin says, might be told, “Don’t worry too much about Ben & Jerry’s, but don’t ever pick up a cigarette.”
But the biggest changes in what we wear will come from the technology we expect our clothes to contain. The technology we now carry we will eventually be wearing, says Ned Thomas, director of the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at MIT. Clothes designed to protect, connect, and monitor the military will start emerging on the backs of special-forces soldiers in a decade and will filter down to police officers, extreme athletes, business executives, and finally, everybody else.
Expect to see implanted microchips become de rigueur. Sound spooky? Someday soon it won’t. The technology has existed for years and is starting to enter the marketplace. Last March, the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona started giving members the option of having a small chip implanted in their upper arm so they could pay for drinks without having to take a purse or wallet to the club.