Advancements in medicine, scientific breakthroughs, and improvements in AI may be about to turn the world upside down.
2022, while not all bad, wasn’t exactly filled with pleasant surprises.
It was a year that launched with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. 2022 saw widespread protests and unrest, including in Iran and China, two nations not famous for free expression and protests.
At home, white-hot inflation is still devouring disposable income from the working class, leaving more and more Americans relying on credit cards. While economists dryly parse the meaning of nebulous words like “recession”, struggling consumers don’t need a news report to tell them they are barely making ends meet.
Paying higher prices — for everything — is something even wealthy celebrities are starting to notice.
But 2022 wasn’t all bad. Among all the news chaff were a few grains of good tidings we might have missed in the blitz of clickbait headlines to which we are subjected daily.
Here are just a few:
Self-Driving Electric Cars
“Sony and Honda just announced their new electric car brand, Afeela,” announced the Verge recently, to not nearly enough fanfare.
While electric and hybrid cars are far from a panacea cure for petroleum dependence (the majority of electricity in the U.S. is still produced by burning fossil fuels) this newest venture by — of all companies — Sony has had investors and tech experts abuzz since the concept was unveiled three years ago.
Leveraging advancements in AI, entertainment tech, and virtual reality, the new cars look likely to bring us one step closer to self-driving cars. In other good news, the cars are going to be manufactured in the U.S.
“The Sony-Honda cars will go into production at one of Honda’s 12 facilities in the US, though no details have been shared on planned volume,” reported the Verge. “The EV will be sold first in the US in 2026, and then Japan and Europe at a later date.”
The Sony-Honda collaboration isn’t the only EV coming soon to the marketplace.
“The 17 Best EVs Coming in 2023,” as reported by Wired, means that if some poor, unfortunate soul’s Tesla virtue-signal stops working, they’ll have plenty of other options.
Tesla may be hard to completely escape in 2023, however. Elon Musk’s flagship electric car company just successfully produced— by some miracle- a Semi.
American Manufacturing Comeback
2022 brought many changes. Many of those changes were wrought on the heels of all the other changes and challenges we endured during the preceding two years.
But with all the unrest abroad — Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and rising tensions in the South China Sea between Taiwan and China — U.S. corporations are thinking twice about putting all their production eggs in a single basket.
Also revealed during the pandemic years is the fact that it doesn’t take a war to disrupt U.S. supply chains, send prices soaring, and leave companies from Target to tiny convenience stores scrambling for merchandise or raw materials.
Even if relative peace endures between world powers, we now know a pandemic, not to mention pandemic mitigation measures in a dozen different countries, can severely impact our supply chain.
And in any case, our supply chain is, and ever was, an unsustainable 20,000-mile monstrosity held together by petroleum and, to our growing shame, forced labor.
Re-shoring some of the American manufacturing capabilities unwisely outsourced en masse during a glut of under-regulated globalization is an excellent idea.
Many companies are already trying it. Production closer to home will mean shorter supply chains, better labor regulations, and more stringent environmental regulations.
Advancements in industrial 3D printing may soon make it possible for one small midwestern factory to produce all the parts it needs — in-house — to assemble an entire automobile. A new renaissance of bespoke factories would open up a world of innovation, creativity, and quality.
3D printing isn’t the only area experiencing major advancements and breakthroughs.
AI Advancements Ahead
(This article was not produced using the new AI language-generating chatbot, ChatGTP.)
The writing world is abuzz with the idea that an AI algorithm could give you, say, one-thousand words on emerging AI technology at the press of a button.
Some of us feel the way a certain Victorian vicar’s wife felt when told of Charles Darwin’s new theory of evolution: “Oh dear, let’s pray it isn’t true. And if it is true, let’s pray it doesn’t become too widely known.”
Whatever the repercussions for sophomore essays on The Scarlett Letter, ChatGPT is but one of the many iterations of advancements in AI.
AI is helping humans improve the accuracy of weather forecasting. The first AI legal prosecutors are already at work. AI is changing a dozen other fields faster than tech publications can keep up.
Advancements in Medicine
“FDA approves new Alzheimer’s drug that appears to slow progression of disease,” reported NBC News last week.
It’s news many Alzheimer's patients — and their families — have been waiting to hear for a long time. This promising new treatment, and others, are offering a ray of hope for sufferers of Alzheimer’s and a dozen other diseases.
2022 was the year Israeli scientists may have unlocked the secrets of cellular aging. Drugs to halt or reverse the aging process might not be a fountain of youth fantasy after all.
“The ‘breakthrough’ obesity drugs that have stunned researchers,” wrote Nature on January 4, 2023, describing, “A class of drugs that quash hunger have shown striking results in trials and in practice.”
And if none of the above is at all exciting, “James Webb Telescope Reveals Milky Way-like Galaxies in Young Universe,” and, “7 out-of-this-world alien stories from 2022,” ought to do it.
Happy 2023, everyone.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)