We Asked 4 Experts How Cryptocurrency, Gene Editing, 5G and Drones Will Influence the Future

Cryptocurrency. Gene editing. 5G. Drones. We hear — and report on — these terms often.

But for the average person who’s not well versed in these topics, they might just sound like tech-y jargon, or technology that exists solidly in the future. On the latter point: Yes, but not exclusively.

In a year when Bitcoin is much more than a buzzword, gene-editing tool CRISPR is influencing COVID-19 research, 5G is frequently flashing on our screens and a kid you know probably got a drone for Christmas, these concepts must be widely understood.

Inspired by “Explain like I’m 5” genre of subreddit, Technical.ly spoke to four experts about what these technologies are and what they mean for our futures.

Drones, on their way to autonomy
Exyn Technologies COO Ben Williams defines drones by their independence relative to tech systems. Regular drones are remotely controlled systems with active pilots for all or most of its actions. The term drone generally refers to a non-thinking device reliant upon direct input from a human operator or pilot.

When systems gain the capability to respond to their environments is where things get interesting. According to Williams, as drones become more autonomous, they begin to take on the capabilities of a robot.

“The more clear-cut case is where a system is completely autonomous and no pilot is involved at any point of the flight; this type of autonomous system is a robot,” he said.

Williams, whose Pennovation-based company uses drones and ground-based robots to collect data from places where GPS isn’t accessible, said the significance of drones in terms of the future of technology exists in their potential as autonomous systems. He considers these systems to be the “next obvious success of software” that will enable digital processing.

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