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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances
frequency (RF) spectrum. These may be used as weapons or as alternate (nonwire-based) methods of energy transmission, including transmission of energy to and from space.
Distributed Energy: Development of small-scale, efficient, stationary, energy-generation technologies that use a variety of fuels and technologies (natural gas, solar energy, and fuel cells). These generation systems are distributed in homes, businesses, and workplaces such that existing large conventional power generation systems are secondary. The resulting energy grid has much higher levels of reliability and efficiencies because of fewer transmission losses.
Distributed-Grid-Based Processing Systems: A type of computing in which different components and objects comprising an application can be located on different computers connected to a network. It requires a set of standards that specify how objects communicate with each other. Distributed computational systems, in combination with multiagent software, can achieve extremely high processing levels.
Efficient Software Development: Development of significant enhancements in algorithm designs and development, testing, and production of software such that the human labor and time required for developing complex code are greatly reduced and a much more efficient use is made of computer processing capability.
Fuel Cells: Development of efficient, safe, cost-effective hydrogen, natural gas, or other, not yet identified, fuel cells. These devices would produce electricity through chemical processes. Fuel cells are in limited use today in a variety of applications, such as automobiles.
Gene Therapy: The treatment of disease by either replacing damaged or abnormal genes with normal ones or providing new genetic instructions to help fight diseases such as cancer.
High-Power Lasers: Development of high-power directed energy lasers that allow for the coherent (no diffusion) transmission of energy (at the “megawatt” level) in the “laser” portions (Infrared [IR], near IR, visual) of the RF spectrum. These may be used as weapons or as alternate (nonwire-based) methods of energy transmission, including transmission of energy to and from space.
Hypersonic/Supersonic Aircraft: Development of propulsion, fuels, and materials to allow for sustained routine military hypersonic and/or commercial supersonic flight. This would allow transcontinental movement of personnel, weapons, and equipment in far less time.
Image Understanding: This consists of automatic target recognition and machine vision. It involves achieving rapid and accurate pattern recognition of shapes using machine-processed sensor data, then using the recognized pattern to identify and track objects. Such systems provide high reliability for machine (weapon) recognition of shapes and objects and enable the military to identify, assess, and track targets.
Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS): MEMS technology is the integration of mechanical elements, sensors, actuators, and electronics on a silicon substrate. Current applications include ink jet printer heads, sensitive pressure and mass sensors, accelerometers for airbag deployment, and MEMS-based moving mirrors as switches to fiber-optic telecommunications networks. Future devices could be based on polymers, with their raw materials far less expensive and less equipment intensive for manufacturing than current materials. The most promising area for application of polymer MEMS is in biomedicine.