The future of the Aardvark

When I started writing articles on the future, I started almost every title with the words ‘The future of”. I think I will do that again.

Let’s start with the future of the Aardvark.

aardvark_432_600x450An aardvark, image credit: National Geographic

They look interesting, and do play important role in their ecosystem, so it would be a shame to lose them, and it is likely that they will be protected sufficiently to survive a good while longer.

Aardvarks eat ants and termites. Termites are one of the biggest natural sources of methane, which is well known as a greenhouse gas, so they could be thought of as assistants in prevention of global warming, except that methane’s greenhouse activities are mostly obscured by the absorption of the same frequencies by water vapor. So atmospheric water prevents aardvarks from being accidental environmental heroes. Or does it?

Having just blogged yet again on internet of things, it’s obvious that aardvarks could easily be fitted with tracking and monitoring devices, externally and internally. Small devices near the end of their noses could do a lot of environmental monitoring. They could monitor a wide range of pollutants, local climate variations, the spread of various organisms, all sorts of things. Maybe they could even be used to spread various biological or synthetic agents to termite or any colonies, since they don’t eat every single one. That provides a means to spread sensing even further. I suggested a few years ago that ants would make good spies, if they could be persuaded to pick up sugar crystals containing sensors such as microphones, and carry them to their nests, unseen by militants.

It is likely that genetic modification will be used to ‘improve’ a range of natural organisms by adding sensory enhancement, enhancing their ability to find mates as well as their libidos, or navigate around man-made obstacles, process new types of food, or adapt to climate change.

We’re also likely to see some robotic Aardvarks. These could be used to interact with natural populations for scientific study, or they could be used as biomimetic IED detectors in war zones. With multisensory noses to detect chemical or EM emissions or local ground absorption spectrum, and effective claws to dig up and destroy IEDs, they might be better suited than wheeled or caterpillar tracked variants used today.

Finally, virtual aardvarks will be even more ubiquitous. Being an interesting shape puts them in a good position when it comes to choosing creatures to populate virtual environments. In virtual worlds, they might talk or come in different sizes and colors, or shape shift. Far future technology could even link virtual ones to real individuals still living in the wild, so that the virtual ones behave realistically.

Well, there we are. First marker in a new ‘The future of …’ series. Bacteria next.

 

 

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