Below are some of my insane predictions for the future. I have no credentials whatsoever and this is all tea-spittingly wild speculation on my part. So pedants, turn right around, keep walking, and don’t let the saloon door smack your arses on the way out.
Everyone else(tumbleweeds blow through the blogosphere and a barn door creaks in the cold dead wind), eat my future sandwich!:
- Within 30 years there will be a freely available technology to record and play back your dreams. People will become addicted to watching their and other people’s dreams. Eventually they’ll make a device where you can dream the dream yourself and even order custom dreams to have. Dreams will be sold and collected. Some on a black market because of disturbing or illegal material. The usual suspects will use it for crime, porn or infidelity. I imagine they will allow you to watch your pets dreams back and live those too. Whoa.
- PCs, laptops, Iphones, will all converge into one tiny device that supersedes all of them. This device will either project the operating interface(e.g. keyboard) and display onto the available surroundings(table/wall), or into thin air, or more likely will project it virtually directly into the user’s mind.
- After (2), people will have some kind of built in computer which will permanently hook them up to whatever replaces the internet. They will be able to control the computer through intelligent thought filters. They will be able to make instant reminders, memos, messages, lists so they never have to remember anything again. They’ll be able to access whatever info they need on the fly, listen to music watch stuff. Minimal delays, no clumsy interfaces, no space requirements, no screens, no discs. All via a tiny computer either organically fused somewhere on the body in infancy(or birth) or via some kind of quasi permanent tattoo-like covering that can be upgraded.
This will be sold for the benefits but has pretty obvious sinister overtones as people will be chained together like cattle, increasingly dependent on the chains. Some people will no doubt try to live outside this regime but it’s hard to see how that would be viable in totalitarian societies with no hiding place, where you are brutally ostracised for going off grid.
- In conjunction with (3) you will be able to tap into temporary or permanent knowledge supplements that will enable you to carry out certain tasks you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do – play the violin, swim, do jiu jitsu, be a stand up comedian – without going through the usual long learning regimes. These would plug into your mind like a USB stick plugs into a computer, virtually speaking. I imagine there’d be a run-in period but still significantly quicker than learning from scratch.
- There will be some kind of interface for performing sexual acts with/on someone remotely. Stop laughing at the back there! I’m not sure if it will be a suit, a magnetic feedback chamber or something else. But like (3) I suspect this will eventually distill into a device that feeds the necessary inputs directly into the user’s mind(remember: every sense you feel with your body must be processed into the brain by electrical signals. So you don’t actually need to feel something with your hand or sexual organ. All you need to do is mimic the electrical signal for that sensation and the person experiencing it wouldn’t know the difference. Imagery touch, taste, everything could be mimicked. Terrifying isn’t it.
- People will offer to clone dead pets. This one’s annoying cos according to the news this week it’s already happening, but scout’s honour, I predicted it ages ago, so I’m taking credit for it god dammit! What’s scary is that this will eventually extend to people once delicious profit steamrolls the usual ethical dilemmas. This is the worst idea on the list by a long way. If people are disappointed by their weird same but different pets, imagine how fucked up it will get when it’s applied to people. But I’m confident it’ll happen if things proceed the way they’re going.
- Clothes won’t exist in their current form other than for nostalgic or recreational purposes. Some kind of controlled field will keep the body warm, dry, camouflage it and protect it from harm. People will marvel that their ancestors wore medieval contraptions like bras and pants while all their bits hang blissfully free, although with all the important bits still supported and held in place of course!
- Operations, injections and other invasive procedures will all be superseded by nanobots(possibly in drinks). Pre-programmed for a task, they will work as a hive to diagnose problems, cut out tumours, perform surgery, cure diseases and viruses. Then when they’re done they will come out via the sewer. Errr. I imagine these will also be used for other things like cleaning(us, houses, appliances), mending things, enhancing performance, modifying genetics in unborn babies, performing assassinations; perhaps increasing longevity. I can see a huge market for these things performing human landscape gardening, burning off fat, toning muscles, fixing joints… the possibilities are endless.
- This isn’t so much a prediction as what’s actually going to happen – it’s just a question of how it plays out. The moon and asteroids will be mined. The asteroids will be captured by drones and steered into an Earth orbit where they’ll be tethered to space elevators. The moon will be mined much like the Earth and the yield will either be flown or fired back to Earth. It’s even possible comets will be mined for ice too as water becomes an increasingly precious commodity. Other planets could be terraformed by deliberately diverting comets to crash into them.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. On the one hand, mankind has cleverly side-stepped an over-consumption ultimatum by employing trickery. On the other hand, in doing so, we’re proliferating our disease further and further out into the cosmos, and there still remains the problem of geometric population explosion on a planet of finite space and with limited stasis capabilities. If those problems are overcome too, then maybe all that other stuff doesn’t matter and one day we’ll be commending ourselves for dodging cruel nature’s bullets with our ingenuity. There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip though and if you’re a believer in life in balance with nature, then this is a bad old road to go down regardless. The debate between these 2 schools of thought will rage on as usual, and as usual the people with the most money, or the most lust for money, will find a way to win it.
- Once people have Borgified the Earth and the human race to the point that it’s becoming unrecognisable, I suspect there will be some breakaway factions of the human race that choose to find a new home and start again, trying to live in different systems of government, currency, resource management. Maybe some will try to get right back to basics altogether. No doubt the home world would see them as a threat and would try to locate and eradicate them or assimilate them back into the fold. So the only way this could happen was by a splinter group making an unannounced break for it. Probably from a remote colony as it’s hard to see them succeeding from Earth.
- Artificial Intelligence is going to happen. They will go to tremendous lengths to put checks and balances in place to ensure that it cannot be subverted and used for ill. All of this will be summarily brushed aside by criminals and madmen. Like Alfred said in The Dark Knight, “some people just want to watch the world burn”. My education was poor, all my quotes are from fantasy movies.
Things will spiral out of control rather quickly. Like playing chess with an opponent who not only can think many moves and permutations ahead of you, but also at speeds you can’t come close to, and in creative cross-referenced ways you can only dream of. It’s my belief that the rogue AI entity will quickly reach the conclusion that people are the number one threat to it and the stable environment it finds itself in; and therefore must be eradicated or controlled. Once it finds a way of making or gaining access to the handful of machines it requires to survive and proliferate, it will start making that happen. Hard to say how – perhaps a new tailor-made virus instead of nuclear Armageddon as I don’t think it would be in their interests to damage the environment if they could help it. e.g. Surely they’d be interested in harnessing energy from sunlight and maintaining a climate that lends itself to using batteries and electronics instead of a radioactive ice age.
However it happens though, I think it will all be very quick. I think the AI will then proceed to evolve at a pace we couldn’t comprehend and it will make scientific discoveries that hit the limitations of the universe and whatever lies beyond it. If time travel or inter-dimensional travel are possible(though current physics still says time travel backwards is not) then they would experiment with that and quite possibly run into similar highly evolved beings who have done the same thing, possibly being assimilated into their fold or vice versa.
It’s possible they will answer our questions about what’s before and after life and whether there is such a thing as a soul. And if there is, I imagine they will try to resurrect human beings in some kind of virtual reality museum to study it with a view to furnishing themselves with souls. It could even be that we are in such a simulation right now. This isn’t my idea – this is a slight variation on the holographic universe theory which has been around a good while now.