The future holds many things: predictions that we will soon add 2 years to our lives in every year of medical progress, super-intelligence, world peace and nano-robotics. But will it all go pear shaped, pull an I-Robot, slip in a Blade Runner?
(Future concept housing to deal with pollution, food shortage and over population, is often inspiring and does wonders in dispelling dystopian notions of a horrible future. Source: Futuristicnews.com)
A dystopian future: rampant overpopulation, starvation, pollution and widespread poverty. What else can be expected in a scarcity-driven economy? Why do so many consider the future this way? Why is it so feasible to the modern mind that resources will dissipate, bringing suffering and malady – especially given how radically our ‘resource needs’ have changed over the course of human history. It can all be traced to a study done during the early 70's.
(The Immortal DNA strand hypothesis could be the gift that keeps on giving – or splitting, whatever.)
Sci-fi sequel sounding titles aside, 2050 is the year we could manage immortality, according to Ray Kurzweil (if the name sounds familiar – his insights on The Singularity informed a previous post of mine).
Regenerating cells, nanobot reconstruction, transferring consciousness, cell-reversing enzymes – each can be conceived of now, but the ‘devil is in the details’. We could even have regenerative stem cells (cells that keep on dividing themselves – which, if emulated, means we’ll be slower versions of X-Men’s Wolverine.)
(The future is/was pretty wacky - and it didn't/won't happen the way we think.)
I’ve been writing about the future this year, technology, medicine, science – societal concerns. Anything I can think of (and find interesting). There is a recurring theme in what I read among the scientific and futurist communities – the future is looking good – the end isn't nigh.
The 1950's promised us jet packs, flying cars, space holidays, robot man-servants and unlimited energy. Instead, we got air pollution, better medicine, a worrying degree of societal control in the hands of private entities and, of course, our wondrous world wide web.
Our amazing breakthroughs in computing, medicine, technology and information distribution aside - why didn't humanity get the future we wanted? Why does the future seem so dismal?
Organic computing has been growing behind the scenes for a few years now – computers that are constructed by us – but organic (I promise that, despite the title, this article isn’t about growing computers inside wombs). We’re talking computing power that doesn’t use silicon microprocessors or complementary-metal oxide semi-conductors (not that I can find any that can tell the time, as of yet).
(Organic computers taken a bit far - that woman, standing there? A computer replication. Eureka, Season 3).
(Nintendo - company, or cultural icon?)
If you’re a fan of multi-dimensional entertainment, with a penchant for handheld gaming, the Nintendo 3DS might be for you. Despite somewhat clunky visuals – the Nintendo brand offers something unique to gaming.
For those who first interacted with Nintendo in their 90’s childhood, the Gameboy likely occupies a warm place in their hearts. I remember playing Pokémon Red, and constantly being eradicated in Star Wars: A New Hope on my trusty ‘grey brick’. In fact, the Pokémon Red theme song still gives me chills.
It’s this legacy that keeps it competing with tablets, smartphones and high definition. Reliable, fun and generally not too expensive, Nintendo products are the old faithful handheld gaming option.
If you are like me, you’ve got a healthy amount of scepticism when it comes to new and emerging ‘tech-trends’. Fly-by-nights and the dot.com explosions have created a culture of ‘join and forget’ – how many times have you joined some ‘amazing’ and ‘popular’ or ‘revolutionary’ thing just to forget about it - or slowly drift away from it (MySpace, anyone?)
(Dirty energy is what we Earthlings use every day (even our clean energy is dirty somewhere along the line).
It takes about 2.5 seconds for light to hit the moon and return to earth (a lunar laser ranging experiment says so), meaning we have a massive chunk of mass floating around our planet not being used for anything constructive besides night-sky decoration. Sure, we land on it every now and then to practice planting flags and picking up rocks - but that's hardly helping us deal with our main problems back here on Earth, is it?
(The SSV Normandy from Bioware's Mass Effect trilogy, is a ship capable of flying at 'Faster-than-light' (FTL) speeds.)
Every few years an article emerges claiming that Time-travel is definitely impossible, followed a few years later by one claiming the contrary. Now, this is expected, science is founded on the premise of falsifiability.
Falsifiability is, when distilled into (slightly less than) layman's terms, the quality of being understood through a series of testable characteristics. For example, if I know that Copper is a conductive material, I can test it and affirm this knowledge. If I believe that it isn't, I can test it, and realise it actually is.
(Transhumanism, be all that you can be, or be ungodly?)
Human augmentation is a long way off. Especially the kind of augmentation I've been writing about, the sci-fi, becoming a genius overnight, incredible reaction time stuff. So why is it such a contentious topic?
We've been using technology and medicine to enhance human qualities for quite some time, from surgery to inoculations. What we need to wonder, is when does something stop being ok, and start being aberrational?