Location: indexFuturism

Things to come

The me-born book of the Future (as opposed to Usbourne)

We all have our own idea of what the future will bring and mostly we are surprised as it rarely brings quite what we expected. Here I summarise my own opinions on the matter. I believe we are rapidly heading towards a confluence of events. Hopefully a technological singularity but it could equally be a major global cataclasm. Despite being generally very cynical I'm pretty optimistic about the benefits of technology. This has to be offset by worries about the environment and the political/cultural situation which seems to be sliding on a very slippery slope indeed. I like discussing this kind of stuff for fun.
Note: This page is far from complete. I intend to be a bit more convincing and analytical. It doesn't seem to be coming out too well at the moment (probably because I've pulled an all nighter)



I'm fairly confident about this one. Mobile phones and palm tops will combine to become slate like computers with more power than our current desktops. They may supplant desktop computers for many activities but the desktop will remain if only as a docking station with a huge memory, a bigger screen and a bigger keyboard. The slates will naturally be tied into the internet. I'm not sure how far the integration of cameras and tape recorders into the slates will go. Ideally I'd like to see cameras being an add on attachment rather than built in as they are now but probably like scanners after a certainly standard is reached there wont be much to distinguish them. This also raises the question of who will define the standard for what these slates can do. Please let it not be Microsoft! Hopefully it'll be some new player (or current bit player).

Universal navigation

Another one I'm fairly confident about. In car navigation has come right down in price and will continue to do so. Pretty soon all new cars will come with it as standard. This is already having an effect on taxi drivers who no longer need to do the knowledge. I suspect the technology will continue to improve until its built into our mobile phones, palm tops & slates.


Artificial Intelligence

We will work out (ideally I will do it first) how to construct artifical minds. Initially they will be inferior to us and we wont entirely understand how they work (as is the case with our own brains) but within a short space of time their intelligence will exceed ours. Without our biological limitations and evolutionary hangovers they should go a long way. I don't have a problem with the human race being supplanted by something better. However, I don't see it as happening that way. There will be a symbiosis between us and intelligent machines and a evolution rather than a revolution. The machines will not rise up against us they will become us or visa versa.

Technological Singularity

The pace of progress continues to advance without limit ultimately leading us to super technologies. I consider the development of artificial intelligence to be instrumental in this. Mere human intelligences cannot hope to accelerate the rate of progress beyond a certain amount. There is evidence to suggest the rate of progress in some areas is actually slowing down.

We get off this rock into space before we blow it up

Self explanatory really but I'm always surprised by people who cant see the point of space. There are billions of worlds out there waiting to be explored and colonised by us. We needn't be a scourge upon the galaxy (like we are often seen to be on the Earth) we should mature beyond that. To survive out there we need to understand how to maintain a closed ecology anyway so our current environment crisis is not a good indicator. I also see one of our roles as being instrumental in allowing the Gaia planetism to reproduce. Imagine the Earth as a single cell of life. Terraforming venus and mars with earthlike plants and animals is like helping that cell to reproduce. That said the future is probably with worldlets rather than whole planets. Its a bit wasteful of resources to have all that material inside a sphere and only use the surface. We could experiment with a whole different range of environments much more easily that way. Mind you in this vast universe is material really that scarce?


The prospect of a technological singularity brings with it the promise of immortality (I'm hoping for at least 500 years) in our lifetime. This generation could be the last the suffers from death by disease or old age. We will lament that we did not do more to save those currently alive when immortality was so close. Of course immortality brings with it the problems of a methusulah society. If we don't stop having babies so quickly or expand out into space we will rapidly accelerate the decline and exhausion of Earth's resources and ecology. Maybe cryonics is worth considering to get us safely through the current crisis though resurrecting deceased corpsicles will be further off than keeping us alive longer.


Environmental Catastrophy

We all know about climate change and global warming. There are a few die hards pretending its a non-issue but most of us are aware of it. So why aren't we doing something about it? There are several other environmental issues waiting for us in the wings too but never mind them for now. It seems likely that we under-estimate the scale of the danger. When we finally wake up to it will we be in time to stop it? Sometimes we're great at pulling together in a crisis. Other times the survivors will be left fighting over scraps. I kind of wish the oil would run out soon but then we'd only get a huge world war over what's left. To some extent we could reverse the damage with terraforming machinery but frankly its a bit crap to have to test that on your home planet. We really need to get our act together to show that we deserve to live.

Mankind is fundermentally flawed

If you look at us we don't really cope very well with living in a technological society. With the right education we can do okay but its all to easy for us to become involved in one cult or another whether its something relative benign but 'sad' like Pokemon or something more insiduous like consumerism or downright evil like fundermentalist religion. If we don't get this sorted we are in danger of being in a situation where one loony can easily get hold of a red button and kill us all by pressing it. And I don't mean the president of the good ole US of A. I mean anyone whose had a bad day. Imagine office rage gun attacks with the gun replaced by a nuclear warhead. Is that what you want? 'cos that's what'll happen. Perhaps some of these bugs can be ironed out in 'transhumans'?

The Environment

It seems there are a lot of people worried that we've done too much environment damage and as a result the end is nigh. For this reason its not worth having children (or inflicting existence on anyone as at least one person has put it). In these discussions I tend to find myself coming to the fore as an idealist. Yes we've screwed up. But on the other hand a lot more people are worried about these kind of things than used to be. Enough to get governments moving on at least some level (even if it is usually not much more than hand waving). The prospects for carbon sequestration are quite good. Granted not enough is being done but I believe we will find a technological solution to the problem. I'm not big on market forces but it seems to me that the system of trading carbon credits could work well enough to make it profitable to build stations that actively extract CO2 from the atmosphere. Effectively terraforming our own planet. So we may be heading towards a crisis but its one that we can weather, provided we get off our backsides and do something about it. Remember - inaction is a weapon of mass destruction.