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May 22, 2014 8:00 PM   Subscribe

Signs from the Near Future: What the Near Future Is Actually Going to Look Like.
posted by homunculus (65 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Look, guys, I'm sorry, but jetpacks are just never going to be a thing. Any claim otherwise is going to make me strongly doubt your futurist cred.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:05 PM on May 22 [7 favorites]


I'm not entirely confident that exoskeletons, printed meat, or smart contact lenses are ever going to be a thing, but I'm 100% in agreement that there will probably be more warning labels and copy generally everywhere.

The future is a boot with a Proposition 65 warning label on the sole, stomping a face, forever.
posted by Sara C. at 8:09 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]


Doesn't mean it's ever going to be a thing, but... Google applies for contact lens camera patent.
posted by toofuture at 8:11 PM on May 22


Yeah I don't really think the future is full of signs with paragraphs of expository text to make sure you realize how shitty the future is edgy and with-it this author is.
posted by !Jim at 8:15 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


These are great. Any literalist naysayers need not rtfl.
posted by alms at 8:19 PM on May 22


Plus, Jet Pack Demonstration at Smithsonian, 5/17/2014.
posted by alms at 8:21 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


Ugh, that place sells their synth meat so cheap because it's extruder-derived. 3D interlaced printed synth meat has such better mouthfeel and umami.
posted by planetesimal at 8:21 PM on May 22 [20 favorites]


> Look, guys, I'm sorry, but jetpacks are just never going to be a thing.

Can you imagine? Human beings can't even operate cars without killing and injuring millions of ourselves every year.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:23 PM on May 22 [6 favorites]


Hey remember these?

I remember them, because I'm secretly over one thousand internet years old.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:24 PM on May 22 [18 favorites]


There are not gonna be signs warning you the drones are watching, they're just gonna be there, watching. There might be a lawsuit, and then there will be tiny signs that say "by being in this area, you consent to being films by [mobile camera units or some other euphemism for drones]" and that'll be everywhere so it's not actually possible to go places without being on camera.
posted by NoraReed at 8:26 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Jetpack at Super Bowl I in, I believe, 1968.

It has existed for quite a long time, there's just no practical purpose for it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:28 PM on May 22


There are not gonna be signs warning you the drones are watching, they're just gonna be there, watching.

True, but there might be crossing signs for the drone dog-walkers.
posted by homunculus at 8:30 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Plus, Jet Pack Demonstration at Smithsonian, 5/17/2014.

The top YouTube comment says it better than I could: "To show this jet pack at something called the "Future is Here" is a little bit embarrasing. Pretty much the same jet pack has been around for 50 years now (there's a James Bond movie from the 60s that features it). The same principle, the same chemicals used and exactly the same limitations (less than 30 second flight time). So no progress over 50 years? That's the future?"
posted by zardoz at 8:42 PM on May 22 [7 favorites]


I'm not entirely confident that exoskeletons, printed meat, or smart contact lenses are ever going to be a thing

Eh, the barriers to making the first two, at least, consumer-available are ones that are relatively straightforward and predictable in a way that the barriers to jetpacks are not. Whether they'll ever be more than toys/social signifiers for the wealthy is another question. I'd say the chances are decent for exoskeletons, eventually (as mobility devices, and if the materials can be made cheaply enough and battery packs can be made light-enough or can be quickly recharged with solar or pedal power, as bike-alternatives for people with shit balance like me), moderate for meat (the primary thing here is whether it can be done cost-effectively given how energy prices are going to change in the next few decades, but "raised" meat is going to start running up against the same problem), and smart contact lenses, probably not so much (this one's the most comparable to jetpacks, in that problems with both comfort and capacity are going to make it difficult to make

Honestly, though, the thing that seems most unrealistic is the lack of acknowledgement of how the coming energy crisis is going to necessitate either major changes in infrastructure or accelerate the stratification of wealth or both.
posted by kagredon at 8:49 PM on May 22


That place is Save On Meats in Vancouver. If anything I'd expect the future of "Synthetic Meat" in Vancouver 2050 to be covertly manufactured from "missing persons" arrested by the PropCops, a quasi-governmental paramilitary force owned by a conglomeration of property developers, tasked with keeping the streets around the gleaming, empty condos free of undesirables.

It's great now, though. Well worth a visit.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:00 PM on May 22 [9 favorites]


Who thinks that smart contacts or smartglass/google glass type stuff is REALLY going to need physical signs? I'm amazed we're not already there with smartphones, but you'll just go inside the geofence of a certain area and suddenly your screen will go "This device is not allowed to operate here" or "These features of this device have been disabled while inside this building/looking at this movie screen/etc".

I expect this feature to be essentially mandatory and show up before ios hits version 10, and within the next few big android builds(maybe when we hit 5? 6?). Boingboing writers will be outraged, as will a lot of internet neckbeards. It'll be sold as preventing people from covertly taking dressing room/locker room photos and stuff.

But yea, if there's a part of the airport or whatever that they'd put a sign like that at, they'll just be automatically limiting the device with some sort of NFC/BTLE handshake, geofence using gps or other sensors in the device, or some combination therein.

By the time devices like what he mentioned are in serious mainstream use, there won't be any need for signs.

The self driving taxi signs were a nice touch though, but i agree that the jetpack thing damaged the entire series which was otherwise fairly straight faced and serious.
posted by emptythought at 9:05 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


I'm not entirely confident that exoskeletons, printed meat, or smart contact lenses are ever going to be a thing, but I'm 100% in agreement that there will probably be more warning labels and copy generally everywhere.

Exoskeletons are actually pretty far advanced.

Printed food is coming along - with a proof of concept demo. Printed organs are also gaining ground.

Smart contact lenses are in their intitial stages of development, but look promising.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:07 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I'm disappointed to know that in the future, high-end plumbing fixtures still look stupid. I'm ready for that trend to be over. IT'S JUST A SINK, GET OVER YOURSELF.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:17 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS KNOWLEDGE
posted by Renoroc at 9:23 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


To be honest, I was expecting more things like "OUTSIDE TEMPERATURE >135°. TRAVEL WITHOUT REDUNDANT CLIMATE CONTROL NOT ADVISED."
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:28 PM on May 22 [16 favorites]


Ugh, that place sells their synth meat so cheap because it's extruder-derived. 3D interlaced printed synth meat has such better mouthfeel and umami.

Mouthfeel?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:29 PM on May 22


oh gods mouthfeel is an actual thing
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:31 PM on May 22 [13 favorites]


Yep. We're well into organically developed newspeak at this point. I know many,many words, but have unironically said both "double bad" and "super good" this week without even meaning to. I like. "Mouthfeel", though, it's got a sort of Germanic straightforwardness to it.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:37 PM on May 22


Ignorance is strength. I'd thought we were already using that one.
posted by pompomtom at 9:41 PM on May 22


People don't even want to wear corsets or bicycle helmets on the regular. I don't think exoskeletons are going to take off in general. Though for special applications (like prostheses) they could be amazing.

I can't wait until we have lab-grown meat, though. If I don't eat meat I physically can barely function, but I also buy into the "meat is murder" stuff and UGH please make up for my human frailties, Science!
posted by rue72 at 9:46 PM on May 22


People don't even wear corsets or bicycle helmets on the regular.

Well certainly not at once. We have a sense of propriety.
posted by NoraReed at 9:49 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


Breakthrough: Synthetic Meat Made From Stem Cells
posted by homunculus at 10:27 PM on May 22


3D-printed exoskeleton helps paralyzed skier walk again
posted by homunculus at 10:30 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]


This seriously badass exoskeleton can lift well over 200 pounds
posted by homunculus at 10:35 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Yeah I don't really think the future is full of signs with paragraphs of expository text to make sure you realize how shitty the future is edgy and with-it this author is.

This is it exactly. As with so much would-be futurism, the overexplanation kills any cleverness. Having been around a few decades now, I occasionally pause and look at ads and warning signs and such and wonder how baffling they would be to someone who just woke up from a coma that began in, say, 1980. There is a luggage ad showing a hardshell case with wheels and handle for dragging it through airports, an insert with a closeup of the logo, and the url at the bottom. To our hypothetical Rip Van Winkle, this is a picture of a brightly coloured box with a long handle and castors, an unrecognizable logo and an unfamiliar name, and a jumble of letter and punctuation. Barely recognizable as an ad, really. I fully expect the ads of 2050 to be an animated spinning aquamarine cloud shaped vaguely like a frying pan and the nonsense syllable KLAR repeated three times.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:52 PM on May 22 [16 favorites]


mouthfeel... mouthfeel... the word nobody should say...


that's a little song I sing when I'm feeling sad.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:58 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


Very relevant: Wired's FOUND archive
posted by Rhaomi at 11:01 PM on May 22


The jetpack technology is there, it is the fireproof pants development that is lagging. 'Heat resistant' will only get you so far.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 11:14 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


My claim is obviously based on no information whatsoever.

Also His thoughts were red thoughts, how are you ranking your swears if not by mouthfeel?
posted by Trivia Newton John at 11:17 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


My problem with jetpacks is, where does the chauffeur sit?
posted by rue72 at 11:19 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]


Also His thoughts were red thoughts, how are you ranking your swears if not by mouthfeel?

By the heat generated by the combustion of the source of my ire.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:24 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Who was it who said (paraphrased) "You can always count on science fiction writers to look at the future, see the possibilities therein, scream like a startled monkey and retreat back to the security of a new dark age."
posted by happyroach at 11:31 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


Ignorance is strength. I'd thought we were already using that one.

We did.

There were huge billboards in my town that were like "Stupid has the balls"

Pretty close to ignorance is strength.
posted by emptythought at 11:39 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]


I am pretty sure the future is here.

Bitcoin talked about the dollar value of 1 BTC going "To The Moon." Dogecoin made moon rockets a theme and spoke of the "moon" as widespread adoption and a prosperous dogeconomy. Then we decided to literally & no bullshit land a dogecoin on the actual moon next year. There it will last into the abyss of deep time, surviving the slow crumbling of the great pyramids, perhaps remaining after humanity is dust.

Basically I used to read a lot of science fiction but recently there hasn't been much need.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:48 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


These signs are terrible -- too many damn words.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:58 AM on May 23


I thought autonomous taxis had arrived when I got off a red-eye in London and tried to get a cab. The driver was of course on the right, but was looking on the left so I couldn't see him. And I was tired and therefore stupid.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:00 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


> Can you imagine? Human beings can't even operate cars without killing and injuring millions of ourselves every year.

I haven't had an accident or even gotten a ticket since I was 17, I'll give it a shot. (Anybody remember the Peter Principle? If not, hold my beer and let me show you it.)
posted by jfuller at 5:22 AM on May 23


These are pretty great. They remind me of the old 'Found' future artefacts' series Wired used to do.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:32 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Who thinks that smart contacts or smartglass/google glass type stuff is REALLY going to need physical signs? I'm amazed we're not already there with smartphones, but you'll just go inside the geofence of a certain area and suddenly your screen will go "This device is not allowed to operate here" or "These features of this device have been disabled while inside this building/looking at this movie screen/etc".

And then the market for used dumb tech will explode.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:38 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


My conception of future artifacts usually goes more like "this diadem, belonging to the Princess of Greater Chicago, is inlaid with priceless plastic shards in a pattern resembling what flowers used to look like, before The Blight"
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:40 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


These seem oddly utopian to me. When I clicked on the Vice link I expected a story about global warming and overpopulation. And then when I saw it was about actual signs in the future, I assumed at least some of them would make reference to the above.
posted by chrominance at 5:43 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


That's mainly because these signs only apply to the 800 million people who survived.
posted by planetesimal at 5:45 AM on May 23


Ignorance is strength. I'd thought we were already using that one.

We did.


Wow, Ivo Shandor was right. Society really is too sick to survive.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:10 AM on May 23


I pity the young.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:13 AM on May 23


ricochet biscuit: " I fully expect the ads of 2050 to be an animated spinning aquamarine cloud shaped vaguely like a frying pan and the nonsense syllable KLAR repeated three times."

Max Headroom was right, we're moving closer and closer to blipverts.
posted by Sphinx at 6:31 AM on May 23


I expect this feature to be essentially mandatory and show up before ios hits version 10, and within the next few big android builds(maybe when we hit 5? 6?). Boingboing writers will be outraged, as will a lot of internet neckbeards. It'll be sold as preventing people from covertly taking dressing room/locker room photos and stuff.

Why yes, my beard does extend further than might be fashionable towards the vicinity of my neck. I won't buy a phone if there isn't an easy root exploit for it, and so far that's not much of an obstacle to getting a smartphone. It's still easy to watch DVDs on a player that isn't region-restricted. It's necessary for my continued sense of dignity and self-respect to use ad-blocking software when browsing the web. None of the mad copy prevention schemes of the past ended up eliminating software piracy. I'll not be buying a self-driving car unless it looks at least a little bit hackable. The more restrictive such features get, the more people will disable them.

Besides, putting up signs will still be easier than building some kind of technological non-solution to a perceived problem. A great many of the signs out there imploring people not to do things (I've seen one that reads "NO ACTIVITIES OF ANY KIND ALLOWED" on what was a vacant lot) are there not because the management has any interest in actually preventing people doing those things, but so that when they do it can be claimed with a slightly better chance of success that there is no legal liability.
posted by sfenders at 7:50 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]



Look, guys, I'm sorry, but jetpacks are just never going to be a thing.


and if they are, I'll be emigrating to the USA where I trust the NRA will allow me to shoot any assholes who penetrate my aerial perimeter, and that includes my annoyed by their noise.

but seriously, to paraphrase David Byrne (I think). "In the future, things will be very much as they are now, only more so."
posted by philip-random at 10:00 AM on May 23


I love going back and watching old here's-what-the-future-will-look-like movies or cartoons (like this one), because somehow they manage to get a lot of the technical predictions right -- before the technology even existed -- but they can't even fathom that the culture will change at all in 50 years, so their depictions of imagined inventions are couched in this sort of 1950s fantasy/utopia.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:35 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Jetpacks? Yeah, I can just imagine flying up into the air on a cold, windy March morning when its pissing it down with rain, up into the cold and wet skies, getting cold and drenched. Lovely.
posted by marienbad at 12:35 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Jetpacks will become popular when people live in giant biodomes and arcologies.
posted by planetesimal at 12:50 PM on May 23


Have they solved the burn off your ass and legs issue?
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:37 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


A Drone Tried to Kill Me at a Gizmodo Party
posted by homunculus at 2:17 PM on May 23


California company Aerofex accepting preorders for $85,000 hoverbikes
posted by homunculus at 2:53 PM on May 23


Twentieth Century Futurism Looks Really Bizarre Now
posted by homunculus at 4:44 PM on May 23


but seriously, to paraphrase David Byrne (I think). "In the future, things will be very much as they are now, only more so."

Actually, I believe you're thinking of a quote from that notable philosopher and relief pitcher, Dan Quisenberry: "I've seen the future, and it's much like the present, only longer." (FWIW, over the course of 60 years, I've found this to be pretty much true, for better or worse.)
posted by Kat Allison at 9:25 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


What's changed is now we have records. We want Information ... Information.

Mass books, since the printing press.
Photographs, since the 19th century, now ubiquitous.
Audio.
Moving pictures.
Digitization.
Emails.
Texts.

I am of the opinion that less and less will be lost. Digital archival problems will be overcome to some extent by a process of continual copying. I've mentioned before how I do it with little care and I can find files dating back to 1999 if not earlier.

Yes, always incomplete - but consider, we're kind of approaching a single human lifetime since the advent of mass audio recording. The torrent and the stream have now made the bits available to basically everyone for basically nothing.

I dunno I need to ponder and maybe try to write seriously on this but there are some implications. No past, no future, the present a mash-up amalgam of nostalgia, futurism, and retrofuturism.

So put up the address and I will donate a shit ton of dogecoins to this site. I ain't got spare USD at this time though.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:55 AM on May 24


> I am of the opinion that less and less will be lost. [...] I dunno I need to ponder and maybe try to write seriously on this but there are some implications. No past, no future, the present a mash-up amalgam of nostalgia, futurism, and retrofuturism.

Are you familiar with the concept of ETEWAF?
posted by toofuture at 11:42 AM on May 25


I was not but from a brief glimpse at that article sounds like pretty much the same idea.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:35 AM on May 26


Yeah the tl;dr version of that article/ETEWAF ("Everything That Ever Was—Available Forever") is basically:

Etewaf doesn’t produce a new generation of artists—just an army of sated consumers. Why create anything new when there’s a mountain of freshly excavated pop culture to recut, repurpose, and manipulate on your iMovie? The Shining can be remade into a comedy trailer. Both movie versions of the Joker can be sent to battle each another. The Dude is in The Matrix.

The coming decades—the 21st-century’s ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s—have the potential to be one long, unbroken, recut spoof in which everything in Avatar farts while Keyboard Cat plays eerily in the background.


The article barely takes itself seriously (it is written by Patton Oswalt, after all), but the idea he plays with is fascinating. The possibility of reaching some sort of cultural stasis where art is no longer made, but rather endlessly "rediscovered."
posted by toofuture at 11:57 AM on May 26


Speaking of printing meat: Our Best Bet for Colonizing Space May Be Printing Humans on Other Planets
posted by homunculus at 3:36 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


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