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Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years
October 5, 2006 11:24 PM   Subscribe


 
I just want to eat a fucking wooly mammoth burger before I die. Is that too much to ask for?
posted by neckro23 at 11:25 PM on October 5, 2006


I'm holding out for a Jetson 5000 flying car. Style is eternal.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:28 PM on October 5, 2006


"Shopping by picturephone" pretty much came true, at least.
posted by stammer at 11:48 PM on October 5, 2006


Powerbook G5!
posted by mazola at 11:48 PM on October 5, 2006


You'll eat food from sawdust.
Sure, but they didn't predict mixing it with chicken shit and feeding it to the cattle first.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:52 PM on October 5, 2006


"In the center of this eight-room house is a unit that contains all the utilities—air-conditioning apparatus, plumbing, bathrooms, showers, electric range, electric outlets. Around this central unit the house has been pieced together. Some of it is poured plastic—the floors, for instance. [...] It is a cheap house. With all its furnishings, Joe Dobson paid only $5000 for it."

Sigh...
posted by stammer at 11:57 PM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Eco-disaster, decline of the US as a world power, Brazilianization of the US as the wealth disparity chasm swallows the middle class, mercenary armies arising from firms like Blackwater, precipitous decline of science as Chinese and Indian scientist stay in their own countries and as science education falls apart here.

Further entrenchment of corporate interests in politics, effective end of mass democracy in US. Effective revocation of 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th amendment rights for "security"and "immigration control" reasons. "Aggressive questioning" and indefinite detention legal in US against citizens. Opening of permanent detention camps for immigrants, then citizens. Pervasive surveillance and mandatory tracking of cars, money, people. Internet closely watched by government to "control kiddie porn", "terrorism". Laws allowing censorship/regulation, first of Internet, then of TV, then of newspapers. Outright book banning will not occur, but publishers will be pressured by "Christian" mobs and government not to publish "controversial" works. Criminalization of poverty.

Possible theocracy in the US, possibly antiscience pogroms like the Chinese Cultural Revolution as scientists are blamed for environmental and economic collapse. Possibly anti-Jewish pogroms as well. Environmental economic collapse plus increasing cost of oil leading to martial law and malnutrition in major urban areas. Wheat belt to become dust belt. Repudiation of social security guarantees, lots of elderly dying in makeshift bedlams of "hospices". Possibly neo-feudalism around multinational corporations. Possible succession of New England states, Washington State, Utah. Near-term and bloody anti-immigration vigilantism until overwhelmed by Mexican immigrant influx. Possible forced migration of US citizens within US, to depopulate urban areas and/or to supply agricultural labor necessitated by wheat belt destruction, high oil prices.

Muslimization or Slavicization of Western Europe. Mexicanization of the US, bringing with it cultural baggage of fear and distrust of government, Catholic cultural conservatism, a "peasant" class. Development of "guest-worker" peonage.

Decreasing life span due to poorer nutrition and pesticide/heavy metal pollution in US, and to a far greater degree in former Communist countries. Incredible pollution in China. Major losses of agricultural fertility in Australia. Massive famines and die-offs in Africa, and new plagues spread by survivors of famine.

Chinese ascendency on world stage, Chines-South Korean cooperation pact will end North Korea's separate existence.

Space program will wither and die, except for near-Earth communications satellites. Advances in biology strictly limited in US because of Christian fundamentalism, but will flourish in India. Paleontology withers as well. "Machine" intelligence achieved using "brains in bottles" in China. No budget or will for basic (as opposed to applied) research in US; slack to be taken up by China, India.
posted by orthogonality at 12:12 AM on October 6, 2006 [8 favorites]


"Nobody in 2000 sees any sense in building a house that will last a century"

At least that part came true.
posted by afu at 12:13 AM on October 6, 2006 [2 favorites]


With India, won't it be kinda a tradeoff? They get our stem cell research, we get their hamburger research - for obvious reasons?
posted by OneOliveShort at 12:43 AM on October 6, 2006


If I might take issue with your "immortality" link, downloading one's brain onto a computer is by no means the same thing as being immortal. All you are doing is making a copy of your brain, in other words, creating another individual. You, yourself, personally, will still stop existing when your body dies. It's just that there'll be a computer who'll claim to be you. It's not the same thing. Just like teleportation - in teleportation you die and a copy of you is made.
posted by mokey at 12:50 AM on October 6, 2006


mokey: You'll find exactly those issues discussed in this excellent AskMefi thread as well as this Angry Flower cartoon.
posted by RichardP at 1:01 AM on October 6, 2006


My prediction is that there will be at least one nuclear weapon detonated in or near a population center or military base somewhere in the world in the next 50 years.
posted by moonbiter at 1:09 AM on October 6, 2006


Really nice post, I'm impressed!
posted by zardoz at 1:10 AM on October 6, 2006


That's really depressing, ortho. I agree a worst case would look like that, but I think it is very unlikely to happen.

There's a greater division than ever before between the conservative Christian/anti-humanistic lot and the moderate, relatively rational population, but the latter are a majority and will retain enough common sense to resist and would prevail in a showdown. The authoritarian government and trashhing of the Constitution is going on right now, but still can be reversed. The corporatism -> feudalism and ecological disasters are realistic predictions.

Let me put it this way: the predictions from 1950 are about half right - some right on ("shop by picture-phone") and others wacky (wash out your living room with a hose). Your set of predictions and everyone else's will be subject to a similar success rate.

Wonderful article, thanks Metamonkey.
posted by jam_pony at 1:22 AM on October 6, 2006


The demographic, technological and political changes of the last 20 years, that made available 3 billion people formerly locked inside autarkic regimes (whether communist or simply trade-adverse) will be the most important driver in the next 50 years. Expect to see further use of "surgical tourism", outsourcing, guest-worker programs, etc. I expect to see JIT manufacturing, where standardized product construction plans can be fed to third world factories of highly regimented, desperately poor workers for quick turn-around.

Lots of work currently done by machine will be done by hand. Robotic research will dry up (why spend resources developing a complicated machine to do a task when there are 3bn people who can do it better in exchange for 2000 calories/day of some food substance?) Already, this is happening - white-jump-suited, Demming-quoting Japanese robot-tenders can't compete with Chinese former-peasants manning (well, typically "womaning") their low-tech satanic mills. There are going to be a lot of unemployed mechanical engineers.

The world economy is only now figuring out that the relative supply of labor and capital has shifted dramatically in the last few decades. There is a massive glut of Labor, and until the market clears, Capital will languish. And with it, all the things it brings - rising productivity, increasing standards of living, the possibility of non-zero-sum economies. Expect the return of frilled-collars.
posted by bonecrusher at 1:45 AM on October 6, 2006


No (10 = 24%)
---
Food from sawdust
Wide use of solar power, replacing nuclear
Houses of metal, plastic, other odd materials, not brick etc.
Men use depilatory stuff instead of razors
Disposable dishes of recyclable materials
Wash out house with hose
Womed do all the housework; only men work for pay (implicit)
Weather control, including of hurricanes
No Moon travel yet, but planned
Wide use of personal/family helicopters

Partial (16 = 39%)
-------
"sootless garden city"
"crime to burn raw coal and pollute the air"
Clean gas for factories, pollutants removed
Double-deck highways with types of traffic separated
Nuclear passenger ships
Metallurgical advances; replacement of structural steel in buildings
Accurate computer prediction of weather
Alcohol-powered cars used very widely/commonly for short trips
Rail is main means of bulk freight transport on land; passenger rail little used
Doctors get assistance by pushing buttons
Pharmaceutial advances, particularly antibiotics; tuberculosis cured
Aging treated as degenerative disease
Anti-viral advances result in cures for flu, cold, polio
X rays replace EKG's; advances in imaging of internal organs
"Electrochemical" treatments for neurological diseases
Any non-use of new advances will be considered strange; techno-conformism

Yes (15 = 37%)
---
Shop by picture-phone
Tall, bright street lights
Fluorescent lights
Houses made to last only 25 years
"Electronic stoves", fast cooking of frozen items
Two-way TV with voice; teleconferencing
"Electronic inventions [with] something like intelligence"
Industrial control systems and robots for production
Supersonic planes with high fares; jets with cheaper fares
Population shift from cities to suburbs
Suburban sprawl; burbs merge
Fast mail planes kill telegraph
Faxes
Advances in physiology and nutrition science
Still no cure for cancer
posted by jam_pony at 1:56 AM on October 6, 2006


AI Skeptics are so annoying.
posted by delmoi at 2:15 AM on October 6, 2006


The US will allow people from anywhere to work in the US legally and tax-free if they are willing to accept some special minimum wage (below normal US minimum) and not to take advantage of the US tax-funded infrastructure. They will be expected to provide for themselves and to leave immediately when asked to leave, regardless of spouses or children collected since they arrived. Children born in the US will be the nationality of their parents.

In the heart of the US, large Spanish- and Chinese-speaking cities will grow from nothing. No one in town will pay taxes or have any insurance. Most public services will be pay-as-you-go or by subscription or company store, not tax-funded. This will become the model for the rest of the country.

US laws will be local; city government will be semi-tribal and semi-theocratic. A woman won't be able to get a decent abortion in a Catholic town on a Saturday night. A man won't be able to walk into a bar in a Mormon city and get a rum and/or Coke, even if he leaves his underage wives at home. In other towns, car hops on roller skates will deliver oral sex.

Most recreational drugs will be decriminalized in the US but employers will be allowed to issue random drug tests and fire employees based on their use of such drugs, even outside work. Employers will encourage the use of certain other drugs that enhance work performance, and it will be unpatriotic to complain.

All cities everywhere will have many chokepoints where pedestrians walk through unavoidable metal/bomb/personalID detectors one by one and are shunted off to the side for further inspection and detention if the alarm sounds. Sometimes these will be surprise inspections, where a portable inspection station is set up in a normally clear area, maybe as you leave work, maybe at the store, maybe in the park. Those who are culled from the herd go directly into the windowless backs of vans for further processing.

Soldiers carrying rifles will be seen every day on the streets everywhere.

Nature will vanish from most lives. People will not hear or see birds. Any rivers remaining uncovered will have manmade banks. Looking up for stars will be a waste of time.

Cold northern air will be determined the reason Canada and Scandinavia and Scotland and even, after adjusting for communism, Russia are such good places. Global Warming will render the discovery moot.
posted by pracowity at 2:44 AM on October 6, 2006


Robots. Laser death robots. With metallic tentacles. And voices like in the original Battlestar Galactica.

Seriously though, with regards to negative predictions of our future, it may not be that bad. Look at the 50's. If we were to predict based on the 50's, today would have Jim Crow laws, people being dragged out of their beds in the middle of the night as communists, and most of the world destroyed in nuclear fire. If were to predict based on the 60's, we would've talked of social chaos and upheaval. The 70's...one word: polyesther. The 80's: The Japanese are going to own us all. And we're still about to get nuked.

The point I'm trying to make is that the future always looks bad. People have been predicting a grim future since the dawn of time. And usually (although not always) they've been wrong. People have also predicted wonderously nice futures with personal robots. The kind that don't rise up and kill their fleshy masters. They were wrong too. Chances are our future won't be a dream or a nightmare. Some good stuff will happen, some bad stuff will happen, and probably we won't be living all that differently from the way we are now. Except for the fish mutants.
posted by unreason at 4:10 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


I saw Dean Kamen speak on Saturday, and he made a very good point about all of this: We will always fall short of our predictions in the short term (where's my flying car?) and always exceed our predictions in the long term (the internet and web, for example).
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:22 AM on October 6, 2006


That first link is absolutely wonderful. I especially like the way the period mindset shines through in these predictions.

For example, stopping hurricanes by dumping huge quantities of oil into the sea and then setting it on fire. By golly, that would go over really well in this day and age. Also, the article places a lot of emphasis on disposability (disposable dining plates, houses, etc.), which has come true in some ways, but definitely isn't the panacea the article suggests. I suppose that environmentally speaking, at least, we've come quite a long way.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 4:56 AM on October 6, 2006


Intelectual property will virtually cease to exist in many places.


Human genetic engineering will flourish in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. dispite religious objections. Only the rich will have access wherever patents exist or religion make it illegal. But elsewhere populations will rapidly increase in intelligence, creativity, and memory capacity.


Brain implants will provide both intellectual augmentations and "parallelized humans", i.e. you raise a large group of children who are networked with wireless mental links allowing each to partially exploit the others mental capacity.


A new mid-level programming language allowing structured programming of machine level self modifying code will allow massive acceleration of software, effectively starting Moores law in software. But this will reguire many more programmers for "profiling" (optimizing). So most programming jobs will move to India, China, and South America.


Mechanization & AI-ization will increase because :

China & India will secretly use a (water born) chemical or virus inhibiting fertility for population control; thus bringing about a new enlightenment (first one needed the plague).

Said chemical or virus will also whipe out various animal species, as it'll be widely distributed. But no one wil care after its obvious benifits & Mexico & South America will embrace similar forced fertility reduction. Europe & Turkey may force similar measures upon Africa, the Middle East, and any minorities whose population growth has not been checked naturally.

Ideal option is only targeting only *male* fertility because it (1) grants governments more after the fact control over fertility, (2) prevents traditional discrimination against infertile women, and (3) lerts the rich still use artificial insemination.


A small nuclear war is inevitable.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:09 AM on October 6, 2006


Double!

I guess the statute of limitations has run out on this one, though. And it's a better post due to the new predictions.
posted by zsazsa at 5:37 AM on October 6, 2006


When will someone put a television in my refrigerator door?

Also, ubiquitous/pervasive computing scares the shit out of me -- I'd rather eat sawdust hamburgers in Tottenville.
posted by foot at 5:44 AM on October 6, 2006


I knew I was reading a comment from orthogonality in the first sentence or paragraph. Good man, I mostly agree with you. But I think you need to lighten up a little. Considering I'm really one morbid son of a bitch, that's saying something.

jeffburdges wrote, among other things: Brain implants will provide both intellectual augmentations and "parallelized humans", i.e. you raise a large group of children who are networked with wireless mental links allowing each to partially exploit the others mental capacity.

OK, that's really kind of freaking me out.

I've read Sturgeon's "More Than Human" in which he discusses and tells the tale of a very weird but very fulfilling and even beautiful human-symbiote construct similar to what you describe, but something about the way you've stated it is creeping me out in a way his (admittedly humanist) take did not.

For some reason I'm seeing roving gangs of feral, mesh-networked hyper-children hungry for human flesh, with ultra-refined pack hunting skills. *skin crawls*
posted by loquacious at 5:47 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Sure, but they didn't predict mixing it with chicken shit and feeding it to the cattle first.

You know, in combination with the expression "You are what you eat", this explains so damn much.
posted by briank at 5:49 AM on October 6, 2006


What is your prediction?

Nick & Jessica: Cloned Newlyweds on The Moon.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 5:54 AM on October 6, 2006


Predictions? I'll give you predictions!

50 years from now, people will make predictions about what the world will be like in X years. They'll be mostly wrong, too.

Take that, Nostradamus!
posted by spazzm at 5:55 AM on October 6, 2006


My prediction is that in the future, we'll have web servers that can withstand a coupla hundred visitors...
posted by slater at 6:05 AM on October 6, 2006


In the year 3000, all jokes will be delivered telepathically.

.

.

.

.

.

:)
posted by tadellin at 6:12 AM on October 6, 2006


The 80's: The Japanese are going to own us all.

They do.
posted by bonecrusher at 6:20 AM on October 6, 2006


foot, like this?
posted by zsazsa at 6:32 AM on October 6, 2006


jam_pony, how come you rate 'sootless garden city' as partial? Visit Milton Keynes today.
posted by biffa at 6:51 AM on October 6, 2006


Just fusion. Fusion, fusion, sweet sweet no-nuke-waste-pennies-per-megawatt-hour fusion. That is all. Thank you very much.

(We-ell, okay, maybe some pervasive nanotech like in The Diamond Age would be sorta cool, too. But we need widespread, clean, affordable energy to make a nanotech-based economy work right.)
posted by pax digita at 7:21 AM on October 6, 2006


We're participating in the results of a revolution in computing (that was so completely unpredictable to the average layperson as recently as 20 years ago, probably even to forward-thinking visionaries 50 years ago, and has so completely changed the way many live their daily lives.

The next revolution will do to us what computing and internet did to most people in our parents' and grandparents' generations: we'll be (generally) befuddled, overwhelmed, confused and resistant to the revolution coming in biotechnology.

Memory implants, organs and limbs regrown by ink-jet style printers (think The Fifth Element here), and things that nobody has imagined yet. And I'll probably be an old fogey listening to my music on my headphones (headphones? why not implants grampa?).

Aside from the kid's-toy "matrix," I expect something basically like Neuromancer will be spot on.
posted by chimaera at 7:43 AM on October 6, 2006


But where is my personal jet-pack?


posted by ericb at 7:56 AM on October 6, 2006


"Wash out yuor house with a hose" is actually did come true. I've seen motel rooms rented to Spring Breakers that are bsed on this priniciple.
posted by StarForce5 at 8:03 AM on October 6, 2006


I thought this site looked familiar.
posted by tadellin at 8:50 AM on October 6, 2006


Fun link.

Fantastic comments Ortho and Pracowity.

However, just for the record:
The future always looks just like today, only to the extreme!

This is truly the common theme that plagues any set of long range forecasting about humanity. The futurists are always limited by their perspectives, and as broad as they might be, are almost entirely dictated by their immediate environments.
posted by C.Batt at 9:25 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


jam_pony, thanks for tallying up the score. As I was reading this, I was expecting another ridiculous article about flying cars, but was impressed by how much was spot-on. I think the article is more accurate than you give it credit, though:

Partial (16 = 39%)
-------
"sootless garden city"

Gated communities.

"crime to burn raw coal and pollute the air"
Clean gas for factories, pollutants removed
Society has in fact recognized emissions to be a problem and many governments have legislated limits and instituted fines for exceeding these. From a 1950s perspective, this has definitely come true.

Double-deck highways with types of traffic separated

True in my city.

Accurate computer prediction of weather
In a 2-3 day time span, it's pretty damn accurate in most places.

Rail is main means of bulk freight transport on land; passenger rail little used

How is this only partially true?

Doctors get assistance by pushing buttons
Pharmaceutial advances, particularly antibiotics; tuberculosis cured

Again, these are completely true. The problem of tuberculosis is an economic one, not a medical one.

Aging treated as degenerative disease
Absolutely true.

X rays replace EKG's; advances in imaging of internal organs
Everyone who comes to the hospital with suspicion of heart attack is going to get an echocardiogram, if not a catheterization -- the article even names the correct technology, fluoroscopy.

"Electrochemical" treatments for neurological diseases
Not common, but certainly beyond the experimental stage.


Any non-use of new advances will be considered strange; techno-conformism

I would argue this to be true. Even old ladies and children use cell phones. Anyone that doesn't have one is certainly commented upon. You could say the same thing about email, automobiles, cable tv.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:40 AM on October 6, 2006


Extremely cheap computers are built costing about as much as calculators today and the foundations set up Internet libraries the world over to connect them. Certain governments try replacing the internet with massive controlled intranets, but the jokes on them. Business needs internet. Nanotech and biotech make all diseases livable for the rich. Populations increase, pollution increases, but we cope. The planet gets warmer, bikini sales increase. Americans start learning to speak Spanish just as most immigrants pick up English. The dollar experiences a quick fall after OPEC switches to the Euro. It regains strength and most Americans wake up to the geopolitical realities of living in world where they are no longer in charge. At the same time that the worlds intelligentsia becomes increasing connected, most citizens demand - and receive - iron-walled isolationist foreign policy based on mutually respected sovereignty. Military budgets decrease and bad governments feel under the microscope because of increased internet usage and easily accessible multimedia technology. We all float on.
posted by trinarian at 9:59 AM on October 6, 2006


So Bruce Sterling was right.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 10:00 AM on October 6, 2006


...that was so completely unpredictable to the average layperson as recently as 20 years ago...

With all due respect, I was an "average layperson" in fifth grade (US school system) about 35 years ago. I remember standing in the main branch of a fairly modest Southern (US) county's main public library one day after school and pondering:

I'd recently seen a photograph of people using computer terminals with typewriter-style keyboards and TV-type display screens. Why couldn't the card catalogue -- those rows on rows of huge banks of index cards -- just be on a computer somewhere so I could use one of those terminals. And then it hit me: I wanted to use a computer terminal to find the location of the books...but why couldn't the contents of the books themselves be displayed on computer screens somehow? That idea fascinated me all the way to 1979, when I first got to noodle with a TRS-80 and then with Apple ][s; when I encountered archie, gopher and BITNET in school, my reaction was, "What took all this so long?" Now I think about how much more quickly we went from that card catalog to the Web, Project Gutenberg and YouTube than folks went from moveable type to mass literacy, and I see we've moved at a respectable clip indeed.

OTOH, the "average layperson" probably wouldn't be caught dead inside of a library nowadays....
posted by pax digita at 10:03 AM on October 6, 2006


Discarded paper table “linen” and rayon underwear are bought by chemical factories to be converted into candy.

**shudder**
posted by Deathalicious at 10:43 AM on October 6, 2006


Orthpessimist wrote:Effective revocation of 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th amendment rights for "security"and "immigration control" reasons.

Thank goodness our 2nd amendment will always be safe!
posted by Deathalicious at 10:45 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Predictions of technological advance are less accurate, because they are too dependent on both scientific and social change. Not the grand, broad brush of revolutionary social change, but what could be called "the evolution of practicality and common sense."

For this reason, if you predict a technological advance, it is better to pick the application of a known technology, and extrapolate how it could be used in the future, with the assumption that such a use is both practical and common sensical.

Let me give an example. Right now, there is something of a renaissance happening in airships. Even the German company that made Zepplins is back in business in a big way. And many of these companies have very innovative ideas on how to use these airships which emphasize their strengths when compared with other aircraft.

That is, airships use much less fuel, and also can carry exceptionally heavy loads compared to airplanes.

One interesting innovation is the idea of using airships to fight wildfires. This has two big advantages. First, an airship can carry a huge amount of water that it can directly load from a lake; and second, it does not have to dump its entire cargo on the fire at once.

It can sit over a fire and "rain" on it. Far above the heat column produced by the fire, an airship could drop large droplets of rain for perhaps an hour, and over a much larger area. And as any forest fire fighter will tell you, a rainstorm will supress a wildfire in a very effective manner, and over any terrain.

Well, this being said, it would seem to pass the common sense test. But this leaves both the science and whether given the expense, it is a practical idea. Assuming both of those are positive, then it would be a good prediction for part of the future.

Other airship concepts, such as police blimps, high altitude communications transceivers, even high altitude for very high altitude scientific rocket launch platforms, all have some interesting possibilities in the future.

One of the most radical possibilities for airships is that they could transport many tons of frozen ozone (-193 Celcius) to the lower ozone layer. Since even at its densest concentrations in the ozone layer, there are only a few parts per million of ozone, this could have considerable value in replacing depleted ozone.
posted by kablam at 11:39 AM on October 6, 2006


Personal jet packs? What an unmitigated disaster those would be. Remember that Simpsons episode where Selma imagines what life would be like if she married Hans Moleman, and has a vision of their kids constantly running into each other and knocking themselves out of the window? That's what personal jet packs would be like, only in the sky.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:00 PM on October 6, 2006


It's funny how some of the future predictions are limited by the technology of the time at which they're made. I saw the beginning of some sci-fi movie that was made in 1939 on TV a while ago. It featured a woman on a jet-propelled scooter flying through the air to deliver......a hand-written telegram to someone in a flying car. They could visualize flying vehicles at that time, but text messaging was inconceivable.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:11 PM on October 6, 2006


Personal jet packs?

Yeah -- and this is what we get instead:


posted by ericb at 1:55 PM on October 6, 2006


At least food from sawdust was accurate...
posted by joelf at 2:16 PM on October 6, 2006


The Card Cheat: Personal jet packs? What an unmitigated disaster those would be. Remember that Simpsons episode where Selma imagines what life would be like if she married Hans Moleman, and has a vision of their kids constantly running into each other and knocking themselves out of the window? That's what personal jet packs would be like, only in the sky.

No kidding. Thousands of barely-trained pilots without flight-plans operating at low altitude? Overpopulation would be solved.

My guess is that the future will have less short-distance travel, as computing reduces the need and fossil-fuel exhaustion increases the cost.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:16 PM on October 6, 2006


No kidding. Thousands of barely-trained pilots without flight-plans operating at low altitude? Overpopulation would be solved.

Nah. Jet packs would be made to pretty much fly themselves, each with a computer more powerful than the best computer in the world right now. They would be smart enough not to hit each other, no matter what the pilots told them to do, and to always get you there safely, assuming nothing broke.

The dumb thing about jet packs -- the reason they will never be used like cars are used now -- is the amount of energy they would waste to get one person from A to B, when A to B (especially with a tiny fuel tank) typically would mean from home to Burger King and back. You would never fly one of these things just to get somewhere you could drive in a few minutes, but that's about what they would be limited to: destinations within easy driving distance. Intead, they would be loud, stinking, intrusive recreational machines for people with money to burn, and decent environmentalists would use them for shooting practice when they flew over. "Pull!" *BOOM* *klank* "Good shot! Let's go see if there's anything worth scavenging! Dibs on the iPooed!"
posted by pracowity at 4:09 AM on October 7, 2006


I hope only that the ugly, abbreviated, overloaded word "nanotech" will be replaced by something that sounds nicer, hopefully before the technology becomes ubiquitous. Personally, I'm pulling for "nanics" (noun) and "nanic" (adjective).
posted by Iridic at 10:05 AM on October 7, 2006


chimaera writes "Memory implants, organs and limbs regrown by ink-jet style printers (think The Fifth Element here), and things that nobody has imagined yet. And I'll probably be an old fogey listening to my music on my headphones (headphones? why not implants grampa?)."

Y'know... I'm not that young anymore (technologically speaking), and I am positively looking forward to those things. Jack my computer right into my brain? yes please! Get an implant on my optic nerve that will overlay weather, traffic, news, whatever data over what I'm seeing (think Ahnohd's HUD in Terminator 2)? Oh fuck yes please. Give me the ability to instantly pull up a file on someone I or my boss has to meet, without them knowing I'm doing so? I WANT THAT NOW. I seriously want all this shit. I want computers I can control with a thought. I want implants (a la Dread in Tad Williams' Otherworld) that will let me compose music on the fly, a soundtrack for my life. I want to stand on the CN Tower and have a HUD overlay any data I want on the vista I'm seeing--stocks being traded in those offic ebuildings, electricity consumption--whatever. I don't fucking care. I want to jack in, log on, and drop in, my man.

I want the Internets Tubes in my head.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:44 AM on October 8, 2006


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