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WSJ - Thinking About Tomorrow
January 31, 2008 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Predicting the Future WSJ - "We look ahead 10 years, and imagine a whole different world." Plus, review of predictions from 1998 -
posted by sjjh (42 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Let's get this out of the way first -- in the next 10 years, no one will travel to work by jet pack or have robot maids that serve dinner. ... Imagine televisions that project 3-D images into the middle of the living room, for a theater-in-the-round experience."

The first sentence made me think they wouldn't just go for the "what seems futuristic" ideas. That second sentence corrected that thought.

Fail.
posted by Plutor at 11:00 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Imagine televisions that project 3-D images into the middle of the living room, for a theater-in-the-round experience.

... man, and you thought the transition to HD was long and drawn-out. Really, they're seriously predicting 3D holographic TV? Oh, WSJ, just don't. Stop thinking about tomorrow.
posted by mumkin at 11:01 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know, Plutor - this seems like a real step in that direction.
posted by Ryvar at 11:02 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


It seemed more like a short term extrapolation of today's technological trends to me. For example saying that we will all be making a greater use of GPS integrated devices in 2018 does not seem exactly shocking in its bravery.
posted by rongorongo at 11:08 AM on January 31, 2008


Could I just issue a blanket opt-out right now? I will be most happy if the future includes a universal DO NOT WANT.
posted by rusty at 11:09 AM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


They're trying to imagine the world in ten years' time and the best they can do is groovy new TVs?
posted by jokeefe at 11:10 AM on January 31, 2008


⇒Ryvar: "I don't know, Plutor - this seems like a real step in that direction."

Did you know that the first HDTV was built in 1969 (last paragraph)? You're showing me an experimental thing as support for the fact that this'll be in anyone's living room in 10 years?
posted by Plutor at 11:12 AM on January 31, 2008


I actually think robot maids are more likely then 3d TVs. I mean, we've already got robot vacuum cleaners.
posted by delmoi at 11:14 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know, Plutor - this seems like a real step in that direction.

That thing has no chance. For one thing, those types of devices are very low resolution, and very loud (each flash of light creates a shock wave in the air) and very hot. If you put your hand into the 'image' it would burn.

But there are other, more realistic technologies. including things like this which uses a spinning mirror, and actuality systems has a spin device you can buy today, which it sells to hospitals to display MRI results in 3d, things like that. (I think it uses spinning LEDs)
posted by delmoi at 11:21 AM on January 31, 2008


I'm with delmoi. Robotic chefs and maids are far more likely than holographic TVs.

Even if you assume that the tech for holographic TVs can get reduced to consumer levels, and that they find a way to transmit the data to those TVs, you'd still have an enormous problem as the studios would have to learn how to shoot in 3d.

That said, I've never thought the WSJ was the best paper to turn to, when gaging the plausibility of random hypotheses.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 11:24 AM on January 31, 2008


Imagine televisions that project 3-D images into the middle of the living room, for a theater-in-the-round experience.

Ha! The more things change...

Third dimensional color television will be so commonplace and so simplified at the dawn of the 21st century that a small device will project pictures on the living room wall so realistic they will seem to be alive. The room will automatically be filled with the aroma of the flower garden being shown on the screen.

posted by dgaicun at 11:26 AM on January 31, 2008


Mr. Perlman predicts that some movies will have interactive elements in them so that users can switch out of the linear story to play against other characters.

Hmm. Imagine we'd had this already, and you're watching "North by Northwest" and decide to get into the cropduster and chase Cary Grant around the cornfield. Fun.
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:31 AM on January 31, 2008


Don't Mess With Orbital Texas.
posted by wfrgms at 11:34 AM on January 31, 2008


The article didn't even touch on biotechnology. It mentions privacy issues and RFIDs. Yet, doesn't even mention that they are implantable. I think that bioinformatics will play a slightly larger roll in 2018 than obsolete gps technology or hi-res tvs.

Did the article even predict anything that doesn't exist or will exit within the next 2 years?
posted by JimmyJames at 11:35 AM on January 31, 2008


You know, we already have 3D "television" and we don't use it. Theaters almost invariably present only one side to the audience. Theaters "in the round" exist, but aren't used much.

3D TV is like jetpacks and flying cars. Easy to predict but not actually something people want. Video phones too.
posted by DU at 11:37 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


What were the predictions made in '98? Did I miss those in the article?
posted by klangklangston at 11:38 AM on January 31, 2008


Even if you assume that the tech for holographic TVs can get reduced to consumer levels, and that they find a way to transmit the data to those TVs, you'd still have an enormous problem as the studios would have to learn how to shoot in 3d.

I've been working in this field recently, and it's not as far-fetched as you think.

that the tech for holographic TVs can get reduced to consumer levels:

You just need to include 7 to 20 additional projectors, and as projectors get miniaturized and comodified for inclusion in cell phones, that's not so unreasonable.

and that they find a way to transmit the data to those TVs:

The standards are being set as we speak. Mpeg compression between adjacent 3D views is better than in the time dimension, because there is more redundancy.

the studios would have to learn how to shoot in 3d:

Conversion of regular theatrical 3D (two views) is quite possible. Much like music producers are predicting that the defense against file sharing is to perform in concert, film producers are predicting that special theatrical experiences will be a similar hedge, and more people are looking at 3D theatrical projections. These 3D, holographic in your words, TVs can also show regular programming. A special channel that does 3D sports will probably come first, and serve places like bars and clubs.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:40 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well wait a minute, wait a minute. As far as 3d displays are we talking about Volumetric displays like the ones me and Ryvar linked too, or we talking about simple stereoscopic video?

If it's just stereoscopic, then the technology has been developed, implemented, and available for sale for decades. I suppose it's possible that stereoscopic displays might be popular in the next few years. You can even buy computer monitors today that project stereoscopic images, many requiring special glasses (but not red/green) and a few that I've heard of require no glasses, but require you to sit directly in front of them.
posted by delmoi at 11:51 AM on January 31, 2008


Did you know that the first HDTV was built in 1969 (last paragraph)? You're showing me an experimental thing as support for the fact that this'll be in anyone's living room in 10 years?

Easy there, big guy.

I'm not suggesting their timeframe is anything like realistic All I was pointing out was that there's fundamental tech that seems like it *might* point to true 3-dimensional televisions not being the flying car.

There are reasonable objections to that fundamental tech, however. Namely: how do you get a mid-air plasma burst to have any color other than bright blue-white (as far as I know, you can't)? What's the refresh rate? Is staring at plasma bursts longterm healthy for your eyes? Is there a refresh rate limitation imposed by the human's response to the brightness of the bursts? etc.
posted by Ryvar at 11:54 AM on January 31, 2008


Not stereoscopic, not volumetric. Multiview lenticular or barrier strip. It's a lens on the screen that allows glasses-less 3D for people roughly in front of the set.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:56 AM on January 31, 2008


We're not talking about holodeck floating projections, but a TV that has imagery that extends a few feet in front of and behind the screen.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:58 AM on January 31, 2008


I guess it has been almost four hours since the last "look at these old predictions of what the future will look like" post.
posted by pracowity at 12:01 PM on January 31, 2008


Yeah, This article was pretty lame. "In the next 10 years humanity continues to tinker and master the binary engine." Gee, thanks WSJ.
posted by zach4000 at 12:13 PM on January 31, 2008


klangklangston - i was wondering the same thing...either we're both missing the 1998 predictions or they ain't there.
posted by raevyne at 12:17 PM on January 31, 2008


I wanted to post dgaicun's comparison of this to the predictions from the 50's, but he beat me to it.

I'll say this, though, why would 3D television be at all superior? The 2d-ness of the screen (and it's functional equivalent with the proscenium in theatre, is a HUGE part of what allows for the art and craftsmanship of the content to work.

I'm not saying that it couldn't be well done, on occasion, but I just don't see the upside to it aside from "holograms = future!"
posted by Navelgazer at 12:21 PM on January 31, 2008


klangklangston - i was wondering the same thing...either we're both missing the 1998 predictions or they ain't there.

"Predictions of the Past
How did we do the last time we looked ahead 10 years? Well, you win some, you lose some."
posted by cashman at 12:27 PM on January 31, 2008


Metafilter: gauging the plausibility of random hypotheses.
posted by Western Infidels at 12:34 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


This article, like so many others of its kind, makes the fundamental mistake of conflating what technology can do with what people (consumers) will actually want. I doubt they will be all that interested in computerized Wal-Mart greeters (do people even pay attention to the human ones?) And I agree that the general lack of interest in digital TV until very recently does not bode well for the average consumer caring about 3-D TV. And do people really want their cars making decisions about when to order parts?
posted by DiscourseMarker at 12:35 PM on January 31, 2008


If we're lucky, in ten years, the WSJ will no longer exist.
posted by wendell at 12:39 PM on January 31, 2008


In ten years Walter Mossberg will be reviewing technology from the point of view of a person so tech-impaired they no longer exist, except in Walter Mossberg's mirror.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:47 PM on January 31, 2008


I predict that yet another alternative door placement method will be developed for Refridgerators (making French Door fridges seem like old hat), white-with-glass-front and black-with-glass-front kitchen appliances will be the norm as stainless has been since the 90s, and you will be able to buy an oven that uses microwaves to quickly heat up the oven temperature, rendering preheating unnecessary.

(can you tell I just went through a kitchen remodel?)
posted by davejay at 1:14 PM on January 31, 2008


As it's the WSJ, I'm surprised that the predictions didn't include:
1) We'll all be driving large cars fueled by cheap oil from our friends in Iraq
2) The Global Warming Myth will finally be debunked and Al Gore will be imprisoned for Crimes Against the Economy
3) Robot George W Bush will be president and have the capability to listen in on all phone/internet communications himself.
posted by mrnutty at 1:23 PM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


They missed famine and Balkanization in the US of A.
posted by orthogonality at 1:29 PM on January 31, 2008


Commuters will still carry newspapers to work but will likely download them to a pocket-size computer that can also show TV news broadcasts.

GASP! THE FUTURE'S CRAZY! Wait, isn't this laughably commonplace in Japan already?
posted by naju at 1:38 PM on January 31, 2008


i predict in 10 years time that when the belt on our appliance wears out we will throw it away and buy a new one.
posted by bhnyc at 1:54 PM on January 31, 2008


mrnutty, this is from the news section, not the editorial page. The regular journalism can be quite good and very different from the nutjobs on the editorial page.

But maybe not for long. Unfortunately I think Mr. Murdoch will be applying the template of the editorial page to the news pages, rather than the other way around.
posted by lackutrol at 2:11 PM on January 31, 2008


Sorry that the 1998 predictions were not originally included - my computer skills prove subpar - WSJ - Predictions of the Past
posted by sjjh at 4:55 PM on January 31, 2008


This is unfortunate fail, nothing new here.

I would like to see a prediction about the prediction of the year 2018 in the year 1950 from the year 1900; that might be interesting.
posted by sir_rubixalot at 5:23 PM on January 31, 2008


Am I the only one who thought a lot of their "10 years in the future" predictions sound like things early adopters were using 3 or 4 years ago?
posted by Deathalicious at 5:53 PM on January 31, 2008


Look. I just wanna know if Peggy Noonan's ever gonna get to ride a fucking dolphin.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:27 PM on January 31, 2008


well if you are willing to forget about the potential impacts of bird flu, global warming, and peak oil then these rather benign predictions just might happen. but so what? and for whom?
posted by altman at 11:40 PM on January 31, 2008


I loved the vox-pops. What do you want in the future? Some sort of handheld brain-training device. TV on my mobile phone.
At least they'll get their wishes.
posted by greytape at 6:17 AM on February 1, 2008


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