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What we really want to discover in the near future
December 23, 2009 9:45 PM   Subscribe

Decades of Future Science. In which advances of the next few decades are wishfully thought up.
posted by jjray (22 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
My favorite one on that list is "immortality."
posted by Lobster Garden at 10:43 PM on December 23, 2009


I'm surprised there was no mention about the creation of post-humans through genetic engineering. As the tech gets better, the desire for smarter, healthier, prettier children will almost certainly lead us down that path. It also strikes me as a somewhat bigger deal than a lot of what was mentioned.
posted by fearofcorners at 10:52 PM on December 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wish, just once, that there'd be a humanities version of one of these lists. That way we can have our own groundless transhumanist woo.

What will we discover in the next 10 years?
1. A way of talking about books and ideas that doesn't use the words "book," "idea," "text," or "discourse."
2. How to really historicize historicism and then how to historicize the historicization of historicism.
3. How to really spatialize spatiality and then how to spatialize the spatialization of spatiality.
4. What happens once you've problematized all dichotomies.
5. What new buzzword to use once everyone gets bored of "networks." [this better happen soon srsly]
6. A methodology for studying the materiality and spatiality of digital media.
7. How to explain to people outside academia that poststructuralism and deconstruction haven't been trendy for literally a decade or more.
8. How to create and sustain a healthy job market. [just kidding about this one guys]
posted by nasreddin at 10:56 PM on December 23, 2009 [16 favorites]


134. We achieve a singularity, but it turns out to be the moron singularity.
posted by maxwelton at 11:07 PM on December 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow, the predictions + comments on that post are almost jaw-droppingly stupid. Classic "step 3, profit!!!" stuff. The technological aspects are pushing it on most preditions, but they completely ignore the sociological/economical/politcal drivers, too.

The fact the "experts" are as dumb as the commenters greatly disturbs me. "Global warming will finally be proved." Get the fuck outta here. I should know better - mentioning Kurzweil's name in a serious sense is like a trademark for hyperbolic insanity these days.
posted by smoke at 11:56 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


1960: ubiquitous atomic energy, flying cars for everyone, colonies on the moon, missions to mars and the outer planets, contact with alien life, etc.

2010: ubiquitous wind power, electric cars for everyone, colonies of MRSA, missions to the frontal lobe, contact with our own burgeoning AIs, etc.

2060: *shivers* send food and blankets, plz.
posted by Avenger at 12:16 AM on December 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


10. A cure for stupidity-induced jaw drop.
posted by Phssthpok at 12:18 AM on December 24, 2009


Cloud science ... for humans, too
Part of the power curve has to do with the move toward "cloud computing," a process for massaging information on linked computers instead of stand-alone machines.

God the hype on "cloud computing" is starting to getting really annoying. I mean Amazon EC2 and their other web services are really cool, but people are starting to describe everything on the internet as "in the cloud".

And this one is a whole new definition! He's basically talking about clusters now! "cloud computing" isn't a "process for massaging on linked computers" That technology has existed for quite a while.

So cloud computing will take over the world, because everything will just get re-branded as being cloud computing!
posted by delmoi at 12:54 AM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I predict that people will continue to make unjustified predictions of the future which will most likely be a source of humor in fifty years.
posted by Target Practice at 3:22 AM on December 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Drop all the rest and get to the immortality stat, science! We can appreciate the rest once you've got that one nailed down. There are too many books to read (and people keep writing more!)
posted by haveanicesummer at 4:55 AM on December 24, 2009


Immortality? So has all this time I've spent researching Immorality been wasted?
posted by Eideteker at 7:17 AM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


No Space Bees, fail.
posted by The Whelk at 7:26 AM on December 24, 2009


Time spent researching immortality is only wasted if you don't figure it out at the last possible moment. Until you die immortality is still a possibility. I've heard from experts that the science is no more than 5 to 10 years out. Conveniently, it should come into its own at just about the same time as sustainable fusion.
posted by Babblesort at 8:29 AM on December 24, 2009


Babblesort: please tell me you forgot to append HAMBURGER to that.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:28 AM on December 24, 2009


:-)
posted by Babblesort at 12:03 PM on December 24, 2009


The Top 6 Downsides to immortality:

6. monthly Social Security check: twelve cents.
5. statistical certainty you will unwittingly commit incest
4. trillions and trillions of Chinese
3. 300 year wait list on Brad Pitt and Eva Longoria clones
2. odds are you still won't make anything of yourself
1. emperor for life, Dick Cheney

Not that I wouldn't jump on the opportunity to be immortal (if it goes horribly wrong you can always kill yourself), but I expect it would be a terrible thing for humanity. If you think people can get too deeply into debt now, just wait until you can take a 500 year mortgage.

On the one hand, god bless the Greatest Generation for knocking out that World War. On the other hand, the social progress in this country that I value most (equality for minorities, women, gays, etc.) really is dependent on the older generations being replaced by newer, more socially tolerant generations. For example, even the majority of 20-something Evangelicals are fine with gay marriage, unlike their 40 year old (and older) counterparts.

Also, I really don't think my sense of justice and fair play could survive the thought that nobody in the last two Bush administrations would ever die.

Finally, I remember reading that even if you could eliminate the aging process (so people would never grow old), lifespans would not leap to infinity, or even thousands of years. Instead, people would still 'only' live to an average of about 500 years, assuming people continued to be killed by accidents, diseases, criminals, etc. at about the same rates as today.
posted by Davenhill at 2:00 AM on December 25, 2009


The worst thing about immortality would be the mass starvation in about 30 years. If you think people who thoughtlessly have four or six or eight kids now would ever stop having kids if they were immortal, I think you'd be wrong. The only way immortality works is if you don't have kids at all.
posted by maxwelton at 10:14 AM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Downsides to immortality:

4. trillions and trillions of Chinese

I know this is supposed to be a jokey thing, but, um, wtf?
posted by nasreddin at 10:24 AM on December 25, 2009


Not that I wouldn't jump on the opportunity to be immortal (if it goes horribly wrong you can always kill yourself)

I thought suicide was reserved for, uh, mortals.
posted by decagon at 11:25 AM on December 25, 2009


And isn't there a whole head-chopping off thing with immortals?
posted by maxwelton at 6:01 PM on December 25, 2009


Predictions for future developments:

1) improved geriatric treatments. Why? Because there's an immense market.
2) self-driving vehicles. We're almost there now, so it's not a big jump.
3) cheap space travel. Probably some sort of beanstalk technology, with the energy used to take things up recovered by things coming down. It's within the range of theoretical strength of materials, so once it reaches the stage of practical feasibility, it's only a matter of the profit looking good enough to justify building it.

What we won't see: time travel, because if future generations had time travel, they'd be here kicking our asses for what we're doing to them now.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:27 PM on December 25, 2009


As far as I can tell there's a wall of the maximum age a human can reach, at about 130 - I've never heard of actual humans surpassing that age (and if one were to mention a specific yogi, say, who'd reached that age, one would probably be pooh-poohed by sceptics anyway). I will accept that medicine can help the number of people who reach that age to increase, but there appears to be no evidence that it can be increased at all, let alone indefinitely.

Surely a lot of the things mentioned ("Discovery of extrasolar planet with near-Earth conditions", "Automated flying cars", "Medical nanobots - ones you can put into your body and then control them/see through them", "Bio-implant chips, allowing us to have telepathy-like abilities") although science-ish are ultimately as credible as homeopathy? Wishful thinking is wishful thinking, after all.

(I realise those quotes lean heavily on one person, but still...)
posted by Grangousier at 4:54 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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