On Dec 14, the often-linked Clay Shirky (most recently) ended his guestblogging stint at boingboing with a question for the commenters: What's going to happen in the next five years or so that will catch most of the rest of us by surprise, but not you? [more inside]
Too bad the guy was only thirty eight - just two years older, he'd have been worth three times the points...
Did you grow up anticipating sports where death would be likely, if not certain? Almost certainly played by convicts, possibly with robot limbs? And which would be even more likely to have chainsaws and flamethrowers not usually found in the sports of today? Those We Left Behind’s look at Future-sports of the past, in videogames, movies and comics is for you!
Margins of Error We can't seem to let the future alone. Even though we often get predictions about it so wrong. Because, as Niels Bohr once said, "Prediction is very difficult. Especially if it is about the future." What are the origins of political polling (beware of awful interface design)? And how is political polling evolving?
Superstruct: An alternate reality game of future survival from the woman who brought you I Love Bees. Starting soon.
Like Philip K. Dick said, "It's not just 'what if?', it's 'my god, what if?'." By all major accounts, the Zombie War (was | will be) a real bitch. And Fitzpatrick didn't do much better. If some writers have anything to say about it, the future probably wont look too good. Some hit a little close to home. On the other hand, some other writers think our future might be a little brighter. Who knows? It's just a guess. So is looking backwards and wondering "what if?". And if that's not enough, maybe you wonder what it's like to be someone else...
Mario is at bat, man! Just in time to handle your jones for singalong fan bonding, to speak the heretofore unspoken truths of super jawesome classic film themes. Also he dresses up, like it's, um, Halloween.
Today is R. Buckminster Fuller's 113th birthday. Visionary, designer, inventor, engineer - 'Bucky' continues to inspire us. Known as the grandfather of sustainability, even today we discover that we've barely scratched the surface of his thinking and still have far to go and much to learn about managing Spaceship Earth. [ previously]
50 years ago, it was the era of Sputnik, nuclear power, decolonisation, European vows of ever closer union, transistor radios, cars for the masses, and Hula Hoops. What better time to hold a damn big party? [more inside]
Hi-fi spheres, bacon toasters, translated Pravda on demand, and other changes to come in 1975 A.D. [ via Bostworld ]
I was watching Back to the Future Part II today, and realized that their idea of the world in 2015 doesn't really seem all that feasible now. While I was watching, I happened to come across this interesting piece in the now-free Sports Illustrated archives: a feature, written in 1979, on how the NFL would look in the year 2000. The full article is pretty long, but if you want the highlights, they're right here.
40 Years in the Future - Another "what will life look like in the future" article. This one from Mechanix Illustrated, 1968. (via Boing Boing)
Nerve-tapping neckband used in 'telepathic' chat A neckband that translates thought into speech by picking up nerve signals has been used to demonstrate a "voiceless" phone call for the first time. Video. The technology has previously been demonstrated for guiding a wheelchair with thoughts. Company website.
Design and the Elastic Mind is a MOMA exhibit of cool objects, gadgets, websites and ideas. Some personal favorites are The PainStation, The Religious Helmet, Body Modification for Love, The Minutine Space and Lightweeds.
It slipped through the cracks on my radar, but apparently the IE8 team has met with some web standards gurus and decided that in order to move forward with full standards compliance (and support the known quirks of IE6/7 for corporate intranets), a new "version targeting" system should be put in place. Other browser vendors are not amused. Should IE just give up? [more inside]
Predicting the Future WSJ - "We look ahead 10 years, and imagine a whole different world." Plus, review of predictions from 1998 -
Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. He plays the banjo, but he isn't just some hick. He enjoys Chicks, jamming with friends, wide open spaces and fights.
Postcards from Our Awesome Future. [via] An art exhibition stemming from the minds of Packard Jennings (whose illustrations have appeared in Adbusters) and Steve Lambert (of Anti-Advertising Agency fame); using San Francisco's infrastructure as a model for improvement, the duo answered the siren call of Objectivism through an arcology devoid of “...budgets, beauracracy [sic], politics, or physics”. [more inside]
Magic Highway U.S.A. Disney's May 1958 view of the future of transportation. Some recaps at 2719 Hyperion and Paleo-Future. [IMDB; via]
In the early 1950's, Monsanto Chemical Company, MIT and Disneyland collaborated their resources and creative brainpower to build "the house of 1986." Using 30,000 pounds of plastic (The building's structure, carpet, chairs, sinks, appliances and floors were all plastic. About $7,500 to $15,000 worth.), the Monsanto House of the Future* was opened to an excited public in June of 1957. It was closed in 1967 as ideas of the future were beginning to change. Let's take a quick tour, shall we?
*(Not to be confused with Xanadu Homes of Tomorrow.) [more inside]
*(Not to be confused with Xanadu Homes of Tomorrow.) [more inside]
The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair (1939). The Original Futurama. Featuring Elektro, the Smoking Robot.
A newer, slightly more plausible flying car project. Some people take it more seriously than the king of vaporware skycars, whose designers are now working on a vaporware landspeeder(PDF). If you want something more available, keep your car and check out the Cessna SkyCatcher, no assembly required.
Countdown to a Meltdown : long but fascinating speculative retrospective on the causes and impact of the 2009-2016 economic collapse. [via Marshall Brain]
The inaugural New Yorker Conference, “2012: Stories From the Near Future,” took place on May 6 and 7, 2007. Here is an archive of videos from the event.
What happened to the future? Forbes has a terrific special feature on the future that offers a smörgåsbord of cool things. In addition to the usual predictions and "whither the videophone" discussions, there are also interviews with futurists such as David Brin, Robert Sawyer, Stuart Brand, and Nicholas Negroponte about their mistakes and surprises (as well as an article on the value of futurists and one on why you don't want to make futurists angry). On the fiction side, it features short stories by Cory Doctorow, Max Barry, and Warren Ellis, all dealing with the American workplace in 2027 during a financial crisis, as well as a discussion of nine great books about the future. It ends with a quiz about your ability to predict what will happen next year - Forbes will send you your score in January 2009.
Growing drugs in space. If the rainforest runs out of undiscovered medicines, just grow new drugs in space: Wired reports that "a swaggering Texas investor" wants to turn the International Space Station into a kind of orbiting drug lab: "If people knew what I already know," he says, "the International Space Station would be considered one of the most valuable resources our world possesses." Think of it as New Jack City in zero-G – full of weird, crystallized proteins (and billion dollar cures).
Physicists have 'solved' mystery of levitation Professor Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have worked out a way of reversing ... the Casimir force, so that it repels instead of attracts. Their discovery could ultimately lead to frictionless micro-machines with moving parts that levitate. But they say that, in principle at least, the same effect could be used to levitate bigger objects too, even a person.
Bots've come a long way, baby. So everybody knows about Honda's flashy ASIMO, and the sadly canceled QRIO, but now Wakamaru, Mitsubishi's entry into the field, seems to have been first among semi-autonomous humanoid robots to find a job. I wish it luck, but it might need to grow up a little. Maybe it can learn from Domo, son of Cog, robot of yore.
7/7/7 marks the 100th birthday of Grandmaster Robert Anson Heinlein, born July 7th 1907. Long live Lazarus Long! While any attempt at a tribute would but naturally turn into a passionate link infested paean to this visionary genius, one of the Big 3, along with Asimov and Clarke, one must honour his contribution with a pointer to the Heinlein Concordance, a portal of his stories, characters, concepts and timelines. A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. ~ Robert A. Heinlein 1907 - 1988
Why yes, I WOULD like to ride a rocket into space, then jump out of it and free-float to an Earth re-entry. Columbia widower Jonathan Clark and X Prize launcher Rick Tumlinson want to redefine re-entry. Whether for fun or for survival, the two want to make it possible for you or me to survive the 150 mile, 18,000 MPH, 8.2G, 3,000°F fall back to Earth in the worlds first orbital life vest. [via]
Dasher is text input informed by information theory. It's also trippy. David MacKay recently gave a talk in the Google TechTalks series. You can download a prototype at the official site. Plenty useful, but perhaps also a new metaphor for writing?
Paleo-Future: A look into the future that never was. More recent predictions include the future according to AT&T, Apple's Knowledge Navigator and Bill Gates on the Future of Police Work.
A YouTube Manifesto. A YouTube fan speaks truth to power. And then he shows us teen girls removing clothes! (Believe it or not neither is NSFW.)
Bruce Sterling's talk at SXSW is described on the landing page as a 'rant'. It isn't. What it is is a survey from 10,000 feet at what's happening in culture and technology and on the web, and I reckon it's worth spending the hour of your life it'll take to listen to it. I hope you agree. [mp3, 59 minutes]
"We asked 100 writers and thinkers to answer the following question: Left and right defined the 20th century. What's next? The pessimism of their responses is striking: almost nobody expects the world to get better in the coming decades, and many think it will get worse." From Prospect Magazine.
New Media from the future... a look at infographics and commercials from 2027, courtesy of a the movie Children of Men. (qt, sound)
Tales of Future Past* — It's been a looong Monday. Do you want to get off the planet and out of the city to a place where you can really live? Well, here's some food for thought on the way home down life's highways. First, take a break from all this depressing war talk. Then empower yourself by giving yourself some space and maybe taking off for a few days. Drive just a bit slower, turn up the volume and imagine that your mechanic will say the tranny's OK after all. Once you're in the front door, take time to get slightly wired and forget all about politics. Get recharged for tomorrow: have a nice long bath, put your mind at ease, watch Ur Fave shOw, and listen to some soothing music. Now, don't things look a lot better? [*Note the 'Start the Tour' links at the bottom of each page.]
Clip/Stamp/Fold. The current show at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City explores an era when architecture was actually interesting. We go from "an elephant attacking the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan to a skyscraper made of Swiss cheese." On the way, we visit astronauts, bunkers, walking cities, and robots fucking – and it's all waiting for you inside these little magazines.
Predictions of the future have been common throughout history. They have been made by everyone from wackos to geniuses. But none have been as fun to revisit as this little musical look into the future, all the way to the year 2000 (apologies to Conan O'Brien, and YouTube haters). For more goodness by the folks behind "Music 2000", please see the following, as well as this look into the future of computer games.
The End of Ingenuity (NYT OpEd by Thomas Homer-Dixon)"..cheap energy is tightening, and humankind’s enormous output of greenhouse gases is disrupting the earth’s climate. Together, these two constraints could eventually hobble global economic growth and cap the size of the global economy." See also The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization. (2006).
What will be the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the next 50 years? As part of their 50th anniversary celebration, the New Scientist asked 70 prominent minds for ideas on the subject. You can read the thoughts of scientists like Freeman Dyson, Benoit Mandelbrot and Jane Goodall individually, or browse by topic. For example, eight thinkers have something to say about alien life. The links to browse by topic can be found at the beginning of the main link. Also, compare with this thread about similar predictions from 1950.