Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Looking Ahead

In 1970 Alvin Toffler published a book that had most of us wide-eyed and self-impressed, "Future Shock" (I should mention that people were also reading and talking about such nonsense as "Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask" and "Fear of Flying", but that would just be excessive on my part and I'm not about to stoop to that to impress people...nor will I mention "The Naked Ape" or "The Media is The Message"---but I digress). Toffler's book warned that as our world changed rapidly that some people would struggle to psychologically adjust to the change. Well. Maybe. Having grown up in the 60's, I am still waiting for the flying cars, rocket packs, and wall tv screens that they promised us would be here after the turn of the century, along with the colonies on the moon. They also said women would lose most of their secondary sexual characteristics, and like Twiggy, have no breasts or hips. Allow me to give thanks for that one prediction not coming to pass. So, the question is, as sci-fi writers of the fifties and sixties tried to guess what changes would be wrought in the next fifty years and how those changes would affect the life of the average person, what predictions are our contemporaries making today? What will the next fifty years hold? One group of visionaries have made prediction as to the future of the internet. According to a post on the Pew/Internet Report ( http://www.pewinternet.org/index.asp ) the following predictions have been made: *A low-cost global network will be thriving and creating new opportunities in a “flattening” world. *Humans will remain in charge of technology, even as more activity is automated and “smart agents” proliferate. However, a significant 42% of survey respondents were pessimistic about humans’ ability to control the technology in the future. This significant majority agreed that dangers and dependencies will grow beyond our ability to stay in charge of technology. This was one of the major surprises in the survey. *Virtual reality will be compelling enough to enhance worker productivity and also spawn new addiction problems. *Tech “refuseniks” will emerge as a cultural group characterized by their choice to live off the network. Some will do this as a benign way to limit information overload, while others will commit acts of violence and terror against technology-inspired change. *People will wittingly and unwittingly disclose more about themselves, gaining some benefits in the process even as they lose some privacy. *English will be a universal language of global communications, but other languages will not be displaced. Indeed, many felt other languages such as Mandarin, would grow in prominence. Another group of visionaries addressed the question of the next fifty years over at New Scientist ( http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/science-forecasts). Some of their predictions include: people living into their hundreds, computers capable of passing the Turing test, and final and workable grasp of a unified field theory. Of course not all futurists are optimistic. With global warming and the growing number of nuclear states capable of supplying terrorists with dirty bombs, it's easy to adopt a different paradigm. Personally, of the doom and gloom predictors, I prefer the unknown future plague that will sweep through the industrialized nations like a fire through dry grass. Maybe the dead will even rise and walk the earth. So what about you? What do you see the next fifty years holding?

14 comments:

Crunchy Carpets said...

Have you read 'Earth' by David Brin....I really think it is the most accurate 'prediction' of our near future state (apart from the whole .......spoiler.....sentient planet thing).

But he covers global warming, displaced nations, rampant unemployment, the increasing use of the internet and avatars, news feeds spawned from the masses (blogs)....it is really interesting.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I'll check that out. I have tried to read Brin before (I'm hiding from the hate the next comment will bring), but I've had problems finding him accessible. I'll look for Earth, though.

SQT said...

I've had difficulty with Brin too. I tend to be more a fan of fantasy fiction than sci-fi, though I love sci-fi movies.. Go figure.

I think computer technology is going to be king for awhile. Though I do think we'll eventually really get into stem cell research and that could be something as far as the erradication of disease and longevity of life goes.

Mother Jones RN said...

I think drug abuse will skyrocket as people try to deal with new realities. We will continue to loose our personal freedoms as well as our privacy.

MJ

SQT said...

Oh, that's grim MJ.

The personal freedoms thing may be true though. I think as technology advances it'll be all to easy to monitor what everyone is doing.

But drugs have always been around. Women used to dose themselves and their kids with Laudnam as a regular 'medication.' So addiction is as old as drugs. I just hope nothing more virulent than meth ever pops up or we're in bigger trouble than we are already.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Science fiction, while often cautionary, has also been a wellspring of hopefulness. The future has been painted as fraught with dangers, but the human spirit has always in triumphed.

In real life I am not so convinced. I think in the next fifty years we will see the formal emergence of a corporate state. Consider how wealthy these corporations are now, some already have assets greater than several countries.

These corporations, and I think another term will evolve, because what these entities will become is something quite different from what we know today, will use cultivate society strictly for the purpose of profit. Independent thought and action will be minimized and discouraged.

Technology will be used to control. Implants will keep track of where we are and what we do. Implants can also be the ultimate form of crowd control...perhaps releasing nanobots to quell dissent in the case of emergencies. As children we will be manipulated by information organizations that will make Fox, as hard as it may be to do this, look like a left leaning PBS.

I am not concerned about wars. Wars, although they provide an immediate boost for some corporations, such as Halliburton and Lockheed and Martin, are by and large disruptive to trade. No, I think the real issue will be the environment.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

I'm still waiting for my $%& $@#% jet pack!

DesLily said...

I do find this hard to believe:
*English will be a universal language of global communications"

duh..can't even get english to be "universal" here in America!

I think I read fantasy fic for "hope" also.. seems to be the only hope i can find these days.

love to watch sci fi but not a sci fi reader here.

The Curmudgeon said...

Well, we did get the "wall tv screens" didn't we?

Some of the "hard" sci-fi writers posit that our own governments are trying to slow the pace of progress because... well, I don't know, but maybe because it's easier to stay in charge of a static society than one in flux.

You think that's paranoid? Look at my post today. Sure, I make a joke out of it.... but is it funny, really?

And I worry along with MJ about the loss of freedom as technology improves. Cameras giving out traffic tickets! But I'm going to get work done today, so I'm not going to go down this path.

Right now.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I think things will be much the same as now; things don't change that much. It's only in technology this happens. Perhaps 3D tv?

Alex said...

I think able-bodied, white, heterosexual males will be enslaved for a brief period, until the rival factions of "minority" interest no longer have a scape goat to unify against. The minorities will reinstate the white male into positions of authority, realizing that when there is no management, there's no one to strike against.

I think the war between intellectuals and the religious will come to a head. Despite the intellectuals losing, because none of them will own guns, or know how to work them if they did, or could reconcile the use of violence with their moral beliefs, they will not be wiped out. They will, however, reassert their dominance by refusing to work the nuclear power plants, treasury system, or any other necessary institutions until agnostics and atheists are given equal standing by society and by law.

Canada will finally make their communism official, and will declare a second cold war with the United States. This will affect American maple syrup supplies, causing them to enhance production in Vermont and Minnesota. And, umm... well, that's about the extent of the changes, until Alberta gets fed up and secedes in favor of U.S. confederation.

The European Union will gain enough power to part ways with the individual territorial governments that now make up its membership. When the Papal States are overrun during another crusade by the unified forces of Islam, the EU (now a body independent of borders and demographics) and the Catholic Church will band together in a mind-bogglingly deluded alliance of political bodies that don't actually represent anyone. Eventually they will be forced from Earth by U.N. Peacekeepers (used in the future as a pre-emptive strike force, paradoxically retaining its historical nomenclature), and will relocate on Moon Base One, which they will rename the Holy Euro-man Empire.

In celebrity news, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Madonna will consummate their three-way lesbian marriage on pay per view feel-&-vision in an attempt to salvage the fame they had before their simultaneous tragic plummets into obscurity in the year 2007.

Also, Jerry Seinfeld will stop asking "what's up with" stuff.

Once he's dead.

And decapitated.

And his mouth is stuffed with garlic.

And his heart is cut into four equal parts, which are taken to the four corners of an unfortunately globular Earth, and fastened onto the chastity belts of four beautiful 30 year old virgins, who will then be locked into towers, surrounded by circulating lava moats, guarded by dragons, and completely hemmed in by drive-in movie theater screens playing Jerry Lewis films, with THX certified sound systems, and the treble turned all the way up.

Until he reunites with the Seinfeld gang for a three-hour reunion show, titled, "Kill Blacky," written and directed by Michael Richards.



Other than that, things should stay about the same.

Anonymous said...

I caught your "flying cars" post in a "Google Alert" for flying cars...

I'll tell you where your flying cars are... You already know where they aren't...

They're in my 14 cases of 75-thousand pages of notes... That's where they have always been, since 1978...

Now I'm beginning to understand why my project has and is being so stifled...

Have you seen the latest "flying car" claim..?
It's a blimp, tied to a something or other.. It looks like a "floating gurney"...
Next thing yah know they'll be driving their cars off'n cliffs, claiming they have flying cars...

I have the technology for flying cars engines... I just can't find the funding..? And I sure have tried... I've been snubbed more times than I can count... Now, being snubbed is just a way of life for me...

...1978 late Fall.. on a planned three-week leisurely cruise across Canada, along highway number-one, along as much of the scenic-routes as I could find.. just past the Ontario border into Manitoba.. I saw two large meteorites cross a huge "X" in the sky.. and thought about it with all I had.. "What makes Alien craft's engines work", I telepathed from all my Being...
...A few minutes later, I had to park, to write the flood of new data, for three hours straight.. resulting in the crude bench manual to build a liquid electricity rocket...

James Watt watched a kettle boil, and invented a steam engine...
I saw an X in the sky, and invented the liquid electricity engine...

I attempted to detail the workings of the engine to a visiting European nuclear physicist.. "mindless dolt" would be a better fitting title... 60-seconds into the description, his face when pale, his chin dropped, he struggled to speak, he accused me of "talking in the forth dimension", barely managed to stand, managed to walk three paces, and fell flat on his face...

Over the years I have contacted pretty-much every major scientific concern in the big business world, and all the powerful politicians, and even a couple of the great religions.. to no avail...
All I got was "classy" snubbing and scorn, from the mindless scientific community, governments, and religions... and a lot of "remote viewers" desperately trying to suck technology from my mind, mostly when I slept.. till I figured ways to seriously damage them upon approach...
Plus there were a lot of attempts to dig into my computers, them believing I'd put the meat in a computer connected to the Net.. thht on that!.. They destroyed five of my PC's in their desperate attempts to rob me... Seems this race doesn't want engines for flying cars, and engines to take us to other solar systems, Unless they can steal it from the inventor... It's a pity I am being forced to take all this technology to the grave...

All this engine is, is a couple simple modifications to laser... It "cracks" light... Damaged light "particles" self-heal with the nearest molecules.. thus creating raw antimatter-acids, which are saved in exhaust scrubbers, and sold by the public, to power industry... The service station pays the consumer for plugged full exhaust scrubbers.. A complete 180 turn-around for having to pay for gas all these years...

Fragmented light "particles" instantly decay into liquid electricity, which produces tremendous thrust from a tiny 14-inch long by 4-inch diameter engine... Among the 110 new-technologies in this science layer, it replaces combustion as a power source, opens the bonds of the inert elements, establishes plazma-welding of all materials to all materials, is the base to establish disintegrator trash-pails, obsoletes hospitals, gives us planetary defense weaponry and thousands of new toys, and gets us to other habitable-planets before this one shows us we've already killed it...

It's that.. or you'all can go try to find it all by yourselves, by your classic "scientific" trial and error methods...

If anyone has a clue how to get new technology funded, I'd sure appreciate hearing about it.. and I'm sure you would benefit from it greatly when I start marketing flying-cars... Do you prefer two seaters or four seaters?..

Why is it so tough to get new technologies funded?.. Could it be that mankind's intellect is devolving..? given that cell phones are baking brains.. meth, and coke are dissolving and melting brains, the drug industry's pain killers evolutions are numbing people to escape reality, dirty smallpox vaccinations are destroying brain file connections, alcohol and the prolific lack of nutrients are literally desiccating brains in their cases... Every day it seems more and more that humans are devolving into Apes... Just look at how they, you, we, treat this planet, like it's an expendable resource...


Bottom-line is, You get flying cars about five years after I gets a lab and a credit card... Simple as that... if we still have a planet left after the 13-Colonies nuclear world war three game...

I've done a life-time of work acquiring this technology.. I've taken it as far as I can without funding... If I'm not funded by my 60th birthday (10 months from now), the 75-thousand pages of notes burn in the garden on my 60th, and I'll send a video clip of the bon-fire, and a cover story, to the mindless scientific community, for their archives... and you all can get your flying cars when the next one like me comes along, in about 500 to a 1000 years...

So.. Now you know why you are not driving your flying-cars today.. and why those alive today won't be seeing flying-cars in their lifetimes...

____________


This liquid electricity emitter's raw output is a dirty-pink stationary light-cloud... which evolves into 4-D TV, and into cinema special effects breakthroughs for the next 500-years... Filmable synthetic actors.. restricted only by lack of imagination...

A little further research, this toy evolves into engines that will obsolete Fire as a power source... Fire will become illegal... The atmosphere will have the opportunity to self-heal.. and the air won't stink so bad...

This plazma engine will power all our vehicles, including moon and mars capable consumer RV's... and will provide mankind with the basic means to populate other planets in other solar systems...

This engine evolved to tools and weaponry, will do things like, "write a poem on a lunar cliff-face from earth... and drill a meter diameter hole 20-miles into the earth's crust, for us to plant magma batteries, which crystallize into crystallines, with hardnesses 14 to 28 on the Mho's scale... Thereby revolutionizing several industries: optics, bearings, abrasives, weaponry, and pretty much evolving every industry and life in many ways...

This is what our Species has been searching for... I found it, but it seems no one can even begin to fathom any of it... I tell them, and they "piss" in my face...

The usual reaction I get when mentioning any of this in various Internet forums, is verbal flame, and barrages of mindless insults, and varying religious, pseudo-physiological, and political battles, with aggressive mindless people, all hellbent on defending the insane stagnancy-quo...

I defend myself well against slanderous attacks, which have resulted in me being banned from many forums and scientific communities...
I've heard it all repeatedly, in various world forums, and from other sources.. and from the mindless scientific community, that can't even grasp the first minute of any of these technologies... It's the same "wall" of fear and insanity that all the ancient greats were confronted by... It's what trashed Tesla's lab after he plugged a light-bulb into the ground... It's what ridiculed Flemming for inventing penicillin, for claiming that "tiny invisible bugs were the cause of disease"... Then the medical scientific community tried to destroy Flemming's life.. and they returned content, back to their tapping wounds with filthy turkey-feathers, dipped in alcohol and various rock powders, to Frighten-away disease and infection... "ookook-eiee!"..

It's that dam wall that your devolving superstitious mindless fearful species just can't see light through... Seems there is no secret entry-point through this Race's mindless insanity levels, to permit a true scientist to build new technologies anymore, to give this Race more...? Seems you are all content with the fall into Oblivion.. forever numbing the discomforts of the fall with your latest evolutions of designer drugs, and your silly interactive-cartoons, to keep your minds off your species impending demise... When then near the year 145,730AD, the last human can be viewed, cracking the marrow out of the bones of the second last.. and by 155k AD, the planet can't even support the life of one single hardy beetle...

So now you really know why you don't have your 1200mph flying cars today...
Or as that gossip-guy Paul Harvey on the radio would say, "And now you know.. The rest of the story"...



DonaldJ
occultrush@fastmail.fm

Crunchy Carpets said...

I hope the stunned silence is everyone preparing their notes for a big dissertation.

Anonymous said...

Oops!.. Sorry!..

I didn't intend to disturb and slow the flow with my flying cars post...

I sure got a good laugh over your last comment...