These days, it's pretty easy to feel cynical about the future. The flying car dream is dead, robots aren't yet doing our dishes and space travel still isn't as common as air travel. In response, filmmaker Michael Marantz has put together a short clip that's all about recapturing our positivity for what's to come.
As part of the BBC's "60-second idea" series, science fiction author Elizabeth Moon is making a case for slapping a barcode on every person at birth. In a digital world where a good majority of our interactions are anonymous, it's a stifling thought. So, why's she for it?
Remember 1997? That's the year when the Star Wars special editions began our long national breakup with George Lucas; the world was first introduced to the musical stylings of Limp Bizkit; and AOL unleashed an unyielding torrent of CDs on the world, promising ever-increasing amounts of free hours on the "world wide web." Crazy times. Now think back: what would 1997-You's reaction be if someone told them that in 10 years, they would be able to access a robust, video-laden internet via a buttonless, mouseless device the size of a calculator (oh, and it had a camera and you could make phone calls with it)? You would have thought this soothsayer got a little too much O2 at their neighborhood oxygen bar before watching an episode of seaQuest on VHS, amiright? However, looking back, there were many surprisingly accurate predictions of today's sci-fitastic tech (along with some notable misfires). Here we collected forecasts from top tech thinkers about how our electronic lives will evolve over the decade to come. We're sure there will be a mix of bullseyes and bulls%!t, so be sure to check back in every few years to see how we're doing.
What does the future look like? I can't be sure, but if it looks like Christian Stoll's "Epic" photos, I'll be one happy tech geek. Stroll's "wide angle views of futuristic locations" imbues order and sterility — even in the presence of high-tech gadgetry. It's almost perfectly Minority Report-ish.
A pair of researchers are forecasting that as early as 2050 robotic prostitution will be commonplace, and that it will be a good thing. Human trafficking, incurable sexual diseases and mental health could all be improved, but there's still one question none of us can really answer: what would be the emotional impact of sex with machines?
If you look back at old predictions from decades past about life in the distant future, most are so laughably off the mark that they're hilarious to watch. Not so with legendary science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, whose prognostications in this clip from 1974 were frighteningly accurate.
Humans (as a society) have been putting some effort lately into living sustainably, which is good, as far as the future of our planet is concerned. The problem is that we're really not set up for sustainable living: in many ways, we're designed from the ground up to exploit our environment. But we can fix that, or at least make it a little better, with some minor genetic tweaking.
Matt Novak, who chronicles the bright future that never was over at his blog Paleofuture, has picked apart an article published in 1952 that carried the title "Cheer Up! World Will Be Wonderful Fifty Years From Now!" Written by Henry C. Nicholas for Greenville, Mississippi's Delta Democrat-Times, the article polls intellectuals of every stripe, including Wernher von Braun, the Nazi rocket scientist who went on to become one the most important researchers in American rocketry. As one would expect, time has rendered some of the predictions here absolutely crazy (and I say that with love), but there are quite a few surprisingly accurate educated guesses, too. Take a look at the gallery below to find what 1950s futurists got right and wrong in their predictions for the year 2000.
Technology is a pretty great thing, but every time we invent something that works faster or better or more efficiently, we get a little bit closer to making human labor redundant. Futurist Thomas Frey is predicting that in under two decades, two billion people will lose their jobs to technological progress. It's happened to me, and it can happen to you.
With another year come and gone, things aren't looking any better for the U.S. Postal Service. The beloved bearer of pre-approved credit cards and last minute birthday gifts purchased on the Internet is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. There are various factors contributing to this centuries-old institution's decline, but the portliest albatross around the agency's neck is the precipitous decline in demand for first-class postage due to the faster and cheaper nature of electronic communication. This damning technology-fueled obsolescence only promises to accelerate. Engineers and basement tinkerers are tirelessly exploring the wild nerdish frontiers of 3D printing, and should we ever perfect a true Star Trek-esque transporter (which is not a completely nutso concept BTW), there will be zero need for any form of parcel service, public or private. But the lowly post office isn't the only government function on the verge of a tech-laden death knell. This century may render a number of traditional governmental roles wholly obsolete. Some of these moribund functions are obvious, while some may seem surprising. But they are coming. Here's a short list of public institutions that will be completely outmoded by the time today's preschoolers hit retirement — if not much sooner. (Note: we're looking at this trend in the scope of the U.S. system, but international readers will find parallels — this is a global thang).