Monday, May 2, 2011

Nine years from now, really?


I am at least glad that the editors at Popular Science refrained from using the phrase, "Best year ever!"
Aside from that, this article about the future world of 2020 that ran last week is really a bait and switch.  It talks about things such as Moon mining and flying cars, concepts that most of us would already recognize as not happening any time soon, then calls them "unlikely" in their final assessment.  I love marketing.

However flawed, the article does mention a few "wonders" that really are on their way.  Mostly because they're already here in one form or another.  Ultra-thin OLED screens that you can fold and carry about effortlessly will be ubiquitous before you know it.  Augmented reality already exists and it's only going to get more enhanced and more effective.  Instead of it being a mobile phone app, you will be able to wear contact lenses that will allow you to view anything you look at in augmented reality.  Basically, you can google anything and everything that you see.  Speaking of Google, the technology that allows translation of things like Blogger pages and so forth is only going to become more sophisticated.  In 2020, I'm confident that actual speech will be translated in real-time from your mobile.  That's right, the "universal translator" that has made the rounds in nearly all imaginative fiction will be a reality. 

What intrigues me the most is the development of an artificial brain.  While there are indeed many who say that the sheer volume of neurons in a human brain make it utterly inimitable, I'm not so convinced.  There are already computers with the same raw processing power as a brain, I believe its only a matter of time before we have a machine that can actually think in the same manner as a human.  Singularity, baby.  Take that, Kip Haggis.

A reader in the comment section of the article made a good point as well, one more likely and pertinent than the writers seemed to have considered.  By 2020, there will be very few movie theaters.  All films new and old will be readily available on demand.  You'll access them via Internet at home or on the go.  If at home, you'll watch them on screens that will like rival the theater's in terms of quality.  I'm sure theaters won't disappear for entirely as there will be people wanting either a night out or nostalgia, but they will be fewer and farther between.  Likewise, TV as we know it will be gone. All programming will be watched online and on-demand.  We're already seeing the beginnings of this.

Lots to be excited about it would seem.  I'm trying to be optimistic, especially with the mention of the US Navy itself being (pardon the pun) on-board for biofuels.  But when you live in a nation that is saddled with trillions of dollars of debt while engaged in multiple world conflicts, when you live in a world where radioactive material from Japan is falling into the ocean and on verge of ecological disaster, it's tough sometimes.

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