Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Posting...from...the FUTURE!

This blog post deals with the future.
We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.

Okay, that's me cribbin' Criswell from Plan 9 From Outer Space.   But seriously, I have come across a few news items on the subject that I felt were worthy of being shared at this space.

--Over at the BBC's section on Future, science fiction author Elizabeth Moon argued that everyone should be given a barcode at birth.  She says:
“If I were empress of the Universe I would insist on every individual having a unique ID permanently attached - a barcode if you will; an implanted chip to provide an easy, fast inexpensive way to identify individuals."
As the argument unfolds, it tends to be mainly centered around the military applications.  Specifically, a scanner would be able to distinguish between friend and foe.  Identity theft would be next to impossible as would cases of mistaken identity.  This means of course that the final nail would be driven into the coffin of anonymity.  It also means that you could be tracked and watched from just about anywhere.  Moon contends that such surveillance measures are nearly there already in the form of video cameras everywhere, facial recognition software, and digital fingerprints.

Corporations in the U.S. are already finding ways to implant us with ID chips and perhaps even to utilize the barcode method.  The logic goes like this: My dogs have ID chips in them so that...God forbid...if they are ever separated from me, they could be identified as mine.  Seems like that might be a good idea to keep kids from getting lost or kidnapped, right?  Oh and what about senior citizens with Alzheimer's and dementia?  Be good for them, too.  What the heck?  Maybe we all should have them.   I don't know what to think about this just yet.  I suppose once the Singularity occurs we might all have our own unique signatures anyway.

--Just as it is in many locations, pollution is becoming a problem along the coastal areas of Britain.  The solution?  Robotic fish.  That's right.  Pikachu-yellow fish that carry chemical sensors within them.  Water flows through the fish's mouth and past the sensor.  This allows for the monitoring of pollutant levels.  What's more, the fish are equipped with an onboard AI, allowing them to decide where they should go and what's the best way to get there.  Theoretically, the ocean could at one point in the future be swarming with these things and for multiples purposes besides fighting pollution.
Intelligent robotic fish.  Haven't these guys ever read science fiction?

--Space did an interview with science fiction author, Kim Stanley Robinson.  He has a new book coming out that illustrates humanity in the year 2312.  It is called, you guessed it, 2312.  In Robinson's particular view of this future, humans have established colonies not only on our Moon, but on several other moons as well as asteroids.  We have also begun to terraform planets.  What I find to be of the most immediate interest is the system he envisions for governments on these colonies.  There is no human "politics" involved.  A series of quantum computers allocates resources to everyone equally and fairly.  That is admittedly both optimistic and leftist, but I'm willing to learn more.

--Hey!  Remember that interview I did recently with an airline pilot?  Well, that pilot brought up a few interesting ideas around the future of air travel.  How would you feel about flying in a plane with no real pilot?  Chances are you already have.  Turns out most of the latest generations of airliners are jammed with computers that handle everything.  "It's like flying a video game," the pilot told me.  This individual envisions a day when there will be no real "pilot" per se, rather it will be one IT guy in the cockpit.  The plane's systems are monitored from the ground by personnel at a control tower.  Then we all know how airlines operate on cost-saving measures, it would be more likely that a monitor would be in charge of watching not one plane but up to three.  Basically, we'd all be flying in supersized UAVs.  This is of course all conjecture based on current circumstances but it's not an unreasonable projection.

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