First appeared in The Apple COREspondent
Newsletter of LAMALUG, Mac User Group of Lansing, MI
MAY 1990

 

TIME MACHINE - Part 1

I want to make some predictions about the future. I have so many ideas that I'd like to make this a series of articles. Some of this stuff is a little scary to a lot of people, probably because it will require some radical changes in their lives. But a hundred years ago a lot of people were scared of the automobile too, and look what happened there.

When I read articles about the future, most authors usually peek only five or ten years down the road. I'm almost always disappointed, because the predictions just don't seem that amazing. Even most science fiction authors seem to have difficulty looking more than a few year ahead. Their characters may be in space ships, but they're still using hardware computer screens having difficulty communicating with each other. The rest of the authors "cheat" by summoning a nuclear, chemical, or genetic holocost to slow progress, because it's so difficult to project the changes as well as all the personal and moral baggage that will accompany them. Well, let me give it a try.

Computers are getting smaller. That's not new. Engineers are trying to make a computer on the molecular level--trying to make conductive materials just one molecule wide. Others are working to build chemical computers. Combine the technologies and you have something we're already familiar with--the human brain.

Once we cross that barrier, we will be able to connect ourselves directly to computers made of biological stuff. The human/computer interface will become much faster and easier than most of us ever dreamed possible when using a mouse or voice controlled computer. Eventually we'll be able to eliminate the hardware and the "computer" will be merged with us.

The ramifications of this are both fantastic and morally complicated. We'll be able to communicate with each other without words--telepathically. When you describe something to someone, you'll not only be able to shoot them your ideas at the speed of thought, you'll be able to shoot them 3-D pictures as well as smell, touch, taste, and sound. And you'll be able to literally walk a mile in someone else's shoes. With their permission, you'll be able to see and feel life the way they experience it long enough to really understand them. Prejudice may seem as barbaric as bloodletting.

Also, because of developments in the genetic sciences, it will be possible for every person to be a genius with total photographic and auditory recall.

Children won't need to go to school. Everything known will be implanted into newborns, will be available to them instantly, and updated as new information is created--perhaps downloaded once a day or even continuously. When I say all information, this will include what we now call expert systems. Any child will be able to create works in the style of Rembrandt, Picasso, Beethoven, or Mozart--at the speed of thought. This artwork will not exist in solid form. Instead, we will find it more convenient to have it in the "software" of our minds, to share with others and rework to perfection.

I'll bet all this happens within 100 years, maybe even as few as 50. See you next month.

--JONATHAN STARS

 

© 1990 Jonathan Stars

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