First appeared in The Apple
Newsletter of LAMALUG, Mac User Group of Lansing, MI
TIME MACHINE - Part
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.