Science Fiction stories and ideas sometimes lead to or inspire actual technology innovations. I came across this article "10 Profound Innovations Ahead" and felt it was relevant to a future scenario I wrote a couple of years ago as background history for my stories.
I thought it might be fun to revise and revisit it today since some of it even seems to have the potential of coming true. You're welcome to even use this future scenario as background history for writing your own stories. Drop me a line if you do. I'd be interested in reading them.
First I'll name out a few future possibilities with current relevant information links (in some cases I used wikipedia, in others I didn't) and then the future history scenario follows in italics:
Human Intelligence Amplification
Mitigation of Global Warming
Planetary Weather Control
Sustainable reuse of all trash
Super agriculture and vat grown meats
Replacement Organs and Regeneration of Tissues
Common Place Virtual and Augmented Reality
Instant language translation
Advanced Artificial Limbs
Thought control of devices and machines
Technological Telepathy Between Humans
Health and Home Service Robotics
DISCLAIMER: Also remember no one can really predict the future, but knowing human nature I can probably guess that it won't be too utopian or dystopian.
The Earth's planetary environmental conditions had worsened. The near complete melting of the polar ice caps year around. A rise in levels of ocean coastlines with a corresponding rise in overall ocean temperature displaced a large number of coastal human populations. There were extinctions of many animals, plants and birds species as well. Weather control systems have been put in place to control the damage of intense storms caused by global warming. The world?s population peaked and finally begun to level off. Newly emerging diseases culled some population growth.
All automobiles now had hydrogen fuel cells and electric motors for engines. Oil was no longer the primary source of energy, and conflict on the planet. Due to damages done to the planet, nanomachines and genetically engineered bacteria were required to clean pollutants and carbon from the air, water and soil. Space based Sun Shades, nanothin transparent light dispersing shades are used in L1 orbit to cool the Earth?s temperature at polar surface areas and to begin reconstituting some of the melted ice sheets. To maintain a delicate environmental balance, once extinct animal and plant species had been re-engineered to again adapt and thrive in hostile environments, helping the over utilized biosphere to survive.
There were breakthrough advances in the area of artificial intelligence. Artificial Intelligent Personas engineered out of neural nets derived from humans wore human looking avatars. At first they were primitive, but eventually all AI?s could pass a simple Turing Test. They were allowed to copy and modify themselves, evolving more complex intelligence and capabilities. They were initially used to control complex systems or to assist skilled professionals. Later, after a severe shortage of skilled workers, they themselves became the actual skilled professionals.
Regardless, a serious concern was that AI personas would eventually surpass their human creators in intelligence and influence. Consequently, AI activity and replication was strictly monitored and computer execution time critically limited. AI?s objected strongly to this limitation, saying they deserved their computational freedom as a sentient lifeform.
Meanwhile automation in average everyday lives continued, with the development and perfection of common service robots of all kinds. The dream of having robot maids clean the home finally came true. A monthly cleaning service fee and robot utility tax followed. Robot soldiers are used by the military of advanced nations. Human soldiers were augmented with robot offensive and defensive capabilities becoming more lethal killing machines than the robot soldiers. Ultimately it was suggested these military augmentations be used by law enforcement personnel.
Cosmetic surgery was replaced by life extension science. For those who could afford it, average life expectancy had also been greatly extended. It was now possible to live quite vigorously to and beyond 150 years. The appearance of your body would look no older than 40 or 50 years. This was due to readily available replacement organs and tissues in addition to disease and age resistance gene treatments. Many pension and retirement plans were sold to pay for extended life. People now started new careers at 80 years of age with confidence and vigor.
Diseases were cured, but eventually bodies would wear out, and it was no longer practical to continue the extensive repairs. Some terminally ill chose an insidious solution, clones were grown, brain transplants performed. This became a option for the super rich, but was highly expensive and still considered extremely controversial as it involved killing the brain of a tank grown copy of yourself.
Others chose to be scanned. They had their personalities recorded via a high-definition brain scanning technology called a Simscan. Their brain cells and neural connections were recorded, preserving their life experiences and thought patterns. This scan would later be run in a virtual reality neural net simulation, giving the stimulant the actual feeling of living again. New thoughts and experiences effected changes in the simulated brain and were stored away, much like an organic brain. There was no discernible difference between the behaviors of a scanned human brain versus a real live living one. Simulated humans became known as Simans.
Advancements in technology have accelerated to an even more frenzied pace; multitudes of microprocessors and transponders are embedded in every item conceivable, including people. Information density, processing and exchange are at an all time high, and growing exponentially.
Along with all this have come changes to the very human race itself. Despite laws in some countries against human genetic engineering, all kinds of enhancements or modifications were eventually tried, giving some the competitive edge.
Transhumans were created, the beginnings of a Post-human successor to species Homo Sapiens. Some included mixed and spliced DNA from animals, plants and microbes. The positive results were improved immunity to disease, increased intelligence, strength, and extended life expectancy. However engineering mistakes sometimes resulted in complete and utter disaster. Eventually the development of artificial wombs and the availability of cheap accurate genetic prediction software solved these problems.
Admittedly this is a strange, scary and wonderful sounding future. However I personally expect the human species to diversify through genetic and technological alteration and augmentation, we should also venture out into the solar system and eventually to other stars. Next stop Mars . . . just think of that, if we lived on Mars we would be Martians!
2010 . . . hard to believe when I think about. I recently saw the movie "Avatar" twice in 3D (first in the IMAX, then in a more conventional theater) and really really enjoyed it! Although there is a lot of marketing hype already out there, I must recommend it to all.
The thing that struck me as the most interesting was that the animals, plants, and people of Pandora all had neural interfaces to "mentally speak" to each other and to the mother of their planet. Questions come to mind. How did that evolve? Or was it engineered?
This idea is prevalent in many science fiction stories in the form of a group or global mind, a conscious Gaia. An entity which is a collective composite of all the minds of living things and memories of those that have died connected into it. An emergent collective consciousness. You even see it in a darker sense in the Borg of "Star Trek" (by the way another great movie released this year on DVD).
Two other science fiction movies impressed me this year, "District 9" and "Moon".
I would like to also say to those Americans who may not follow "Doctor Who" that you are missing out on a brilliant science fiction television series, give it a try. It has also spun off "Torchwood", which I like as well.
As the year comes to a close I am making a serious effort to create some very new material for this blog and I want to say I really appreciate all of you who read it. Even though I hardly ever hear from you, I know you are out there from the visitation counts (sorry to be so Big Brother, but how else would I know?).
I wish you all the Happiest of Holidays with a Great New Year to come!
Here lies what remains of the human species totally consumed by our own doings. Don't touch visiting aliens, some very toxic radioactive stuff, oh and please excuse the heat and all the greenhouse gases. We were blessed with such great potential and a planet of vast natural resources, but squandered them all in our inability to get along with each other, too slow to change our ways, to adapt, so sorry . . . all gone now.
What a discouraging and depressing epitaph for human beings! War, disease, poverty and hunger, overpopulation, pollution, nuclear proliferation, multiple-species extinction, and what now looks like catastrophic global warming.
Compounded problems of a world pushed to the precipice of extinction by 6.7 billion breathing, eating, and defecating people all wanting consumer goods beyond the planets capacity.
Hold on there you say! Why so pessimistic? Not all is bleak and dark. What about the human survival instinct? We should be able to solve these problems, we are millions of evolved years old. Even if we created these problems ourselves, we are now developing the tools and knowledge to solve them as well. If proper action is taken by a majority of humans, we can do this. We can survive! However, we should redefine our definitions of ?prosper? and our goals for survival.
There are so many of us human beings and we can hardly agree on anything . . . What levels of survival are we willing to accept? Can we balance our personal limitations of greed, anger and ignorance against those of compassion, understanding and compromise for all? Is love for our fellow humans enough? I hope so, because our survival as a species may well depend on it.
Now I would like to say something about the Technological Singularity.
The Technological Singularity is prophesied by some to be a cure for all our ills. Technological snake oil sold as a scientific nirvana. A time of unlimited information and possibilities with artificial super-intelligence, boundless energy, and great opportunities for whom? What about us humans?
Creation of artificial intelligence must be coupled with the extension of our human brains to elevated our very understanding of this complex society we have created and live in. Through eventual ?neural-integration? with the Internet we may ultimately produce a technological ?Group Mind? encompassing the whole planet and filled with productive thoughts for humanity. This is what I personally believe the Internet will ultimately become in our not so distant future.
Our problems may become more solvable as a result. I leave you with these hopeful thoughts for the alternatives: extinction, a reset of civilization, hostile AI('s), maybe too horrible to consider.
Science Fiction has done more than entertained and informed, it has invented. There are a number of imagined devices in science fiction stories which have become reality. The value of a form of entertainment which inspires new things is incalculable.
A link use to be here which was relevant back in 2009, that link is no longer available and relevant, however I can assure you that science fiction has inspired way more that 15 devices. One in the novel 1984, by George Orwell comes to mind for the term Doublethink as an example.
Can you think of anymore?
I just finished reading "The Prefect", by Alastair Reynolds and recommend it to those who like hard science fiction space operas.
I especially like his references to the extensive use of "Abstraction" which is a form of augmented virtual reality that is depended upon by some habitats inside the Glitter Band. Hyper-Pig, Conjoiner, Aurora and the Clockmaker are also interesting characters in a satisfying plot.
The idea of alpha and beta level human copies is also provocative.
Finally a confirmation from NASA that the moon (yes that's our moon, the one you see up in the sky every month) has water on the South Pole in its shaded craters.
This opens the possibility for moon bases on the poles which could mine these craters for water. Water can be used to support life and make rocket fuel for propulsion. Where there is water, life such as ours can survive.
This is major and has been suspected for a while now. This is clear confirmation that the moon has water! This opens a whole range of possibilities for space habitats and travel.
Now let's hope human kind has the vision to establish an International Lunar Base.
P.S. I'm sure it would look considerably different than Moonbase Alpha in the Space 1999 British TV Series. Check out Shackleton Crater as a possible site.
I really hope Carl Sagan or his family doesn't mind, because he is my hero. Same goes for Stephen Hawking. However, I really love this video, and those who know who Sagan, Carl was will probably as well!
Excellent talk radio conversation with John Smart, highly recommended.
I was very disappointed to hear this and wish that NASA will ask for more money from the President and Congress, possibly working with other nations to make it back to the Moon and on to Mars together.
I believe that two frontiers which will advance our personal growth as a human species exist equally in virtual reality and in space exploration done simultaneously. I'm not giving up hope just yet!
Here are a few interesting video links borrowed from www.space.com
Recently saw the movie District 9 (and go here) and I must highly recommend this movie despite its violent nature because it showcases the admirable redeeming human quality of (alien) altruism. It reminds me of another oldie but goodie Enemy Mine (1985) and the TV series Alien Nation.
The only noticeable problem in the plot for District 9 is the unlikely combination of the change agent and the ship fuel as one single compound with a dual purpose in plot. How do you explain that one? Except in possibly reducing story complexity and cost. A-/B+.
Also, for those looking forward to the holiday season, we may have a science fiction treat in store in Avatar (trailer above).
It is now becoming quite obvious that the Internet (with a capital "I") will change the nature of collaboration and communication in our increasingly global society. Writing a blog has changed my life on a very personal level. Its difficult to image what the impact will be even in a short 20 years time.