Keeping my promise (3.80 / 5) (#23)
by Gutza on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:59:33 AM EST
Ok, I promised I'll post my opinion on the future so you'll find it below. Just a few clarifications though: I've been repeatedly criticised for the lack of seriousness about this story. That is entirely true - and that's because of two reasons. On one hand I think it's really lame to actually be serious about your ability to tell what's going to happen in the future because it's obviously impredictible if you go into details. On the other hand, although I expected some well-reasoned opinions I can only imagine posting on this topic as being fun. Other topics are indeed serious - when you post on freedom of speech or the war in Afghanistan you may well change someone's opinion or decide to do something about it, write a letter to the Congress or something. What could you do about these opinions, even if we start from the outrageously wrong assumtion that everybody posting here would agree and you wouldn't like the future? Would you take a stand, start a petition that the future shouldn't be like that or what? So then, as I said in the previous verion of this story, HAVE FUN! Ok, here goes nothing:
Obviously, disasters can happen - I'm not talking about those here, because there are so many scenarios which end with a boom or in overheating a.s.o. and all of them are pretty trivial. So then, the rest of the scenarios are dealing with a "predictible" trend of things to come. Since my honest opinion is that technology is what actually drives humankind, I'll start there:
As we know from the history, inventions are only implemented into real life and make a difference if there's a social need for them - for example, the principle of the steam engine was discovered during the Roman Empire, but there was no social need because of the thousands of slaves who were disposable anyways - so no steam engine.
Why I started with this paragraph is due to the myriad of possible technological advances available in middle term, leading to curious developments in the long term. Technologists bet on these advances while skeptics don't believe in these advances. My opinion is that a technological leap is definitely possible - but which of the possible inventions are actually needed by the society as it is now?
1. The All-Knowing Machine Yess! This is a cool one. I think we need it - a lot of SciFi books propose this machine which would run the global economy. Moreover, I think research is already being conducted in this direction, although probably not in a very advanced stage. I'm certain we'll see an AI robot with besic human intellect some 30 years from now. Add a lot of RAM, a couple of upgrades, Internet connections and leave it on the Net for a couple of years - and, voila: Roboticus Cyberneticus. Just a couple of upgrades later, a lot of research and some 50 years later, I really do think a more-or-less all-knowing machine could emerge which would gradually get political power due to the masses until 300 years from now it would probably run most of the world. Yes, it sounds kinda lame but I think it is not only possible but also probable that this will indeed exist.
2. The All-Working Robots I really doubt these will ever ubiquitously hit the work market. You know about all of those programs for retired people and their need to be active in society, don't you. People need to be active, need to feel useful in the society. We're all complaining about going to work but we all need it - that's how we're built to function. Ok, true, some may make a difference and be active without a "real" job - that's their rebel nature. Maybe there's going to be a better place for these guys in the future but the humankind as a whole needs to work. Ok, there already are bots doing some of the really hard, back-breaking or tedious work - and they are going to be improved. But I don't think they will ever be improved and implemented in a wide enough manner that the statement "people won't need to work" to be true.
3. The All-Travelling Spaceships Not only I believe these are going to exist but I'm quite certain humans will be colonizing other planets - actually I'm so convinced of this that I don't know why anyone would ever doubt it (I'm really serious about this).
4. The All-Teleporing Machine Until a couple of weeks ago I really doubted this will ever going to exist. Well, surprize! So it seems we'll also have this, maybe a basic experimental version even within our lifetime. This is really, really going to be a tough one for our current intimate understanding of the distances. I don't know what's going to happen when this is going to be implemented large scale at reasonable prices. Can you imagine "going out" in a bar in Bangkok this evening? Not to talk about the work market...
5. The All-Assistant Robot This is a cool one I think will exist within 25-30 years. The All-Assistant Bot is not going to be a robot. It's going to be your operating system. It's going to be the Extremely Friendly AI Operating System (TM) for your Smaller Than A MatchBox (TM) laptop powered by the innovative Everlasting Power From Nothing (TM) battery you will operate with the Xtra-Sensitive Brainwave Reader (TM) while being permanently connected via Blue-Jaw (TM) to the Internet wherever you are. Sorry, had to go babbling a little. That's the long-term version. The "within-our-lifespan" version will be a very flat, rather small and flexible laptop connected to the Net you will be able to talk to and get all the info you need at all times. You are going to carry this little dude wherever because he's going to organize your life - really!.
Globalization? Of course! I know, we're not all happy with it, but it's going to happen and there's nothing able to stop it. A little bit of a shock at the beginning but there's going to be better for everybody in the long run because everybody will have the opportunity to work for the global market rather than in a local, uninformed medium. Since production efficiency is going to steadily increase, the rich are going to get richer. The poor are also going to get richer, but at a more moderate pace. Yes, the gap between the rich and the poor is going to steadily increase. I'm really puzzled about what's going to happen with all these mergers these days - if they are going to keep this pace, in a couple of decades there's only going to be a single big company manufacturing everything and providing all the services. I'm not an economist, that's why this paragraph is quite short, but I really am quite puzzled with what's going to happen about this.
There are only going to be about five states in the world 100 years from now. I don't think these will become one single state before real, serious colonization of another planet. We're too cocky to accept that unless we're forced to. Form of government? I really don't have a clue. Capitalism is not going to make it on the long run the way it is, but whatever is going to be it's going to be very close. People are individualists so any utopic form of real freedom won't work.
Overall, I think there are going to be a couple of really serious revolutions - one political and one economical - within our lifetime. After that, hopefully, if the right decisions are made, the society will be ready for the technological advances to come, which will provide some personal revolutions in the way of life. All for the better - humankind is evolving, as it's supposed to be.
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