Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Looking Forwards

Futurism is a good way to make yourself look foolish. The rate of change of technology has been picking up, whether it's for good or ill can be argued on a case by case basis. What seems to be accelerating the most is communications technology- cheaper, faster, not always better, but "good enough"- and when fads, fashions and products have the shelf-life of a gnat, it becomes very hard to predict anything, except there will be MORE.
Medicine and health care always seems to be about ten years away from that big breakthrough- rebuilt parts, as good as or better than new. Transplants and bionics have made alot of headway, but still are not the same as new organs, with your genes. What has been done is the vast amount of research to take medicine to the next level: mapping the human genome, understanding cellular mechanisms, truly effective and application-specific drugs. I sense that our children will not suffer from many of the things we now find ourselves at the mercy of- but these changes are probably a little further off than a decade.
Transportation is another question mark. It is pretty obvious that the gasoline-powered era will be drawing to a close. If high-tech solutions can't be found (or made effective) we might find ourselves traveling less, with the world getting bigger in a sense. That overseas vacation may become a once-in-a-lifetime thing, rather than once a year. Sailing ships? Dirigibles? When the SST jets were shut down, an era of aviation progress ended.
Of course with the expansion of HDTV both in the mass media and over the internet, people may opt out of travel altogether and cocoon their lives away.

All of this won't happen if the world becomes further embroiled in war. If China were to erupt, and the warfare there spread throughout the Far East, (in addition to the current Near East situation), all bets are off. A grim, Orwellian future, instead of the chaotic, technological Brave New World. Check back here in 2015, with your HD 3-D screen, and my virtual body shall update you in surround sound and Odorama.

By Professor Batty



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