the next 50 years – comments about possible technological and other advances

Reading Thomas Sowell’s books about economics is refreshing for a technocrat like me.
He’s an american economist, born in 1930. Sowell likes to write text which is
understandable to common man, yet he brings out distinguished phenomena of economics in very interesting way.

Those kinds of books and their acute findings about even very counter-intuitive
phenomena happening in this world are worth every penny. They bring on the
imagination engine while soothing the soul by bringing evidence of what really
happens, when certain actions are taken in order to bring about change. Change
itself is inevitable, so instead of observing the change we should ready ourselves
to make an impact and direct the change.

The sleet and darkness of Finnish winter is one huge ingredient of invention. Our
environment makes everything hard: moving from place to another, whether it be
walking, driving, or flying. Even the sea is a harsh environment especially in the
wintertime. We’ve got first class marine technology, yet big ships have to stay
at port in order to minimize hazards.

It was a sleety Tuesday evening, and I was getting chores done at downtown.
The early evening is pitch dark; sleet coming down from the sky, illuminated by the
xenon headlights of the car.

There’s something strange and refreshing in spending time inside a car. I usually start driving these thoughts about possible new things, the way life goes, and what not. It’s the combination of observing people do things, and thinking what are they
looking for, why do they do it like that, could there be possibly an alternative?

It’s an inexplicable feeling of getting an insight into things. Sometimes I don’t
have the energy to put down these ponderings, but then there’s times that poisoning
this blog with some ASCII seems proper.

I already talked about getting better services in the future, as the concept called
Tuokko was mentioned as one example. Then there’s plenty of things coming – probably.

1. Money as we have used to thinking, will stop existing. There’s buying power as
you have it now, but you will be identified somehow else, so money objects (cards,
bills, notes, coins) will no longer be useful. They simply will not matter anymore.

2. Wearable technology or wearable computers will become so commonplace that you
use them 24 hours a day. There’s gadgets which will enhance your own memory, your
thinking power, your emotions, your quality of sleep, the physical capabilities.
It’s like the car: it has evolved from basically a motorized bicycle to the modern
computer-enhanced swift chariot.

3. Your senses will be enhanced by technology much more un-inhibiting: there’s no
need to wear contact lenses. You will have the enhanced eye electronics implanted,
after which you can for example zoom in and out in your scene of vision just like
a camera. And the ubicomp electronics keep your journeys well documented, automatically. You don’t thus need to use a camera – you can just edit the pictures
you like, and scrap the rest.

4. Your snail mail (paper mail) is automatically scanned in electronic documents.
The text of these documents can be google’d or otherwise fastly searched. So let’s
say you receive a mail today, but don’t find it interesting. You throw the paper
copy away… only to regret it 2 weeks later, when the issue becomes very interesting. With the new virtual mail technology you can retrieve the copy very
fast, and there’s no need to worry about conserving the paper ones.

5. Psychostimulators can be installed next to your brain. These stimulators
can alter your moods by direct electromagnetic stimulation of neurons. The
stimulators also make curing mental illness without chemicals possible. However,
the stimulators
bear the same properties as ordinary medicine: it can be misused, and thus
there will exist stimu-junkies. The government will try to make the abuse impossible
by using several different technologies, but always some geek will crack the
protection and thus enable abuse. Price of the circumventing technology depends
on how hard it is to crack the engines.

6. Cars will join into a pool of intelligent vehicles, and total throughput of
traffic can be significantly increased, while making traffic accidents and deaths
almost zero. Navigation technology seen in 2000s is only the beginning. There
will be much more intelligent, and what most important, connected vehicles.

…and: Oh yes! You will have a TAXI button in your cellular. Just by single
press of a button you can order a taxi.

What are the implications of these technologies that are making super-humans?
I think the type of work we can accomplish will be different. The way we spend
our leisure time will be different from today. In a word, life will evolve into
a new level, and I’m saying that without any emotions attached. I’m not to judge
whether life is better or worse, it will only be different – for sure.

When we would have
enhanced memory and capability for information processing, there’s the possibility
that an array of yet unimaginable things can be done. Just like we have adopted
technology so far (from fire, to metals, the hammer, the wheel) so we will continue
to adopt more of it. And it will not necessarily be “advanced”, but it will be
different and somewhat always based on already existing technology.

=> Work will probably make riches. The products can be sold or utilized otherwise.

=> The conditions of people making very hard work will improve. Because the new
tech will be kind of like a “shield” protecting human flesh from bare encounter. So at least there’s the possibility to make conditions much more humane, unless the work force are already completely mechanized.

=> First class touch to the nature can be diminished. Just like today already, we are
beginning to be the prisoners of our cars, houses, subways, shopping malls; so will these enhancements drop the level of reality we are experiencing. We will be perceiving the world through intelligent electronics, which creates a thin veil of virtuality on top of real things. The difference can perhaps only be sensed when one drops out of this enhanced life back to ordinary level.

Leave a Reply