I’ll admit it. I’m addicted to learning. Couple that with reading thousands of science fiction books. I read science fiction material until I was seventeen, at which time I could find nothing I had not previously read, except on the ‘new release’ shelf down at the local libraries. As a result nothing mankind does ever really surprises me; much has been foretold – or at least hinted at – in those pages of speculation. Many which were written by scientists themselves. (Asimov comes to mind.) Equally as interesting as the innovations being suggested were the impacts they would have – on all mankind, marking it like a blank slate for good, bad, or otherwise.
For instance, “The Cloud” was foretold in the 1950’s by Asimov again, who referenced the the “Multivac” (based upon the first real mass produced computer, the Univac)., a kind of universal computing machine which grew to such proportions (depending upon the story you read) than in one it became responsible for a new Big Bang.
Now I’m no astrologist nor paranormal seer, but casting an eye down the road, basing upon observations of societies (both historical and current) and social behaviors, human beings as a whole – patterns and such and setting aside the possibilities of global disasters, (eg. Armageddons, global pandemic, or other extinction event) – assuming ‘we’ as human beings keep on muddling along – looking at us, our progress, history and behaviors – following with interest the accelerating progress, growth, discovery and research in so many fields – it’s fun second guessing what lays ahead. And some things have a high probability of happening here in the near term future. Assuming no disasters, that is.
Take RFID chips for instance. They’ve already got ’em for human beings. I figure it won’t be long before we all are going to start ‘chipping’ ourselves for identity and medical information. Later those will become your credit card and form of identification, much like credit cards and driver’s licenses are. And some of those cards are ‘chipped’ anyway. Implanted? You certainly won’t be able to lose them!
These chips will also be ‘medical monitoring devices’ – sending information wirelessly and alerting officials if something goes out of whack (say your heart quits beating). People will begin to demand them. And of course you’ll want the one with a GPS locator, giving emergency crews some clue as to where to find you. As they get more sophisticated (and some of the medical ‘chips’ are) they’ll be able to know what drugs you’ve been taken, whether you were drunk while you drove that car . . .
They’ll start appearing in high risk jobs. Soldiers come to mind; adventurers as well. Later on it will trickle down to at risk people in our general population – say the sick, infirm, old, lame . . . to ‘notify’ someone if something goes wrong, much like the external “Lifeline” pendants you’ve seen being sold. Only it’ll be implanted inside and powered by your own body . . .
Imagine it: you simply walk through a checkout line with your purchases in your arms. No need to stop at any register; no need to do anything but go into the store, get what you want, and walk out. The items are tagged with RFID chips already – all you need to do is get one which identifies who you are.
Sooner or later will come the day when babies will be chipped as a matter of course they day they are born. We as a public will demand it. It’ll be for our own safety and their identification, of course. The chips will be so sophisticated at reading chemicals in your blood that they’ll be able to know if you’re happy or sad; excited or hyperventilating. They’ll be a ‘safety device’ – and tied to your identification. They’ll come in handy . . . but then there’ll be that ‘fringe’ of course (probably about eight percent). Securing your identification won’t be easy at first, but I’m sure later they’ll get one that’s ‘matched’ to you using your DNA pattern . . .
Speaking of DNA – expect to see some big advances in medicine as the doctors learn to ‘tailor’ cures specifically for YOU. A true cancer cure must be tailored to the patient in many cases, as it is the patient’s DNA which has gone wrong – and so there exists no specifically ‘targeted’ cure, in which case they must use one that can have severe consequences, such as chemo or radiation. To defeat some tumors and some cancers you’ve got to match up the protein markers, and they differ from patient to patient . . .
RNA ‘expression’ is beginning to be discovered. You’d probably be both amazed and appalled how much you share in common with a cabbage (57%). It’s all (well, not all, but some) based on a gene’s “expression”. Expect the ability to grow wings at any time (just joking). But the fact is, this can be illustrated by looking at the variety of dog fur. ALL of them are based on three ‘genes’ – the diversity is how they are mixed and therefore ‘expressed’. Scientists have already gotten to the point of being able to turn a single ‘expression’ on and off, usually in bacteria when growing them for custom properties
Don’t believe me? About that ‘expression’ sort of thing? Take in account the similarities between a bat wing and your hand. Or dog’s ‘paw’ (it’s actually his toes; his wrist bones are elongated into that ‘long’ part from which the dew claw sometimes dangles). Or a whale’s front fin. They are all different ‘expressions’ of basically the same gene . . .
Amazing, isn’t it.
Reading minds comes to mind, by the way. They did some nifty studies about a year ago on this, using an MRI machine. As soon as they can get the ‘resolution’ down, perhaps they’ll get somewhere – like reading a suspect’s mind to see if he or she has images in their head of the crime going down. Right now they are just into picking out rough blobby pictures out of their test subjects minds, but it’s enough to predict what video the subject was watching when the test was done . . .
Talk about your invasion of privacy. The ‘thought police’ can’t be far behind . . .
Which brings us to a much closer future: facial recognition. It’s already gotten good enough to pick a face out of the crowd. They are already working on reading a person’s body position and what it means. They are also working on facial recognition software that reads a person’s emotional ‘content’ – whether you are happy or you are sad – or nervous because you have a bomb. It’s gotten pretty good . . .
Speaking of which, expect computers to take on a personality of their own. Implantable computers come to mind – are already on the way! Imagine an ocular implant which overlays “Reality 2.0” on command . . . and the ability to communicate with it, through it . . .
The future’s going to be a messy time. I wonder how – or if – we are going to ‘make it’. Genetic manipulation has gotten so ‘easy’ that you can do it in a garage. 3D printers are available for under five hundred dollars. They are already saying they’ll be able to ‘print’ you a new organ on a collagen / colloidal structure using your own cells – say a lung, a new heart, or other organ . . .
Eventually I suppose we’ll have an immortality of some kind – uploading your consciousness (perhaps) to a ‘cloud’ – after you ‘die’ physically, of course (should you choose to do so – telomerase chain research is advancing cautiously – but at a steady degree).
It should be an interesting time – and I’m willing to bet most of these ‘predictions’ come true, in the next thirty to fifty years . . .