Thursday, 29 March 2012

Life in 2025 - short stories

Science Fiction or Science Fact?

Sony and The Guardian are trying to predict what life will be like in 2025 - just 13 short years ahead. The days of waiting for technology to become settled before 'buying in' are long since gone as technology leapfrogs technology at a pace of change that the consumer struggles to keep pace with. With this in mind The Guardian asked five best selling authors to write short stories to give a brief view of what they see life will be like.

The Good Listener by Michael Marshall Smith

In this story the author reflects on his fathers death and using his father's 5 year old mobile phone he retraces the holiday he never took with him and discovers that perhaps technology doesn't have all the answers. I liked this story for it's human element. But the technology?

The author predicts cars capable of driving themselves and there are already competitions for people to race cars that drive themselves where success brings two million dollar prizes. But these competitions are off-road, away from traffic and in 2007, in an urban challenge, 4 cars finished in time at an average speed of up to 14 mph. I think such cars are possible but they would require a complete redesign of the traffic system so I doubt it would happen in 13 years. These cars were based on operating systems of Linux and Windows. Reboot when you get stuck at the traffic lights? Interestingly, one of the leading contenders, is now the 'Google Driverless Car'.

The author predicts voice response commands and artificial intelligence in cars... but voice response and AI would be very expensive and I don't believe the public would pay, nor do I think it would be accurate or fast enough for safety or acceptability. I saw voice recognition technology in the early '80s and while it has improved, we are 30 years on and it's not made any serious impact yet.

The author predicts an increasing role for mobile phones... Yes, I 100% agree. It has been gradually evolving since they first came along and they have taken on roles no-one could have predicted - like identifying aircraft flying overhead... how did we cope before?

Life in 2025 by Marcus Sedgwick

A young programmer writes an app for a software corporation that enables people to select and write their own dreams. This brings him success and promotion and as the corporation seeks a bigger and bigger market it leaves the programmer wondering...

This time the author's predictions are more radical... Controlling people's dreams and nano technologies. There are some huge leaps being made in man-machine interfaces and who knows but dream control may be possible and sooner than we think. And from your mobile phone as a downloadable app! And what would people be like if this was possible? Well that is something that the author explores in a very real way. He comes to pretty much the same conclusion as Michael Marshall Smith in that technology does not answer everything but he also speculates that nano-technologies could be used to ease or even solve many of the third world issues.

My suggestions for 2025

I think that already technology is abusing people and I make no forgiveness for adding this link to my ramblingmole blog where I was infuriated by what manufacturers should consider! But apart from many more roles and much more reliance on what is laughingly called a mobile phone today, I can also predict a continuing role for larger devices for people like myself who struggle to see and read the screens without getting my reading glasses out (and also have large clumsy fingers)! But will TV sets, as tv sets, survive? I think not as they will take on a much more flexible role and 'transmission' may shift totally towards the internet.

But one major prediction I would make, and hope for, is continued reduction in power demands for the newer technologies which will help to reduce our demand for more power production and perhaps lead to a near dependence on sustainable renewable energy. This would hopefully also lead to totally viable electric cars because I do not believe a public transport system will ever have the support of individuals.

Recent breakthroughs in laser technology will bring micro-chip development of light speed chips and may mean that hardware will start to last longer while software and apps remain the focus of change (but maybe not).

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