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one day i'm gonna grow wings

This story about the RFID chips for Japanese kids makes me think of Battle Royale. BR is by far one of the most violent, sick and depraved movies I've ever seen. It's also in the top 20 on my favorite films list. The future is now. It's really not that pretty. In fact, I'm having an email conversation with a friend about the future. We do this thing everyday where one of us comes up with a topic and we discuss it for the rest of the day. Makes work a bit more enjoyable. So today's question was: bq. What's the one technology that you can think of that is being worked on, or has not been invented (though it has been conceived of) that will change the way that humanity exists? My standard answer to something like that is, I WANT MY FLYING CARS! YOU PROMISED ME FLYING CARS! However, we started talking about teleportation. He sees it as something we will use our minds to do, as scientists discover ways to awaken parts of your brain that humans have never used before. I see it as more of a machine-driven form of travel, which would have to be heavily regulated by the government. Can you imagine terrorists using instant teleportation? Can you imagine me showing up in Heath Ledger's shower unannounced one morning? Unregulated teleporation would mean the end of barriers, the end of classes. You want money? Teleport yourself into a bank vault. You want food? Grab a cart filled with groceries and then teleport out of the store without paying. Civilization would collapse. Which is why, if scientists ever did discover a way to use your brain to power travel, the discovering scientists would probably be killed before word got out. But what about machine-driven teleportation? Could it be regulated like airline travel is? I would think it would be illegal to own a personal teleporter. You'd have to buy tickets, check bags, etc. to use one or we'd be in a heap of trouble. Or..what if the changing magnetic fields causes nature to freak out and we go through some weird evolution and suddenly, humans can fly! Sorry, lost control there for a minute. Anyhow, I was wondering about your answer to the question above about future technology. And I still want my flying cars.


The only possible thing I can think of to say is just to invoke the last line of Back To The Future:

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't NEED roads."

Larry Niven covered the concept of teleportation booths pretty thoroughly in various short stories.

It's hard to think of any new technology that will Change Everything more than the internet is doing. But I'll toss out automated highways for the hell of it. Program the van for your destination on road trips and watch dvds the whole way. Or plop the kids in and tell the car to go to grandmas. Send trucks full of cargo to their destination. Driving can be done 24/7. Road capacity increases. Auto accidents plummet. No more road rage.

Here is a flying car.


Regards technologies that will change things. Genetic enginering has neato and scary possibilities. (The blogfathers been posting on age reversal and longevity.)

Cheap access to space, either with rockets or space elevators will allow people to spread elsewhere and solve ALL our energy problems , either through solar power satelites, helium 3 mining for fusion fuel or(less likely) just shipping back the petroleum seas of Titan. (I think the new space initiative is looking at Solar Satelites being manufactured on the moon)

Some things develop in unexpected ways, computers were invented and used by civillians for decades. As was the prototype of the internet....then BAM!!.....now we have blogs and mp3s and cyberporn and a big honking chunk of the collective knowledge of humanity at our fingertips....and, er, blogs like ASV that bring us joy and stimulate our rapidly evolving brains as we scurry to avoid the coming cosmic ray bombardment that will undoubtably turn all who are unprotected into zombies....so I'm heading to the mall. :)

Since it takes a team of world's best physics nerds just to teleport one photon, I think teleportation of actual mass is beyond my lifetime.

Some tech that will change the way humanity exists.

A Segway HHHHHH, er I meant Space Elevators. We seem to be making great progress with carbon nanotube tech.

Genetically altered foodstuffs. Disease and pest resistance foods are already here. Improvements will help increase the yield of my pot plants HHHHHH^H the world's food output.

Solar energy collected from from space and beamed to earth via microwave. This will help bring eletrcity to area where we currently cannot. It will also create a nifty weapon for some meglomaniac to extort meelions of dollars from world governments with.

Highly accurate, reliable, and quick-reload stun gun technology for law enforcement.

You'll know when we have it when it's standard issue for patrolmen and riot control instead of ordinary lethals like firearms.

I'd really like it if it were built into cell phones as standard equipment.

Science fiction fans will turn to Alfred Bester's classic "The Stars My Destination" for clues as to what might happen in a society where teleportation is possible by the power of the mind alone:
* Houses are "mantrapped." An unauthorized individual who teleports directly into a house is immobilized or killed immediately by automatic defenses.
* Abandoned mines are converted into prisons. Convicts are transported blindfold or anesthetized to a mine gallery where they are abandoned. Unable to visualize the relationship between where they are and where they want to be, the prisoners can't teleport out.

Perhaps the ability to teleport would not be a favorable mutation after all.

Zoloft - photon teleportation took place years ago. They progressed to teleporting atoms currently, all within the last decade. It's stands to reason that molecules will follow in this decade. It may come sooner than we all think (or want).

Genetic therapy to halt the aging process. I can't really wrap my mind around the possibility of people in rich countries living to be 700+ while the rest of the world dies as per normal. It could also link up with plummeting birth rates to produce a society where children are seen as an oddity.

Teleportation is death. Or, rather, a creepy kind of immortality?

If it were ever to work, the procedure would require measuring, then recreating, the precise state of every atom in your body at a single moment in time. Your body here, in the booth, would then be destroyed: and the information sent to your intended destination, and used to recreate you as you were.

But you would not be yourself: you'd be a walking fax of yourself.

Let's set aside worries of transmission noise, or of 'Windows 3095' Blue Screen of Death (some things just are eternal) or thoughts of a kidney being ever-so-slightly out of sync with its blood stream, and just suppose it could be done?

Who would be content with merely using it for travel, a day trip to the Uffizi? Who could resist taking a snapshot of themselves on a good day, young and fit and in the prime of life - and swapping themselves out later on a bad day, old and weary and dribbling into their mash?

I think the colonization of space will bring about some big changes, in the long run, at least. When transportation costs go down and infrastructure is built up, disaffected people all over the world will notice all of a sudden that there's a new frontier out there on Mars or in the asteroid belt or on Titan. They'll leave this old jumpin' dirt behind to try their luck on a new world. Some will fail, some will sow the seeds for new civilizations. In a few hundred years there might be a myriad of independent worlds from Mercury out to the nearest stars. At least that's what I'd like to see.

Michele -

Seems to me that along about the same time scientists figure out how to travel with our minds, they will have figured out vastly better ways of growing food, etc. Mind travel will likely come about the same time as most earthly limitations cease to be limitations. You won't need money or food, know what I mean ?

It's already here, but: the portable computer revolution. Another few years, cell phones and PDA's and the Internet become a true global network. Heads-up displays and earpieces. Blur the lines between Web pages/forums/blogs, e-mail, phone calls, television & radio - communication is everything. Everybody's got a Walkman-sized computer on their belt and can get any information from anywhere on the freakin' planet instantaneously.

Okay, I've got to calm down now.

I'd recommend Stephen King's short story "The Jaunt" from Skeleton Crew for another take on teleportation. Short on science, but it more than makes up for it with the fiction.

I want anagathic (anti-aging) treatments, and I want them now. I'm 45. I'm not getting any younger, you know! I have this horrible fear that they'll be developed JUST too late to do me any good. "Sorry, you have to be 40 years old or younger for it to help."

Once we're no longer doomed by old age (though, of course, accidents, disease or violence would still threaten us), I can WAIT for the bloody flying cars to show up!

What parts of the human brain haven't we used before?

Some (many) years ago Mad magazine did a Star Trek sendup. All I remember is one panel, where Kirk and Spock beam in and get all their parts mixed up. Funny stuff, anyone else remember that?
Prob'ly not. I've been waiting for flying cars since the 70's. I really, really thought we'd have 'em by now.

John Brunner's novel Web of Everywhere has a very interesting, yet stupid, take on teleportation. In that novel, widely-available teleportation has almost destroyed civilization.

See, people began to have these things in their homes without any sort of security whatsoever, so thieves were able to enter at will. Civilization is saved when some bright spark invents the stupidly-named "privateer", a gadget that will keep people from coming in unless permitted. No, I'm not kidding. I would have called it a "lock", available for a reasonable price at your nearest Home Despot. Build your transporter outside the house, have people knock on the door. Jeez.

Science fiction was easier to write back then.

Brunner also wrote a better novel on the topic: The Infinitive of Go. This had to do with the, uh, side-effects of teleportation, but not much on its effect on civilization.

(For no good reason, I'll also point out that Brunner wrote The Stone That Never Came Down, about a virus that turns you into a lefty. No, I'm not kidding. Brunner saw this as a Good Thing.)

I want a warp drive.

For those who dream of Star Trek style teleportation, you'd better think of the ramifications of e=mc^2.

Approximately 50 grams of matter converted directly to energy with 100% efficiency* releases the equivalent of a million tons of TNT (1 megaton) detonating all at once. 100 kilograms (~220 pounds) would release the energy of 2000 megatons, which is probably equivalent to all of the nuclear weapons in the US inventory going off all at once. You'd better have a DAMNED good containment field.

*You'd better hope the system converts matter with 100% efficiency, or you'll end up losing mass with each teleportation. That wouldn't be so bad it the loss was in fat cells, but it would be unfortunate if the loss was in brain cells.

As for flying cars, a man at my local airport owns one. It's a Taylor Aerocar Model I, one of five ever built. He also owns a Model II Aerocar and is working on his own design.

The Taylor Aerocar was certified for production but ended up being killed by the bureaucrats. It was a car, so it had to meet all of the requirements for cars (smog, safety glass, 5 MPH bumbers, etc.) while also having to meet all of the requirements for an airplane.

As for the Moller Skycar, I'll believe it's real when it flies at Oshkosh. It has supposedly been in development for years and has yet to make an untethered flight. So far, it's the aeronautical equivalent of vaporware.

As for me, I'll stick with my Piper Cherokee until something better comes along.

I recommend "Stand on Zanzibar" and "The Sheep Look Up" by Brunner. Excellent stories exploring over population and future shock in general.

"Muckers! Look out for the Mucker!' they would cry when another person lost their mind and runs amuck.

I think that virtual reality will be the downfall of society. I think it was Dennis Miller that said when the average joe can have sex with Cindy Margolis, it will make crack look like tic tacs. I know that is a terrible quote, but I think you get the point. Kinda like that old movie dreamscape.

An invention oft cocieved, but not yet realized, having the potential to rock society: A REAL truth detector (a la Heinlien, "The Star Beast").

Imaging a political campaign where one could externally validate all statements...

And I still want my flying cars.

Sorry, no dice. You'll never see Jetsonesque flying cars in heavily populated areas for one reason: insurance.

Consider how bad the average driver is (50K+ deaths on the roads in the USA per year). Keep in mind people love to drive whilst fixing their hair, listening to the radio, yelling at the kids, and eating a Chalupa (or whatever those vile things are called).

Now extrapolate to three dimensions. Ouch.

Jet Packs! I want those cool jet packs! and I want one that looks cool, like in "Rocketeer!"

Doggonit, Don, you beat me to it. I've wanted a workable rocket pack for years. I hate being tethered to the ground.

Besides the rocket pack, my vote would go to the anti-gravity device. Or the warp drive. But another prospect would be life extension. Imagine what the great minds of the world could accomplish if they had, say, 150-200 years of productive life, instead of 70?

"Sorry, no dice. You'll never see Jetsonesque flying cars in heavily populated areas for one reason: insurance.

Consider how bad the average driver is (50K+ deaths on the roads in the USA per year). Keep in mind people love to drive whilst fixing their hair, listening to the radio, yelling at the kids, and eating a Chalupa (or whatever those vile things are called).

Now extrapolate to three dimensions. Ouch."

Given flying cars, just why do you think there would even be heavily populated areas? What do you think "suburban sprawl" is but the tendency of people to live as far away from population centers as they can and still get to work, school, and shopping every day. When commutes of hundreds of miles become possible, "suburban sprawl" will translate into "isolated houses, offices, schools, and shops, separated by hundreds of miles". It'll probably be prettier than today's urban sprawl, since we won't need highways to connect them, but I'll bet people will still find a reason to bitch about it.

It'll be good for homeland security, too. The bad guys could set off a nuke and kill a few dozen people.

My prediction is that once we have the ability to let people plug directly into a virtual reality simulation (ala "Johnny Mnemonic" or "Brainstorm"), for a reasonable cost, we'll have a significant percentage of the world's population opt out of real life completely. They'll get one taste of a fake paradise and only come back long enough to pay the bills. Sort of a voluntary Matrix.

Dennis Miller was dead-on with that quote. It also reminds me of the Scott Adams joke, where he says "Mankind's last invention will be the Holodeck".