Vision of the Future

I was reading a book recently, and it mentioned a “cellular phone.” While it is one of the newer books I have read, I suppose it would be considered an old book now (1992), and the mention made me stop and think about what exactly it meant by a “cellular phone.” When the concept of a mobile phone first came about, they looked more like field radios than what we think of as a cell phone today, but I didn’t know when the cell phone started appearing in recognizable form, so I started wondering whether it was talking about the large field radio type phone or the “traditional” flip phone.

The title picture shows a 1992 cell phone, confirming that the book would have been referring to the former, but it started a very interesting thought process in my mind. I was wondering when the “traditional” cell phone started coming out, but then I realized that what I think of as the traditional cell phone is hardly ever seen any more. This led to the realization that not only are flip phones and all other “dumb phones” disappearing, the entire concept of the cell phone is starting to go away. Everyone still knows what you mean when you say “cell phone,” but more and more, home phones are being replaced by smart phones, and people refer to them simply as “phones.” The home phone is going away, and as a result, so is the concept of a cell phone as opposed to a home phone. Increasingly, we don’t have home phones and cell phones, we just have phones, and the concept is automatically associated with a smart phone. All of this has really happened since the advent of the iPhone in 2007. In less than a decade, we have gone from a standard home phone and a clamshell cell phone to the “home phone” being essentially an office tool, the clamshell cell phone being nonexistent, and the entire idea of a home phone vs. a cell phone being replaced by the standardized idea of a phone being a smart phone.

So what does the future look like?

I would strongly urge you to at least read over Winston Churchill’s essay “50 Years Hence,” in which he predicts with astonishing foresight the technological advances of our time, as well as some advances currently in sight. Now, 86 years later, this post is my version, springboarding off of the future of communication, now that the majority of Churchill’s predictions are simply a part of everyday life.

First, I expect the idea of a home phone to be rendered completely obsolete, possibly even in the next five years. Smart phones will become smarter, “Google glasses,” or whatever they call them now, smart watches, and similar technology will become more and more common, and smart phones may even be on the decline in five years, in favor of wearable technology. I expect the traditional home phone will stick around for awhile as shared phones in offices and the like, but little else.

Eventually, as hologram technology becomes cheaper, more developed and more accessible (and we do have hologram technology already, and it is reasonably accessible as a holographic gun sight), the communications technology of the day will start to be replaced by some sort of holophone, likely wrist based, and offices will use an industrial grade version of that—some sort of console, or even a room devoted to holographic communications (Star Wars Jedi holoconferences are a distinct possibility).

As our understanding of the human brain and our ability to interface with it is further developed, we will start having phones connected to the brain—the new Bluetooth—and from there it would be a short leap to fully integrated phones inside our heads. Originally, I expect they would just be a biologically integrated form of the original “dumb phone”—you talk, the other person hears—no video, no web capabilities, just a simple oral communication device. Pretty soon, however, technology companies would begin to come up with ways to integrate the capabilities of external devices into the Biophone, with video likely coming first. They might access outside camera footage (including the “footage” from other people’s eyes via their Biophones) to construct a 3D image of the person you are talking to and display that in your head, they might provide you the ability to see what the other person is seeing, or they might just decide to do away with the visual aspect altogether. However, as our understanding of and ability to interface with the human brain becomes even more refined (see my Telepathy post), web browsing capabilities, cameras, auxiliary memory space for your brain, and even music would be introduced.

Finally, people will realize that communication no longer needs to be limited to language, and the Biophone will be modified so that direct thought processes can be transferred, instead of constraining the user to talk, or even form the words in the mind, and the word “telephone” will have a whole new meaning. This is the destination of my Telepathy idea.

But why stop there? Why not allow for group calls? Why not fully integrate the brain with the internet? Why not create, in essence, a universal consciousness? The technology is in reach. Holoconferences, as far-fetched and sci-fi as they are now, will become obsolete—the new fax.

It will be a short step from there to simply create an entire world in the internet, upload our collective consciousness to it, and live immortally in the internet. I see this happening in one of two ways: either we have enough confidence in our engineering capabilities that we build a self-sustaining system to keep the internet intact, or the rich and powerful get to be immortalized while the less fortunate have to stay and keep the internet going.

Now, I fully expect Jesus to come back before we actually get to this point. In light of the Tower of Babel, I don’t think God wants us to have a universal consciousness, plus, I doubt He would let the human race drive itself extinct like this, but it could happen. He may wait for another 200 years, or even 2,000. I have no way of knowing. However, this is what I see as the current track of technological development, barring any other factors, be they divine, political, cultural, governmental, etc. If the technology industries are left to their own devices, I could easily see all of this happening in the next 50 years, and definitely the next 100.

The Future of VR

I have more to say on Relativity, but I am going to take a break and talk about something a little less mentally taxing: Virtual Reality. A friend recently told me about a book called Ready Player One, in which a VR game has, for all practical purposes, replaced the real world. A film adaptation of the book is scheduled for release in 2018, and there is a lot of VR concept art surrounding the story. One picture in particular got me thinking about the future of VR.

The picture shows the person wearing VR gloves to get hand sensations and goggles for the visual aspect. This is the most obvious route for VR to take: create equipment to externally synthesize in-game sensations. However, I see two other options, one less likely, and one more likely.

I’ll start with the less likely one: using holograms. Basically, we build a large, empty room, and project holographic terrain and other objects into it. Then, we create shaped gravity shields inside the holograms, to make them solid. Fine tuning of the surface shape (microscopic grooves and other texturing), combined with an interactive computer program to simulate surface elasticity (so if you touch something it will squish a little bit) could be used to give things the proper texture. This would be the most realistic version of virtual reality, because you would actually be performing the actions in the game with your physical body. Plus, it would be good for the public health, because if you ever wanted to play, say, a shooter, you would have to actually go run around, jump, climb, slide, and be otherwise physically active. This is my personal favorite version of Virtual Reality, but because hologram technology does not appear to be progressing in leaps and bounds, I doubt we will ever see it.

The more likely route VR will take, and almost certainly its final state, pulls on my telepathy idea. We can already interface, to an extent, between computers and the human brain. So why not create a Virtual Reality system that you simply plug your brain into? When you plug in, it intercepts the signals your brain sends to your body, so instead of moving your physical body, you move your in-game body. It would also block external sensory input, and replace it with artificial sensory input from the game, fed directly to your brain. You simply sit down and plug in, and your body effectively falls asleep, while your brain enters the game. It would work somewhat like the Avatar control bed.

So what do you guys think? Am I on the right track here? I will try to do another post this month on the future of communication, which I already have mostly written out, but I will have to edit it because of the new ideas this has given me.

Telepathy

I have recently been longing for telepathy more and more, due to the many complicated thoughts that make their rounds through my head that I both want and need to say, but don’t lend themselves easily (and sometimes not at all) to words. So it has become more and more common for me to be quiet for a long time, and then suddenly wish out loud for telepathy.  I now have good news: telepathy appears to be possible.

Scientists are making breakthroughs neurology, and while the technology is currently invasive, we can actually control things outside of our bodies through our brains. One example of this is a robotic arm that (I assume via surgery) is connected to a paralyzed person’s brain, allowing them to directly control that arm. I am also aware of an experiment that was conducted in which two people were connected to each other with a technology that appears to be similar to that used with the robotic arm in the last example. One person sat in front a screen, and the other sat in another room with a video game controller in his hand.  The first person was actually able to play simple video games on the screen in front of him by controlling the other person’s hands on the controller.

With some further insights into how thoughts and ideas are formed and held in the human brain, this same technology could be used to communicate telepathically. A further sophistication would be to actually have a form of transmitter and receiver surgically added to the head so people could telepathically communicate without having to physically connect each other.  You could even have something like a cell phone tower to relay telepathic signals so you could telepath (or whatever the verb form of the word is) to someone on the other side of the world.

But what if the owner of the telepathy relay decided to keep a record of your thoughts, or the government decided to add a memory chip to the telepathy transmitter in your head? So much for 1984! You could have a literal thought police! The more sophisticated versions of this would certainly be very invasive, but it is a very cool idea, in my opinion, and a dream made possible for me.

For literature purposes, you could use this to make a dystopian government with a thought police, or that has a reeducation camp where they install chips that control your thoughts and makes it impossible for you to disobey or at least monitors your thoughts and reports them to the government. You could also use this to make exterior memory chips, so you could memorize stuff more easily.  You could have doors where you have to plug your brain into a security device to open it, or a secret society that communicates in the middle of everyone via telepathy.  You could use this for a fanatical special ops team in which their vocal chords are taken out and they are telepathically linked, thus enabling absolute silence during operations.  You could use this for pet training, drone flying, internet surfing, project planning, car driving, game playing, public speaking, psychology researching, and the list goes on and on.  A lot of this would be possible in real life, though many of them would require research that proves even further that that necessary for the basic idea (such as learning how various pets’ minds work to enable human/animal telepathic links).