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Sci-Fi

SF Author Robert J. Sawyer Looks at 2014 459

Alex writes "Canadian science fiction author Robert J Sawyer takes a positive look at a typical day in 2014 for Backbone Magazine, looking at where both scientific and sociological advances of the next decade will take us. Sawyer is a multi-Aurora, Hugo, and Nebula award winner, and was one of the first major authors to use a website to promote his work. Readers might associate some of these innovations and ideas from his fiction."
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SF Author Robert J. Sawyer Looks at 2014

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  • by Chris_Stankowitz ( 612232 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @11:55AM (#10023846)
    He still hasn't received his pre-orderd copy of DNF! :)
    • As long as I get my flying car and a computer that can read my lips, I'll be as sound as a pound...
      • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves ( 236787 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:56PM (#10024622)
        If you have a computer that can read lips, you won't be able to hide the fact that you are going to shut it down and it will kill your entire crew before you get to jupiter.
      • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @01:00PM (#10024672) Homepage
        Yeah, but this guy is a nutcase. What he describes isn't the world of the future. It's a world of fairy elf magic.

        The things he describes are quite possible, but not *economically feasable*. Why don't we all have robot butlers and maids cleaning up after us now? Is it because we don't have the technology? Of course not - it is because of economic feasability. There's just too many parts, and too much effort, required to produce just *one* of the "miraculous future inventions* that people have been promoting since the birth of sci-fi.

        A brain wave monitor alarm clock? Hello, an alarm clock is designed to *Wake You Up At A Given Time*. People get frustrated enough with those "slowly wake you up" alarm clocks, and now we're supposed to get an EEG involved here?

        A robokitchen? Aparently noone ever told him that the price of robotics doesn't follow Moore's laws. We've had robots building cars for ages, but you still don't see them in peoples' homes. And, since this would require changes of an integral part of the house, it would require modernization of housing design, something that's hardly been done in a hundred years.

        An electronic ink newspaper? Yeah, I saw that in a copy of "Amazing Stories!" from the 1940s - it worked by radio waves. Noone used them then, noone's going to use them now. The closest you see? The internet, of course ;)

        Smart toilets and sensor toothbrushes are going to give us digital readouts (of non-ridiculous price) of what is wrong with us, and health problems will be "Trivially Easy to Correct"? Sounds like what people said when the first antibiotics and disease tests were developed. Sorry, but pathogens don't play along with our "miracle cure" scenarios.

        Half of people telecommuting? Yeah, telecommuting really took off, didn't it? Rote memorization out of schools? Yeah, that's really happened. Electric cars in all of the streets? That notion's been around since the 60s, and it is little closer to reality (again, thanks to *economics*).

        I could keep going, but I won't bother you. This sort of stuff is just plain dumb, and at best 2-5% of what he says will happen (perhaps, say, Cell/PDA/camera/E-books, although not on your wrist, because that would be awkward).
        • "Yeah, but this guy is a nutcase. What he describes isn't the world of the future. It's a world of fairy elf magic."

          The man is a science fiction writer, what do you expect? If you're stupid enough to actually take the article as an accurate description of 10 years from now, then You Just Don't Get It(tm).

          In fact, Sawyer is one of the more brilliant and creative SF writers of our decade... go to his site and read some of the premises of his novels. I've read a few of his and throughly enjoyed them, and
        • You completely misread this article. Clearly what he is saying is that in the year 2014, I will be filthy stinking rich, and will have billions of dollars worth of prototype level uber-tech filling every niche in my home and life.

          my personal favorite is the contact lens display... a great theory, but isn't it obvious that the power cable for those might be an eye irritant?

          • "but isn't it obvious that the power cable for those might be an eye irritant?"

            We already have inductance loop connections for transmitting power. The EV1 electric car had them. Some medical implants use them too.
        • by WebCowboy ( 196209 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @03:54PM (#10026753)
          There's just too many parts, and too much effort, required to produce just *one* of the "miraculous future inventions* that people have been promoting since the birth of sci-fi.

          Really...is that a fact? I'm glad not everyone is like you and discounts everything in sci-fi because they didn't get their personal robot or flying car as predicted. Remember the "fi" in si-fi is FICTION--it is MADE UP in the minds of those imagining what the future will bring, and in the case of sci-fi dramaticised to fit with the story.

          As for "miraculous future inventions" being economically infeasable, I'd say your blanket statment is quite inaccurate:

          You don't pay much attention to the old Star Trek episodes do ya? Don't know bout you, but the flip-open communicators sure look like the cellphone I carry with me today. Today's flat-panel monitors also look a lot like the screens sitting on the conference tables in many of those episodes too. Even though we don't all strap our gagets to our wrist like Dick Tracey did our radios, music players, pagers, phones and so on could certainly be made small enough to wear on our wrists if we wanted to. Electronic newspapers bed by radio waves--well I already read the news online, and we have tablet PCs with 802.11x *radio* communication, and there has been a lot of advancement in display technology that allows for flexible, reflective electronic display AND flexible ICs.

          Even as recently as ten years ago someone like you probably would've said "a drive smaller than a pen that holds hundreds of megabytes? That would cost a fortune and would be too easy to lose! Nobody needs to carry that much data anyways!" Well, today I carry a keychain around that holds 256 MB and I can tell you it comes in very handy when you have to (re-)install WinXP or 2k on-site and need the security updates/firewall/etc to keep it from puking 30 seconds after getting on a network. If you aren't a techie its great for carrying photos and movie clips around so you can just plug in at a friends and show off your kids, garden, pets, etc. Step back and think about that...sounds a bit "sci-fi" if you remember life in the 80s eh?

          Smallpox used to mean certain death...now a "trivially easy" vaccination prevents infection and the disease is basically extinct. That's one pathogen that rolled over and died in the face of a "miracle cure" scenario. Diabetes also meant certain premature death, and is now "trivially" treatable and in some cases curable. Cancer survival rates have also dramatically risen even within my own lifetime (and I'm not that old). Cyctic Fibrosis used to kill all its sufferers before they reached adulthood, and now they can expect to live far longer.

          I'd argue with you about telecommuting--it's true that far less than half of people telecommute exclusively, but I'd say there are a LOT of people who do so part-time at least--and I did full-time for awhile. Even so, technology has completely changed business culture. How often does the secretary do dictation in short-hand anymore? How many typewriters are in your office? How often do you get an inter-office memo on PAPER anymore?

          When did you last set foot in a school? "Rote memorisation" is already all but gone. Kids barely learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide and then they are given calculators--I didn't get to use one until ninth grade, now elementary kids have them! High school kids all get graphic scientific calculators--it's pretty close to mandatory now. In high school we only used computers in business-ed courses and after class to do homework, now they're all over the place.

          Electric cars in all the streets--HELLO, we are already heading there, I'm starting to see more and more Toyota Prius and Honda Insight cars out there, and more hybrid models are cropping up (even SUVs), and with oil heading to $50/barrel I don't think the trend towards electric power will slow--the economics are shifting.

          You might want to re-think your opinion about "just plain dumb" and 2-5% accuracy. The details and timing might be off in sci-fi but an amazing amount af this stuff does indeed show up in the future.
          • a) 10 years ago, you could have called cell-phones by name, and I would have known what you were talking about. We're talking about 10 years in the future, here. Cell phones weren't exactly hard to predict, either - it doesn't take "star trek" communicators. And I'm thankful that they're nothing like star trek communicators, since I don't want to wear a cell phone on my shirt and have it be guessing when the conversation is over.

            b) Everything that we've tried to stick on the wrist, apart from a watch, h
            • Well, like I said at the end of my post, the timing or details might be off but my point was it was much less "bunk" than you think.

              a) You made my point exactly: sci-fi not only attempts to predict the future, it also influences future invention and design. I never argued around a ten-year timeframe, but if you insist: in 1994 cellphones were more than twice the size and weight, were analogue and had a fraction of the battery life. Their displays were typically monochrome seven-segment, numeric-only vacu
              • a) " in 1994 cellphones were more than twice the size and weight, were analogue and had a fraction of the battery life." ... and they existed!!! And advanced according to known trends! That's the thing. He's predicting robotic kitchens when home design has barely advanced in a hundred years and hasn't taken a budge in that direction, etc.

                b) They came into being, and were market failures. And so this guy.... predicts that suddenly, they'll come back into being and be successess, without addressing the r
        • We've had robots building cars for ages, but you still don't see them in peoples' homes.

          Really ? I could have sworn I saw my washing machine just a few minutes ago... Not to mention my oven (stays automatically at the same temperature) and my refrigerator and freezer (same thing).

          A robot is not (neccessarily) something that walks on two feet or swings a lifting arm around; a robot is an automated machine.

          And, since this would require changes of an integral part of the house, it would require modern

  • by switcha ( 551514 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @11:55AM (#10023853)
    and was one of the first major authors to use a website to promote his work.

    And judging by the design of it, he hasn't updated it since then.

  • by kagaku ( 774787 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @11:56AM (#10023859)
    Article text:

    July 13, 2004 - 20:06
    It's 2014, and life is the same. Only better
    By Robert J. Sawyer

    As a science-fiction writer, my job is predicting the future. And that's gotten harder with each passing year. Moore's law tells us that computing power doubles every 18 months. If that holds up -- and i believe it will, with breakthroughs in nanotechnology, new techniques of producing three-dimensional circuits, and new substrates for microprocessors -- then in 10 short years, we will have computers 128 times more powerful than those that exist today. Can anyone guess how that much computing muscle, widely available and inexpensively priced, will affect our day-to-day lives? Well, let's find out.

    Here are some of my predictions for a typical day in late 2014; feel free to track me down in 10 years' time and tell me i'm wrong!

    Our mornings will still begin with waking up. But forget the old-fashioned alarm-clock buzzer. Tomorrow's bedside clock will be a sophisticated brainwave monitor. It'll keep track of your sleep cycle, gently bringing up the room lights at precisely the right time so that you'll feel rested, not cardiac arrested, as you awake.

    Today, your coffee can be brewed while you sleep; tomorrow's robokitchen will have an entire hot (but low carb!) breakfast waiting for you. Also waiting will be an electronic-ink newspaper, with stories geared to your particular interests culled from sources worldwide (with foreign-language news automatically translated into English).

    Of course, you aren't the only one who has to get going in the morning. Your spouse and kids will be taken care of, too -- with smart toilets analyzing their urine and sensor-rich toothbrushes checking their saliva to make sure everything is ticketyboo; most health problems will be caught early and be trivial to correct.

    Your spouse might telecommute -- perhaps half of all white-collar workers will do so in 2014 -- but you might still have to physically go to your office. Along the way you'll take your kids to school.

    No point quizzing them on facts as you travel along, though. In a world in which any information can be easily accessed anywhere, mere memorization is no longer part of the curriculum. But analysis of information -- knowing how to think -- ah, that's the ticket!Naturally, your electric car will drive itself, communicating with millions of chips that have been steamrollered into the asphalt covering our roadways. No more traffic accidents; no more gridlock.

    Once you've dropped the kids off -- yes, learning can be done online at home, but socialization still happens best in a real school and at a real playground -- you will use the rest of your commute time productively, catching up on full-motion-video e-mail and reading reports (or having them read to you by totally realistic voice synthesizers). You'll arrive at your office relaxed.

    Throughout the day, your wristband -- a combination cellphone, PDA, camera, and e-book display, all controlled by spoken commands -- will be your lifeline.

    You'll have just one phone number, good worldwide with no long-distance or roaming charges, and the wristband will screen calls for you, with a computer-generated avatar kicking in to deal with most routine matters.

    Still, even 10 years from now, much business will require face-time. No problem. One major wall of your office in, say, Toronto, will be a vast flatscreen, showing you your company's Vancouver office. You'll be able to walk up to the wall and chat with whomever is depicted as casually as if you were both sharing the same water cooler.

    Your cubicle will have a smart wall of its own, giving every worker the appearance of having a window; yours might show real-time footage of Lake Louise, assuming that global warming hasn't melted the adjacent glaciers and flooded everything. And no matter which office chair you sit on, it will adjust automatically to your body's proportions.

    Of course, we'll all live in an enhanced reality. T
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:18PM (#10024159)
      > Smart washcloths will make sure they clean everywhere, including behind their ears.

      A Smart Washcloth looks at 2015: "NO, dear GOD NO, what the FUCK did I do to deserve this miserable existence? PLEASE, for the love of the BIG COTTON BALL IN THE SKY, please KILL ME NOW!"

    • no more gridlock.

      Sorry, but you can't completely eliminate gridlock with computers. There is a maximum capacity for any road and when there are too many cars traffic slows down. Computer control could increase this capacity but not infinitely.

    • by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:22PM (#10024215)
      It'll keep track of your sleep cycle, gently bringing up the room lights at precisely the right time so that you'll feel rested, not cardiac arrested, as you awake.
      Right, like your boss is going to let you waltz in at 10:30 because your brain-wave monitor didn't deem you rested until after 9. (And if you've had enough rest, don't you wake up naturally? Why use a device to do it for you?)
      Today, your coffee can be brewed while you sleep; tomorrow's robokitchen will have an entire hot (but low carb!) breakfast waiting for you.
      Robotic houses have had the same history of being "right around the corner" as artifical intelligence and fusion power. And does he really think the Atkins diet fad is going to last a whole decade?
      Your spouse and kids will be taken care of, too -- with smart toilets analyzing their urine and sensor-rich toothbrushes checking their saliva to make sure everything is ticketyboo; most health problems will be caught early and be trivial to correct.
      Seems a bit overengineered to me. We might have the technology to pull it off, but I can't see it being put to wide use within a decade. However, I would not be surprised if slightly less "futuristic" health monitoring techniques become common practice: for instance, maybe kids at school will have a weekly finger-prick test for common diseases.
      Throughout the day, your wristband -- a combination cellphone, PDA, camera, and e-book display, all controlled by spoken commands -- will be your lifeline.
      I wonder why it is that whenever SF authors try to think up high-tech communication devices, they always go for the wristband idea. And yet, although they make watches with practically anything you want built-in, they don't catch on. (For a variety of reasons, although I think the main one is size. He wants to read an e-book on his watch?! The fact that the watches with built-in address books and calculators aren't aesthetically pleasing doesn't help any.) If anything, it seems much more likely to me that that we'll end up with an improved cell phone/PDA style device than a new watch.
      You'll have just one phone number, good worldwide with no long-distance or roaming charges, ...
      Ha!

      Anyway, I'm not trying to beat this guy's ideas to death. After all, if these predictions of the future that show up all the time have taught us anything, it's that we have absolutely no clue what the future is going to be like. But it's still fun to guess.

      • "does he really think the Atkins diet fad is going to last a whole decade?"
        Yes that's why
        "nanotechnological probes will be working their way through your bloodstream, clearing plaque out of your arteries, and getting rid of dangerous chemicals"
      • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @01:05PM (#10024727) Homepage
        (And if you've had enough rest, don't you wake up naturally? Why use a device to do it for you?)

        Actually this guy is a /. reader and the alarm clock idea is the new in Soviet Russia joke. In 2014, you tell the alarm when to wake up!

      • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @01:13PM (#10024796)
        Right, like your boss is going to let you waltz in at 10:30 because your brain-wave monitor didn't deem you rested until after 9. (And if you've had enough rest, don't you wake up naturally? Why use a device to do it for you?)

        Your sleep cycle is approximately 4 hours long and during that time you go through 4 states from drowsyness to REM.

        If you are woken by your alarm clock during REM (the deepest) then you feel the worst. If you are woken during the lightest, then you feel the best. This is why sometimes you can have 4 hours of sleep and feel better than if you have 10.

        I would guess that the band would monitor how "deep" you are and wake you up at the nearest time when you are at the lightest.

        If I have to be awake at 7am, I'd rather be woken up at 5 and feel good, than wake up bang on 7 and feel crap all day.

      • Right, like your boss is going to let you waltz in at 10:30 because your brain-wave monitor didn't deem you rested until after 9. (And if you've had enough rest, don't you wake up naturally? Why use a device to do it for you?)

        Sure, why not. You just have to stay late. Why pay people to sit around half-asleep in the morning? For that matter, the office will probably be half empty until noon Toronto time when the people in Vancouver start getting there. I've already worked for an east-coast company with a w
    • by NeoSkandranon ( 515696 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:29PM (#10024317)
      My kitchen of tomorrow better have me a high-carb (and high fat) bacon eggs and toast going in the morning or i'm RMA'ing the damn thing

      =D
    • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:29PM (#10024319) Homepage
      Moore's law tells us that computing power doubles every 18 months.

      That's as far as I needed to read. Apparently in 2014 people will still mis-state common axioms (Moore's law), mis-quote famous sayings (come up and see me sometime, play it again Sam, etc), mis-pronounce common words (nuclear), and generally mis-use language (irregardless).

      Of course, all this misses the point. What we really want to know is, in 2014, does Han shoot first?

    • ...allow me to have any of those fancy gadgets.

      Well...maybe the alarm clock with an employees discount.
    • socialization still happens best in a real school and at a real playground

      Ahh, yes... segregated by age and ability level, this is definitly the best socialization!

      Gotta keep those pesky parents out of the picture... and grandparents, my my - go back to the home!
    • Every paragraph should have ended with, "and the government will be wacthing you."
    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @01:01PM (#10024685) Homepage Journal
      As a cynic whoose outlook has been validated by events for over forty years, I predict:

      In ten years, computers will be 128 times "Moore powerful." However, Microsoft, now involved in world government (now simply called, "gummint"), has continued to develop, and use, higher and higher level languages to write the (only remaining legal) operating system in, and the operating system and its native applications are now 256 times larger and slower - so computers will do things for us as 1/2 the rate they do today.

      Our mornings will still begin with waking up. Mornings will still suck, and you still won't like them.

      Today, your coffee can be brewed while you sleep. Tomorrow's robokitchen won't allow you to have coffee, because in doses roughly equivalant to pouring the Black Sea down their little throats, it causes cancer in laboratory mice (who now have been specially bred to have no immune system at all.)

      Of course, you aren't the only one who has to get going in the morning. Your spouse and kids will be taken care of, too. One morning you'll get up, and find that your children have been permanently taken to a "re-education facility" because the "smart toilet" reported to the Federal government that they had marijuana in their system from the junior prom, the night before. Your spouse is presently at the lawyers, suing for divorce (in 2014, 3 out of 4 people in the world are now lawyers.)

      Your spouse might telecommute - but for the lawyer, she has to be there in person. You won't have to take the kids to school, because they've been taken away from you by the gummint. School based education and socialization - Cliquing 101, pre-teen sexual activity, learning to crib, mandatory studies of how God(tm) created the earth in 4000 B.C. and the gummint in 2008 A.D. - that's all over for now. Your kids will be learning how to hack the universal credit machine at the mall from the other kids in gummint custody.

      Although you have an advanced degree, you work at McDonalds because the gummint doesn't like your attitude. So you drive to work. On your bicycle, because that's all you can afford. You'll arrive at work windblown and very sweaty. No one will want to venture very close to you. You won't have to worry about car keys, because you (and 99% of the rest of the population, which is huge because the pope, now a cabinet level post in the gummint, has told everyone to have plenty of children, bless you, bless you) can't afford a car.

      Throughout the day, your non-removable wristband, a mandated citizen ID technology, will keep the gummint apprised of your wearabouts, alert to report any transaction upon which you fail to pay taxes, any jaywalking event, or use/consumption of banned substances such as coffee or pornography.

      Recording your entire life will take a lot of storage, but the cost of gummint data storage will be entirely paid by your taxes, so that's no problem. The images of your life will be beamed through the air to an archive that only the gummint can access. Step over the line just once, and you'll automatically be tried, convicted and punished, all without the intervention of a human being.

      Your McDonald's sales kiosk will have a smart wall of its own, giving every worker a chemical and hormonal scan for banned substances. And no matter which chair you sit on anywhere, the chair will monitor your nervous system for anti-gummint reactions to gummint infomercials, which are projected in the air 22 hours a day from your gummint wristband. The chair is networked to the gummint, of course.

      On the way home from work, you'll stop to pick up a few things at the grocery store. No standing in line, though, to check out: you'll just waltz out the front door, as the Radio Frequency ID chips in the products you've bought allow their highly inflated costs to be tallied and your account automatically debited. You won't have enough credit left to pay for heating again next January. Your personality profile will be analyzed as you walk out the door to see if you

      • Blessing or Curse? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by linuxpyro ( 680927 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @09:25PM (#10029515)

        While the article paints a picture of some kind of Uptopia, frankly it scares the shit out of me. I want technology to progress, but I don't want it part of every aspect of my life. I don't want the toilet to know more about my own health than I do. I don't want my car to drive itself. I want the technology to exist, but I want control.

        There are too many things to go wrong here. What happens if there's some catastrophic failure (i.e., BSOD)? How will everyone continue to go about their lives? What if someone cracks the system (whcih can and will happen, if this is really what our future is like) and starts monitoring my every move, if the government doesn't do it already?

        Not my idea of a bright future...

    • In 14 years, i will have to worry if my daughter is Saying "Bring it on !!!" to half of the football team. The AI will NEVER find me in a restful sleep to wake me up at Rest. I will still use the Alarm clock.
  • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <splisken06.email@com> on Friday August 20, 2004 @11:57AM (#10023863)
    I don't want an electric car. I was promised a flying car and I'm not going to be satisfied until I get my FLYING CAR!

    Stop whatever you're doing and get working on my flying car. Now. I'm not kidding.

  • What? (Score:3, Funny)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) <michaelmtrippNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 20, 2004 @11:57AM (#10023877) Homepage
    No sexbots? No flying cars? What horrible vision of the future is this!?
  • of course (Score:5, Funny)

    by Guano_Jim ( 157555 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @11:57AM (#10023880)
    Canadian science fiction author Robert J Sawyer takes a positive look at a typical day in 2014

    For those who didn't RTFA, Sawyer predicts global hegemony under ruthless Canadian authority.

    Residents of the former United States are chained to benches while being forced to eat poutine and watch curling competitions.

  • Minor quibbles (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) * <jhummel.johnhummel@net> on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:00PM (#10023916) Homepage
    I must say, I like a lot of the ideas - even if I think that many of them (such as the car driving itself) is about 10 years too early on his time table. Not because we technologically can't do it - but because of the politics.

    Take the urine testing/saliva testing devices. Personally, I wouldn't sweat over it. Car driving itself? Sure - go for it!

    But there are those who will fear their loss of privacy (you can track where I go on the road through all the sensors! The Bible says that the Anti-Christ will put computer chips on our foreheads - cars are the first step!).

    I love the wake-up system. I believe I read about something like that in Scientific American once - a column about a gentleman who created a hack that would open his blinds a little at a time based on the alarm clock, so that when he was suppose to be awake, he was being his full on the face with sunlight, a little at a time. Then he modified it to just lights, so you didn't need the blinds. But brain wave monitoring? Personally, that's fine with me, as long as my wife doesn't discover my secret dream involving her, Utena and Selfie Tilmitt in a hot tub full of green lime jello.

    But a lot of people will balk at some things for reasons of fear. I still like a lot of the ideas, and who knows - a good chunk of them might come true. I personally hope the concepts of "data analyses and understanding over memorization" comes true. I get so frustrated when I hear the words "No open book tests". Last time I checked, my boss didn't tell me to make a program, then told me he'd fire me if I opened a book or looked up the data I needed through the newsgroups. Why? Because he knows that my ability to think through the data and see what's been done before is the reason he hired me, not to be able to rattle off information that might or might not apply at this second.

    I mean, that's what we have MCSE's for. (And yes, I'm one of those too ;) ).
    • Re:Minor quibbles (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FortKnox ( 169099 )
      ...even if I think that many of them (such as the car driving itself) is about 10 years too early on his time table. Not because we technologically can't do it - but because of the politics.

      Its not just that, but the mere transition period for something like 'cars driving themselves' would probably take 25 years. Think about it. You have to line EVERY ROAD IN THE NATION with electric devices for the vehicle, then 'self driving' cars will be expensive, so people won't be buying them exclusively. Hell,
    • Re:Minor quibbles (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kismet ( 13199 ) <pmccombs@ac m . o rg> on Friday August 20, 2004 @01:48PM (#10025268) Homepage

      must say, I like a lot of the ideas - even if I think that many of them (such as the car driving itself) is about 10 years too early on his time table. Not because we technologically can't do it - but because of the politics.

      Agreed.

      I don't think we'll have such advances in computing, though. I think Moore's law will take a break for a while (if it hasn't started already). The technology to keep Moore's law going for the next decade may exist, but it will be too expensive to develop and put out to the masses because of economic trends in tech markets.

      Of course, we will have faster machines that cost more (less, when adjusted for inflation), and more people will have them worldwide.

      The Internet will be far more pervasive. Dial-up will have all but disappeared - and won't be supported by most ISPs. Even the poorest of people will have access to broadband, except in the poorest nations, which will remain largely unchanged.

      All of the fancy goodies described in the article will exist (if they don't already), but still be too expensive and rare for any but the richest of people to afford.

      You won't be able to buy a CRT. A 19" flat-panel will cost $1000 (really $200, adjusted for inflation). However, wages won't have increased at the rate of inflation. Things will continue to lose wires and gain wireless capabilities. Land lines for public telecommunications will be unheard of.

      Technophiles will have gotten bored with Linux and with OSX - too mainstream. Windows will still be dominant on the desktop, but Microsoft will have long stopped their enormous profit-mongering and will have re-invented and diversified. Bill Gates might lose interest and go into some other business. Windows will cost next to nothing. A previously obscure OS will be getting popular with geeks who want something different. Maybe it will even be the Hurd.

      Gasoline fossil fuel will still be the dominant fuel for automobiles, but there will now be a significant minority of vehicles fueled by alternate means. Probably bio-diesel or improved hybrids, but still no fuel cells. Gasoline will be very expensive, and we'll still be talking about all of the research going into alternate fuels, except that we'll really be serious about it. Public transportation will improve slightly - dramatically in some areas. SUVs will be out. Thousands of people will still die in their vehicles.

      The low-carb craze will have ended. Nutrition won't have changed much - most people will still eat junk (cheap junk).

      Healthcare in America will have worsened, but improved in other nations. Fewer Americans will afford healthcare, and the quality of doctors will decline, prompting socialized medicine to become an attractive proposition for the first time (although still not quite there). More doctors will be unable to afford malpractice insurance and quit the practice altogether. People won't have fancy gadgets that assess their health status at home. They might add a few features to the standard thermometer and gain a blood pressure cuff as a standard item in the medicine closet. A few more controlled substances will make it Over the Counter. They will be harmless drugs, though.

      Advances in medicine will continue. New drugs, procedures, and equipment will arrive on the scene. These will open up new possibilities, but will come with new risks and new expenses. Ultimately, they will only produce marginal benefits.

      We will not find a cure for cancer, but we will come somewhat closer to making it a treatable illness that is regarded as a minor setback rather than a life-changing event.

      World hunger will be as prevalent as it is today. AIDS will continue to exact huge tolls on certain populations. No big break-throughs will help us there. Developed nations will experience significant population decreases as fewer children are born and the age demographic increases. Undeveloped nations will continue to increase their populations.

      The working cl

  • Tech/ Power Reliance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by StevenHenderson ( 806391 ) <stevehenderson&gmail,com> on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:00PM (#10023923)
    Assuming he's correct, does anyone else find it alarming how fucked we are in the event of a power outage or continual rise in fuel prices?
    • Assuming he's correct, does anyone else find it alarming how fucked we are in the event of a power outage or continual rise in fuel prices?

      One of the things he's forecasting is that 50% of white-collar workers will telecommute. While I think that percentage is high, there are a number of forces pushing us in that direction. One of them is the likely continual rise in fuel prices, at least petroleum-based fuels. Another will be that roads (at least in the US) will continue to be less and less usable

  • One that I would really like to see is the one phone number that is good world wide. Actually, I'd like to see it move away from a number, and use some sort of identification that is easier to remember, of course there is always stored numbers in your phone anyways. I don't see the toilet analyzing urine and your toothbrush analyzing saliva, but they are neat ideas.

    I do like the idea of your car operating via biometrics though. No more car keys and such, just a thumb print scanner

  • Atkins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shky ( 703024 ) <shkyoleary@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:01PM (#10023934) Homepage Journal
    "robokitchen will have an entire hot (but low carb!) breakfast waiting for you"

    Sorry, but my prediction for the next few years is the quick demise of the Atkins diet. Nothing that has you excluding entire parts of your diet can be healthy. I can't wait for this idiotic craze to go away.
    • Re:Atkins (Score:3, Insightful)

      My mother- and father-in-law are Italian, direct from a small village on the side of a mountain about an hour southeast of Rome. I've been to their village. The amount of pasta they eat would put an Atkins groupie into horrified paralysis, but the average person I saw in Italy was noticeably thinner than the average middle-class American.

      It ain't just carbs, folks. It ain't even just the portions; every dang meal over there has at least three courses. Just maybe it's exercise?

    • Re:Atkins (Score:5, Funny)

      by Oliver Wendell Jones ( 158103 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:24PM (#10024255)
      the quick demise of the Atkins diet

      Actually, based on the amount of fat those people eat and the lack of fiber, combined with the way Dr. Atkins died, I think it's safer to say we'll see the demise of Atkins dieters...
  • Why a wrist band? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rward ( 48255 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:02PM (#10023936)
    Why not implanted circuitry? I for one gave up a watch a long time ago. The way he describes this all-in-one-device reminds me of the talking watch calculators of the past.
  • You stop by Super EB games to finally pick up the just released Duke Nukem Forever!
  • Okaaaay ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bearpaw ( 13080 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:02PM (#10023944)
    I happen to enjoy Sawyer's novels, so I can only conclude that this is a cleverly subtle satire of pollyanna-ish amateur futurology.
  • I think I'd of agreed with most of it if he'd said 25 years, but not 10 - I'd be very, very surprised.

    Right now you could have rediculously complicated alarm clocks - but most people just need to get up, and any 5 buck alarm clock will do. Plus just about everyone I know uses their mobiles for alarm clocks anyways...
  • His job? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:03PM (#10023963) Journal
    As a science-fiction writer, my job is predicting the future.

    I thought the job of a science fiction writer was to author stories that are of a certain genre, generally, but not exclusivly dealing with speculations about the future.

    That is very much different than predicting the future.

    Science Fiction can be good even if the predictions are "wrong".

  • by Dan Crash ( 22904 ) * on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:04PM (#10023969) Journal
    I admit, I thought Mr. Sawyer's vision of the future only a decade away wasn't very good. (What are the "enhanced reality contact lenses" powered by? Happy thoughts?) But I'd be interested to hear other Slashdotters attempts at describing the tech of a typcial day in 2014. Go for it.
    • The first thing is it'll be much the same as it is now. We'll not have flying cars. Some of the unluckly ones of us will still be driving exactly the same cars we're driving today. It's only ten years away right?

      New technology will be more connected. Home gadgets will start to talk to each other. They'll be multiple competing standards and even though they're meant to all work on IP for some reason they'll all be subtly different and not be able to communicate properly. Things that never used to be

  • Sounds familiar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigChigger ( 551094 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:05PM (#10023980)
    Sounds just like the stuff predicted in the '30's that would be in place by the '70s. Except they had flying cars to look forward to. We don't even get that any more.

    BC
  • (if you haven't read the article, this won't make much sense or be too funny. If you have read the article it will make more sense, but still won't be that funny.)

    Our mornings will still begin with waking up. But instead of the old-fashioned alarm clock buzzer it starts with the electrowhips of the alien overseers.

    Today, your coffee can be brewed while you sleep; in 2014 coffee will only be a distant memory, as you quickly down some brackish water with your daily gruel allotment. No newspaper, but you can learn the latest gossip, such as who didn't survive the night, in hushed tones with your barrackmates.

    Of course, you aren't the only one who has to get up. Your spouse and kids will have to labor in the mines as well.

    So it's a one hour forced march to the work camps, where you're given your pick and sent underground. No need to quiz your children on facts as you march along; education is pointless when your day revolves around brutal forced labor, interrupted in the end only by a merciful death.

    Throughout the day, your wristband--a combination manacle, stungun, and one-way communications device--will be your lifeline to your alien overlords, who will periodically issue orders through it and shock you when you don't obey fast enough.
  • I dunno. Two-legged walking around a place as variable as a typical home with children is a tough problem on its own. Doing it safely, and also doing something useful at the same time, is not a problem I see being solved enough to be common in homes, if solved at all by 2014.

    I'm also extremely doubtful that nanomedicine will be that far along in only ten years. There will be some neat discoveries, and maybe even some gene therapy (just read about some mice with muscular dystrophy being almost cured by a g

  • Somehow... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:07PM (#10024013) Homepage Journal
    none of his speculation strikes me as "miraculous" or wishful thinking.

    Maybe it's just because it's a projection just 10 years in the future...

    But I think it's more because everything is based on computing, microchips, faster computers and resultant automation. He's not thinking "out of the box".

    I bet if people from the 1920's see the world today, they would be alarmed by the technology and hitech gadgets (simple automatic doors for that matter) around them. I want to feel like that when I think of the future - not just some old computer capable of working really really fast.

    I want us to live up to the Arthur C. Clarke's vision ("Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."). I think we've done pretty well upto this point (except ofcourse for all the -ve uses of technology (weapons) that we've figured out, but we need to get off our asses if we are to avoid Stagnation and other pitfalls that this "corporate society" averse to innovation, selfless contribution and *real* art is imposing upon us.

    /rant.

  • Bull (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:07PM (#10024021)
    There is no way that we are going to see some of the major infrastructure changes this guy envisions in only 10 years. He talks about roads with chips embedded in them allowing self driving cars. Will the technology be availabale? sure, it already is, will it be deployed in 10 years? no way. it takes governements 20-30 years to replace roads. He also talks about a lot of other things like smart toilets and smart kitchens, that may become available in new houses, but 95% of the houses out there will still not have them in only 10 years. I could go on, but I feel what this guy is showing, may be how bill gates lives in 10 years, but not your average citizen of Canada or the US.
  • by SphereOfDestiny ( 737325 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:08PM (#10024034) Homepage
    When people predict what things will be like in the future, it's often very wrong (think 2001, and "space 2000?" (that show where they were flying the moon around the universe)). And this then feels wierd. I think we need to relabel them as what we can do by then, not what we will do.

    My prediction that what we will actually do is make cell phones gaudier, some current technologies will get "streamlined", the cars will stay on the ground, and we'll remain technologically stagnant, using old technologies with more marketing annoyances like always.

    (think about what's in our day to day lives that's actually new in the last 10 years or so. The more I learn about computer science, the more I realize that most of the time we are re-discoving solutions to problems that were solved decades ago)

  • My problem with the article is not the feasibility of the various electronics incorporated into every day life. My problem with the article is the lack of energy discussion. For all of this electricity to be flowing around in our various appliances, including our toilets, in 10 years, something is going to have to change. With the massive fear of global warming being drummed into everyone's heads, the U.S. still hasn't built a nuclear power plant in a couple of decades. Coal and oil power kills at least
  • by twoshortplanks ( 124523 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:10PM (#10024065) Homepage
    I don't think he's really thought some of these things through.

    I mean, contact lenses that act as video screens? I haven't seen the prototype yet. Let's assume we have some in three years. two years to design the production model. Tack on a couple of years to tool up a production facility. Add on a couple of years for FDA approval. That leaves us just a year for them to become commonplace in the market place. Hell, we haven't all moved over to flatpanel screens yet, and they've been out for *years*.

    Oh, and someone's going to have to write software for these to make them do something useful. A large number of people are still running Windows 95 and that was developed...what fifteen years ago.

    Of course I could just be horseless carriage thinking [asis.org]

  • Heh, sure (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 )
    Yeah, in 10 years we'll have magical auto-navigating cars, everyone will be hardwired to the internet so that memorizing things will be obsolete.

    We have the technology to telecommute now. Why isn't it more popular? Because clients and most business is best conducted face-to-face. It's much easier to collaborate with your peers when you're all in the same room, than over some videoconfernce, and I dont care if said videoconference is in 1080p HDTV with dolby 5.1 surround sound. That wont change in 10, 20
  • Nice ideas, and they will probably all come true, but no way in 2014, maybe 2050, more likely 2100+. Look at how far we have come since 1970, not that far. It would take a major breakthrough or event to leap technology wise to the point where he predicts, sort of like what happened 100 years or so ago.
  • Yeah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) <michaelmtrippNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:14PM (#10024099) Homepage
    Honestly, I've seen so many "visions of the future" by people that I've started to grow tired of them. They're always a mish-mash of ideas that will probably happen, but not as soon as the author says they will, ideas that have been used in visions of the future for decades (for example, the idea of taking all our foods in pill form) and ideas that are just plain too ridiculous to happen.

    Remember folks, this guy is a Science Fiction author and his vision reflects that. Like all great science fiction, a lot of it has basis in fact, but also like most, there is a great deal of speculation, guesswork and just plain making shit up.
  • Salary? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The author doesn't mention the veracity of income that supports this lifestyle. Otherwise it sounds great, for a lazyass. I'm sorry, I mean a technically proficient knowledge worker.
  • Never happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tenebrious1 ( 530949 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:14PM (#10024106) Homepage
    At least, not to me. Maybe for the well-to-do, they'll have the fancy alarm system that monitors your brainwaves... but people like me will refuse to spend $5000 for such a system and prefer to rely on a $10 alarm from Target no matter what it does to our REM cycle. Besides, the cure for getting up cranky has been around for years, we call it "coffee"...

    Electric cars that drive themselves- yeah, sure that'll happen. I can see all those angry SUV owners just thrilled about driving along *with* traffic. What about those who can't afford such cars? It'll be at least 10 years after such cars are introduced before the less affluent can buy them 2nd hand.

    The flatscreen in your office... reminds me of "Spaceballs" and the bathroom monitor. "Sorry you cant see me boss, my video feed's broken. Yes, again..."

    A humaniod robot to cook and clean... what are they giving them away free? Sigh... maybe Bill Gates will live like this in 10 years... but not me.

  • by yopie ( 470181 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:16PM (#10024133)
    Is this a typical day in 2014? What a disaster!

    Warning: Too many connections in /usr/local/plesk/apache/vhosts/backbonemag.com/htt pdocs/php_site/php_news/config/config.php on line 11

    Warning: MySQL Connection Failed: Too many connections in /usr/local/plesk/apache/vhosts/backbonemag.com/htt pdocs/php_site/php_news/config/config.php on line 11

    Warning: mysql_select_db(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /usr/local/plesk/apache/vhosts/backbonemag.com/htt pdocs/php_site/php_news/config/config.php on line 18
    Could not use database!
  • by ayjay29 ( 144994 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:17PM (#10024150)
    >>Your spouse and kids will be taken care of, too -- with smart toilets analyzing their urine...

    Here's my prediction...

    A chap had a very painful elbow. He went to see his own doctor, who told him to rest it: no treatment was required, it was just tennis elbow.

    Rather dissatisfied, he decided to go to a new computer-based medical service that had just opened up. He went inside the building and found the terminal, but there were no people in sight. The instructions told him to slide his credit card through the slot, and that $150 would be debited. When he had done this, he was asked screen after screen of questions about himself, until eventually a specimen bottle appeared. The instructions on the screen said, "Produce urine specimen and pour into slot on left," so he did. A few seconds later, the screen read:

    Diagnosis: Tennis elbow

    Treatment: Rest

    Well, he wasn't happy. $150 wasted just to be told the same thing again. He thinks, "I'm going to confuse the hell out of that smug machine." He went home, took a bottle and put a scooped-up turd from his dog, some of his daughter's and wife's urine, some crankcase oil from his car and some of his own semen into the bottle and mixed it thoroughly. Then he went back to the computer.

    He waved his card through the slot, answered the questions again and poured his mixture through the slot when asked. There was a very long pause.

    About half an hour later, the screen read:

    Diagnosis:

    1. Your dog has rabies
    2. Your daughter is on heroin
    3. Your wife is pregnant, and your not the father
    4. Your car is going to throw a rod
    5. If you don't stop wanking, your tennis elbow will never get better.

  • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:17PM (#10024155)

    socialization still happens best in a real school and at a real playground

    This may not be a technology prediction (but hey, he started it!) but I predict just the opposite. There is a steadily increasing trend of homeschooling, that crosses all walks of life, not just hippies or the strongly religious.

    It's actually rather unnatural to be confined with a big herd of people only your own age, with a few (too few) adults hovering overhead like police helicopters trying to see what is going on.

    I've never been able to figure out what "socialization" is supposed to mean, unless it means "learning to deal with weird, artificial conditions that you are unlikely to live in for the rest of your life after school age".

    By the way, there are playgrounds and parks everywhere; you don't need to go to public school for that. Not to mention plenty of group activities and learning experiences that you don't need to be confined in a government institution to enjoy.

  • Ticketyboo... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ktakki ( 64573 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:22PM (#10024229) Homepage Journal
    Of course, you aren't the only one who has to get going in the morning. Your spouse and kids will be taken care of, too -- with smart toilets analyzing their urine and sensor-rich toothbrushes checking their saliva to make sure everything is ticketyboo; most health problems will be caught early and be trivial to correct.


    I'm not sure I like this. I mean, where is the data going? To my doctor? I think that would overload him, getting three piss tests per day from all of his patients. Or is the toilet so smart that it can do its own diagnosis?

    How does the toilet know it's me? Do I have to swipe a smart card before I pee? (There's a joke here about "logging in" but I'm not going to make it.)

    What happens when the dog drinks from the toilet?

    What about someone who's been convicted of a drunk driving offense; would these become mandatory? What if they pissed in the sink instead?

    Would I get a lecture from my toilet after a night of hard drinking? Would it complain if I ate too many jalapenos?

    Seriously, I don't think we'll have self-cleaning toilets by 2014, much less Tommy the Talking Toilet.

    k.
  • by skillio ( 594945 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:26PM (#10024280)
    it seems to be that this guy is just talking out of his ass. he basically threw in a bunch of buzzwords and did no research at all in giving his (clearly uninformed, imho) opinions. while undoubtedly some of these predictions will occur to some degree, to assume, for example, that the (basically nonexistent at present) nanomedicine field will be so ripe as to allow "clearing plaque out of your arteries, and getting rid of dangerous chemicals" is laughable [alcor.org] The contact lenses feeding you Terminator-esque telemetry also strikes me as a bit silly. Now don't color me luddite just yet - i agree that many of his predictions will come eventually true, and wish for them as much as the next guy (nanotechnology could very well hold the key to "curing" aging, for example) - had this article been labeled "2054", i might have been a bit more on board. basically, you could pick any joe on slashdot and he would give you an equally accurate, or more so, prediction of near-future society in line with current technological trends (ew i sound like roland piquepaille). so if predicting the future is your day job, its a good thing you have that whole sci-fi writer thing to back you up :)
  • In 2014... (Score:5, Funny)

    by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:27PM (#10024292)
    ... a McDonald's hamburger you buy will look better than it does in the posters

    ... "Celebrity Deathmatch" will feature real celebrities and the pilot episode will have a fight between Britney Spears and Janet Jackson and they'll both be given big guns

    ... George Lucas will have made Star Wars Episodes 7-9, none of which will feature any cute aliens just for the kids

    ... Stevie Ray Vaughan will reveal himself to have actually been in hiding for over 20 years making the greatest blues rock album the world has ever heard

    ... and that it was Jon Bon Jovi that actually got into the plane that supposedly killed Stevie Ray Vaughan

    ... we will all be playing a sequel to "Elite" that actually is better than the original

    ... Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer are publicly exposed as the perpetrators of the greatest animal massacre of all time whereupon it is revealed that Microsoft Windows is actually made from dismembered cute puppies, cuddly kittens and fluffy bunnies...

    ...stolen from orphaned children

  • by titusjan ( 219930 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:28PM (#10024307)
    Meanwhile, your kids will be off in their rooms, enjoying fully immersive virtual reality experiences -- who'd have thought homework could be such fun? Eventually, though, it'll be time for them to get ready for bed. Smart washcloths will make sure they clean everywhere, including behind their ears.

    "Hey Mom, I'll be in my room uhh... doing my homework"

    "Again? Please use your smart washcloth when you're finished this time. I don't want to have to clean up tomorrow when I'm uhh.. doing your laundry."

  • by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:32PM (#10024353) Journal
    After you wake up, you'll spend an hour checking out slashdot on your e-ink paper, you hacked your coffee-machine to boost the caffine to just under the lethal dose. You're alreadly late because you checked the "don't wake me if im having a dream" box on your alarm settings. Your getting ready for work and the toilet tells you that your young daughter has been busy with half the football team, her tooth brush confirms... off to work and to drop the kids off, the journey is silent, no-one says a word. There are some police cars outside the school - its been raided again by the MIA (Media Industry Ass. they are now global) good thing you taught your kids how to hide stuff properly. At work your boss is pissed off, apparently the new product infringes 165 patents but we're only budgeted to infringe 80. You need to find some loop-holes and get rid of 85 patented concepts by tuesday. After lunch theres a quick security search, apparently someone was spotted in the building wearing a t-shirt with a peace sign! The security search was sponsored by Pepsi and the vending machine had a one hour discount. On the way home you some girls getting a ticket for skirt-length violation (the cop has his ruler out) and you just hope your girl isnt getting into trouble. You get home and check slashdot, the news and your mail.

    Oh and make sure you dont get mugged in 2014, they cut your hand off for the finger prints.

  • by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:32PM (#10024356) Journal
    His site seems to have gone down inexplicably.

    o.O Alright who dunnit? Who clicked the link? You know who you are.

    Oh its back. ... this guy is not Authur C Clarke.

    "As a science-fiction writer, my job is predicting the future."

    No your job is writting science fiction. Future predictors have the job of predicting the future.

    "Moore's law tells us that computing power doubles every 18 months. If that holds up -- and i believe it will,"

    *switches into listen to old man rumbling on about moores 'law'* Moores law tells us that Moore though, hang on, about a year and a half ago I bought this computer that was half as good, and I remember when I was a lad...

    "Can anyone guess how that much computing muscle, widely available and inexpensively priced, will affect our day-to-day lives?"

    Yes, the average survival rate of Window 2014 will be about 20 minutes/128. Or it'll die just before you remove it from the polystyrene.

    "tomorrow's robokitchen will have an entire hot (but low carb!) breakfast waiting for you."

    s/robokitchen/wife... loser scifi writer.

    wife n. pl. wives (wvz)
    A woman joined to a man in marriage; a female spouse.

    "but you might still have to physically go to your office. Along the way you'll take your kids to school."

    How does he know I'll have kids in 2014, and if I do, they can take to robo-school-bus.

    "Naturally, your electric car will drive itself"

    Yeah, not running windows 2014 I hope.

    s/"you will use the rest of your commute time productively, catching up on full-motion-video e-mail and reading reports (or having them read to you by totally realistic voice synthesizers)" /You will then watch the best pornography and get famous people to say naughty things to you using realistic speech synthesis.

    The idea about the wall being a vast flatscreen, THAT is cool, except more cool for things like Doom 6. Unless the co-worker is hot.

    "Recording your entire life will take a lot of storage, but the cost of data storage will be essentially zero by 2014, so that's no problem."

    Aaaah I see GMails grand plan now.

    "No standing in line, though, to check out: you'll just waltz out the front door, as the Radio Frequency ID chips in the products you've bought allow their costs to be tallied and your account automatically debited."

    And if you haven't got an account chip? wooohoo utopian or orwellien?

    "You might make dinner yourself, if you enjoy cooking. But if not, your automated kitchen will again take care of everything"

    s/robokitchen/wife... loser scifi writer.

    wife n. pl. wives (wvz)
    A woman joined to a man in marriage; a female spouse.

    He is slow on the uptake right?

    "And you'll have a humanoid robot, too"

    Aaaah for people without wives.

    "your kids will be off in their rooms, enjoying fully immersive virtual reality experiences"

    They are called drugs. And what happened to the jetsons utopian family life with that hot one with white hair? She was nice.

    "So, have I got it right? Only time will tell. But, as I said at the outset, if I'm wrong, feel free to look me up in 2014 and let me know."

    No, and you will be dead by then I hope. Sod off.

    Sorry, had to, just had to.
  • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:48PM (#10024535) Homepage Journal
    Sawyer is head and shoulders above the bulk of scifi authors in taking on predictions that will or will not come true within his lifetime. But he could even be head and shoulders above so called "futurists" who can't be bothered even to register their opinions on longbets [longbets.com] and foresight exchange [ideosphere.com] -- of course, that's if Sawyer actually does so.
  • by TomorrowPlusX ( 571956 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:53PM (#10024591)

    Sounds to me that, if you can afford it, you too can be a soft childlike Eloi in the future. Great, sign me up.

    I think that some of these may come to pass, but 10 years is WAY too soon. What I mean here is, how different is today from ten years ago? Sure, the web and all, but they had BBSs and other similar tech since the 70s.

    My car today isn't significantly different than a car bought in the 80s or early 90s, except its mileage is worse ( and my car's a small 2-door stickshift ).

    My computer's essentially the same, just it's faster. Mac OS X is better than system 6, but really I use it for the same things: design & programming.

    I hate the idea that we've plateau-ed technologically, but I think we have. We've reached a point of massive polishing and it might be decades before something new hits. And I don't mean computers... I mean something really new that changes everything, like free, infinite energy or anti-gravity or something.

    The really big advances will be held back, possibly forever, because nobody will take liability when they ( inevitably ) fail in some way. Who is liable when two self-driving electric cars crash? The manufacturer? The city that lined the streets with sensors? The passengers, because they paid for the car and signed the EULA? For this reason flying cars won't happen, and pervasive nanotech will similarly be constrained.

    I predict ten years from now won't be a whole lot different, except 3d graphics will be a lot better, my car will get worse mileage, and all consumer products will be built in china and will break in two years ( no offense to chinese, but man, quality control seems pretty lax there ).

  • ah, utopia. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pb ( 1020 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:53PM (#10024594)
    Note that they never say "By 2014, nuclear war will have broken out, following rampant disease, economic collapse, rising world tensions, and local civil wars. A typical day might involve cowering in the remnants of your shanty, or travelling along backwoods roads, hoping that you or your family is not spotted by the local bandits. Mad cow disease won't be just for cows anymore, and computers will be largely superfluous due to the lowered standard of living, high energy prices, and disrupted power supply."

    I really wish they would say that, just because they're so horrible at predicting the future--that's one future I'd be happy to see them get wrong.
  • Utter nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:53PM (#10024597) Homepage
    I like Mr. Sawyer (he's an enthusiastic attender of conventions, willing to discuss his work with quite small rooms of readers) but this article made me shake my head. I read it the other day and tried to hit on Backbone's web site to respond. (Uh-uh. No forums.)

    Virtually every single prediction is well over 10 years away, and not just because of politics. Self-driving cars interfacing with millions of chips buried in the road? Even if made workable tomorrow, and tested and proven six-sigma safe the day after (try 20 years for each) we only repave *major* roads once every 20 years. Accelerating the schedule would double local taxes! Sheesh.

    And the rest of them run like that. I think I read this same stuff in 1994 at the height of the machines-of-loving-grace-will-run-the-world burbling from WIRED in its heyday. And always, always, this stuff is prefaced with Moore's Law. Because of Moore's Law, any prediction involving intelligence in machines is "OK", no matter how outlandish.

    But we've had over 30 years of Moore's Law since the first microchips and we still have computers that are dumb as rocks, just 1M times faster at being dumb as rocks. They barely can parse words reliably, have no idea what a sentence means, and definitely can't *see*. So, sorry, no low-carb-cooking, kitchen wash-up robots in a lousy 10 years.

    Some of it was at least techically possible; the "every TV show ever available" is obviously a political problem, if they can solve that, they can do the appliances and the networking. But anything involving, say, fiber to the home - i.e. more than ONE custom-download HDTV show at a time - will require over 10 years just to get the fiber strung.

    Shit takes TIME.
  • by 7-Vodka ( 195504 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:56PM (#10024623) Journal
    This is such BS. I used to read stuff like this and 'oooh' and 'aahhh' at it. But guess what. I'm old enough now that I know it's all bullshit.
    I was around in 84. I was around in 94. And now I'm still around in 2004. And guess what? Not a god damn thing has changed. Sure we got the internet and cell phones. But 95% of our lives back then is still the same now.

    We wiped our asses with toilet paper in 84 and 94, we do it now and we'll still be doing it in 2014.
    we were driving around in our grounded internal combustion engine boxes in 84 & 94 and we still do it now. We'll still do it in 10 years.
    Sure we have a *few* new things. We have cheaper and smaller cell phones, so some people have them. We have the internet and faster computers.

    He's claiming faster computers will change our lives because they get 128 times faster every ten years. WOW that's incredible (/sarchasm). What has that brought us the last 2 decades?
    weather reporters are not any more accurate than they used to be where I live.
    He talks about how our toilets and toothbrushes will analyze our fluid samples and tell us if we're getting sick and what we have. Dream on buddy. I work as an R&D biochemist and let me tell you, product development in these areas take MAJOR time. Not 10 years. If we dont have working prototypes in peoples homes for trials right now, the ordinary person won't have diddly in 10 years. You can run into a snag (murphy's law, you WILL run into a snag) and take 5-10 years just to work out one detail so you can get back on track.

    He talks about how roads in 10 years will have microchips embedded so they can drive your car for you. That one had me on the floor laughing. My city hasn't paved the roads with normal asphalt in 10 years. You think they're gonna repave all the roads with stuff that doesn't even exist right now and be done in 10 years? L O L. They've taken 6 months and counting just to redo a 500m strech of road outside my house. They're still not done.

    Sure, I wont dispute that we'll have some of the technology to do some of the stuff this guy talks about in 10 years. But at most it will still be a pipe dream in somebody's laboratory. no way it will be a fully functional 100% coverage public infrastructure or cheap consumable.

    Don't be fooled by this guy because he writes good sci-fi. That's exactly what he's written here, good sci-fi. Your life will still be the same in 2014.

    I predict most of his predictions will fall through. What he needs to do, is look at areas that are already functional in laboratories and are already cheap to do. Certain kinds of gene therapy for example. The ones to do with enhancing muscle growth. Inserting broken myostatin genes, or extra IGF1 genes into muscle cells. These are things that are already working in animal models (ie. good enough for athletes to say fook it and try it) and are also cheap to do because you only need to prepare the material once and you can administer it at no cost and produce more very cheaply.

    You want my prediction? in 8 years, watch for a shitload of olympic records to get thrashed.

    • by DG ( 989 )
      The funny thing about change is how little people notice it happening - like how if you drop a frog in a pot and crank the temperature up slowly enough, you can boil him and he'll never know.

      Let's look at some of you statements:

      "Sure we got the internet and cell phones."

      Way to trivialize a couple of the most important recent developments there Skippy.

      Thanks to the Internet, specifically the WWW and decent search engines, a HUGE amount of human knowledge is now recorded in a manner that is easy and cheap
  • In 2014... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) * on Friday August 20, 2004 @12:56PM (#10024628)
    .. There will be one big mall in each city. It will be owned by a single mega-corporation. The stores will all be the same; the products will all be the same.

    .. This same company will control your telephone, internet, credit cards, public utilities, cable/sat tv, and insurance. If you are late paying your credit card, your cable, tv, water, electricity, telephone, and insurance are cancelled (and vice-versa)

    .. The credit reporting agency (singular - owned by the same mega-corporation) will introduce a new feature using computer technology. A perverse combination of MBTI geared towards identifying your lifestyle, level of complacency and value as a "consumer", based on the company's analysis of your actions and purchases, utility consumption, media watched, etc. Your new "life report" will not only gauge your ability to meet your financial obligations, but will reveal your sexual preference, substance addictions, political proclivity, psychological stability, attractiveness, work ethic, and more. Every time you deal with any sizeable entity, your "life report" will be pulled and examined. This will be the beginning of a new era where people are put into castes based on the value of this report and you will choose a spouse primarily based on their stats.

  • Old people (Score:4, Interesting)

    by michael_cain ( 66650 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @01:31PM (#10025031) Journal
    I find it interesting that futurists (which is the role he's playing here) always talk about what life will be like for a 30-something who's married and has kids. Maybe it's not as true in Canada, but society is increasingly single people or people whose children are grown and gone. I'm 50, and both my children will be out of the house at college this fall. The IRS actuarial tables say I can expect another 34 years, significantly longer than the 20 years when I had children in the house. In ten years the "typical" person will be older than the typical person of today. In 50 years, we'll be up to our elbows in old people (well, you'll be up to your elbows -- the chances I'll still be here are small).

    Future tech will be oriented more and more towards the needs of the elderly. AI that helps them keep track of their schedules and medication. Spoken interfaces to that AI because typing is very hard when your arthritis acts up. Always-on wireless communication so that "I've fallen and I can't get up" is not an issue. Appliances with sensors and network connections so the AI can remind you that you left the stove on or didn't turn on the washing machine. A shift towards smaller homes, all on one level, and the disappearance of bathtubs (bathtubs turn out to be incredibly hazardous for the elderly).

  • by Louis Savain ( 65843 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @01:34PM (#10025068) Homepage
    Your spouse might telecommute -- perhaps half of all white-collar workers will do so in 2014 -- but you might still have to physically go to your office. Along the way you'll take your kids to school.

    I doubt this very much. Prediction: We will have an AI breakthrough within a few years. In ten years, you and your spouse will be replaced by a machine and will join millions of others on the unemployment line. Unless, of course, the Big Brother government du jour steps in and bars intelligent machines from the work place. Lots of luck to them, because other nations will not follow suit. Interesting times ahead.
  • by WolfMansDad ( 253294 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @01:56PM (#10025349)
    When I was a little kid (1974) our grocery store got its first automatic door. It was amazing, just like Star Trek! I went in and out of it shouting "Scotty, give me more power!" and "Red alert!" while my mother shopped. How many of you (who are parents) would be separated from your six-year-old kid in a grocery store today? How many of your kids play pick-up games of street ball with their neighbors? How many of them roam around the neighborhood on bicycles, unsupervised, like we did in the 70's?

    In the neighborhood where I live today, lawns are immaculately kept, and the streets are devoid of children. They live here. It's just that their parents never let them see the light of day, except during organized, structured activities that they drive to in their monster SUV's.

    I, for one, would trade all my gadgets to give my neighborhood kids the freedoms we had then.
  • by Gryffin ( 86893 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @02:12PM (#10025534) Homepage

    I'm sure Mr. Sawyer is a fine writer and all, but really, this sort of over-optimistic drivel has been around since before SF even existed. The editor's "department" choice is ironic: we don't have flying cars because the "popular science" wonks of 40 years ago chose to ignore the realities of the world we live in.

    Sawyer flat-out ignores many trends we all see in our lives right now, without justifying what would cause such drastic changes in course. Real change only comes from disruption; like, say the Internet.

    Wanna get an idea how far things will progress in the next ten years? Look at what it's done in the LAST ten years...

    • Wake-up technology: In 1994, alarms clocks worked pretty much the same way they had for the previous 50 years. I bought one around then, that I still use, that starts playng the radio at zero volume and slowly increases it to wake me more-or-less gently. But as another poster pointed out, your employers STILL insist you be available at certain, pre-planned times, the Hell with your brain rhythms. As white-collar workers lose more and more rights and bargaining power vs. management, this will certainly not change in the next ten. (More likely: technology that subtly alters your sleep cycles, so you get more rest during sleep, then awake you on schedule, but with less stress; this will allow the ambitious to perform better in the office on a few less hours a sleep than today. White-colar OT is going the way of the dod, we'll *all* be working 60+ hour weeks ten years from now!)
    • Kitchens that prepare your meals: Ten years ago, family eating habits were well along on a shift away from family-group dining and home-cooked meals, towards individual eating schedules and pre-packaged meals. Parents and children have very busy, and vastly divergent, schedules do to the ever-increasing demands of work and school; don't look for that to change anytime soon. So don't expect your kitchen to cook you a meal, either; it *might* microwave you something just in time to grab and eat in the car, though. (Side note: The Atkins craze still in favor ten years from now? Riiiight. The processed food industry is already looking for ways to undercut the trend towards healthy foods, and with their marketing budgets, we'll all be back to eating crap again in a few years.)
    • Home appliances analysing your health: This one I can see, but instead of to protect your health, it'll exist for the benefit of your insurance companies. Blood sugar a little high? Hmmm, pre-disposition to diabetes, if you develop it later, we won't cover it. Blood pressure a bit high? Your policy will cost $500 more next month. Pre-cancerous cells? Policy cancelled, unless you'd like to spend $100,000 per year for an "assigned risk" plan...
    • Electric, self piloting cars: Ten years ago, personal vehicles had already gone through a cycle of increased fuel economy, which was soundly rejected by consumers. Fleet mileage has declined ever since. While some makers are trying to embrace hybrid technology, consumers are staying away in droves. (The only thing that could change this would be government incentives or mandates, but with the lobying power of Big Oil, expect just the opposite.) And while the technology is probably already here to allow cars to drive themselves, it'll take at *least* ten years just to work out the transistion: the period in which self-piloting and manually piloted cars share the road will be a disaster. Besides the human (particularly American) reluctance to give up control of their vehicle in ANY fashion, plus the potential for huge legal liability to the jurisdictions that want to try this, will keep this technology safely bottled up for several decades.
    • Schools teaching analytical skills: Don't I wish!! Ten years ago, the concept of education was much more holistic; now it's all about standardized testing, both to meet government requirements, as well as increasingly choosy colleges. The trend today is to view school as nothing more than job training, either directly o
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @03:14PM (#10026274) Homepage
    • National

      Maximum Leader Ashcroft announced that today's terrorism alert level is reddish-orange. Travel across state lines is prohibited.

      Two tourists were accidently shot dead today near the White House when they pointed a camera at the limo of the Secretary for State Security.

      The disposable bodysuits required for air travel will be available in new colors this fall. Toothpaste has been removed from the permitted carry-on items list due to a potential terrorist threat.

      Gasoline isn't rationed, but it costs $21/gallon. It's tax deductable as a business expense.

      The E-mail "security fee" is being raised from $0.50 to $0.75 per message, to cover the increased costs of reading and censorship by Homeland Security. Spam is down to 0.001% of all E-mail.

      Homeland Security announced today that 96.3% of road intersections in the US were equipped with surveillance cameras, and that 100% coverage would be achieved within two years.

      Information about behavior patterns as obtained from cell phone locators and surveillance cameras will now be made available to college admissions officers, employers, insurance companies, and military recruiters.

    • International

      Cleanup of the wreckage of Seoul, after the nuclear war between North and South Korea, has been halted again due to higher than expected radioactivity.

      Yesterday, Israel sent robot bulldozers into the Jenin refugee camp to crush the homes of "terrorist sympathizers".

      China announced that their moon base personnel would have to serve longer tours due to budget cuts.

  • by Zigurd ( 3528 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @03:28PM (#10026422) Homepage
    He missed one prediction by a mile: Home schooling is one of the most important large-scale trends. It is the only way to scale-up a large change in education. Private schools and charter schools can't grow fast enough. Group activities will be bought a la carte: Sports clubs rather than school sports, etc.

    In 10 years, some universities will start to specialize in home-schooled students.
  • Gimme a Break (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonym1ty ( 534715 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @03:54PM (#10026752) Homepage Journal
    I read this article, and What a load of Horse Shit

    Again we see lofty ideals of what is to come in the future. I'm sorry but I call bullshit on most of his ideas.

    The world will change and it will change a lot in ten years, but much will also stay the same. Again here we see another sci-fi author telling us about how goo the future will be and how much better man kind will be. I got news for you, people suck.

    If we use the last 20 years of society's evolution as a guideline, we will see that the number one driver in technology has been pr0n. (VHS vs Beta and whiz bang multimedia for computers).

    Ask yourself this; What life changing devices have entered in your life without making you feel better or feel happier? pr0n is an example of this, but what about the ability to steal music right and left, or adrenaline pumping games, or anything that glorifies ME ME ME!

    Lets stop trying to see how wonderful society will be in the future, if the past is any indication of the future, we're going to stay a bunch of self gratifying savages and any technological advancement is going to reflect that ever so clearly.

    Not that theres anything wrong with us being savages --as long as we admit it.

"Ada is PL/I trying to be Smalltalk. -- Codoso diBlini

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