OUR VIEW: Waiting for the future

Some future predictions aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

Still waiting for your flying car? It looks like you’ll be waiting a lot longer than people in the 60s were predicting.

Throughout human history, we’ve had prophets predicting what the future will bring, whether that be the end of the world or, well, flying cars.

Most of the predictions have failed to come through for which we can all be thankful. Outside of a few zealots, it’s doubtful anyone was looking forward to the end of days.

Likewise, we should probably be pretty grateful for the lack of flying cars. Just think of all the other drivers you curse under your breath and then imagine them 1,000 feet in the air, trying to fly in a snowstorm, where a mistake is going to cost a lot more than a paint scratch.

Beyond just developing the technology, flying cars, and even driverless cars, are going to require some major changes in both our behaviour and the regulations that control how we get along on the roads.

But there are other tech predictions we can be glad didn’t come true. Google, and now Apple, are working on wearable tech like glasses that will make all your information available at a glance, but others have been working for decades on the tech that connects directly to our brains. The Cochlear implant is a positive example of that — giving some the ability to hear.

Others though, dream of nanotechnology connecting our brains directly to computers, essentially having your iPhone in your head. Instant access to information would be great, and a phone call directly from your brain to someone else’s would be as close to telepathy as makes no difference.

But do you want your Twitter or Facebook feed unreeling in your head? How many photos of people’s breakfast, lunches and dinner can you take before you go insane?

Or think of what happened to the internet. It didn’t take long for it to take over by advertising, now imagine those same ads coming up when you ask Siri-in-your-skull to look up something. Or if you can’t afford a subscription to a streaming service, you could let the service stream ads directly into your visual cortex. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Dreaming is a good thing, and technology has brought many benefits. But like predicting the end of the world, maybe we should ask about whether we really want these predictions to come true?

–Black Press