I always wonder how my grandparents saw the future. I am currently living in the world they dreamed of but is it how they envisioned? In the 1950s, did they see me sitting in bed at 10 o'clock at night, writing an article on my laptop for Huffington Post about how I see the future of technology?
They had The Jetsons but is that really how they saw the future? Probably not. After all, they took the term "science fiction" literally which is not the case for most people today. We see science fiction as a future reality as many theories that were "fiction" back then are being proven as truths today.
When we bought our first house, my grandmother told me that we would get sick of vacuuming the floors. Joke's on you, grandma, you must have never heard of Roomba! Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Nikola Tesla predicted smartphones back in 1926. The idea was laughable at the time of course and no one, other than Tesla, thought it would ever be a reality. But look at us now. Not only do we have smartphones, but they are getting smaller, more durable, and syncing with other devices no one really thought we would have like tablets, smart watches, etc...
So what will the future hold? Yes, these are the silly things I sit and think about when I am not doing real work.
The Perfect City. Is It Possible?
Cities are completely screwed up at the moment. With population increasing, expansion is necessary and careful planning is not always at the forefront. We build as we go which causes traffic issues, utility problems, and even putting buildings in the path of mother nature (here in California we have fires aplenty).
The ability to build the perfect city is already underway thanks to "building information modeling" (BIM). Think of it as Sim City but in 3D. Architects are using it to draw plans for buildings while cities can actually map out entire towns complete with utilities. The benefits of BIM include being able to simulate projects and get them down to the finest detail without the need to rework drawings.
I see cities being planned in fine detail before they are even built. We will hopefully know, through modeling, the places that are likely to flood, places where there will be traffic congestion, and the best place in the city to live, based on weather patterns and access to schools and other amenities.
Screenshot of BIM software showing how you can view a layout in 3D. I think I see the Vegas sign on the right. Let's just hope our future cities do not have lizards that can skateboard. Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Of course you cannot have the perfect city without the perfect transportation system. High emission vehicles would not exist in their current form. What will replace them?
At the moment, the only "futuristic" transportation system is the Hyperloop. A vision of SpaceX founder Elon Musk, the original concept was in response to California's plan to build a bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The Hyperloop has been described as a "vacuum tube transportation system" and would transport people and goods between the two cities in 35 minutes at a fraction of the cost compared to the bullet train.
The interesting thing about the Hyperloop is that Musk professes that it would be the perfect transportation system on Mars because of that planet's atmosphere. Who knows, maybe that "perfect city" will be on a different planet.
Well, we can explore my thoughts on fringe a little later, but it's definitely within the realm of possibilities. For now, let's focus on something a little more believable by the majority. Assuming we are not living on Mars by then, how will we communicate in the future?
Google Glass brought out the best in futuristic anticipation. An optical head-mounted display, Google Glass is worn just like a pair of eyeglasses. You can view information in the screen in front of you and also control it through voice recognition. While the technology is moving slower than people would like, it is a glimpse into a completely hands-free world of communication.
Google Glass could be the future of wireless communication. Of course, that will be short-lived once we find a way to put all that technology onto a contact lens. Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Google Glass did not take the foothold that the company anticipated; however, it is making a comeback. We'll see just how soon it will replace those smartphones that Tesla predicted.
How About Holograms?
"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."
Yes, I just dated myself but it needed to be said. Straight out of Star Wars, can we actually speak through holograms? Imagine, having someone in the same room as you communicating even though they are halfway around the world.
Microsoft has already started to make this a reality. Using what they refer to as "holoportation," they can record and project someone from one location to another. At the moment, it takes tons of 3D cameras in order to accomplish the feat, but maybe in the future it will as easy as giving the command to our Google Glasses.
Beyond the Impossible
I am a believer in fringe theory. Some of it still seems like science fiction to me, but some seems absolutely possible. Thanks to Einstein and his theory of relativity, I believe time travel is possible. Of course, it is outside the scope of our current understanding which is why it is still considered "fringe." I could dedicate an entire series of articles about fringe but we'll leave it at that for now.
For those of you rolling your eyes, imagine asking someone in the 1700s if they thought it would be possible to fly over the ocean like a bird. All the while enjoying a mixed drink and playing games on your smartphone.
So how will my grandchildren live? I don't really know. What they will have then probably won't even be envisioned until I am gone. Maybe when they travel back in time to see me I will get a glimpse of what will be.