Archive for December, 2014

Book: A History of The Future in 100 Objects

December 29th, 2014

After hearing Adrian Hon’s talk on The Long Now Foundation’s Seminar About Long Term Thinking podcast, I followed up by buying his book.  I was not disappointed!

Inspired by the popular book A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil Macgregor,  A History of the Future in 100 Objects by Adrian Hon tells the story of the near future in a series of 100 vignettes centered around objects.  As he puts it: “a hundred slices of the future of everything, spanning politics, technology, art, religion, and entertainment. Some of the objects are described by future historians; others through found materials, short stories, or dialogues.”  They all blend together seamlessly in a coherent universe.  Like the best science fiction, not everything is explained on its face immediately, but you are clued in at the right time.

Book Cover A History of the Future in 100 Objects

To get a flavor for it before buying the book, you can read about number of the objects for free on the 100 Object website.  Here are a few of the ones that stuck with me:

#10 Deliverbots – Autonomous wheeled drones make deliveries around major cities.  No need to wait for the FAA to clear commercial autonomous flying drones that Amazon has hyped.  More local regulation would control something closer to an RC car.  Perhaps very little regulation?  BTW, why does this business already exist?  If you want to work on it or are working on this, please let me know.  Or is this where InstaCart, Google Express and Uber deliveries are headed?

#11 Conversation Brokers – With almost everyone wearing a microphone, the swarm of sensors can record formerly private conversations.  With the network, those recordings can be sold to the highest bidder and used for blackmail, market intelligence or fighting corruption or crime.  Transcription and voice print matching technology may already be good enough to allow this to happen. Amazing implications of wearables and smartphones that I had not thought through myself.  Seems plausible to me!

#26 Amplified Teams – The concept here is that groups use information technology along with bio-hacking (drugs or wetware?) and intense training to create a strong and better team.  The humans amplified by technology and cooperating together are able to accomplish much more than every thought possible.  These types of teams are especially relevant in fast-moving environments perhaps a hedge fund, combat command or gaming situation.

#70 Fourth Great Awakening – What if you could use technology to alter your beliefs and personality?  In this future scenario, you can employ “eyedrops, take the pills, and enroll in their induction course of targeted viruses and magstim” to become a true Christian.  Questions of free will, “credit” for good deeds, and the overall societal effects all swirl in my head when thinking about these types of scenarios.  I do not know if this is a realistic option in the next 100 years to reprogram the brain like this although there will definitely be attempts.

#72 The Downvoted – I have definitely thought about this type of scenario before.  There are a lot of advantages to online reputation systems.  Although, for those that are social ostracized for trivial or poor reasons, the network can reinforce some of our worst social instincts.

Check it out and let me know what you think.