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I'd like to do a blog post about what technologies from science fiction people hope or wish will be realized within their lifetime.

Please cite the source material (literature, movies, etc) of the said technology, with a brief description of it and why you want to see that technology become a reality. Do you think that technology could be achieved within the next n years? (n being from now until your death).

  • 3
    Interstellar spaceflight. Source? 90% of scifi ever written. – Kevin Oct 8 '14 at 17:38
  • @Kevin Do you have a citation for that statistic? Also, don't think we need local spaceflight between planets in our own solar system before we go jumping off to some other place? – Jack B Nimble Oct 8 '14 at 17:42
  • 1
    Nope, just pulling numbers out of thin air. – Kevin Oct 8 '14 at 17:43
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    It's not a technology, but definite confirmation that We Are Not Alone is very much what I want. – user8719 Oct 8 '14 at 19:37
  • While it pains me, I'm VTCing. This is NOT about SFF.SE and should properly be discussed in chat. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 15 '14 at 2:15
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    DVK: Why? This is, as I understand it, for the SFF.SE blog, which is ancillary to the main site but still a part of it. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Oct 15 '14 at 4:13
  • Hoverboard!!! youtube.com/watch?v=lD8SoeeSG0E – Valorum Oct 22 '14 at 7:07

10 Answers 10

7

I just hope that we can get clean, reliable, safe fusion energy in the form of household devices.

We've got one year left!

enter image description here

3

I'm going to skip all the jetpacks and spaceships and go straight into Singularity mode - Brain Uploading1.

As we get older, our bodies start to fail us more and more, and for some of us they were never a bastion of stability in the first place. The promise of being to upload our personalities onto a computer - either as disembodied programs wandering around in cyberspace, moved onto a clone or robot body, or powering a completely different chassis, this is the promise of immortality without needing to solve the biological mechanics of aging.

There are a lot of good examples in fiction:

  • The "cyber ghost" concept can be found in William Gibson's Neuromancer, where digital "constructs" of a personality can be restored. Doctor Who has it as well with the Library Mainframe in the excellent Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead double episode. Arnim Zola in Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier is another good example.
  • Copying your personality onto a new body is the central premise of John Scalzi's Old Man's War. Also in Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil, but there it's just creepy. Whedon's Dollhouse plays heavily with this as the central concept of the show. Oh, and Avatar, of course. And Zelazny's Lord of Light. I can go on, I think, quite a bit.
  • Replacing a human body with a mechanical one is a bit rarer, I think, mostly because it's a bit of a subset of the first category. What I had in mind is works like McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang, but looking into it shows that it's not brain uploading as much as a human hooked up to a ship. But there are still probably dozens of examples. I'm pretty sure Zelazny played around with it.

And now for the big question, do I think this will be possible in the coming decades? It's hard to say. Computing power and storage keep advancing, and replicating a human's consciousness inside a computer might be possible even without understanding how said consciousness works. I think I'll give it a solid "maybe".


1 I originally typed "Brian Uploading", which is a fine thing and I appreciate his efforts, but I'm not looking forward to it as much.

  • 1
    Just make sure you don't wind up like GLADoS. – Zibbobz Oct 9 '14 at 17:11
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    @Zibbobz - This (post) was a triumph! I'm making a note here: Great Success. – Valorum Oct 9 '14 at 17:16
  • If parasitic takeover counts, then the movie Being John Malkovich and a book series called Animorphs probably count. And probably hundreds of others, including the way agents take over people's minds in The Matrix. – person27 Oct 21 '14 at 18:35
  • These aren't really what I'm after. The point of brain uploading is to transcends the physical shell. In Malkovich it's just (magical) voyeurism, and in the Matrix it's not even people, just software changing UI. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Oct 22 '14 at 5:31
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The medical tech in Elysium. It would be marvelous to never have to worry about your health again.

2

At one point, one Joel Spolsky wrote a clearly science-fictiony blog about a world where StackOveflow reputation serves as a useful benchmark when participating in software engineering hiring process.

I wanna live in that world.

  • I've heard that the top StackOverflow users are regularly offered contract programming work. I'm wondering if I'll be approached by Paramount to do continuity work on their upcoming films... – Valorum Oct 18 '14 at 10:32
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I'm going to go with virtual reality, specifically the kind where you act through the body of an avatar to interact with a generated environment. There are plenty examples:

  • The movie Avatar by James Cameron
  • The anime Sword Art Online
  • The book series Otherland by Tad Williams
  • See Wikipedia for more.

Going with the kind of virtual reality available in Otherland, where the avatar body is digital, I think this kind of technology won't be available for at least 200 years because it would require neural connections for full stimulation of the senses. On the other hand, virtual reality involving only some senses (sight, hearing, and tactile) can be simulated without neural connections and a complete VR environment for those senses could be available within, say, 50 years.

Now as for why I'd like to see this as a technology: It would offer full communication in a more personal way than could be achieved through email or video chat. It could also aid in escapism, acting as an outlet for negative emotions. I think it could have clinical uses as well, such as isolating psychological behaviors from physical ones (like Parkinson's vs. nervousness).

  • Any in particular you like most? And as the question posits, do you think we'll have this technology in a reasonable time frame compared to the work in question that it's from? – Zibbobz Oct 21 '14 at 19:03
  • @Zibbobz Thank you, I have edited the answer to be more complete. – person27 Oct 21 '14 at 19:21
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Also, I’d like to see an infinite storage space with intelligent properties that travels through time.

I think you all know exactly what I’m talking about.

Yes…I’d like to see Bending Robots invented within my lifetime.

enter image description here

Now hang on a sec and let me explain why Bender is great.

They are extremely useful for their primary constructive/destructive purpose of bending.

enter image description here

They run on a cheap reusable fuel...albeit at remarkably high emissions.

enter image description here

Plus a door thingy.

enter image description here

We've got a full 985 years to complete one, so let's get started on making the world's greatest most in-your-face robot!

enter image description here

0

I'm not obsessed or anything, I just think that if science can put a man on the moon that they can come up with a good way (virtual reality, cloning, robotics, etc) to allow the common man (someone like me, for example) to have * ahem * relations with popular celebrities (like Sarah Michelle Gellar, for example).

BUFFYBOT MkI
enter image description here

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Friendly strong AI. Source: Transcendence.

No nasty hard takeoff like in the Terminator movies, just a slow, steady climb up the old sigmoid curve, taking humans along when they are ready. I want to see this become a reality because strong AI gets you all the other sf tech goodies if they are obtainable at all. I think we could see strong AI in ten years. All the trends in brain scanning technology and massively parallel computing platforms are pointing in the right direction for something to happen. Machine learning is at the core of many tools we use daily, which means AI is beginning to catalyze changes that will feed back into better AI systems. Ten years is my guess.

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    I think we could see strong AI in ten years. - It's been 10 years away for the past 50 years... – Izkata Oct 11 '14 at 7:57
  • @Izkata The majority is always sane, Izkata. – Kyle Jones Oct 11 '14 at 17:18
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    This actually ties in pretty nicely with my answer – Valorum Oct 19 '14 at 6:45
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The singularity thus making Immortality possible, to transfer my consciousness to a machine and live forever.

  • Could you provide more details? I'm not familiar with which singularity you're referring to, from what work, why it would be beneficial, what it does, or when it would be expected to be complete (and whether or not you think it wil be). – Zibbobz Oct 23 '14 at 17:42
  • The "singularity" you're referring to is the point at which a machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence. None of which implies brain uploading (which @AvnerShahar-Kashtan has already posted). – Valorum Oct 23 '14 at 19:16
  • implanting computers and nanobots in our bodies and brains to enhance their natural functions.When the technological singularity happens, we could achieve immortality. Ray Kurzweil is already working o it. So it has to do with it – The Extinct Surgeon Oct 26 '14 at 14:41
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I would like to see a massive increase in the scope and power of the relatively new science of neuromodulation, the various methods of directly stimulating the brain - whether electrical, magnetic, or via sound waves - that has been shown in many studies since about 2000 to have potentially vast implications in the treatment of mental and physical illness and in the enhancement of cognitive functions in healthy brains. The most sophisticated form of neuromodulation at present is transcranial direct-current stimulation, which has hundreds of studies attesting to its effects.

Ideally, neuromodulation will reach a point where we are able to substantially reduce our negative emotions (e.g. fear and anger) and enhance our positive emotions (e.g. compassion and empathy) without having to spend decades in meditation as the most 'advanced' humans in that regard do today. (Those who don't believe intensive, prolonged meditation can achieve extraordinary results in the reduction of negative emotions and enhancement of positive ones should examine the literature on the ~15 years of extensive studies we have done on the subject.)

I suppose this may not count as a science fiction prediction, given that I am talking about an already established technology that - unlike many of those listed above - really will be available to the general public very soon, but the extent to which it can be continually developed is unknown. Meditation is a difficult skill to develop and a very difficult skill to master, and this technology gives me hope that I won't have to go to the extremes of people in the past of spending 40 or 50,000 hours sitting in a cave to reach the same level of emotional well-being that they enjoy.

  • This is not a science fiction technology. A fascinating technology, definitely, but not sci-fi. – Zibbobz Nov 3 '14 at 18:27
  • Well, I guess the only part that might strike people as sci-fi is the idea of putting a cap on your head that makes you the equivalent of someone who's spent 50 years in a cave in a matter of...months? But that is only a matter of extrapolating the development of a proven technology over several decades, so I can see why it would not qualify as sci-fi. Also, many people still think that the idea of 'brain caps' that can dramatically alter behaviour is still sci-fi, so I thought it would make for a useful post. – Kaiser Nov 4 '14 at 20:14
  • Let me clarify a bit. This is a technology that could be depicted in a fictional setting, but that's not what you are referring to. You're referring to a technology that is being conceptualized in the real world and developed for the future. This Meta Question is about Science Fiction technology, and what you're putting forward is not from any work of fiction. – Zibbobz Nov 4 '14 at 20:19
  • Ah I see. Of course, then it would not qualify. It's just so cool. – Kaiser Nov 5 '14 at 21:29

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