#2. Iris Scanning/Invasive Advertising Is Here Now
The Sci-Fi Premise:
In Minority Report, Tom Cruise is a wanted man who needs to clear his name by playing with huge touch screens and doing lots and lots of running. In one scene, Cruise undergoes black market eye-replacement surgery -- not to swap his out for a less crazy pair, but because the cities of the future come equipped with hidden iris-scanning technology to identify fugitives on the run.
It replaced the less accurate "Pinky-swear you're not a fugitive" test.
And in the future Earth of Minority Report, that technology is everywhere -- billboards even use it to say your name and make personalized sales pitches as you walk by. It's not just Big Brother that electronically tracks your every step, it's Lexus.
So, how far off do you think this technology is? Minority Report took place in a weird future full of psychics and impractically futuristic cars and force field guns. That film was set in 2054, but governments and advertisers in the real world certainly aren't going to wait that long.
"But I want to sublimate consumers nowwwwwww!"
In fact, the city of Leon, Mexico, partnered with biometrics firm Global Rainmakers Inc. to install iris scanners throughout their city in an attempt to make it the "most secure city in the world." While the firm is busily installing their Big Brother boxes all over the city, the city is building an iris database, starting with criminals -- the idea being that if, say, a wanted man tries to escape by plane, iris scanners at the airport will find and track him, allowing security and police to easily detain him. But to make sure regular law-abiding citizens don't feel left out, they can have their irises scanned into the database, too -- presumably to make it easier to check into places on Facebook. Jeff Carter, CDO of GRI and former member of a think tank involving Bank of America, Harvard and MIT, predicts that "Every person, place, and thing will be connected [to the iris system] within the next 10 years."
We're a little disappointed that none of them go all Clockwork Orange on your eyelids.
While that's all well and good ("well and good" in this case meaning "pants-pissingly terrifying"), it's not the final step. What about those creepy-ass personalized ads? Well, Tokyo, for example, has installed billboards that examine the faces of those looking at them to determine that person's age and gender, and then adjust the advertisement on the billboard to something targeted at that demographic.
And this isn't going to be restricted to Tokyo, either. America, sick and tired of being out-crazied by the Japanese, will soon have it as well, thanks to Immersive Labs, who plan on implementing the technology in busy sections of major American cities. While the facial scanners won't identify the specific person looking at the ad -- yet -- they will determine what "consumer category" they fall under and present content tailored to that person's predicted tastes.
"AdGuess predicts that you would like a hug."
It's like the ads on Facebook, only way more embarrassing, because everyone around you can point and snicker when a billboard assumes you're clearly in the market for a Fleshlight.
#1. Designer Baby Clinics Are Already on the Way
The Sci-Fi Premise:
In the future envisioned in the biopunk thriller Gattaca, old-fashioned racism and homophobia have made way for a new, innovative form of prejudice, thanks to the existence of clinics that allow parents to maximize the genetic potential of their children.
"With the Economy Package, the best we can guarantee is 'gas station attendant' or 'stripper.'"
While a world in which the genetically engineered among us look like Uma Thurman and Jude Law and the non-engineered among us still get to look like Ethan Hawke doesn't seem like such an awful place to live, this "build your own baby" scenario is still unsettling -- a baby is supposed to be the natural product of either two adults who love each other or two adults who make bad decisions while stinking drunk. Anything else is trying to play God.
Based in Los Angeles, the Fertility Institute plans to use methods originally designed to check your unborn child for disease risk to allow you to select your child's sex, hair color and eye color. Blond hair and blue eyes for everyone! Well, those who can afford it, anyway.
Welp, that about wraps it up for gingers.
Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg heads the Fertility Institute and claims that the science is so fundamentally sound that in the very near future, we'll be able to decide on a baby's sex with 100 percent accuracy and eye color with 80 percent accuracy. And apparently, he's right. Even doctors who think he's exaggerating his timeline still admit that what he's claiming is not only possible, but inevitable.
The next question is, of course, why stop at superficial things like hair color? Do you think for one second that nobody is going to take advantage of all of the world's rich people who are willing to pay good money to make sure their kid is a tall, beautiful, genius Olympic athlete? That's right; in the future, the rich kids won't just have the best jobs, they'll have the best bodies and brains as well. In the meantime, those whose parents couldn't afford to make them members of the master race will have even more limited mobility, since they'll have to compete for jobs and opportunities with people who have literally every advantage over them from birth.
Then again, with looks, intelligence and physical traits all up for in vitro upgrades in the near future, those of us with puny, non-scienced-up genes can at least look forward to watching some unparalleled modeling, sports and Jeopardy! on TV. So ... win-win, we guess?
For more science fiction that's becoming reality, check out 5 Famous Sci-Fi Weapons That They're Actually Building and 6 Eerily Specific Inventions Predicted in Science Fiction.