5 Visions of the Future From Experts (Who Should Be Fired)
I'm a sucker for technology. I love watching videos about gadgets that are coming up in the near future, even if I know I can't afford them or really even use them. But every once in a while, I'll catch one that makes me question whether the makers really thought it through.
I mean, you can tell they put in thousands of hours of thought into the actual technology, but when they portray how it's meant to be used, you wonder if they've ever actually spoken to another human being.
In the Future, Every Surface Is a Touchscreen!
The people at Corning, who make glass for touchscreens (and everything else) made this video portraying a future where absolutely everything in the world is a goddamned touchscreen:
It takes exactly 39 seconds before you realize that the people working at Corning have never met another person outside of their offices. It's the moment the woman in this video turns on the water to brush her teeth, looks up into the mirror and responds to an instant message.
In her fucking bathroom. The place where she could very well have been taking her morning shit, just glad to be in a quiet room where people couldn't bother her until she was fully awake and prepared to cope with the world.
While she's dealing with her work's bullshit in what used to be the most serene, sacred room in the house, the dad is in the kitchen, preparing breakfast. Their spoiled little shithead daughters walk in and plop their cleats down onto a counter top that has the ability to display full video ... making it worth more than my car. The dad continues to cook without pausing to beat them with their own shoes until they're the consistency of his raw eggs.
Mom leaves for work and drives by a sheltered bus stop ... which is also a display/computer. Because in the future, every possible surface of anything that exists is a computer.
Note the distinct lack of dicks and gang signs spray painted on the glass. Notice the absence of bricks embedded in that map. Surely this company is based in a city, right? I mean they've had to have come across some filth and vandalism on the way to work? Actually, it's becoming more apparent to me that the reason they've never met another human is because they were born into those offices and they've never dared venture outside of them.
In their world, everything is a computer. Every floor, every ceiling, every wall, every pane of glass on the entire planet. It's all a giant connected display, impervious to people like me who would devote nothing less than his entire life to be able to replace this model with goatse.
But there's something else that this video does that's a little better illustrated in this one from Microsoft:
It's a trend that's been going on for a few years on all of these "future" videos where they show the display as a table or a counter top ... some common household surface. And when you lay your camera or phone on it, all of the pictures and videos come spilling out so you can view them, edit, transfer to other devices and whatever.
Some of you see where I'm going with this already, but let me spell it out for those who don't: In my experience, the ratio of people who have porn on their phones or cameras versus those who don't are roughly every last fucking one of them to none of them at all. Maybe I just know too many perverts, but I can absolutely picture a scenario where a dude comes home from work, drops his car keys and phone onto the table two feet from his kids, and porn shoots out like a geyser made of tits and fucking.
Now imagine you have that same phone in your pocket while at work. You're talking to a coworker or your boss as you casually lean against the desk. Just like when you accidentally dial someone because your keys (same pocket as the phone) touched the wrong button, this time they've hit the "spray porn all over this desk" button. Best case scenario, you've kept it in your back pocket so that when it does happen (and it will), it will look like you just spontaneously shot porn right out of your asshole.
The House of the Future!
At some point a long time ago, somebody decided absolutely everything in the future that wasn't Blade Runner would be white and spotless (so many sci-fi movies do this that TVTropes has a page on it). So we have this video from the Living Tomorrow project, a concept home where 70 different companies have combined to show you what your place will look like in 2015 or so.
The narrator tells us, "Living Tomorrow is what we'll all be doing, and this house shows you what to expect." That's important, but I'm going to come back to it in just a few minutes. For right now, I just want that to be fresh in your mind.
In the meantime, let's take a look at the kitchen, which on top of being bigger than any three rooms in my house combined, is adorned with furniture and appliances so white, it'll make your retinas sweat.
Let's skip right past the fact that it looks like everything there was designed by a toilet manufacturer, and get right to the part where we try to imagine cleaning that bastard. See, this is the problem of the "white future" we see in all these movies. Have kids? Then your future is constantly following them with a Windex bottle and a bucket for your exhaustion-induced vomit. Just changed the oil in your car? Don't even walk past that room.
Case in point, you see those dildo-shaped, faucet-looking things on top of the long ... I'm assuming that's an autopsy table? They zoom in on those things at one point, and you get a quick glimpse showing that they're already becoming scratched and stained ... in a demonstration house where nothing is being used.
That aside, it also comes with, guess what, a touchscreen interface built right into the wall ...
What she's doing there is hitting a preset switch that automatically dims the lights and puts on your favorite music for a nice romantic evening in. You know, in case you plan on fucking the family from Beetlejuice.
Or let's say that you just flipped out and drank all of the booze in your house. You're too shitfaced to find a pen, so you stumble over to the several thousand dollar LED screen and drunkenly scrawl "red wine" with your finger like a blind five year old with Parkinson's Disease. You can then drag down the item you want, tell it how much you wish to purchase ... and then for whatever reason, watch a video of what you just ordered on your TV in the other room. Most likely because you were too fucked up to remember why you came into the kitchen in the first place.
Nowhere in the video does it say that you can order this stuff. It just says that it makes the actual grocery list.
But it gets better. This "house of tomorrow," which is basically just a giant house with all the shit hooked up to Windows, has a feature that lets you pay your bills by fingerprint.
If you don't see the problem with that, then you don't have kids. They could lock that fucker down with DNA testing that makes you submit a blood sample in order to open the menu, and kids will find a way to break into it. Even if they don't get into the bill-paying section, the video later claims that every single electronic device in the house is hooked up to a central "easy to use" system. Heat. Air conditioning. Showers. TV. Now let's flash forward to the first time your power gets knocked out.
Or, the first time a virus -- or, hell, a faulty software update -- bricks the system. So, what, does your heat shut off? And if you're paying your bills online, that means the system is going to have to have security updates. Which means one morning you'll wake up and find everything off in your dark, cold house, and all of your touchscreens blinking a "Could Not Start, XJKFDSUJ5715733571.ini is Missing or Corrupt, Please Reboot" message. You restart the system, at which point it displays the same message.
Oh, and that sentence I asked you to keep in mind? How this is what "we'll all be doing"? This house costs 22 million euros -- $31.6 million U.S. Holy shit, the future is awesome! Fuck this house, just give me that in cash.
In the Future, We'll Wear Our Computers!
Maybe to get an idea of just how badly these demonstrations misunderstand human nature, we need to go back in time. Here's a video from 1992 that shows how in the near future of a few years ago, we'll all be wearing bulky computers everywhere we go:
So here is the body-mounted "office of the future":
... and here she is holding the cock and balls of a futuristic giant robot she had to fight:
Ah, the '90s. But make no mistake, the industry is still shooting for wearable computers. To the engineers working on this sort of thing, I need to remind you of a minor detail: lots of people are self-conscious about what they wear.
Think of these expensive gadgets as jewelry. There are two types of people in this world where jewelry is concerned: 1) people who hate it because they don't like worrying about expensive, pointless accessories on their bodies and 2) people who like it, in which case they're going to be pretty goddamn picky about what it looks like and on what part of the body it goes. If you don't believe me, go out and buy your significant other a random necklace with some throwaway pendant on the end. Most people will appreciate the thought ... right before they put it in a drawer and tell you, "Oh, I'm just not wearing it because ... I, uh ... don't want to damage it!"
"Awww, for me? Fuck you."
People want to look cool. And sure, you say, but some day we'll have smaller devices that won't make it look like you smeared glue on your torso and rolled around the appliance shelf at Bed Bath & Beyond. Fine, here's a video of a guy trying to look suave while sporting a more modern wearable computer system:
Here you go, ladies:
They're also claiming to make the keyboard obsolete -- more on that claim in a bit. Again, by making you look like this:
Yep, that's exactly how I want to look when I'm out in public. Giant mechanical arm/screen hanging off the side of my head. Fingers curled in black wires. Miniature computer attached to my belt like a fanny pack. Completely shut off from the world around me.
Note the caption. Yes, I barely noticed the sociopath eating alone, constantly tapping his fingers like an OCD case. Now, about those keyboards ...
The Future Will Rid Us of Keyboards!
This video is for the revolutionary "g-speak" system, one of endless attempts to finally give us that cool-ass interface like Tom Cruise used in Minority Report:
The goal obviously is to get rid of the mouse and keyboard, which seems to be a big thing for people who make gadgets. For instance, this article claims touchscreens will replace keyboards, based on the idea that text will play less of a role in future computing. Even though today, the most common use of the Internet is social networking and email, both of which are mostly text.
Anyway, in this video, the guy waves his arms and fingers around and makes data fly around his screen. I can totally see sorting through pictures or watching a YouTube video that way. But what happens when I need to drop into the comments section to call some dude a "fagtard"? In fact, this system doesn't seem capable of communicating in text at all. There is one point where the guy is dropping and dragging individual letters like they're magnets on a refrigerator, but surely that's not how they want future college kids composing their thesis papers.
I mean, on one hand it'd take two years to type up each page. On the other, when the paper is done, your arms are gonna be fucking ripped.
See, I'm thinking a lot of inventors watch movies and forget that the props they're using were invented to look cool. The Minority Report interface was created purely because nobody wanted to see Tom Cruise hunched over a computer the whole movie. As every Kinect owner now knows, it's actually kind of hard to move your hands through space with any kind of accuracy. Here, watch this guy try to draw a square:
Yes, it's hard to draw a square with a mouse, too, but at least I'm sitting down and it's not going to be ruined if I have to stop and swat away a fly.
And no, typing isn't going to be replaced with voice commands. I'll never work up the courage to verbally ask a strange woman to show me her boobs on a webcam. It's the keyboard that allows us to say the horrible, asinine things we do without shame or guilt. The Internet is a "Can I see your tits"-based interface and don't bother showing me your fancy new system without demonstrating how it can convey that message better than what I have now.
Transmit Your Thoughts in the Future!
Here's a feature from 2007 on cell phones of the future. No way that this will be ridiculous.
So we've got a video that starts out fairly normal. They're talking about phones that you can point at restaurants and retrieve the menu, wait time, etc. OK, I'm on board with that. My girlfriend's phone basically does that now. Then they move on to a guy who they refer to as "futurist, Anthony Townsend."
Christ. OK, so he's a futurist. Fine. What predictions does he have concerning technology? Oh, that's right. He jumps right to the "wear your computer" thing. You're not off to a good start, Anthony. What else do you have? Oh, wait ... what's this? Anthony thinks that one day we'll have computers embedded in our bodies and that we'll be able to transmit our thoughts and emotions to other people on a whim.
I'm pretty sure that he's saying this because he has discovered a way to become higher than any person who has ever consumed any substance in the history of drugs. In what world does he live where a solitary person would ever want that? When the United States even hinted at the idea of phone tapping and listening in on our private conversations, we lost our ever-loving fucking shit. Even when we knew that the chances of someone spying on us personally were mind-bogglingly infinitesimal, we wanted no part of it.
Now, I'm not saying the technology itself is impossible. The military has been working on it for a while now. What I'm getting at is the fact that this man honestly believes that people will voluntarily purchase and use technology that broadcasts the same emotions and thoughts that they work so hard to hide from other people. Hell, 99 percent of our social interaction is spent keeping other people from knowing what we're really thinking.
Imagine standing in front of your boss while getting your ass chewed for something you feel is undeserved. How fast do you think it would take him to fire you when he sensed that you were picturing him being raped to death by a horse? Or standing next to your wife when some hot chick walks by with half of her ass showing out of the bottom of her shorts. Or worse, standing next to your kids when that happens. You can hide a boner with a well-placed newspaper. You can't do that with networked feelings.
So if you're in a lab somewhere and are trying to design the gadgets we're meant to be using in 2025, do me a favor: go outside and meet some people. It'll really open your eyes.
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