iPod. iPhone. iYawn. It’s embarrassing. Have we lost track of the future to such an extent that a bloody phone is enough to get us running in excited circles? Is this what the future has boiled down to? A few pathetic comm devices? Cars that continue to look like sports shoes? Makeup that’s monsoon resistant? Travel tech in which waiting to go somewhere takes longer than actually getting there? Is this the bloody future that we stayed awake for? Where do we go for a refund?
Clearly, it’s time we got back to inventing the future. Once, the Americans could be trusted to pump out the future that lies under our collective feet. But after watching Jobs and Gates and Bush do their annual Turkey dance, I think it’s time we outsourced the drilling. So here’s a list of my requirements to the Nnamdi’s, Wei Lei’s, Renato’s, Laxmi’s and Ibrahims of the world. No need to gift-wrap, but I’ll need a quote on the shipping please.
Keep in mind I’ve left out most of the really practical stuff like being able to live in geometries of my choosing (Kobayashi-Kresling, of course; then I could unfold like a flower), or to write software the way we write plays (suck on that, Gates) or eliminating aspects of quantum mechanics (way too many Bosons) or on-demand corporeality (it’s such a drag being meat all the time). I’ve even given up on flying cars and food pills and paper underwear. No, this list is mostly Popular-Mechanics stuff, only more ambitious. It’s just a few dot-crashes away.
- An exoskeleton. Walking is too slow, and a car is too fast. A bike is too much hard work. Basically, an exoskeleton would be like a moon suit for Earth, only sexier and easier to take off when you meet the right person.
- Electronic paper that’s often mistaken for ordinary paper. ’nuff said.
- Topological tech. Take a coin. Gesture. Voila. It’s a cylinder. Click. Now it unrolls into a papyrus sheet. Tap. It’s a rigid surface. So on and so forth. I’m reasonable. I’m not asking for a complete implementation of point-set topology. I just want materials that aren’t too committed to a fixed geometry. Down with Platonic solids and their originator.
- Artificial islands. I know there are already a few. But I want hundreds, thousands of them. I want enough to make a genuine market in places possible; a market in futures, so to speak. Let places bid for talent, rather than the other way around. This means of course we’ve to invent a lot more people, since people make places.
- About 50 more years added to the human lifespan. Actually, I want a few thousand. But immortality is secured one second at a time.
- Devices that are clever, not smart. Science is not about generating facts or theories. Science is a technique to generate new techniques. Science is about being able to do more and more. Not doing it per se, mind you, but having the choice to do it. In other words, science is about making us cleverer, not smarter. I want devices that are able to do science.
- A clear understanding of how the brain works. This is a theory request. It’s embarrassing we don’t have a better explanation than "and then it multiplies by zero"! How can stuff that’s mostly liquid think? That’s what I want to know.
- Everything that’s ever been printed made online. And free.
- Sensoriums. See, I like to wear my Internet. But at the moment, it’s basically a pair of goggles. The eye-net, as it should be called (because you’re pretty much toast if you can’t see) should become the ear-net, nose-net, tongue-net and touch-net. Now throw in some AI and add cinnamon to taste. Voila. A sensorium. Did you get my licks on the topic? Here, sniff this.
- A laptop that’s not also a male contraceptive. Seriously, Nnamdi/Wei Lei/Renato/Laxmi/Ibrahim, I know Convergence’s the future and all, but do you think it’s possible to keep the gonads cool en route? The Germans have a word, Mösenstövchen, which refers to the effect of a heated car-seat on a woman’s, um, nether regions. Don’t force them to invent a word for the effect of laptops.
Life begins with a gleam in the eye, mood music, and moisture in all the right places. So do futures. Marvin Gaye’s done his job. Let’s get liquid, people.