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Eleven Reasons To Be Excited About The Future of Technology (medium.com) 282

Chris Dixon, an American internet entrepreneur and investor in a range of tech and media companies including Kickstarter and Foursquare has written an essay on Medium highlighting some of the reasons why we should be excited about the future of technology. The reasons he has listed are as follows: 1. Self-Driving Cars: Self-driving cars exist today that are safer than human-driven cars in most driving conditions. Over the next 3-5 years they'll get even safer, and will begin to go mainstream.
2. Clean Energy: Attempts to fight climate change by reducing the demand for energy haven't worked. Fortunately, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs have been working hard on the supply side to make clean energy convenient and cost-effective.
3. Virtual and Augmented Reality: Computer processors only recently became fast enough to power comfortable and convincing virtual and augmented reality experiences. Companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are investing billions of dollars to make VR and AR more immersive, comfortable, and affordable.
4. Drones and Flying Cars: GPS started out as a military technology but is now used to hail taxis, get mapping directions, and hunt Pokemon. Likewise, drones started out as a military technology, but are increasingly being used for a wide range of consumer and commercial applications.
5. Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence has made rapid advances in the last decade, due to new algorithms and massive increases in data collection and computing power.
6. Pocket Supercomputers for Everyone: By 2020, 80% of adults on earth will have an internet-connected smartphone. An iPhone 6 has about 2 billion transistors, roughly 625 times more transistors than a 1995 Intel Pentium computer. Today's smartphones are what used to be considered supercomputers.
7. Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains: Protocols are the plumbing of the internet. Most of the protocols we use today were developed decades ago by academia and government. Since then, protocol development mostly stopped as energy shifted to developing proprietary systems like social networks and messaging apps. Cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies are changing this by providing a new business model for internet protocols. This year alone, hundreds of millions of dollars were raised for a broad range of innovative blockchain-based protocols.
8. High-Quality Online Education: While college tuition skyrockets, anyone with a smartphone can study almost any topic online, accessing educational content that is mostly free and increasingly high-quality.
9. Better Food through Science: Earth is running out of farmable land and fresh water. This is partly because our food production systems are incredibly inefficient. It takes an astounding 1799 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. Fortunately, a variety of new technologies are being developed to improve our food system.
10. Computerized Medicine: Until recently, computers have only been at the periphery of medicine, used primarily for research and record keeping. Today, the combination of computer science and medicine is leading to a variety of breakthroughs.
11. A New Space Age: Since the beginning of the space age in the 1950s, the vast majority of space funding has come from governments. But that funding has been in decline: for example, NASA's budget dropped from about 4.5% of the federal budget in the 1960s to about 0.5% of the federal budget today.

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Eleven Reasons To Be Excited About The Future of Technology

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19, 2016 @10:45AM (#52732161)

    All I'm seeing in this list is "more ads, more analytics, more rent extraction through middle men and IP monopolies."

    And number 11? Let me be perfectly clear: THERE WILL NEVER BE A FIDUCIARY ARGUMENT TO PURSUE SPACE EXPLORATION WITHOUT GOVERNMENT FUNDING.

    • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @11:11AM (#52732373)

      You missed the point, this is much more '11 dreams I hope will become true to maximise MY investments'

      Or do you think 'an American internet entrepreneur' is doing his best for the health and happiness of others?

      btw, several of the items are quite obvious astroturfing.

      9, is downright funny, there is, by definition, less than 1 pound of water in 1 pound of beef, unless this guy thinks
      cattle magically transmute h2o into something else. there is much MUCH more waste of produced food that limitation
      on production.

      5, is quite obviously the dream of someone who sees himself in the 'winning' side of that equation with little care for those
      who will find themselves on the losing side (which will be many, unfortunately). Pop goes your knowedge-based-economies.

      7, is just silly, blockchains dont in any way suddenly revolutionise anything - they are one cute solution to one specific problem.

      10, is of no actual value unless the elephant in the corner of medicine is addressed - massive financial graft and inefficiency. Anyone
      think that lower internal costs will lead to cheaper service? Didnt think so.

      4, Mines (the exploding sort) started out as a military technology also ;) any link between GPS and Drones via military as a sign of social benifit is... tenuous at best.

      But hey, he is just hoping we drink the coolaid and help out his portfolio I am sure. Good luck with that.

      • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @11:22AM (#52732433)

        9) refers to the amount of fresh water that has to be processed to make a pound of beef, not the amount the beef has in it. If you only count water that's destroyed... well, none of it is. After you eat the beef you piss or shit out the tissue water and even turn much of the other stuff into carbon dioxide and water. But we still have to spend the energy reprocessing all that water to raise the cow and process it's carcass.

        I agree that many of the technologies just make dystopia easier to do as well though. Drones? Everyone will be watching everything. AI? That's what will be doing the watching and reporting to it's masters for signs of dissent. Pocket supercomputers? A window into the soul of every user that nicely complements the airborne drone tracking their movements.

        And yes, computerized medicine (and other forms of labour) don't help unless you make the fruits of those labours widely available - and not just to those with jobs, because eliminating jobs is the whole point of them.

        • You get ~560 lbs of meat from a steer/cow. It seems pretty far-fucking-fetched to claim it takes a million gallons of water to raise one cow to slaughter.

          560 x 1799 gallons: 1,007,440

          • A fully grown 1100 lb cow (1000-1600lb, 560lbs of meat) drinks ~9 Gallons per day. Now considering it takes a little over a year (14 months) for a steer to get to ~800lb. It would take 307 years for that cow to drink 1 million gallons. 1,000,440 / 9 / 365 = 306.68
            • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @12:19PM (#52732815)

              And many cows spend at least part of their lives on feed lots which feed them corn (and sometimes other crops) which uses water. Even if they aren't on a feed lot they will eat grass, hay, or silage. All of that might require some water to grow.

              The problem I have with some of the estimates for water include rainfall in their calculations which I don't think should be. It's been worked out that a certain plant requires a specific amount of water in laboratory conditions. I believe that only water that is added by us should be included in those calculations.

              So when they say that a pound of beef requires so many gallons of water it is the water that the cow drinks plus all of the water that the plants used to grow in order to feed the cow. Then there's water for cleaning out barns, vehicles, other uses, etc.

              • The problem I have with some of the estimates for water include rainfall in their calculations which I don't think should be. It's been worked out that a certain plant requires a specific amount of water in laboratory conditions. I believe that only water that is added by us should be included in those calculations.

                True, laboratory estimates would strictly apply only under the assumption of irrigating a desert. But rainfall isn't free: you need to rent land that receives rain.

              • I'm pretty sure that the feed for a single cow doesn't require 1,003,606 gallons of water.

                9 Gallons/day * 426d = 3834G.
                560lb*1799G - 3834G = 1,003,606

          • A study by UC Davis says it takes 441 gallons per pound of beef. That's apparently the figure the beef industry likes to promote, so you can probably whack a bit extra on. 1799 seems a bit high compared to that, but not outrageously so.

          • I agree - I would like a citation as well.

            But... I can believe it's a high number. Cows drink... a lot... every day. Not only that, but the water is generally distributed through a bunch of troughs / etc. that probably waste quite a bit of water as well (just the evaporation itself has to be pretty massive).

      • 9, is downright funny, there is, by definition, less than 1 pound of water in 1 pound of beef, unless this guy thinks cattle magically transmute h2o into something else.

        "It takes an astounding 1799 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef".

        And as soon as that cow is slaughtered, all the water magically disappears for ever. Oh wait, it actually goes back into the environment all ready to produce more cows. Dimbulb, meet hydrological cycle.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19, 2016 @10:49AM (#52732191)

    1. Self-Driving Cars: Self-driving cars exist today that are safer than human-driven cars in most driving conditions. Over the next 3â"5 years they'll get even safer, and will begin to go mainstream.

    Hackable cars, easier surveillance, depressing.

    2. Clean Energy: Attempts to fight climate change by reducing the demand for energy haven't worked. Fortunately, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs have been working hard on the supply side to make clean energy convenient and cost-effective.

    Expensive energy, depressing.

    3. Virtual and Augmented Reality: Computer processors only recently became fast enough to power comfortable and convincing virtual and augmented reality experiences. Companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are investing billions of dollars to make VR and AR more immersive, comfortable, and affordable.

    People avoiding the real world more, depressing.

    4. Drones and Flying Cars: GPS started out as a military technology but is now used to hail taxis, get mapping directions, and hunt Pokemon. Likewise, drones started out as a military technology, but are increasingly being used for a wide range of consumer and commercial applications.

    Flying bombs and deathtraps, depressing.

    5. Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence has made rapid advances in the last decade, due to new algorithms and massive increases in data collection and computing power.

    It'll enslave us all, depressing.

    6. Pocket Supercomputers for Everyone: By 2020, 80% of adults on earth will have an internet-connected smartphone. An iPhone 6 has about 2 billion transistors, roughly 625 times more transistors than a 1995 Intel Pentium computer. Today's smartphones are what used to be considered supercomputers.

    NSA can process the taps locally, depressing.

    7. Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains: Protocols are the plumbing of the internet. Most of the protocols we use today were developed decades ago by academia and government. Since then, protocol development mostly stopped as energy shifted to developing proprietary systems like social networks and messaging apps. Cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies are changing this by providing a new business model for internet protocols. This year alone, hundreds of millions of dollars were raised for a broad range of innovative blockchain-based protocols.

    Economics, depressing.

    8. High-Quality Online Education: While college tuition skyrockets, anyone with a smartphone can study almost any topic online, accessing educational content that is mostly free and increasingly high-quality.

    More know-it-alls who can't think rationally on the market, depressing.

    9. Better Food through Science: Earth is running out of farmable land and fresh water. This is partly because our food production systems are incredibly inefficient. It takes an astounding 1799 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. Fortunately, a variety of new technologies are being developed to improve our food system.

    Soon we can kill off all the animals and plants and replace them with factories, depressing.

    10. Computerized Medicine: Until recently, computers have only been at the periphery of medicine, used primarily for research and record keeping. Today, the combination of computer science and medicine is leading to a variety of breakthroughs.

    Combine this with AI and VR, what could possibly go wrong, depressing.

    11. A New Space Age: Since the beginning of the space age in the 1950s, the vast majority of space funding has come from governments. But that funding has been in decline: for example, NASA's budget dropped from about 4.5% of the federal budget in the 1960s to about 0.5% of the federal budget today.

    The rich will either force the poor up into space, or go themselves to escape the pollution, depressing.

    • Amen to that, bruvva!
    • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )

      Combine all of these:

      3. Virtual and Augmented Reality: Computer processors only recently became fast enough to power comfortable and convincing virtual and augmented reality experiences. Companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are investing billions of dollars to make VR and AR more immersive, comfortable, and affordable.

      4. Drones and Flying Cars: GPS started out as a military technology but is now used to hail taxis, get mapping directions, and hunt Pokemon. Likewise, drones started out as a military technology, but are increasingly being used for a wide range of consumer and commercial applications.

      5. Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence has made rapid advances in the last decade, due to new algorithms and massive increases in data collection and computing power.

      11. A New Space Age: Since the beginning of the space age in the 1950s, the vast majority of space funding has come from governments. But that funding has been in decline: for example, NASA's budget dropped from about 4.5% of the federal budget in the 1960s to about 0.5% of the federal budget today.

      . . . and get automated mining and production, and very few jobs. So nobody can buy what gets produced. . .

    • Yay for a dystopian future!
    • by painandgreed ( 692585 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @01:16PM (#52733257)
      What's really depressing is this is the same list from ten years ago.
    • Bravo. I wish I had mod points. This article reeks of cognitive dissonance. Things are not looking good at the top level (population growth, resource/energy depletion, environmental degradation like global warming), the limits to growth are here, but there must be something mumble something. Bill Gates demanding an energy miracle comes to mind. Aka unicorns. Technology as the new religion, as if there has to be something you need to believe in.

  • by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <web@pineapple.vg> on Friday August 19, 2016 @10:49AM (#52732197) Homepage
    Self driving cars being the main culprit for making things boring, but the rest of them don't fill me with excitement either. The future seems to be clean, sterilised, free from madness, politically correct and by-the-book. It also seems to be filled with capitalists who want to automate their entire business and live a life of hedonism on the bahamas while everyone else supposedly keeps working for their money.

    Tl;dr? The future is a load of sh1t really
    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @10:52AM (#52732217)

      Self driving cars being the main culprit for making things boring

      Replacing one of the shittiest experience that people would rather not do during the day and freeing up time for me to do more exiting stuff like post on Slashdot is quite the opposite really.

      Driving is a wonderful experience, through the mountains, in a convertible, wind in my hair, or around a track at speed throwing my side to side as I tear through corners. But otherwise I can't wait for literally anything to replace my commute, and I feel like this without even being stuck in traffic like many people here would be on a daily basis.

      • I can't say that I drive far enough anywhere for self driving to make a difference to me. But say I did have to commute an hour to work every day; I would be depressed about being away from my family for that long, not about the fact that I had to drive.
        • All things being equal though, would you rather spend that time reading a book, using your computer, or just sleeping, rather than staring at the bumper of the car in front and concentrating on not being crushed like a cardboard cup by the semi in the next lane?

          • Doesn't really matter to me. I don't mind driving while listening to music. It's going to be longer then my lifetime before you can get real uninterrupted time to truly focus on anything in the vehicle.
        • I would be depressed about being away from my family for that long

          What do you do with your family when you get home? Sit down and post on slashdot? I would love to be able to type this to you right now as my car sorts its way through traffic. That way when I'm at home I may actually be refreshed and wanting to do something with family members rather than feeling mentally drained and wanting to sit on the couch with a tablet.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        I never thought driving in traffic was a shitty experience. I just listened to audio books, so no stress. That is a personal choice.

        I have already replaced my commute, because of great public transport. So I am already being driven. I am able to post things on Slashdot. If I desire I already can do anything exiting. Many people are doing the same and this since already a long time.

        So why did I change? Money. Now I do not pay anything. Company pays it. So I sold my car and use public transport and car sharin

    • Self driving cars being the main culprit for making things boring

      Boring? I'm thinking that bugs and glitches will turn the roads into a distributed demolition derby. Very exciting to watch!

      Of course, we already have enough demolition derbies caused by human drivers.

      I was on a business trip in Austin, Texas years ago in the month of December . . . and . . . *gasp* . . . the temperature dropped below freezing! And then there was drizzle, and black ice all over the roads. The local television news put up a camera on an overpass bridge and broadcasted pickup trucks doi

      • No it will be boring. There are already people complaining about being behind self driving cars that slow down to a crawl in such situations. Imaging a lineup of 50 manual cars behind a self driving car driving 25 mph because it experienced some wheel slip. That's that the future of self driving will be.
      • I'm in a major Ontario city and with the first snow storm of the year it's amazing the number of people who get surprised that winter has arrived, in Canada, in December. There's always a lot of accidents because people have forgotten to slow down and be more careful.

  • Is this a joke? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by creimer ( 824291 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @10:50AM (#52732201) Homepage
    That list looks like everything that was promised at a 1950's World Fair Expo.
    • Why should all of humanity's dreams change in 60 years? Aren't something universal? "Better food through science" has been one of mankind's goals since the Neolithic age or so.

    • And while everything from the 1950s world fair didn't come true verbatim I'd go out on a limb and say life and technology has changed just a slight bit since 1950.

  • 1. Too expensive, and not even close to being able to operate in "most driving conditions"

    2. NIMBYs

    3. People with motion sickness and vision problems (ie glasses)

    4. Dromes-too small(battery/carrying capacity); Flying cars- too expensive, airspace regulation and pilot licensing, gravity(what happens when they fail at altitude)

    5. Still not close

    6. So...faster youtube watching and instagramming (what about data plans to match?)

    7. Lack of acceptance on cryptocurrencies and massive public failures and hacking of

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      no accredited degree=no job

      You assume that all employers have this policy of their employees. You further assume that all clients of independent contractors have this policy of their contractors. On what do you base this?

      • MOOCS don't get past automated HR filters. Simple as that. You might know your stuff but if you can't get past the first step it doesn't matter
        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Again with the assumptions: first, that all employers, including local small businesses, use "automated HR filters"; second, that "High-Quality Online Education" mentioned in the summary includes only free MOOCs and not degree-granting online programs by accredited state colleges; and third, that companies don't buy services from independent contractors.

  • Too Happy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @10:54AM (#52732231) Journal
    I want the opposite. Eleven reasons NOT to be excited about technology. It's MUCH more fun delivering doom and gloom than happiness to my co workers.
    • Re:Too Happy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @12:10PM (#52732761)

      Well... ok. Let's look at the black-lining of this happy puffy cloud.

      1. Self-Driving Cars: Truckers and cabbies are all going to lose their job. It'll be a big wave of unemployment for a sector of the populace that was already wasn't doing well. A lot of disenfranchised people with not much to lose is a worry.

      2. Clean Energy: (this ones harder... ok, got it). It's a step towards these clean-energy eco-nuts outlawing coal. You'll have to.... (No that doesn't make any sense... AH) The more people that switch to distributed power generation, the less support the power grid will have. It benefits from economy of scale, but chip away at that and have half the populous stop paying, and you have problems for a public utility. The first to go with be mandates for rural electrification. Farmers will be cut off. Without the power lines being subsidized, communication lines won't be able to piggyback. (It's a stretch, but it's something)

      3. Virtual and Augmented Reality: You know how kids these days barely look up from their phones? Get ready to have blind-deaf (sadly not mute) meatbags ignoring you with twice the power. Kids wandering into streets chasing their pokemon. If they can overlay their own better reality, they'll disconnect from your reality. Oh, and this. [youtube.com]

      4. Drones and Flying Cars: With a camera on there, now it's feasible and cost effective to operate a panopticon where the FBI or anyone else with $200 are always watching.
        Flying cars are one of those classic tropes for letdowns. In reality, it's just more expensive to operate a plane. I know a pilot with a shitty commute and there's an airstrip RIGHT next to work, but he still drives simply because he can't justify the cost of a plane. Automate the pilot license requirement, and rich people probably will fly everywhere. Let's hope the budget for road maintenance is still approved.

      5. Artificial Intelligence: Remember those truckers? Get ready for whole swaths of office workers to go away. It's not like everyone from HR will get laid off. But none of them will touch paychecks and there will just be two to handle sensitivity training. Generalist doctors, the sort that diagnose you when something is wrong, could probably be replaced by Watson right now. The only barrier is who do you sue when it screws up.

      6. Pocket Supercomputers for Everyone: Uhh... something something, company leash you can't run away from, tracking you everywhere, the crushing disappointment that we gave everyone super-computers with the grand sum of human knowledge at their finger tips and the ability to instantly communicate with anyone anywhere (and have the language translated for you) and they only use it to look at pictures of cats.

      7. Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains: Yay, a secret money to buy cocaine online with! And as for business-minded uses of blockchain technology... I'm still not sure how that's any different than running a co-opt.

      8. High-Quality Online Education: It's been there for a couple decades and people are still pretty stupid and uneducated.

      9. Better Food through Science: (This one is also hard) ...I got nothing. Maybe something about soil degradation?

      10. Computerized Medicine: Robo surgeons are going to get hacked and then they're going to hack you.

      11. A New Space Age: (I could probably find something negative about this, but I really like space. SPAAAAAAAACE!)

      Ok, I ran out of steam at the end. Too much pessimism is as bad as too much optimism.

    • I know one person's already done this, but I'm gonna jump in too, because why not! :)

      1. Self-Driving Cars will destroy one of the few low-skill-high-paying career tracks left. On top of the unemployment created by this, self-driving cars will reduce the need for car ownership, and in turn centralizes the routine upkeep vehicles require. From an environmental perspective this is wonderful, but imagine every single gas station, car parts manufacturer and retailer, and auto-service station going out of busi

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @10:56AM (#52732245)
    >> High-Quality Online Education: While college tuition skyrockets, anyone with a smartphone can study almost any topic online, accessing educational content that is mostly free and increasingly high-quality.

    This has been true of libraries and the early days of the Internet as well: there's PLENTY of free material available to those who want to learn something. However, most people still spend most of their time consuming pop/political lit or playing games instead of learning or contributing anything worthwhile.

    And...you'll still need a degree to get a job, and what you learn online isn't going to help there except to let you skate through a class or two at the university.
    • by pz ( 113803 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @11:45AM (#52732599) Journal

      Public libraries are a vastly under-utilized resource. When I was a kid, I loved spending time there, looking for exciting books to read. One of my best finds was a book on nuclear fission and fusion by Glenn Seaborg. I pored over that book, checking it out time after time after time.

    • This has been true of libraries and the early days of the Internet as well

      Speak for yourself. My recollection of libraries was hours going to a library, sifting through a card catalogue, getting the book you wanted if you were lucky and not having to go on the waiting list and get it in 2 weeks time, finding the information slowly if you're lucky and actually found a good relevant book, and then having to return it shortly after creating even more hassle.

      The early days of the internet were much the same. God it sucked going through web-rings trying to find relevant information, h

  • 1. Please someone else should be the guinea pig before I use it. Great technology but right now not ready yet. Maybe in 10 years if there is continued development. Either way, it means more tracking and tracing, that's bad.

    2. We have to do it one way or another, so either we figure it out, or lots of people will face the consequences.

    3. VR? yes, please. Augmented reality? No thanks, it just allows even more tracking and tracing.

    4. Flying cars are an energy waste. Most of the energy is required to keep those

  • The First World will certainly "benefit", the Third World doesn't really get much from this list.

    We're so coddled that we still only think about ourselves and the world we imagine we'd like to live in (even though the one we're in is already extremely cushy for the most part).

    Let's not forget that not everyone has it anywhere near as good as we do. They may not want to live like us, but they want to live without the constant threat of hunger, violence or even just a heavy rain.
    • Actually, the third world has been improving economically at a real fast rate. Take 3 minutes to watch the video River of Myths on youtube for a summary and then explore it further.

  • 0. Upcoming global extinction event due to meteor impact combined with the automation of the workfource, outsourcing everyone, laying off 90% of employees in the next 10 years, and paying the rest minimum wage..... US degenerating to a communist state, Hillary seizing all the guns, ISIS bioterrorists deploying global anti-human microbes, launching dirty bombs and mass-executions, and North Korea nuking us all......

    May happen before we get all those cool new technologies. Not to be pessimistic about

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @11:01AM (#52732281)
    At this point, I am more interested in innovations in protecting me from technology.

    .
    Under the driving forces of businesses who want to profit from the near-continual violation of my privacy, technology has become more and more of an unwelcome intrusion into my life.

  • I am unable to drive because of vision problems. Self-driving cars will be life-changing for me. The rest of it, meh...

  • They always throw in a mix of obvious things that are already happening and a few long shots. That way they can point to their awesome ability to get so many right, and occasionally they even guess correctly on something unexpected.
  • What, someone likes to drive?
    I shouldn't jinx myself, but I've been driving since 1981, and haven't caused an accident.

  • 1. Self-Driving Cars: another excuse to buy a new car....
    2. Clean Energy: Good, but still the production of materials needed for Solar, etc, are environmentally expensive.
    3. Virtual and Augmented Reality: another excuse to buy a new TV.
    4. Drones and Flying Cars: more "stuff" to buy.
    5. Artificial Intelligence: something else to annoy me. Regular people are enough.
    6. Pocket Supercomputers for Everyone: another excuse to buy a new phone.
    7. Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains: the economy must be based on r
  • by eepok ( 545733 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @11:34AM (#52732511) Homepage
    1. Self-Driving Cars: If the tech and legal issues ever get sorted, it can be great. But that's nowhere near happening, so the hype machine needs to continue to roll to continue bringing in new investors.

    2. Clean Energy: Very expensive and requiring massive diversity of investment. Wind and solar (the big "new" players) are not for every environment. Moreover, there has only been minimal gains in the grid balancing act required to make use of these intermittent energy sources.

    3. Virtual and Augmented Reality: Porn and games. For all other applications, it would just be too much of a distraction.

    4. Drones and Flying Cars: Drones come with MASSIVE safety and privacy risks. Flying cars are and always will be BS.

    5. Artificial Intelligence: Always just around the corner.

    6. Pocket Supercomputers for Everyone: If we can designate smartphones supercomputers because they're as powerful as supercomputers once were, then I am the smartest man on Earth (by comparison to pre-Enlightenment Europe).

    7. Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains: Until there's a means of securing cryptocurrencies in peoples' hands, they will never gain sufficient faith for widespread usage. Until then, they're just volatile niche currencies.

    8. High-Quality Online Education: Online Education will be crap until you can figure out a way to use it to consistently educate the lower socio-economic ranks. Until then, we're going to continue to NEED to require them to physically show up to a classroom with humans adjusting to the needs of the students.

    9. Better Food through Science: This is the past. We've been doing this for hundreds of years.

    10. Computerized Medicine: Which will be useless unless our social policies surrounding the relationships between medical costs and medical profits aren't addressed.

    11. A New Space Age: This is where the drones comes in. Today's governments are spending more money on keeping their populations healthier and prolonging lives. As they invest more, there will be less money for exploration (and 99% of exploration is funded by governments). It is, and will continue to be for a long time, to just send drones to do our exploration for us.
  • self driving cars -- now you can work on the way to work twice as far away. I hope you didn't have a fun car that you enjoyed driving.

    clean energy -- round eight of the same problem

    VR -- stop going outside or enjoying other people.

    drones and flying cars -- louder bigger insects, and bullshit on the flying cars

    AI -- we're nowhere near computers making decisions. we still don't have voice recognition (voice analysis we have, but it can't handle the standard cocktail party effect)

    pocket supercomputers -- aga

  • This list doesn't say why any of these things would be beneficial. Take self-driving cars (just because it's at the top of the pile). The benefits are not having to own your own vehicle, being able to get pissed out of your skull and still get home, better access for disabled people, not having to take a test, less congestion, sleeping on the way to work, not having to pay for the vehicle when you're not using it, not having to worry about it being broken - just send for another one.
    These are what people w

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @12:15PM (#52732793)

    I hate to break it to folks, there is no such thing coming.

    The industrial use and production of energy is a messy business, both environmentally and financially. This will not change.

    Consider the recent advent of two major "clean" energy alternatives, solar and wind. They are FAR from "clean" environmentally no matter how you slice them. Photovoltaic solar is really a horrible thing for the environment. Manufacturing and scrapping of solar cells is a messy thing and creating and operating those "let's build a huge array of mirrors to focus the sunlight to make something really hot thing is even worse as it takes huge swaths of land, has a serious issue with local wildlife and is *really* expensive. Wind isn't all that much better. It takes large areas of land, puts substantial structures on it and has a detrimental affect on the local environment too (killing birds, bats, bugs and such).

    About the only real hope here is fusion, but we are a LONG way from even being able to field an operating industrial level facility so there is no way we can judge the environmental impact of such a thing. I can tell you that right now, they are pretty messy, with superconducting magnets and emitting radiation.

    "Clean" energy is like "Free" food. It doesn't really exist.

  • All of these technologies are pretty exciting, but there are a lot of disruptive things in there, particularly as it relates to displacing workers' jobs. The first item on the list is going to cause a huge shift as truck, taxis and bus drivers all start losing jobs en masse. None of them are likely to be happy about having to retrain for new, more difficult work (any more than buggy whip manufacturers were) and most will likely just be added to the millions of people disenfranchised with the new economy.

    • What good is a grand new economy if there's nothing in it that I can see myself getting paid to do?

      This is the basic problem. All these futurology pieces extrapolate the supply side: what will be available, possible or substituting existing stuff. But none of them take the next step of analysing the demand side: asking who will be the customers for these advances?

      Even if we end up removing all the manual manufacturing, office-based administration, transport and food production jobs, who will be able to afford trips in flying cars, or would need an AI in their pocket?

      Even if we do get a UBI economy, will that basic income contain provision for computerised meds, and why would people with no prospect of a job - or more importantly: the children of people who don't / can't / will never work in their lives - ever need high quality online education (or any education at all)?

  • The mention of future clean energy does not mention any nuclear energy source, which mean we either won't have energy, won't have clean energy, or we won't have a future.

    Wind and solar exist in the marketplace because of subsidies. Those subsidies are possible because of fossil fuels and nuclear, they fund the market so that they can produce taxes for the wind and solar companies to stay in business. To those that claim nuclear, coal, and oil are subsidized I will concede that is true. What I will point

  • I'm terrified. Most of this tech is going to cost jobs. In most of the world your entire quality of life is based on your job. Our society simply isn't set up to desk with the sudden mass unemployment that's coming in the next decade or two. People really, really hate the idea of somebody getting paid to loaf around all day. But if there's no jobs the only alternative is mass starvation...
  • by JasterBobaMereel ( 1102861 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @12:29PM (#52732877)

    USA Centric

    Medicine is only expensive in the USA, the rest of the world does healthcare better and cheaper or worse and cheaper

    NASA's budget is getting smaller .... but the rest of the world is spending as much or more on Space ...

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @12:36PM (#52732921) Homepage Journal

    I don't see "sex robots" in his list of things to be excited about. I fail to understand why I should be excited about self driving cars, but a robot GF would actually change the world.

  • 'Self driving cars' are not 'here today', they're a JOKE, and they will not be 'mainstream in 3-5 years'. At best they'll be allowed to be sophisticated autopilots, so don't throw away your drivers license you'll need it.

    Drones need to DIE. Flying cars aren't going to happen.

    So-called 'artificial intelligence' is highly overrated and they're using the wrong term for what they have now. When you come to me with a so-called 'AI' that is indistinguishable from a human being in every way then I'll call it an
  • by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @03:56PM (#52734521)

    2. Clean Energy: Attempts to fight climate change by reducing the demand for energy haven't worked. Fortunately, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs have been working hard on the supply side to make clean energy convenient and cost-effective.

    The haven't worked enough perhaps, but they have absolutely been working [blogspot.com]. Energy intensity, the amount of energy required to produce a unit of GDP has been falling everywhere, and the best economies far out perform the lagging ones (like the United States) so even just implementing proven existing techniques would have great impact. And energy efficiency technologies are making rapid progress - automated control, LEDs, etc. The bang-for-the-buck in energy efficiency is almost always larger than in energy production (i.e. the cheapest energy is the energy that you didn't use). Going forward, emphasis on energy efficiency will be fully as important as changing modes of energy production.

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