Technology: Imagine the future

This blog post is being written on my phone.

Take a minute to imagine that.

I remember ten years ago getting my first cell phone. It was a tiny flip phone, and I was amazed at the ease of text messages, tapped out on the keypad before LOL was an abbreviation. Now I'm writing a whole blog post with Swype, a program that lets me just run my fingers over the keys and the words pop up.

When I taught world literature, one of the lessons I taught my students was how quickly time moves. I remember my first CD player (6th grade; first CD I bought: THE BODYGUARD soundtrack). Now, it's all about mp3s. My parents had 8-tracks (I've never seen one, come to think of it) and LPs.

Think about this: my father didn't have indoor plumbing in his home until he was 8 years old.

My grandmother was born two years after the Titanic sank.

My mother remembers seeing the first man on the moon; now we are almost at the point where we have a manned space station.

Technology moves so fast. One of my favorite novels growing up was THE DOOMSDAY BOOK by Connie Willis. When I re-read it recently, I noticed that people in this supposedly futuristic society that have the power of time travel were all at the mercy of pay-phones and land lines--no cell phones in sight. Before that, I'd never thought of how a futuristic science fiction novel could be...well, dated.


One of my fondest memories when I was young was seeing my grandmother's watch. She wore it every day, and when she died, it was passed down to me. I never wear it. I've not worn a watch in at least a decade. When I need to know the time, I look at my cell phone.

Technology changes--and it brings other changes with it. Will we one day have one electronic device the replaces our cell phone, our wallet, our books, our music players? The iPad is close to that. Will our children take class notes on a tablet screen, or pen and paper? Will our grandchildren mock our huge, bulky cell phones? Or will cell phones have been replaced by something else?

As dystopian sci fi writers, it's our job to try to imagine the future. Sometimes it's a dark future--but we have to write a book that will, hopefully, not be dated 100 years before it was set.

And me? I'm still waiting on my flying car.

So: what do you think the future will hold, technology-wise? What do you wish would be invented?

9 comments:

Anne said...

My husband always joked about a fridge that could place grocery orders for you and we just saw it mentioned on a commercial! I'm excited to see what new things will be unveiled.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Willis did refer to a cell phone in her most recent book, Black Out, but her characters never use them. I think her screwball comedy depends on her characters not being able to message each other directly.

As for future tech, I'd like clothes that never need to be washed (self-cleaning and/or stain-resistant).

Matthew said...

What I'd like to see doesn't need to be invented, but needs more engineering to make it practical. Truly green homes. Today when people talk green homes, they are essentially the same construction technology that we've been using for the last 100 years. They are insulated better, and use more efficient appliances, but they are essentially identical in all other respects to current houses.

A green home to me is one that is constructed to be a net producer of power, not consumer, designed to last indefinitely, and wastes little or no resources during construction.

These exist now, they don't need to be invented. What they need is engineering work be done to make them cost effective, so they compare price wise per square foot to traditional homes.

What I envision would be much like a high tech hobbit hole. A building constructed below ground or in a artificial hill for maximum earth based insulation. Passive solar design would further limit heating and cooling costs. A small roof of photovoltaic would provide what power the house needed. If you design it correctly, it can actually produce a surplus of electrical power that would be sold back to the grid or used to charge up fully electric vehicles.

Bittersweet Fountain said...

"now we are almost at the point where we have a manned space station."

I'm not sure what you mean by this. The ISS is manned 24/7 and will be until 2020 (or further depending on the Russians and NASA).

And let's not forget Skylab in the 70's. Space stations are pretty old technology.

Unless you mean space stations that like families live on. I think we're a little further from that.

Or unless you mean it's not fully built yet. Regardless of that fact, it's still by definition a space station and is going to be completed in early 2011. I mean, a house that's being lived in is still a house even if you're adding an addition onto it.

Sorry about this long comment. My NASA-ness just sort of spilled out. It happens. lol

And what am I looking forward to? Mars - manned vehicles getting there and people living there. But I'm an aerospace engineer, so that's a pretty standard answer. (ooo, and I really want a hoverboard. One day it's going to happen.)

lotusgirl said...

Maybe someday a communications device will just be implanted in our brains.

I'm waiting on the transporter. Travel in the blink of an eye? Heaven!

Dominique said...

This post makes me feel so retro. I used a portable CD player this morning, still own a walkman, and firmly believe in the benefits of a landline.

Still, I'd love a car that could drive itself.

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent post, Beth! I so want teleportation to be invented, like yesterday.

theflightytemptress365 said...

My current MS is actually exactly about this.

I agree with Ray Kurzweil. I think at some point, technology will reach a point where it is self-updating, and then it will accelerate to the point where us poor, hopeless biological frames can never keep up. Yay AI! It's gonna happen. The only question to me is when.

This is called the Singularity, if you're curious, and like-minded fellows include many on the board of Google. Just saying. :)

Karen Akins said...

My WIP deals with time travel from the future. Instead of focusing on what cool little gadgets we might have (because, let's face it, Steve Jobs's garage is probably already filled with devices way cooler than I could ever dream up), I tried to think through the extrapolation of current trends. (ex. environmentalism...well, maybe in the future it's a federal crime to snap a twig off a tree.)

Of course, I couldn't help but put a few fun inventions in, but I left the details to the reader's imagination. :)