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    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2008
     (443.41)
    I'm fairly certain that within the next twenty years we will see the first attempt to create a superhuman.

    We already know about single nucleotide polymorphisms that appear to be linked variously to increased strength, intelligence and longevity.

    I think it's only a matter of time before someone decided to try and combine a bunch of them in a cloned fetus.

    This would undoubtedly be banned by any ethics committee at any reputable university but that probably only mean it'll happen first somewhere like Tajikistan or China.

    I can totally see a dictator like Turkmenbashi trying to have an enhanced clone of himself made.
    • CommentAuthorzenbullet
    • CommentTimeJan 17th 2008
     (443.42)
    On the fill in the blank entertainment program topic from earlier?

    Such a thing already exists for television scripts.

    I'll look around and see if I can find some links.
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      CommentAuthorNygaard
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2008 edited
     (443.43)
    Some things may be bigger rather than smaller. Not body parts or quanta of precious fluids, but gadgets. Depends on a few items: Wether or not we run out of rare elements to make all these exotic microthingies out of; Whether or not we crawl off planet to dig out more of it; and what kind of infrastructure will be in place to shape demands. (Did someone say this already? I get confused when I run out of fingers to count the posts.)

    Wouldn't it be just the thing; mankind finally leaves its cradle, headed for the stars in a quest for smaller cell phones.

    EDIT: Or, come to think of it, considering current trends, a cell phone you can snort.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2008
     (443.44)
    Nygaard, I think larger-format mobile phones are going to be in demand as the users age and need a device with a larger clearer screen and larger buttons.
    • CommentAuthorMacgyver
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2008
     (443.45)
    Not one mention of decent hydrogen fuel cells? I can see hyrdo powered cars being a big thing in the next 20 years, unless that ends up being a total dud. Self driving too, and some regulation coming in making it illegal to turn off the auto drive unless its an emergency (because having to work the cars controls is a distraction from driving, just like every other bloody thing).

    a company will develop a cigarette that has a very minimal chance of giving you cancer.

    BT will face a bit of a financial crisis and have to be bailed out by the government.

    Outsourcing will either stop as it doesn't produce the results the companies want and start costing them money, or India will start majorly outsourcing work back to the West.

    The EU will continue to expand to take in some more of the old soviet countries, and it will still be a highly flawed system.

    I'll stop now. OH, and there still won't be a cure for cancer.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2008
     (443.46)
    We're getting outside of tech here but inside 20 years I expect all the ex-Yugoslav states to be in the EU probably along with Turkey.

    The big question is what is the logical end to EU expansion?

    If Ukraine can eventually join, why not Russia?

    If Turkey, why not Lebanon, Israel, Syria and north African states like Morocco and Algeria?
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      CommentAuthorJoe Paoli
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2008
     (443.47)
    @Kosmopolit
    We're getting outside of tech here but inside 20 years I expect all the ex-Yugoslav states to be in the EU probably along with Turkey.

    The big question is what is the logical end to EU expansion?

    If Ukraine can eventually join, why not Russia?

    If Turkey, why not Lebanon, Israel, Syria and north African states like Morocco and Algeria?

    Along those lines, would the US consider forming the NAU (North American Union), combining Canada and Mexico (and perhaps eventually some of the other countries on the way down to the Panama Canal) if the dollar sinks too low against the Euro, or OPEC starts using Chinese currency to set the base price of oil? Or some other confluence of events that causes the US to sink in importance on the world economic stage? I think it might.
    • CommentAuthorMacgyver
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2008
     (443.48)
    I think that's outside 20 years really. But the way things are shaping up it looks like all the old soviet countries and everything that makes up Europe now will end up joining up.

    Asia MIGHT join up in that case, but as China are a manufacturing leader, Japan is a technology leader and India is, for some reason, where all the customer service is nobody outside would want that as they'll end up taking the ball game (Joss Whedon got it right with everyone being bilingual).

    The North American continent will probably have to at some point two. US and Mexico could do it pretty easily. Canada probably doesn't want to, but US policies already effect them to a certain extent so they'll eventually cave. Whether South America would stay a seperate entity or just make an American Union I have no idea as I don't know much about the area.

    And Africa already has a union, it would just have to get more powerful. One thing that could help the unrest there is if manufactured diamonds got to the level of real ones in quality and cheaper in price. Takes the bottom out of the blood diamond market.

    And Jenna Bush will take care of whatever is left of the Middle East when she becomes president. Somehow Cheney will still be VP and won't look any older.

    As for Australia and New Zealand....fuck knows really...

    But I've taken this even further off topic bar the manufactured diamonds thing...
    • CommentAuthorMacgyver
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2008
     (443.49)
    Oh, should have said that the soviet areas will end up in the EU if Putin doesn't escalate things further than he already has. You can take the man out of the KGB but...
    • CommentAuthorlex
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008
     (443.50)
    Can we go back on track please? Maybe mad scientists will rule the earth in 20 years, but that's not the topic of this thread.

    I think it might be possible that we will be able to create the first purely synthetic lifeforms in the next 20 years. This might be necessary to kick-start a new ecosystem on distant planets, and to some extent probably also to extinct life on earth. We'll see...
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      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008 edited
     (443.51)
    I had a conversation with someone about how much you will be able to fit on a hard drive in the future, considering that data storage is quickly getting smaller and cheaper. The conversation took a fairly surreal twist when I suggested that one day they'll just invent the Omnidrive. What I meant was a drive that would have infinite storage capacity, but we then came up with the idea that the drive would actually just contain all data that has, does, or will exist, or even just contains all possible data (i.e. any combination of 0's and 1's).

    This later became one of those moments where you realize you've come up with a great idea for a story or something, and I thought about writing a short story about it. Then I discovered that Jorge Luis Borges had already pretty much written it in the form of The Library of Babel. Ah well.
  1.  (443.52)
    I've always been fond of the idea of a teleporter. I don't think it'll ever get really made (or can't see how), but ... there are so many times when a personal teleporter seems like it would be useful.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJoe Paoli
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008
     (443.53)
    @liquidcow
    This later became one of those moments where you realize you've come up with a great idea for a story or something, and I thought about writing a short story about it. Then I discovered that Jorge Luis Borges had already pretty much written it in the form of The Library of Babel. Ah well.
    Along these lines, there was an article recently that suggested that if memory keeps shrinking as it has been, in 20 years or so, you'd be able to store all the world's data on an ipod-sized device.

    That's a pretty amazing development. I'm not sure if all the world's data means
    - every pamphlet printed by every government
    - every book ever written
    - every TV show ever made
    - every movie ever made
    - a complete backup of the internet
    - all of the above

    But it's pretty impressive nonetheless, and it opens up a lot of possibilities for what we could do with that much memory at our fingertips. A lot of SF involving lifeblogging and immersive VR seems a lot more plausible if you consider how much computing power has increased and how that's likely to continue.
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      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008
     (443.54)
    I guess it means that the space requirements of data storage will become so negligible that an iPod-sized device will be sufficient to store all the data you will ever need or use. The thing is that it is, as you said, if it keeps going at the same rate. The rate of technological advancement has increased rapidly through the 20th Century, so a lot of technology arrived much sooner than people expected it to. Then again, some things that people predicted would have happened by now still haven't. I wonder if some new form of data storage might emerge, perhaps one more similar to the human brain, where the amount of data stored has no limit.
    • CommentAuthorNil
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008
     (443.55)
    This one, I suspect, is probably achievable using current technology and, for all I know, already is. It just requires a little combining of existing tech. Not quite sure how to term it, but the best thing I can come up with is peer-to-peer radio. Wireless-enabled music players, so that anyone with a compatible device within connection range can tune in and get a stream of what you're currently listening to. Picture it: you're sitting on the bus, and the radio is playing the usual blend of classic rock / pop / bland indie, so you switch on your phone and have a little browse around. That punk kid three rows down is playing some awesome stuff by local unsigned acts, the suit next to you turns out to be a massive fan of noise. Of course, maybe nobody around you has anything worth listening to, and dealing with the copyright issues is a nightmare, but I kinda like the idea.

    As far as the data storage thing goes, consider that the Project Gutenberg collection was around 150GB as of October 2005 - easily within the capacity of a current generation iPod. While this is by no means close to being "all the world's data", it's still a pretty huge amount of information for a pocket device.
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      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008
     (443.56)
    Oh yeh the wireless thing you're describing is available now on iTunes if I understand you correctly. I can sit in the library, for example, and I can see whoever is sharing their iTunes library and listen to what they've got, but you can't download any of it. Of course there's programs like Audiohijack that let you record the output of any program, so there's ways round it. I don't know if that's available on portable devices like the iPod or whatever but it's not really anything new, it's just streaming. As far as data goes, I'm talking about a device that could store an unlimited amount of data as opposed to being able to access it from elsewhere.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008
     (443.57)
    What really interests me about the increasing data storage is in few years pretty much every book banned by the governments of countries like China or Burma will be capable of being stored on a $20 fob drive. Good luck on keeping those out of the country.
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      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008
     (443.58)
    Well you already could do that. I just looked up Middlemarch on Project Gutenberg, my copy is about 840 pages, quite small type, and it takes up 1.76 MB uncompressed or 682 KB in zip format. So you could fit over a thousand average-sized books onto a 1 GB USB stick.

    I imagine that banned books already circulate in those countries, the problem isn't so much not being able to get hold of them, more that you really don't want to be caught in possession of one.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008
     (443.59)
    Yeah but it's a lot easier to hide a data stick that a bookshelf.
    • CommentAuthorMacgyver
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008
     (443.60)
    A lot of banned books are available on the net anyway (along with books that aren't banned). I know they can block sites, but there's always work arounds...

    How long will it be before we're buying movies on little sticks? The entire Universal back catalogue in your pocked, in Hi Def, with room to spare.

    Or the Beatles Black Stick.