The modern academic view of the future


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Samsung has just released a new report, dubbed Samsung KX50: The Future in Focus, where the company asked “Six of Britain’s leading academics and futurists” to give their prediction of what the world will be like fifty years hence.

According to the report [pdf], people will be living mostly in very dense urban environments consisting of giant, self-sufficient skyscrapers that grow their own food, huge underground complexes, and even undersea colonies. Travel will be by self-driving pods that can double as hotel rooms on long trips, with travel possible between places like Britain and Scandinavia by aquatic highways. Alongside these will be autonomous air taxis that use rivers as commuter routes, hyperloops, and hypersonic airliners.

Not that there will be much traveling. For environmental reasons, most food will be grown close to home, if not in the home itself. Manufacturing will be equally local thanks to 3D printing. And, thanks to automation and artificial intelligence, most people will work in their self-cleaning homes with most of their professional and personal interactions with others conducted through means of full-feedback holographs.

That means that most people will live very sedentary lives, but they’ll also be monitored by biosensors throughout the day as virtual digital companions assess their health, help doctors to prescribe treatments to keep them at peak fitness, dispense health advice, and even custom tailor diets and medicines. [emphasis mine]

The last paragraph immediately stood out to me. These academics saw no moral or ethical problem with such monitoring and supervision. Nor it appears were they aware of the political ramifications of such technology.

Similarly, the report also envisioned “TV and movies beamed directly to your brain via optoelectronic devices” and “Living forever with our memories uploaded to the Cloud.” And from introduction in the report [pdf] itself:

One of the first things that struck me, reading their submissions, was how much consensus there seems to be between all our futurologists, on matters such as direct brain-to-internet connection being a very real possibility before 2069.

The essays in the report itself confirmed this impression. The predictions of all these academics are all focused on imposing their hot-button leftist agenda, including preventing global warming, allowing gender fluidity, pushing environmental activism, and eliminating of meat as food (to name a few), and doing so by the use of technology that is implanted directly into each human being. The world they envision will have every human a pawn in their interconnected robotic-controlled society, with brain implants eliminating our ability to think independently because we are now part of a kind of hive mind.

Samsung then asked British citizens to rank these predictions by what they would most like to see come true. Self-cleaning robotic homes was by far the most popular prediction at 63%, with “Body implants that monitor our health and translate any language” coming in second at 44%.

This poll however was rigged, as it did not ask anyone if they opposed some predictions. I wonder what response Samsung would have gotten had they asked that question.

Nonetheless, the number of people enthused by the idea of monitoring by body implants make me fear for the future. Today young people are addicted to their smart phones and that hive mind. They see nothing wrong with Google monitoring their lives and even acting to control them. I fear that when more convenient but invasive monitoring and control become technologically possible, future generations will be quick to accept it, while they simultaneously lose their individuality and ability to create uniquely.

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18 comments

  • wayne

    “To New Horizons”
    (1940)
    https://youtu.be/aIu6DTbYnog
    23:00

    “Pre-World War II futuristic utopian thinking, as envisioned by General Motors. Documents the “Futurama” exhibit in GM’s “Highways and Horizons” pavilion at the World’s Fair, which looks ahead to the “wonder world of 1960.”

  • Mike Borgelt

    My guess is that people will be living much the same way they do now. Most of academia is just a hobby.

  • Patrick Underwood

    A matter of personal perceived risk. If you’re, say, a guitar nut (ha so to speak), and for a price you can instantly have the chops of a Vai or Segovia… but there is a small risk of being hacked into the hive mind… most likely you’ll discount the risk.

    A highly mature and principled adult might say no. Are there any of those left?

  • Academic future visions seem to depend on a lot of Morlocks to support a few Eloi.

  • wayne

    “The British Attempt to Construct a Socialist Commonwealth, 1945-1951”
    Gresham College lecture
    https://youtu.be/TEgvxQ_OhcU
    1:01:00

  • pzatchok

    I like how they think farm land will be so expensive in the future that it will be cost effective to use half of a NY high rise as a farm instead of apartments. Even including transport.

    And who in the world is going to grow most of their own groceries? Do they understand exactly how diverse the modern diet is today. Who knows how to grow those wonderfully white cauliflowers? How about rhubarb? How about compost?

    As for most people working out of their home. Who will work the restaurants and theaters? Police the streets? Operate the prisons?
    As for robots taking over most manual labor jobs, what will and I am sorry to say it “stupid”people do? Are we just going to let 50% of the nation live off welfare and doing drugs? We all know that for most people if you let someone live fat and lazy they will choose to live fat and lazy.

    This is turning out as bad as the Matrix concept of using people for batteries as a limitless source of electricity.

  • Col Beausabre

    “These academics saw no moral or ethical problem with such monitoring and supervision.”

    Of course not, they think that they, “the elite”, will be the ones doing the monitoring and supervising of the “deplorables”

    1) Which illuminates their towering hubris

    2) They may think they’re well educated, but they know nothing of history. That teaches us that the people who think they will be running things by right of their natural superiority are among the first to get sent to the camps.

    “was how much consensus there seems to be”

    Naturally, it’s a little clique that forms an echo chamber endlessly repeating the party line and punishing thoe who dare to question the orthodoxy

  • mpthompson

    When I see the phrase “leading academics and futurists” life experience has taught me that, in general, they are neither.

  • wayne

    mpthompson
    Col Beausabre
    pzatchok
    = good stuff.

    “It’s a Jetsons World”
    (Chapter 1: It’s a Jetsons World)
    Jeffrey A. Tucker
    https://youtu.be/IKegyzb4yF8
    9:05

  • wayne

    The Division of Labor and Social Order
    Carmen Dorobăț
    Mises Institute 2017
    https://youtu.be/J7Jpj8XLc04
    45:42

  • wayne

    Blair–
    Good stuff, as well!

    Have not watched this recently, but disturbingly on point:
    Logan’s Run trailer
    (1976)
    https://youtu.be/USADM5Gk9Gs
    2:56

  • wayne

    “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

  • Edward

    Gee, why hasn’t anyone mentioned the Borg? You will be assimilated; resistance is futile.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N75XngwbZQY#t=160 (1 minute, Picard kidnapped by Borg)

    We already use prosthetic parts and have various implants, such as corneas and teeth. Plugging into the hive mind can’t be too far away.

    On the other hand, from the first article: “Only self-cleaning homes got an enthusiastic response, with 63 percent in favor of the idea.” It seems that a self cleaning house (and automated kitchen) has long been a popular idea:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=El1adh7H3dU (3 minutes, “Glass Bottom Boat,” 1967)

    Samsung predicts that it will be more efficient to grow our own food rather than have it grown by experts by the biological equivalent of mass production. In at least one story in the 1940s or 1950s, Azimov had us eating foods made up of yeast, by now. That hasn’t happened either.

    The first article also pointed out that we don’t have many of the things that earlier predictions thought we would have by now, “in a society that hasn’t changed much since 1960, except it’s a bit nicer.

    But these are technological changes. We have had several sociological changes that have not turned out so well. The “self esteem” movement has produced millions of people who cannot tolerate disagreement, sometimes with violent result. Science is demoted, and now each of us can force others to treat him as though he is what he says that he is. We must — literally — cater to other people’s desires, otherwise we face outrageous fines and penalties, making only a small portion of the population truly free and the rest of us their servants. Even the government of the “last best hope of Earth” now believes that it has the right to tell us what to purchase, what to do, what to say, and who to be, just so long as there is a tax associated with it — and that government increasingly sees its people (possessive) as its servants rather than itself as the servant to the people (the government was meant to belong to the people).

    So, on the course that we are on, it seems that rather than We the People choosing the efficiencies that we want (the definition of liberty), government will impose upon us the efficiencies that it wants (the definition of tyranny). It looks like Samsung predicts this kind of future for humanity.

  • wayne

    Tex Avery
    “The House of Tomorrow”
    (June 1949)
    https://youtu.be/liB_aBySddU
    3:01

  • pzatchok

    When A.I. begins to replace the “thinkers” of the world those very thinkers will shut off the A.I.

    All to save us of course.

    Robots are great as long as they don’t take your job.

    Asimov wrote a couple of series of books (the foundation series and the robot stories) that explored different aspects of robots in society. Almost none turned out good for man or mankind.
    Robots as in anthropomorphic designs and not just computer controlled machines designed to help the worker do his job.
    In almost every scenario robots just made mankind fat and lazy. Especially mentally and intellectually lazy.

    A real futurist would see both the bad and the good in their own ideas of the future. And present both sides.

  • pzatchok

    I can see individually grown replacement parts for people taking over prosthetic and “bionic” parts inside the next 100 years.

    This could give people the life expectancy of essentially their brain. As long as that part still works fine almost everything else could be replaced.

  • wayne

    “I, Robot”
    – Whose Revolution?
    (‘that detective….is the right question.’)
    https://youtu.be/hrGco_ztJkw
    2:16

  • wayne

    U2 Chase into Russia —
    “Dark Skies” (NBC 1996-97)
    https://youtu.be/B6qBzHYzzag
    5:22

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