Re: Near-Term Scenarios

GBurch1 (
Sat, 9 May 1998 21:31:44 EDT

OK, I'll go first. The following is obviously solely focused on the First
World at this point. I offer projections only through 2005 as a starter:

In a message dated 98-05-08 21:19:05 EDT, I wrote:

> 2000
> Computer Technology (Processing, Interface, Software, Networks):

PC speed: 600 MHZ
PC Storage: 10 Gbt hard drives common; read/write DVD drives common
Interfaces: flat screens become common; first practical consumer VR
interfaces; retina painters become available in some industrial applications;
speech input becoming more common, especially with palmtops; crude VR
avatars/virtual spaces available
Software: first consumer-level remembrance agents; first consumer-level
personalizable full-time network spiders
Networks: I don't know enough to be dangerous on this.

> Communication Technology:
cell phones the size of credit cards; a few disposable cell phones; first
practical consumer videophones; major consumer items (cars, houses) begin to
have embedded cell communications; competition in high-speed net access
becomes common in major urban areas; "sat-cell" systems (Teledesic, etc.)
being launched

> Neuroscience/Neuromedicine/Bio-cognitive Science & Technology:
evolved software networks (e.g. Cambrain project) demonstrated as impressive
software toys; neurochips implanted into small lab mammals with minimal
effect; continuing progress on nerve regeneration; breakthroughs in Alzheimer

> Genetic Science and Technology:
human cloning bans enforced; first human clone announced in lab in Latin
America or Asia; synthetic genes developed for therapeutic purposes in several
major human genetic disorders, testing begins; primitive organ cloning
(complex tissues, perhaps skin) developed in the lab

> General Medicine:
AIDS effectively reduced to level of non-lethal chronic disease; very
effective chemical treatments for coronary artery disease developed;
angiostatin-endostatin proves highly effective in first human trials as
general anti-cancer agent; continued progress in human cryopreservation
techniques significantly reduces freezing damage

> Other Biology:
first genetically engineered pet dogs and cats; pharmaceutical ranching
becomes common;

> Power Technology:
U.S. power market effectively deregulated; natural gas "micro-turbines" become
available at the consumer level; continued progress in fusion R&D

> Manufacturing and Materials Science & Technology
Arrays of STMs-on-a-chip for crude mechanosynthesis ("diamond weaving")
demonstrated; MEMs become ubiquitous in major consumer devices

> General Transportation Technology:
"networked cars" available at high prices; competitive electro-hybrid autos
begin to hit market

> Aeronautics:
Boeing announces plans to build a large HST; resurgence of small general
aviation market through application of composite materials and computer-
mediated control systems (Rutan meets Gates)

> Space Technology and Development:
Multiple demonstration launches of small, privately-funded LEO boosters; Sat-
cell network launches underway; NASA space station becomes operable; private
lunar ice lander-prospector proposed; workable proposal for privatization of
NASA space station; work commences on second generation of private launchers
and first private LEO spacecraft (tugs, shuttles)

> Business & Finance Technology and Practice:
increasing trends toward telecommuting; continuing development of expertise
consultancy in areas other than traditional professions (software, other
engineering, personnel management, finance); increasing privatization of
investment for retirement; electronic commerce becomes ubiquitous; first
practical private e-cash

> Personal Lifestyles:
increasing de-localization of social interaction through the Internet;
development of second career ideal among healthy "Boomers" in their 50s;

> Law and Government:
first "virtual courtrooms" demonstrated; first commercial applications of
smart contracts; continuing privatization of traditional government functions;
complete overhaul and simplification of the U.S. tax code complete; continuing
political battles over rights issues such as abortion, drugs, genetic self-

> Art and Entertainment:
first widely-distributed virtual environments; first consumer-level virtual
environmental tools; first real interactive fiction; continuing human/machine
artistic collaborations

> Computer Technology (Processing, Interface, Software, Networks):

PC speed: 1-2 GHz
First consumer-level configurable neural networks
PC Storage: 50 Gbt hard drives common, being replaced with completely solid
state devices
Interfaces: flat screens ubiquitous; consumer VR interfaces ubiquitous; retina
painters common at consumer level; speech input ubiquitous; gestural
recognition becoming common; VR avatars/virtual spaces common
Software: active, autonomous agents ubiquitous; coding of most applications
Networks: My ignorance becomes complete

> Communication Technology:
First cell-phone implants; consumer videophones ubiquitous; most consumer
items (cars, houses) have embedded cell communications; all urban areas have
competing high-speed net access; "sat-cell" systems (Teledesic, etc.) online

> Neuroscience/Neuromedicine/Bio-cognitive Science & Technology:
evolved networks operable in many consumer level applications and common in
large business and scientific applications; neurochips employed in effective
spinal chord repair in primates; perfection of nerve regeneration; Alzheimer
disease cured; full emulation of small biological neural networks

> Genetic Science and Technology:
human cloning bans under broad challenge; human clones a rare but continuing
phenomenon in labs in Latin America and Asia; synthetic genes commonly
employed for therapeutic purposes in most major human genetic disorders, organ
cloning of complete human organs accomplished in the lab.

> General Medicine:
AIDS eradicated; coronary artery disease near eradication; multiple anticancer
agents reduce cancer mortality drastically; DNA chips ubiquitous; human
cryopreservation reaches near perfection

> Other Biology:
genetically engineered pet dogs and cats banned; radical improvements in
agricultural productivity from transgenic crops

> Power Technology:
natural gas "micro-turbines" common; first commercial fusion plants under
construction; return of "oil shocks" as third world hydrocarbon consumption
skyrockets; ocean thermal power plants under construction

> Manufacturing and Materials Science & Technology
Arrays of STMs-on-a-chip become common manufacturing technology; "smart
materials" become common in aviation and automotive technology; "active
buildings" become norm for new construction; MEMS ubiquitous in most consumer

> General Transportation Technology:
"networked cars" ubiquitous; "intelligent freeways" begin operation in major
urban areas; electro-hybrid autos become common

> Aeronautics:
Boeing flies its HST

> Space Technology and Development:
Majority of launch market is private; first generation manned private LEO
vehicles begin operation; ISS privatized; construction begins on first
private, "wheel" space station; private robotic ice mining and caching
operations begin

> Business & Finance Technology and Practice:
telecommuting ubiquitous; expertise consultancy becomes the norm; retirement
plans begin complete restructuring in face of increased longevity; first life
insurance investment in cryonics; electronic commerce becomes largest part of
consumer economy; private e-cash begins challenge to traditional monetary

> Personal Lifestyles:
complete de-localization of social interaction through the Internet; large
minority of "Boomers" entering second careers

> Law and Government:
"virtual courtrooms" common; smart contracts common; privatization of
traditional government functions begins to sap tax base of many local
governments; continuing political battles over rights issues such as abortion,
drugs, genetic self-control; development of radical luddite terrorist groups

> Art and Entertainment:
virtual environments become main venue for the arts; consumer-level virtual
environmental tools ubiquitous; interactive fiction branded a "social problem"
("VR addiction"); human/machine artistic collaborations become ubiquitous

Any comments?

Greg Burch <>----<>
Attorney ::: Director, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must
be driven into practice with courageous impatience."