Re: Volunteers search extropian archives for bad predictions?

Date: Sun Mar 18 2001 - 16:55:37 MST

Greg Burch writes:
> Three years ago I put together some of my own predictions for the period
> 2000-2015, with comments from the list:

I wrote a very negative response to this two years ago, a year after
Greg prepared his predictions, at:

However I have to admit that it now looks like Greg has come much closer
to the mark than I thought possible at the time, for a number of his
predictions. In particular I would revise:

> : Computer Technology (Processing, Interface, Software, Networks):
> : 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
> None of these will happen by 2003. Flat screens will probably still be too
> expensive; there will be no head mounted displays in use for consumer VR
> (they make people sick); no retinal painters will be used in industry;
> speech input will be rare, except for simple voice recorders. There
> won't be VR avatars, but there already are online interactions where
> you control an avatar.

Actually flat screens are becoming much more common than I expected;
they are still substantially more expensive than CRTs but the space
and weight savings and the "cool" appearance of the screens is making
up for this. I don't think they will outsell CRTs for the next year
or two but undoubtedly will do so eventually. One late 2000 reference
I found is "LCD's
big premium over the CRT and competition from other devices will help
to dampen demand from holiday shoppers this year. As a result, the home
market will not achieve a high penetration rate this holiday season,
even with the price drops. The professional market, however, will likely
accept this premium to save desk space. As the price and performance gap
between LCDs and CRTs narrows even more, the big wave of buyers for LCDs
in the short term will be businesses, with the home market coming next."

Also it looks like there might be some retinal painters in use by
industry within the next couple of years. One company, Microvision,, is coming out later this year or
next year with a head mounted display retinal painter called Nomad.
They have a press release from last September reporting their first
pre-order for Nomad. Actually it is not an industrial application but
rather a display system for people with poor vision. But I'm sure they
will get some industrial orders in the next year or two.

Pushing against this technology is progress in the competing technology
of ultra-small conventional displays, essentially arrays of laser diodes.

I also think Greg has come surprisingly close on:

> : Software:
> : first consumer-level remembrance agents;
> : first consumer-level personalizable full-time network spiders
> I don't know what remembrance agents are, but I don't think we'll see
> full time network spiders for end users. They would be too inefficient
> to be useful.

The network spider prediction is becoming realized in a sense with some of
the peer-to-peer (P2P) applications that people are working on. It's not
exactly spidering a la AltaVista, but some systems, like OpenCola, are
planning on sharing files, sharing bookmarks and hot links, and finding
other people on the net who have common interests. There are also some
efforts involving distributed search engines along the same lines.

Greg also predicted:

> : Communication Technology:
> : cell phones the size of credit cards; a few disposable cell phones;
> No disposable cell phones (in the sense of throwing them away; you may be
> able to rent them while travelling, etc., but you'll have to return them)

He forwarded this article from the L.A. Times about a disposable cell phone:

That's pretty amazing, although I'm still skeptical that this will really
make commercial sense. A step in this direction I have recently seen
advertised is a phone with a disposable battery. You use it up and
throw the battery away. It remains to be seen whether true disposable
cell phones will begin to be used. Certainly this one has come a lot
closer than I expected.

> : first practical consumer videophones; major consumer items (cars, houses) begin to have embedded cell
> : communications;
> No videophones; no cars or houses with embedded cell phones

Some GM cars have wireless communications in the "OnStar" system, which
is based on cell technology. Actually OnStar began appearing in GM cars
in late 1997, so I was pretty dumb to say that it wouldn't happen when
I wrote in 1999.

Another counter-prediction I would revise is:

> : Genetic Science and Technology:
> : human cloning bans enforced; first human clone announced in lab in Latin America or Asia; s
> No human clones.

It now appears at least reasonably possible that there will be a human
clone within the next two or three years, whether via the much-publicized
Italian effort or from some lower-profile group. (It almost seems like
the Italians are going out of their way to cause trouble - maybe they
are a lightning rod?)

Overall I have to say that I am impressed by the number of items which
Greg has gotten right or come close on. And his "circa 2000" surely
gives him another year or two on the others. While I still don't agree
with most of his predictions, I have to congratulate Greg for sticking
his neck out and coming close to the mark on quite a few of them.


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