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Three things from Science Fiction I wish they would invent in the next half hour (and two that I don’t) May 13, 2011

Posted by futurewired in Lists, Uncategorized.

Category One – Sigh, stare wistfully into the middle distance…

No 1) The Killfile

 From Charlie Stross’  Accelerando. Not anything like as sinister as it sounds, it’s basically a mental filter that reduces annoying interlopers to a vague noise in the background. The human equivalent of Adblocker on Firefox.

Sirhan blinks. Suddenly everyone but him seems to be ignoring that annoying Marissa person. “What just happened?” he asks cautiously.

“I killfiled her. Don’t tell me, you aren’t running Superplonk yet, are you?” Rita flicks a location-cached idea at him and he takes it cautiously, spawning a couple of specialized Turing Oracles to check it for halting states. It seems to be some kind of optic lobe hack that accesses a collaborative database of eigenfaces, with some sort of side interface to Broca’s region. “Share and enjoy, confrontation-free parties.”

“I’ve never seen –” Sirhan trails off as he loads the module distractedly… Something like an inner eyelid descends. He looks round; there’s a vague blob at one side of the room, making an annoying buzzing sound. His mother seems to be having an animated conversation with it. “That’s rather interesting.”

Asides from awkward social encounters it’s also ideally suited for charity muggers and leafleters.

(I have nothing against charity I just prefer to make decisions on who to donate to/support, and how in places other than a crowded high street. Ditto leafleters, with no real income to speak of I’m nobody’s target market and I walk around a lot so I end up with multiple copies of them all, on account of being too neurotic to ignore them for fear of hurting their feelings/ inciting mockery. Hence the need for artificial assistance.)

Accelerando is a brilliant novel but so densely packed with ideas and techspeak I had to read it online with google wikipedia and slashdot tabbed alongside.

2) Your furniture at your fingertips…

From Cory Doctorow’s Makers

“Watch this,” he said. He unvelcroed a wireless keyboard from the side of the TV and began to type: T-H-E C-O. . . The field autocompleted itself: THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, and brought up a picture of a beaten-up paperback along with links to web-stores, reviews, and the full text. Tjan gestured with his chin and she saw that the front of one of the tubs was pulsing with a soft blue glow. Tjan went and pulled open the tub and fished for a second before producing the book.’
This one is probably on the verge of being technically possible right now but still horrendously impractical. You tag everything with RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification tags), combine these with ‘smart’ boxes/drawers/desks. You type in the name of the item you’re looking for into the computer, it searches for the correct RFID and the box it’s in lights up. Or bookshelf, for when you really need that textbook on critical theory from two years ago that’s been gathering dust in between the well thumbed complete series of Dune novels.

The only downside is it’s dependent on you actually putting things away which creates some obvious issues. I already have to deal with this problem on account of having a rack of half empty but extremely organised cd cases.

No 3) AnthroPCs

From the webcomic Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques. From the QC Wiki;

An AnthroPC, or “sentient mobile workstation”, is a self-propelled artificially intelligent computer. AnthroPCs are used for companionship, media storage and playback, Internet access, and weapons

Need I say more? It probably would have made the last couple of months of emailing off variations of the same CV more interesting.

Category Two – Just say No

No 1) Fully Immersive Virtual Reality Environments

Having discovered the astonishing number of hours I am capable of spending idly clicking links on the internet, compared to the few I manage to devote to useful activities, I don’t feel I need to explain why this would be a bad idea for me.

No 2) Teleportation

Making a copy of yourself and destroying the original just to save travel time? You can say what you like about the lack of physical continuity at the quantum level in day to day existence, and yes I may technically be seen as a different person than the one who began writing this post but I still would prefer a mode of transportation that keeps existential crises to a minimum.



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