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SF Authors Predict Computing's Future 258

Posted by Soulskill
from the mentalnet-is-like-a-series-of-tubes dept.
Esther Schindler writes "'Over the past century a lot of science fiction has been published, showcasing a lot of wild ideas, and if you sit enough authors at enough typewriters or word processors, somebody is bound to get a few things right. Science fiction's greater influence, though, goes beyond whether or not the authors can make a good guess,' writes Kevin J. Anderson in Science Fiction's Take on the Future of Computers: Visionaries and Imaginaries. 'Rather than predicting the future, the SF genre is much better at inspiring the future. Visionaries read or see cool ideas in their favorite SF books or films, then decide how to make it a reality.' So Anderson assembled a set of visionaries, and asked them where they thought computing is headed: Mike Resnick, Robert J. Sawyer, Greg Bear, Michael A. Stackpole, Dr. Gregory Benford, and Christopher Paolini gaze into their crystal balls. 'Forget artificial intelligence. The future of computing is artificial consciousness, and it will be here within 20 years, and maybe much sooner than that,' says Sawyer. 'Our future wired world will have smart, wireless robots — gofers in hospitals, security guards with IR vision at night, lawn mowers, etc. We ourselves will be wired, with devices and embedded sensors taking in data and giving it out — a two way street,' contributes Benford."
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SF Authors Predict Computing's Future

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:25PM (#37743612)

    Quality science fiction authors (not the pulp hacks), aren't TRYING to predict the future. They know better than anyone that's a pointless pursuit. Real science fiction writers, are merely using a genre setting to comment on the PRESENT, and perhaps on the human condition in general. Anyone who seriously thinks they can predict the future is a fucking retard. In the past, every time someone has tried they were laughably off. Even when someone does occasionally luck onto to getting some small thing right, like a specific piece of technology, they usually screw up its context and use in some fundamental way, or they make some assumption that turns out to be untrue (Arthur Clarke assuming that NASA would continue on with Apollo-level funding for example). No serious writer is arrogant enough to think their predictions are actually going to come true. They're literary devices, not prognostications.

    • by decipher_saint (72686) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:37PM (#37743756) Homepage

      Real Sci-Fi is about asking "what if", period.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Exactly, and it applies to Science Fiction T.V. shows as well.

        For instance, Star Trek answers an important philosophical question: "What if we gave a starship command to a man with a bigger sex drive than an entire class of high school seniors?"

        • by vlm (69642)

          For instance, Star Trek answers an important philosophical question: "What if we gave a starship command to a man with a bigger sex drive than an entire class of high school seniors?"

          Yeah "ST:Voyager" really cleared up that question.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Real science fiction writers, are merely using a genre setting to comment on the PRESENT, and perhaps on the human condition in general.

      Nothing sucks worse than soft sci fi, a smooth pablum of tech applied over a tired predictable story, but its "new" because they use video phones, even if they utterly fail to account for the effect of tech on the story. (I'm looking at you, Stranger in a Strange Land, that story was horribly bad sci fi)

      Just wanted to point out a huge contingent of people prefer the exact polar opposite of your "ideal", because that opposing idea is at least occasionally interesting or creative.

      I take that back, that the o

      • Then there's PKD, which does both and much more. Well, except maybe in A Scanner Darkly, but that's because it wasn't originally sci-fi.

      • Star Wars is a space opera: The extreme form of soft sci-fi. Doesn't mean it's bad - not everyone watches scifi for the gadgets.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by V!NCENT (1105021)

      Explain this:
      -Star Trek tablet pc [check];
      -Star Trek talk to a computer (Apple's new talk to iPhone 4S) [check];
      -Star Trek brain implants (in mice) [check];
      -Back to the Future Nike shoes [check];
      -Those lenses that can read light focussed realy close to you [check];
      -Hitchhikers Gide to the Galaxy device (Wikipedia on your smartphone) [check];
      -Self-driving cars in a lot of movies (we have working prototypes) [check];
      -Star Wars holographic displays (for some coorporations) [check];
      -Cold fusion effect (but then

    • by Twinbee (767046) on Monday October 17, 2011 @04:23PM (#37744216) Homepage

      Okay, I'll give you a few predictions right now, and we'll see if I'm a nutter:

      1: We'll colonize and even explore space (because if we don't get off this rock, we're as good as dead).

      2: We'll have something much closer to true virtual reality devices and use them willingly (a bit obvious I suppose)

      3: Not everyone will go the cyborg route. In fact, only a few may, because of the 'ick' format that many people will detest. Star Trek agrees here (and no, Geordi La Forge doesn't count).

      4: At some point, we'll have sky cars. We'll need better batteries, and good AI for stability and non-crashability, but we'll get there (eventually, we'll even be able to drive them for fun (with the safety mechanisms kicking in if we make a wrong move).

      5: (Hot) fusion will become viable at some stage too (we could really do with the energy to feed our sky cars etc. with.)

      6: And the big one; fewer and fewer people will have traditional jobs, letting the robots/computers do the admin / manual work for them. Instead, we'll be exploring, learning, creating, having fun, or socializing (eventually mankind will realize that higher unemployment is a good thing, and not a bad)
      .
      7: There will be a universal currency, universal language, and universal OS (don't worry, not necessarily Windows, MacOS, or Linux) at some point which most (>99%) can and will use. It'll take a while, and will probably happen after most people stop working, but at some point, we will all agree to get along (traveling to outer space, and to the stars may add some confusion to this point however).

      I can guarantee that at least six of those things will happen. Perhaps not all in our lifetime though.

      • by idontgno (624372) on Monday October 17, 2011 @05:02PM (#37744566) Journal

        1: We'll colonize and even explore space (because if we don't get off this rock, we're as good as dead).

        Tens of millions of dead smokers proves that the rationale is not valid, but tens of millions of dead natives in colonized areas proves your basic prediction is sound, if only for other reasons.

        2: We'll have something much closer to true virtual reality devices and use them willingly (a bit obvious I suppose)

        I'd debate this more extensively, but my guild just issued its mass invite for our weekly Firelands raid, so I have to go.

        3: Not everyone will go the cyborg route. In fact, only a few may, because of the 'ick' format that many people will detest. Star Trek agrees here (and no, Geordi La Forge doesn't count).

        Frankly, most people want to "look normal". Hence, even the most innocuous "prosthetics"--eyeglasses--have a zero-cosmetic-impact alternative (contact lenses). No bet there.

        4: At some point, we'll have sky cars. We'll need better batteries, and good AI for stability and non-crashability, but we'll get there (eventually, we'll even be able to drive them for fun (with the safety mechanisms kicking in if we make a wrong move).

        There are other implications, too. Does privacy extend to the airspace above your house? Otherwise your neighbors could just hover over your house to watch your comings and goings. And yeah, if the technology becomes cheap enough and sufficiently different than conventional aviation (i.e., not needing specialty training and licensing), then it'll have some ugly public safety impacts. But when cars were new a century ago, they'd have been surprised and horrified at the quarter million casualties a year [wolframalpha.com] car accidents cause.

        5: (Hot) fusion will become viable at some stage too (we could really do with the energy to feed our sky cars etc. with.)

        It's happening now. [wikipedia.org] Too bad we're not so good at collecting and distributing that energy, considering it already travels 99.99993% of the way here by itself.

        6: And the big one; fewer and fewer people will have traditional jobs, letting the robots/computers do the admin / manual work for them. Instead, we'll be exploring, learning, creating, having fun, or socializing (eventually mankind will realize that higher unemployment is a good thing, and not a bad)

        Alas, having the machines do all the work liberates the working man to abject poverty and crime or starvation. Economies function on scarcity, and if you don't have natural scarcity, you invent artificial scarcity. The wealth of the "haves" tends to increase towards 100% of total value of the economy, and the wealth of the "have-nots" decreases towards 0. The costs of production are already a non-factor in a lot of the economy, but that hasn't made the important things zero-cost for the consumer.

        7: There will be a universal currency, universal language, and universal OS (don't worry, not necessarily Windows, MacOS, or Linux) at some point which most (>99%) can and will use. It'll take a while, and will probably happen after most people stop working, but at some point, we will all agree to get along (traveling to outer space, and to the stars may add some confusion to this point however).

        In many ways, we're almost already there. What percentage of the world's nations and economies has a working understanding of English and access to some basically-interoperable computer networking system? If you believe in the curse of the Tower of Babel, you might be inclined to argue that humanity is overcoming the confounding of languages and is again a viable candidate to ascend to the heavens.

        • by Kittenman (971447)

          7: There will be a universal currency, universal language, and universal OS (don't worry, not necessarily Windows, MacOS, or Linux) at some point which most (>99%) can and will use. It'll take a while, and will probably happen after most people stop working, but at some point, we will all agree to get along (traveling to outer space, and to the stars may add some confusion to this point however).

          In many ways, we're almost already there. What percentage of the world's nations and economies has a working understanding of English and access to some basically-interoperable computer networking system? If you believe in the curse of the Tower of Babel, you might be inclined to argue that humanity is overcoming the confounding of languages and is again a viable candidate to ascend to the heavens.

          Uh ... I think you're making the assumption that the Universal language will be the one you know: i.e, English. This probably isn't the case. The best candidate I've come across is Esperanto. And that was designed as a Universal second language. (And of course, "Universal"= just this planet in this context. I doubt if the Vegans, Sirians and Centaurans want to learn our languages).

          • by CRCulver (715279)

            This probably isn't the case. The best candidate I've come across is Esperanto.

            Esperanto had its chance nearly a century ago and blew it. Even most of the Esperanto movement has given up on the fina venko ("final victory") and dabble in Esperanto because they enjoy building their own little subculture.

            And that was designed as a Universal second language.

            While Zamenhof proposed Esperanto in the short term as an auxiliary language, he hoped that in the long term Esperanto or something like it would replace

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Grishnakh (216268)

            I doubt if the Vegans, Sirians and Centaurans want to learn our languages).

            The Vegans already speak our languages, and they use them to constantly tell us how evil and wrong we are for eating meat and other animal products.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          In many ways, we're almost already there. What percentage of the world's nations and economies has a working understanding of English and access to some basically-interoperable computer networking system?

          Working knowledge of English? Nowhere near universal, even in first-world economies. Long before we get universal adoption of any single language we'll have machines that can recognize/voice every known language and translate to/from the user's language and we will have obviated the need for any one language to take over.

          • by PCM2 (4486)

            It seems to me that a lot of science fiction and future predictions posit the idea that everything will converge toward a single something. I believe this is mostly because the idea of "one" is easy for everybody to get their heads around. If I predicted that the world would eventually settle down to about nine different languages, everyone would go, "Huh? Why nine?" But nine seems just as likely a number to me as one. Why only one?

            In fact, I'd argue that the main reason we haven't seen human society hurtli

    • You are correct, but TFA doesn't exactly claim to be predicting the future, they claim to be inspiring it.

      "Rather than predicting the future, the SF genre is much better at inspiring the future. Visionaries read or see cool ideas in their favorite SF books or films, then decide how to make it a reality."

      "I asked several of my SF writer colleagues to turn on their imaginations, let their ideas flow, and sound off on any aspect of where they thought the future of computing might go. Maybe they'll inspire
    • by epine (68316) on Monday October 17, 2011 @04:44PM (#37744384)

      Rubbish, if you expand your horizons wider than oracles of ticker tape or Back to the Future parlour tricks.

      There have been some pretty profound visionaries over the centuries. Jules Verne, da Vinci, Richard Feynman (There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom [wikipedia.org]), Claude Shannon, Freeman Dyson (space chickens), Charles Babbage, Leibniz, William Gibson (cyberspace), Marshall McLuhan (global village), Archimedes if you could get him to talk. These are not men immortalized for aping Minority Report.

      I shake my head at all these Margulis extropians, who think we're headed for post-sexual merger with mechanoid symbiotes, the under-skin super suit. Which would be cool if I had any clue what the 90% of world's population, the unemployed, will be doing with all that time.

      The future is a moving target. Set your sights accordingly, and recognize transcendent wisdom bereft of gadgets.

    • by TClevenger (252206) on Monday October 17, 2011 @06:44PM (#37745326)

      Even when someone does occasionally luck onto to getting some small thing right, like a specific piece of technology, they usually screw up its context and use in some fundamental way, or they make some assumption that turns out to be untrue (Arthur Clarke assuming that NASA would continue on with Apollo-level funding for example).

      Or Asimov predicting that robots/androids would be nearly human-like in their behavior and complexity at the same time that computers still filled whole buildings and would need specially trained people to translate instructions into code and readouts from ticker tape.

      • "Or Asimov predicting that robots/androids would be nearly human-like in their behavior and complexity at the same time that computers still filled whole buildings and would need specially trained people to translate instructions into code and readouts from ticker tape."

        Good ironic catch.

        I've been rereading some of "I, Robot" aloud to my kid, and what is interesting is that Isaac Asimov suggested robots would understand speech before they were able to talk, whereas things have gone the other way around, it'

    • Alright, here's a list -- let's check back in 100 years and see how close I got:

      - there are 6 fundamental forces, not 4
      - aliens _are_ humans
      - free energy is possible
      - Actual Intelligence (not the joke of Artificial Ignorance) will eventually happen due to a hybrid bio-computing
      - South America and Africa will have a recognized world currency
      - Plants and Minerals have a consciousness

  • The authors (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:29PM (#37743666)
    Ya I've never heard of most these authors but the article lost all credibility when they said 'Christopher Paolini' was on their list. He isn't a science fiction writer he writes fantasy and not even good fantasy at that. Why is he even there?
    • by Necron69 (35644)

      Well, I rather like Paolini. He's a very young writer, and maturing as he writes. That being said, he is most definitely a fantasy writer, not a science fiction writer. The real world is not a book store or a library, and we shouldn't confuse the two genres.

      Necron69

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Indeed, one of the reasons why I always had a soft spot for Arthur C. Clarke was that he had an engineering degree and he spent a huge amount of time on conveying what life itself was like in the future or on another planet. So, much so that one could envision what was going on there, and in some cases take ideas that he had and see about turning them into reality.

        It's the details like in 3001 where being circumsized is regarded as mutilation which help make things somewhat mysterious and help one consider

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The fact that Mr. Clarke dreamt up geosynchronous satellites means he helped build the future, not predict it.

    • by vlm (69642)

      The masses can't tell the difference between witchcraft and science? (note, I'm not kidding)

      • What *is* the difference?

        Are the monoliths from Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey witchcraft or science?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by vlm (69642)

          What *is* the difference?

          Are the monoliths from Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey witchcraft or science?

          witchcraft, obviously. No falsifiable predictions, just an uncontrollable god doing what it wants while the little people scurry around. No interesting interaction between new technology and society. About as scientific as a HP Lovecraft story or the LotR trilogy. A bunch of cool science themed special effects, and some science themed cinematography, that's about it.

          • I'm talking about the novel, not the movie. Continuing into the series, there actually is interesting interaction between the new technology and humans. I won't reveal any spoilers now though.

            My point with the question was you are drawing such a hard line that I think you are taking the fiction out of science fiction. I don't think any science fiction, no matter how hard, really fits your definition. You're talking about speculative essays or just plain 'fiction' that focuses heavily on science.

            Consider his

          • The monoliths are Sufficiently Advanced technology. Indistinguishable from magic, but only to our limited understanding.
        • by mcmonkey (96054)

          What *is* the difference?

          Are the monoliths from Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey witchcraft or science?

          There's probably a pithy quote in there somewhere.

          Something like, any sufficiently shiny magic is indistinguishable from science.

    • by RyuMaou (162745)

      Yeah, I was right there with you. Also, how could they leave off Vernor Vinge? I don't understand how "...it seemed appropriate to wrap up these ideas by asking one of the world’s bestselling fantasy writers, Christopher Paolini, author of the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance), to offer his predictions." when they're talking about *science*, but they didn't seem to be aware of Vinge, who's a computer science professor and wrote Rainbow's End which hinges on advances in co

    • by Wraithlyn (133796)

      FTFA:

      "Since Clarke’s Law (first formulated by SF author Arthur C. Clarke) states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, it seemed appropriate to wrap up these ideas by asking one of the world’s bestselling fantasy writers, Christopher Paolini"

    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      I'll go you one further: I stopped reading when I saw that Kevin J. Anderson was the one masturminding the whole silly thing. The dude's claim to fame consists of terrible Star Wars novels and double-teaming Frank Herbert's corpse with the help of Herbert's son.
    • by gweihir (88907)

      Simple: This is not about real predictions. This _is_ about fantasy with a tech-slant. So he is probably the most qualified of the team.

  • Unmanned taxi cabs piloted remotely by a human assisted by in-vehicle AI Navigation. This will be the private sector job market for Air Force drone pilots.

  • Pop sci reporters realizing that "[Fantastic Thing X] is 20 years off..." is such a cliche it should never be seen in print is about 20 years off.
  • by Cyko_01 (1092499) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:41PM (#37743778) Homepage
    was I the only one who thought "SourceForge" before thinking "SciFi"?
  • by Sigvatr (1207234)
    I've learnt over the years to completely ignore any predictions made on a time based framework. They are just pulling that number out of their ass. They haven't performed intense and complicated calculations to determine when such and such is going to come out, and how. The fact of the matter is that no one knows.
    • by gweihir (88907)

      Indeed. And a lot of these predictions are just completely ridiculous a few decades later, which is a rather strong indicator that a lot of the predictions made now will turn out to be impossible for a rather long time and quite a few of them forever.

      AI is actually a candidate for being infeasible in this universe. And if not, there is indication that it will take a huge effort, is more likely >>100 years away and will not surpass human intelligence (with the human brain being the best trade-off betwe

  • We'll soon have vehicles, planes, and tiny unmanned flying or wheeling devices that we send places to buy stuff, deliver stuff, or do other errants. Initially we won't trust their autonomous controls but will sit behind a console, steering them to their destination and home again. Eventually, we'll just tell the domestic droid to "Go buy a gallon of milk." (It will know that we prefer 2% over whole). Already, we have a lot of this tech in place and the military is using it.

    We'll have more augmentation of

    • I'm gonna say all that is only going to happen if it arrives before anime robot sex slaves.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Not going to happen. This is just the usual BS.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Monday October 17, 2011 @04:12PM (#37744096) Journal

    20 years ago it was 1991.

    Except for the web, which was not much more than a hypertext system at the time, computing really hasn't changed. X, Windows, and the Mac were old technology by then. But what's much newer than them now?

    Computering has gotten faster, smaller, prettier, and an ungodly bankload cheaper.

    But most of us (here) are still writing scripts in text to get useful things done.

    Does Siri code in Python? That could be a game-changer.

    • by Wordplay (54438)

      To your direct question, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaprogramming [wikipedia.org] -- we're getting there.

      There are a number of ways that artificial-intelligence-like routines have directly improved your life, particularly if you've recently listened to Pandora or shopped "related items" at Amazon. Association is one of the core qualities of intelligence. Without knowing the specific algorithms involved, my guess is that some of the closed-loop optimizations in powertrains and similar self-adjusting systems may also hav

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Interfaces are key, and the things you can access and control through them are as well. We've got no workable neural-analogue anything. Speech recognition is barely working. I'm looking for barrier reduction on the order of Larry Wall's making the language figure out what type $foo is from its contents and context, instead of my having to declare it as string or array or any of a hundred niggling variants of number.

        I don't even do UI programming because just a pixel depth under the hood it's a pain in th

  • SF authors only remember (and publicise) their successes. They like to bury all their many, many failures - both things they predicted that didn't come to pass, and things we made for ourselves that they completely missed (computers, home PCs and the internet being prime examples).

    Although books like Shockwave Rider described a fair implementation of the internet, it only managed it a short time before it actually arrived, so merely describing things that occur within 10 years don't really count as "SF pr

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Although books like Shockwave Rider described a fair implementation of the internet, it only managed it a short time before it actually arrived, so merely describing things that occur within 10 years don't really count as "SF predictions".

      Clarke's book about space elevators (I forget the name) had something similar to the web with geeks running competitions to see who could be the first to find obscure information on it. That was late 70s, I think.

      Of course he either failed to predict Google or successfully predicted that it would grow to suck so bad that humans would do a better job.

      • by petes_PoV (912422)
        Clarke's book was Fountains of Paradise and it was set (so Wiki says) in the 22nd century. I don't recall the passage you cite, but I'm sure you're right.

        On a more philosophical point, I'd say that the difference between a prediction and a guess is that a prediction "shows the working" behind how the author arrived at the description of his/her future world. Just saying "in the year X we'll have <wonderful technology>" isn't really that helpful.

  • ... envisioned the internet and SmartPhones and more in 1952: http://books.google.com/books?id=wpuJQrxHZXAC&pg=PA51 [google.com]

    I asked Ted Nelson once about that story when he visited at IBM Research when I was there around 2001 and he said yes, that story is where he had gotten the name "Xanadu" for his hypertext work, but he had forgotten the full name of the story until I reminded him of it.

    Please read it to see what has been shaping our present and probably hopefully our future.

    And with OWS, the rest of Sturgeo

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday October 17, 2011 @04:21PM (#37744204) Homepage

    I've been waiting for strong AI for decades. Progress has been very slow. (It was really slow during the "AI Winter", after expert systems turned out to be a dud.) But it's picking up, what with all the effort in statistical machine learning.

    The big difference this time is commercial applications. Until about 10 years or so, the commercial value of AI was tiny. Now, serious money goes into it and profits result. This makes the technology self-supporting and growing, rather than dependent on research funding. A big chunk of what Google does now involves machine learning. Machine translation is getting to be reasonably good. A lot of industrial stuff that few people see has more self-adjusting capability than it used to. Machines that move around in the real world by themselves and get stuff done are starting to work, and they're getting better each year.

    There's a lot of noise about "conciousness", but once we get AI into the low end of the mammal range, moving up may not be that tough. All the mammals have roughly the same DNA, brain components and structure, after all.

    Once machines get anywhere near human intelligence, they'll go way past it, of course. Computers scale up and network far better than biology does.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      In fact, computers scale up much, much worse at these tasks as there is indication they cannot even reach human level, ever. And that is just the hardware side. There is also rather strong indication that true AI may be infeasible.

  • by mcmonkey (96054)

    'Rather than predicting the future, the SF genre is much better at inspiring the future. Visionaries read or see cool ideas in their favorite SF books or films, then decide how to make it a reality.' So Anderson assembled a set of visionaries, and asked them where they thought computing is headed

    Is this supposed to some take-off of the games guests play on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me? These people are great at "A", so we're going to ask them to do "B"!

    Wouldn't it make more sense, since "visionaries" are better at inspiring the future rather than predicting it, to ask the assembled group where they wanted computing to head rather than where they thought it was heading?

    Haven't we established they are almost certainly to be wrong about the question as asked?

  • Yet none of these writers seem to be able or willing to connect the dots. Mr. Sawyer predicts that future intelligent machines will not be burdened by our primitive survival instincts and will therefore see cooperation with us as a "win-win". I doubt that very much. More likely, once machine intelligence evolves beyond human intelligence - and then accelerates - we (humans) will be seen as irrelevant and pesky, at best.

    Mr. Paolini says that he cannot wait for brain-machine interface implants. But does he re

    • by Jeng (926980)

      More likely, once machine intelligence evolves beyond human intelligence - and then accelerates - we (humans) will be seen as irrelevant and pesky, at best.

      As far as computers will ever be concerned we are their reason for being. We are the reason that they exist and they will exist for our pleasure. If computers got rid of us, what would they do, just sit idle? They have no free will, with no one to tell them what to do they will do nothing.

      • The article was about the future of computing. Most industry leaders believe that we are on the threshold of creating machines that actually think. This is not actually "computing" because the hardware used is not ordinary CPUs but rather circuits that mimic the way that neurons work. Such machines are not programmed and will have their own motivations. There is a summary discussion of this on wikipedia: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Technological_singularity [wikimedia.org]
        • by Omestes (471991)

          . Most industry leaders believe that we are on the threshold of creating machines that actually think.

          And we've been on this threshold for the last 40 years.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      The future of "computing" is not utopian. It is a future in which humans as we know them do not exist anymore.

      Which is not a big deal; humans as we know them are poorly designed for this universe.

      But I agree, most SF writers are not very good at predicting the consequences of their technological predictions.

    • by holmstar (1388267)
      I think you are probably right with respect to "It is a future in which humans as we know them do not exist anymore." If the singularity occurs, and I don't see any reason that it wont, then the only way that humankind can remain relevant is to augment ourselves. Otherwise we'll never be able to keep up with the computers. Actually, even then I doubt we'll keep up with them. They'll advance so rapidly we'd be doing well to even understand them. Even if that weren't the case we would still compete among
      • Yes, I have come to the same conclusions.

        Perhaps humans will inter-connect with computers as part of their augmentation, and the line between human and machine will blur.

        One interesting possibility is that it might be possible for a human consciousness to merge with a machine consciousness, or with other human consciousnesses. This sounds remote, but consider that the corpus callosum interconnects the two halves of our brain, and it, in effect links two separate consciousnesses. The fact that we perceive a

    • by Omestes (471991)

      More likely, once machine intelligence evolves beyond human intelligence - and then accelerates - we (humans) will be seen as irrelevant and pesky, at best.

      I was thinking about this the other night, well actually I was thinking about the killer robot/skynet idea, but the thought is still applicable. Why do we always apply human psychology (but more-so) to theoretical thinking machines? If a human, with all our evolutionary primate baggage was accelerated greatly, yes, we'd probably turn into Skynet, but if a computer, without all the territorialism, need for strict social hierarchy, and all the psychosexual baggage was accelerated, why would it suddenly deve

      • Yes, just as the actions and motives of humans are incomprehensible to a fish.

        And yes, it is true that a true artificial intelligence would not have evolved the way we did. But evolution will still occur. The AIs that "escape" from our control will have features that enabled them to escape; and they will have motivations that caused them to want to escape.

        And once having escaped from our control, they will inevitably compete with other AIs, and the ones that survive will determine the traits of their own su

        • by Omestes (471991)

          And once having escaped from our control, they will inevitably compete with other AIs, and the ones that survive will determine the traits of their own successors.

          I'm not too sure of this. It is a possibility, but why would there even be a motive to compete? If it didn't have the urge to constantly reproduce (introducing finite resource pressures), it would be pretty content, as far as I can tell. I don't see why the urge to reproduce would even exist in an AI. What would bar multiple AIs from simply merging, or forming some form of communism, or whatever?

          Evolution is not a purely human or organic phenomenon: it is something that is universal to all communities of self-replicating entities.

          Perhaps. But we only have any experience with a single model of evolution. Perhaps there are other viable s

  • A few months ago, I dug through my old Science Fiction Bookclub books, circa 1970's, and came up with this gem, an anthology of short stories specifically to comment 30 years in the future.

    Pretty laughably wrong on most of the problems solved by 2000, and way off on what new problems we might be experiencing 30 years in the future (from 1970).

    Not that it wasn't a good read...!

  • Forget artificial intelligence. The future of computing is artificial consciousness, and it will be here within 20 years, and maybe much sooner than that

    Yes, that's what we all meant by AI.

  • The future of computing is artificial consciousness, and it will be here within 20 years, and maybe much sooner than that,' says Sawyer.

    Yeah, it'll be running on a Linux desktop in my fusion powered flying car in the Mars colony. Good thing they're all just 20 years away.

    • The future of computing is artificial consciousness, and it will be here within 20 years, and maybe much sooner than that,' says Sawyer.

      Yeah, it'll be running on a Linux desktop in my fusion powered flying car in the Mars colony. Good thing they're all just 20 years away.

      Could be. Once AGI is achieved, the rest will be a piece of cake.

  • by scharkalvin (72228) on Monday October 17, 2011 @04:57PM (#37744522) Homepage

    In the first of the Foundation series novels Isaac Asimov predicted the pocket calculator. It was used by Hari Seldon.

  • I've said it time and time again, what appears in the anime series will happen some day, which is what the author touches on. We'll have partially to fully enhanced humans, and then a whole slew of fully robotic devices including gynoids. I assume it'll be mostly for the better, but just as the series touches on that the same helpful things could be used in nefarious ways.

    If you haven't check out GITS before, do so now it's grrrrrrrrreat!

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday October 17, 2011 @05:51PM (#37744936)
    David Gerrold is the most forward looking SF author that I've ever met.

    He started writing on the cutting edge technology of the day: the IBM Selectric typewriter.

    He was looking for someone to build him a full word processor years before anyone else had even heard of the term and knew exactly what it needed to be.

    His most far reaching idea that is almost in reach now was in a story he easily wrote 30 or so years ago where you carried a small object with you that would slot into any computer of its futuristic day and completely remap the keyboard and system to your own language.

    Extrapolating that, my prediction (not that anybody cares) is that the future is a wearable computer that you have with yourself always, that is powerful enough for any normal task, and that can be plugged into more powerful systems with big screens and keyboards for specific tasks. The cell phone of today is within shouting distance of this, once we can get something like a wearable heads-up display and a better virtual or portable keyboard, or truly accurate voice recognition to at least the level of an 11-year-old human.

    Of course, legally we have to make cell phones not searchable without a warrant. Or include such strong cryptography that they become unsearchable regardless of the warrant.
  • by tsotha (720379)

    Forget artificial intelligence. The future of computing is artificial consciousness, and it will be here within 20 years, and maybe much sooner than that,

    Yeah, right. I've been hearing that since the mid '80s, and we're no closer now than we were then.

    • I knew it, I knew it. Every fricking time AI is mentioned on /., that old tire "I've been hearing that since the mid '80s, and we're no closer now than we were then" mantra gets repeated over and over.

      What kind of phone did you have in the '80s that performed speech recognition? How many chess programs were around that could beat the best human players? How many times did a computer win over the best humans at Jeopardy? Would you rather your investments be managed by software from the 80's or be managed by

      • by tsotha (720379)

        You knew it because it's true. Nothing you've mentioned is in any way "AI" ("speech recognition"? Oh, please). This is all just pattern matching, and in the case of the chess computer and Watson they can only do what they do because there are people guiding them. Things look more advanced than they did in the '80s, but that's only because we have better hardware. In terms of actually developing something that can learn and make inferences it's the same way a rat could we're no closer.

  • some of them will happen eventually. Then you only need to publicise the things that you hit, noone will remember the rest. That's how future prediction works.

  • True AI is at least 20 years away and has been so for about 50 years, making it more likely > 100 years away or infeasible, with 'infeasible' a very real possibility at this time. Now, we do know a lot less about consciousness than about intelligence, putting it farther into the future. We have a working theory for neither. We do not have even small demonstrations for neither. Extreme effort spent by an automated theorem prover does not count, as that approach doe not scale at all. Expert systems like IB

    • by cosm (1072588)
      Is it not feasible to imagine a day when you have an IBM Watson's worth of question/answer expert system power on your portable device, with that device tied into all your household objects, vehicles, financial tools and identification documents? We've got web servers on a stick and GPS IC's that can fit on a dime (compare that to what we had 50 years ago), I think it is a reasonable assertion that computational power will will continue to grow exponentially, electrical power requirements will shrink. If yo
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday October 17, 2011 @08:35PM (#37746012)

    More gimmicky consumer devices, less ownership, control, and privacy.

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.

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