I don’t know about you, but I am starting to feel like we are living in the future. Maybe it’s my age (40 years is stalking me like a lion stalking a goat), or maybe it’s because 2010 just seemed so far away and futurey when I was a child, but 2010 signifies the future to me, even though it’s less than a year away. Here are some links that prove the future has just about caught up with us.
How would you like to wear your Facebook connection on your skin, or have a tattoo that moves and changes color? “E-skin” is on the way and how cool is that? Check out this article on IO9 about research into transparent circuits. (Link)
Also from IO9:
A group of researchers in France and Italy have published a paper today in Nature Nanotechnology that carbon nanotubes can act as neural workarounds in the brain, forming tight contacts with the already-existing nerve cells and conducting electricity between them exactly the way neurons do with each other. (Link)
True, nanotechnology lags far behind our imagination of what such technology might someday do, but stories like these show that we are definitely making progress toward a world where we build ourselves and our materials in ways radically different than what we have ever known.
The End is Nigh
Of course, one of the signs that the future is upon us is the end of civilization as we know it, so we may not reach our nanotech potential if the sun knocks out our electrical systems and sends the world spiraling back into the (literal) dark ages. Even our iPhones will be useless. *shudder* (Link)
Bodies Fabricated & Altered
This is a still from a new animated movie called Metropia that looks amazing. You can see a gallery of stills at Twitch. The bodies in the movie, while not proportioned the same as a “natural” body, are uncannily real. How soon will we have avatars that are visually indistinguishable from life? Based on this work, not very long at all.
The trope of body modification has a long history in science fiction literature and while we aren’t quite at the level of designing our skin to change color with our moods, or interfacing with computers directly, or altering our bodies to survive environments without protection (like the deep sea or extreme cold or the vacuum of space), the body mod sub-culture is certainly pushes the boundaries of what we consider “human.” The video might actually be disturbing to some, but I think it’s fascinating and a clear sign that we are living in a future that allows us to sculpt our bodies in interesting ways.
How cool was replicator technology in Star Trek? Nearly as cool as transporter technology. We may not be able to order an Earl Grey tea alongside Jean Luc Picard quite yet, but the beginnings of being able to simply fabricate objects instead of buying them. Need a coffee table—which I happen to need at the moment—just plug in a pre-loaded design or modify it to your specifications on your computer, send it to your in-house, 3-d printer and you’ve got yourself a piece of furniture to set you feet up on and write blog posts. Boing Boing links to a talk given at the Chaos Computer Congress that will get you up to speed on where we are and where we are heading with this technology. (Link)
Then there is robot sex. Need I say more? (Link)
Those are just a few instances that, when I came across them, I said to myself, “Self, the future is now.” Have you found something that strikes you as utterly futuristic but immanently now? Drop a comment to share with the class.