2007 – The End is Nigh

Two-thousand-and-seven was a fine year. On May 27th ThinkArtificial.org launched with a bang and naturally I’ve quite enjoyed the ride. We’ve talked about synthetic lifeforms, living spacedust, surprising ingenuity of AIBOs. But this is the last post for 2007 and in it we ponder peeking into the future.

The red and green, rampant and sometimes rancid craze of the Holidays flew by. Just like the days in between the last time we stood at the end of an orbit and thought the same. The crucifixes scattered about on car dashboards, rooftops and keychains remind me of Photoshop’s Select tool and for some reason I feel an urge to read the complete works of Charles Darwin online. I don’t. I’m busy removing a gigantic plant after the festivities. A plant that serves as a penultimate keeper of world renown commodities.

Time flies by and a new year awaits. And with it an unknown number of new discoveries and technological advances. New technologies entice me. At the corner of then and now where science fact meets science fiction there’s a little wire with my name on it; ready to plug directly into my brain. Of course, when, how or even if that wire will ever be connected is hard to say. As with all future technologies it’s hard to predict the turn of events. We expected AI to boom 50 years ago. Instead we dove monitor-first into the AI winter and subsequent stealth growth of the field due to avoidance of the term in marketing.

Being rational and down to Earth means maintaining a guarded attitude towards the unknown. With the massive amount of (sometimes insane) predictions published via our modern information veins it’s sometimes too easy to forget that predictions can come true. Philco-Ford’s prediction from 1967 is a perfect example of just how right we can be about technologies of the future. The future at that time was 1999 A.D. and in it they envisioned, for example, how shopping could be done from home and how communications could be carried out instantly around the world. Sounds quite familiar now, to say the least.

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In 1969 time ticked slower. I don’t have to recite the growth we’ve seen in science and technology after the introduction of computers; we’ve all been subjected to it as part of our everyday lives. But even so we’re still naive, underdeveloped. Adolescents of technology — fumbling over typos and 404s. Further evidence of this is the fact that a commonly heard phrase is “there’s nothing left to invent“.

Next time we see a prediction let’s take a step back, remember that we do evolve and innovate, and evolution escalates. On this note I bid farewell and look forward to continue sharing experiences and thoughts in 2008, through a medium that in 1969 was science fiction.

Happy new year and thank you for thinking.

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