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The future of everyday life in 2010

Ian Pearson, Futurologist

Where appropriate, images can be displayed on imaginary screens floating in space. Users would simply wear lightweight glasses with projectors built into each arm [um, close enough! -- Ed.] and semi-reflective lens to give full 3 dimensional pictures. Active contact lenses that use laser beams drawing pictures straight onto the wearer's retinas would be in late stages of development by 2010. We could expect to have robocop style information in our field of view, overlaid on the real world. Finding somewhere will mean following the arrow floating in front of you. Satellite positioning and navigation will do all the hard work. Later still, we will see video relayed to computers that recognise people in our field of view, telling us who they are and a little about them if we want. The embarrassment of forgetting someone's name or where you met them will be history.

This will all be available at affordable prices, since computer power will continue to grow rapidly for decades yet. Already, powerful computers are readily available for less than an average television. By 2010, they will be as easy to use as they are cheap. Information technology will be truly ubiquitous.

Network based life will affect home too. A selection of screens hanging on walls may display works of art, static or moving. Or they may act as virtual fish tanks, or virtual windows looking out onto a Bahamas beach. Or you may have a cup of coffee with a distant friend, with life sized video images.

Entertainment might use the same electronic glasses that we use for work, [which] could also be full 3D if we want. We could have computer games that give us the equivalent of the Star Trek holodeck. Instead of watching a television travel programme from the couch, you could experience being shown round the destination as if you were there, wandering off on your own if you prefer. Some of the people we see in these places may not be people at all, but computer programmes. Our interpreter may be just a programme, but dressed to look like an attractive person just for fun.

You will make new friends in these places, introduced to you by the computer according to your personality. We may have more friends in far off countries than we have at home. With computers pretending to be people and people pretending to be someone else, relationships in the networked world will be risky and confusing, but certainly not dull.

Of course, seeing all these people and places on screens will not be enough, even if the images are realistic, immersive and 3D. Sometimes we will still want to go places for real, and as we will meet far more people and see far more exciting places, we may want to travel even more than today. Technology around us will be able to organise the trip, the flights and tell us when to do what. Travel will become less stressful as the computers take care of the administration.

We have experienced a lot of change over the last few years, but all the signs are that change is accelerating. The future looks exciting indeed and if we choose, the new technologies can make our world a much better place, with a higher quality of life for all.


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