First appeared in The Apple
Newsletter of LAMALUG, Mac User Group of Lansing, MI
TIME MACHINE - Part
Since I wrote the first installment of
this column, I talked with a few people who seem disturbed by the
ideas that deal with people reading each other's thoughts. I'm
pretty sure we'll have some kind of internal censor programs - one
for each of the ways we want to be presented to our various
acquaintances (sort of like Filters for email). Then, for those
truly special people in our lives, we can let all walls down and
share everything. Perhaps that will be the intimacy of the
This month I want to show how I think one
particular part of our lives will change gradually, logically.
Let's go look at the TV.
Right now we're on the verge of High
Definition TV, better quality flat, large screens, and surround
sound. Instead of programming our VCR with all those confusing
buttons, you'll be able to record a program by voice command.
You'll be on line with an electronic TV guide so you'll just tell
the machine the name of the show and it'll take care of the rest.
No more VCRs left on 12:00. Everyone will be able to use them
No more video stores. You'll be able to
order any of the new releases as quickly as the studios make the
final edit. The shows will be sent through your telephone (or some
other) line into a little black box. You'll play them once and
they'll automatically be erased.
No more newspapers. You'll get the news
you want anytime you want it at any speed you choose on your TV.
That means if you're not interested in the stock market, you won't
have to listen to the stock market. Your 'soft copy' newspaper
will be as individual as you are. There will even be sensors on
the TV that will be able to tell when you are getting bored, move
on to another topic and make note of how your interests change
In the quest for more realism, TV will
eventually go to 3D. Rather than bigger screens, it will be more
convenient to just wear a set of wrap around goggles. You'll
probably be able to turn your head and look at the action from any
angle you want. Next you'll be able interact with and perhaps be
one of the actors in the program and be able to determine the
outcome of the story - sort of like a really hip video game. You
can give your version of the show to your friends to experience.
If you're watching with a friend, maybe one of you will choose to
be the 'director' - sort of like being in control of the TV
changer, or you'll interact with each other.
You won't need ocean front property or a
mountain home - at least for the view. When you're not
experiencing a program, you can switch to your favorite location
and see it from the couch. Maybe you'll be able to switch to
'static view' so you will only see the ocean when you look at a
Eventually everything will be totally
multi-sensory and happen directly in your mind, like the movie
Brainstorm. (If you haven't seen it, rent it. Interesting.) But,
unlike that movie, you'll be protected from heart attacks and
such. For awhile there will be professional 'experiencers', people
who feel life more deeply than others, who will be hired to record
parts of their life (and perhaps even death) for others to share.
Finally, since the magic of each individual can be shared in the
blink of an eye, in this future everyone will be a star for five
seconds. There may even grow to be one great mind of which we'll
all be a part. The line between reality and fantasy will blur.
People will become less aware of their own bodies, but they won't
feel any less alive - in fact they'll want to be free to
experience even more. Eventually we will give up our bodies
altogether. If that sounds like too much, imagine a life without
pain, where you can eat anything you want and never get fat, climb
a mountain without fear of death. Next month....