Former Maximum PC columnist turns Kickstarter campaigner.
There are several ways you might be familiar with David Gerrold. We've had the pleasure of working with him as a former columnist for Maximum PC magazine, in which he penned technology pieces under the "Future Tense" heading. He's also a screenwriter and novelist who wrote scripts for the original Star Trek episodes, and is the author of the Star Wolf series of books, which he's now trying to port over to television with the help of Kickstarter.
The problem with predicting the future is that there’s so much of it. You can predict some pieces of it because some trends are obvious, but you can’t predict how all the pieces are going to fit together, and even more difficult, you cannot predict what human beings will do with all those different pieces once they have put them together.
The smartphone is a great example. Robert A. Heinlein predicted cell phones in The Star Beast, first published in 1954. Other writers predicted tablets as well. But nobody predicted Twitter or sexting. Those were surprises.
We’re on the threshold of another leap forward in the punctuated evolution of computing technology and the first pieces are starting to appear. I think it’s inevitable that some of these pieces are going to mate, mutate, and evolve into something new.
Get ready to kiss your privacy goodbye. Those horrifying billboards from Minority Report that know everything about you are one step closer to reality. Japan’s NEC has created the Next Generation Digital Signage Solution, a system that tailors ads based on who is looking at it.
This new system isn’t going so far as scanning your iris to look you up in a huge advertising database like in the movie, but it is guessing what you might like based on age and gender. The billboards will be able to determine gender and age to within 10 years by snapping a photo. Some are already crying foul, claiming the signs would be an invasion of privacy. NEC claims the ads would be anonymous and the digital imaging system would delete the images of people used to build the ads.
Do you think this is an acceptable system? It could mean you’d see ads that are more relevant to you, but does anyone really care about that? If this scares you, then start putting together a disguise now. NEC says several companies are interested in the signs, and they might make it stateside in late 2010.
Editor's Note: We're very pleased to welcome David Gerrold, an acclaimed and prolific science fiction writer, to Maximum PC as a regular columnist. David, best known for his numerous contributions to Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, will share his thoughts on topics including the influence of science fiction on technology, the develop of tech trends, and notable technologists.
I try not to tell people I write science fiction. Too often, that turns into a conversation I don’t want to have: “Dude, it’s already ten past 2000. Where’s my flying car? Where’s my jetpack? Where’s my Lunar colony?”
This is "The Y2K Meme," the idea that the future was supposed to start in the year 2000 and we forgot to build it. And of course, because science fiction writers (allegedly) predicted all these glorious futures, it’s our responsibility to explain why it didn’t happen.
This meme began at least a century ago. The father of modern science fiction, Hugo Gernsback, made specific predictions about the future, everything from motorized roller skates to night baseball. Within a short time, many science fiction writers were functioning as futurists, telling tales of fabulous technologies to come.