What happens when what was only possible in the movies can happen in real life? When the far-fetched technology dreamed up by Hollywood screenwriters becomes the status quo? When the impossible becomes, well, possible?
Ten years down the road, Tom Cruise’s fantastical gesture-based computer system from Minority Report is no longer that fantastic and can easily be replicated with a few downloads and a trip to your local electronics store. If it’s mind-boggling technology you’re in search of, however, look no further than the real world.
A paralyzed woman with an implanted neural interface can use her mind to pick up a thermos of coffee with a robotic arm. The Port Authority of New York has turned to hologram-like avatars to improve customer service and robotic dogs are being used by the army to move gear around the battlefield.
A Russian media mogul is funding a sci-fi social initiative, Russia 2045, that hopes to see the creation of humanoid robots, artificial brains, and hologram-inspired avatars that will have the ability to host transplanted human personalities. This is oddly similar to the Avatar program currently being conducted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop surrogates for soldiers.
I can’t help but wonder what implications these future technologies will have on the human existence. Will the future be like a giant game of The Sims where you control your body from afar? Will we get to push the ‘restart’ button and pick up where we left off should we ‘fail’ a level? Will we all have our personality and human consciousness backed up should we need to transfer them to another physical entity?
With technological innovation occurring so rapidly, the line between what is and isn’t possible will inevitably become smaller and smaller. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that we dreamed of the gesture-controlled computers that we saw in the movies.