Animal’s Daily Futuristic News

Be sure to catch my latest over at Glibertarians; this week it’s another installment of my Allamakee County Chronicles.

Meanwhile:   SingularityHub’s Dr. Peter H. Diamandis Has a list of new technologies he thinks we’ll see in the next ten years.  Color me skeptical.  Here’s the list, with my comments:

Hyperloop One: LA to SF in 35 Minutes

Did you know that Hyperloop was the brainchild of Elon Musk? Just one in a series of transportation innovations from a man determined to leave his mark on the industry.

In 2013, in an attempt to shorten the long commute between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the California state legislature proposed a $68 billion budget allocation for what appeared to be the slowest and most expensive bullet train in history.

Well, he’s not wrong about the bullet train.

But Elon Musk’s Hyperloop isn’t going anywhere on any real scale.  Certainly not in the next ten years.  Just obtaining the real estate necessary would be a massive undertaking, and he hasn’t (apparently) even started yet.  This is the same guy who has promised to start a colony on Mars, among other things, and the Hyperloop is another display of Musk’s primary talent:  Self-promotion.

Which brings us to:

Rocket Travel

As if autonomous vehicles, flying cars, and Hyperloop weren’t enough, in September of 2017, speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, Musk promised that for the price of an economy airline ticket, his rockets will fly you “anywhere on Earth in under an hour.”

No.  Way.  In.  Hell.  Not in ten years.  Not in twenty or thirty years.  While the technology exists for this, the practical application of it is decades away – and decades more before the economies of scale make it possible for ordinary folks.  Even Musk admits this:  “We could probably demonstrate this [technology] in three years,” Musk explained, “but it’s going to take a while to get the safety right. It’s a high bar. Aviation is incredibly safe. You’re safer on an airplane than you are at home.”

Avatars

An avatar is a second self, typically in one of two forms. The digital version has been around for a couple of decades. It emerged from the video game industry and was popularized by virtual world sites like Second Life and books-turned-blockbusters like Ready Player One.

Now this one is a tad more realistic.  In fact, we’re already sort of doing it, with WebEx and Skype.  Videoconferencing is nothing new.  But the VR avatar concept is somewhat different; Diamandis describes a robotic version:

Robots are the second form of avatars. Imagine a humanoid robot that you can occupy at will. Maybe, in a city far from home, you’ve rented the bot by the minute—via a different kind of ridesharing company—or maybe you have spare robot avatars located around the country.

Either way, put on VR goggles and a haptic suit, and you can teleport your senses into that robot. This allows you to walk around, shake hands, and take action—all without leaving your home.

I don’t think for a moment that many companies would go to the massive expense of buying VR-occupiable robots just so remote workers can walk around and shake hands.  In the next ten years, what will happen is that companies will continue to use Skype and WebEx.  I use WebEx a lot, and it’s better than a telephone call – you can loop in many people and in discussions, especially where any debate is involved, it’s great to be able to see the people you’re talking to.  It not only personalizes the other folks in the meeting, but it allows you to take in the visual cues that make conversation much more than just the spoken word.

And finally:

Final Thoughts

Individual car ownership has enjoyed over a century of ascendancy and dominance.

And will continue to do so for the next ten years and beyond.

The first real threat it faced—today’s ride-sharing model—only showed up in the last decade. But that ridesharing model won’t even get ten years to dominate. Already, it’s on the brink of autonomous car displacement, which is on the brink of flying car disruption, which is on the brink of Hyperloop and rockets-to-anywhere decimation. Plus, avatars.

Not in the next ten years.  Not in America.  The ride sharing and autonomous car model may work for someone living in New York City, but not for a farmer in rural Missouri, a small-town doctor in Iowa or a rancher in Wyoming.  The majority of Americans are going to continue to own and operate personal vehicles.

The most important part: All of this change will happen over the next ten years. Welcome to a future of human presence where the only constant is rapid change.

Dr. Diamandis, are you a bettin’ man?  I’ve got a C-note says you’re wrong.  I’ll be around in ten years.  I’m sure you will be too.