The Trouble with Gerrold: Predictions, predictions, predictions
March 12, 2012 —
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In short, we’re building all the separate pieces for a huge synergistic explosion of possibilities. For example, put together a lightweight quadcopter with enhanced batteries, solar panels and lightweight cameras, and you have a camera that can photograph a football game from just above the players’ heads. You also have a near-invisible surveillance device for the military and the police. I expect these will be moving out of the development labs within a year.
Better motors, stronger batteries and lightweight materials will make a household robot practical. With facial recognition, it could learn the habits of various family members; it will feed the dog, empty the litter box, dust the living room, hang up your clothes, and mix your dirty martini exactly the way you like it. We could see home robots before the end of the decade. The first iRobot will probably be slow, bulky and disappointing—compared to what we see in the movies—but by the time we hit 3.0, you should be able to say, “Get me a beer and a bowl of Doritos,” with a reasonable expectation of success.
The same technology that we use to build robots will also give us exoskeletons for military and industrial use, and as prostheses for the disabled.
The intelligence needed for robotics will also show up in other uses—everything from toys to cars. Self-driving automobiles have been demonstrated by Google, and the state of Nevada has already set standards for licensing. We could see self-driving cars on the road within three years. If and when such vehicles become ubiquitous, automobiles will be redesigned as mobile living rooms. You get in and say, “Take me to work,” and while the car drives itself, you swivel around to watch the news, log onto Facebook, or even take a power-nap.
Display technology is going to change dramatically. When manufacturers figure out how to print an OLED display (or even a whole device) onto Gorilla Glass, we’ll have thinner, lighter phones, tablets and TVs. HDTV will probably be surpassed by Ultra-Definition TV with 4000 lines of video information, refreshed at 240hz or even 480hz. For that, you’ll probably want a projector in your living room. You might not be able to get the 108-inch display in through the front door.