Is the 'Technology Timeline Whitepaper' accurate?

If you have read the Technology Timeline Whitepaper (pdf file) you know there are some pretty far fetched claims therein:

Artificial lungs by 2015
AI Entity gains PhD by 2016
Use of human’s own tissues to grow replacement organs by 2010
and many, many more…

Is this “whitepaper” total hogwash or are these accomplishments feasible in the timeframes illustrated?

Here it is translated to HTML by google (at the very least it’s a good read)
For a little background I found this while reading about The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era by Vernor Vinge, The Lifeboat Foundation (scary stuff), and Grey Goo (technical but scary)

The above links are all related and provide enough reading material to last for days, and could each warrant it’s own thread, but for now I’m mainly interested in the accuracy of this “technology timeline”.


The first category is AI and AI pops up a lot elsewhere. AI predictions are always immensely overblown. Do not believe a word of it.

Note that a lot of actual AI achievements use very little “true AI”, e.g., Deep Blue beating Kasparov, PC-based voice recognition, etc.

Take all the AI predictions and add a 100. Then multiply by 2.

Artificial organs are another thing. In Vitro clumps of organ tissue are being made right now. Look for human tests of artificial livers, pancreases (pancrei?) and kidneys in just a couple years.

I have doubts about a number of items on the list. The time is not too wrong for “demos” of the technologies. But actual real-world use for many of them will take far, far longer.

Creation of “The Matrix” 2025? Well, they first have to get around how feeding dead humans to humans can create energy…

I’ve noticed that several of the technological advancements they listed have occured already, ahead of schedule… Next edition of the paper, they’ll probably claim those as “hits”. Except that some of the “advancements” predate even the first edition.

Examples: Virus aimed at toys released: 2002. What do you think all of the original computer virii were aimed at?
Computer agent virtual shoppers: 2003. Sort of like Ebay’s proxy bidding, or Amazon’s smart marketing?
Toys with network-based intelligence: 2004. Come on, hasn’t anyone else seen ads for toys you hook up to your computer?
Confessions to AI priest: 2004. I’m sure this is already on the Web somewhere, and if not, it’d take about five minutes to make one.
Computers that write most of their own software: 2005. This was the headline when FORTRAN was invented.
AI chatbots indistinguishable from people by 95% of the population: 2005. People are more gullible than they think: I wrote a chatbot which pulled that off in 1996, and I was hardly the first.

You get the point. Of course, some are much more egregious… We won’t see artificial legs until 2025? What do you think all those pirates had pegs for?

The other thing I note is that the primary source for the list is the previous version of the list. Yeah, that raises a lot of confidence in its validity. I’d also like to see one of these previous versions, to see just how accurately it did predict the past decade.

I mean, some of it looks pretty fair, some seems ridiculous, some seems like we already have it, and it’s just a matter of degree. Let’s deconstruct some of the first category (a lot of which isn’t all that farfetched, IMO):

AI doctors 2001 [what does this mean? If you mean computer-assisted (doctors access a database to aid diagnosis/surgery, or just a program that takes your symptoms and spits out a diagnosis), then OK. If we mean a thinking AI … that’s pretty unlikely to have happened last year]
Virus aimed at toys released 2002 [I don’t even know what this means … like a Tickle-me-Elmo computer virus that makes Elmo scream instead?]
Chat show hosted by robot 2003 [not unlikely at all]
Computer agent personal shoppers 2003 [we could have these now, if people trusted them]
First synthetic (but organic) life form 2003 [judging by the polio virus construction, possible but prob. a few years early]
Domestic appliances with remote (networked) intelligence 2003 [sure]
Smart Barbie insists on allowance for clothes and accessories 2003 [ha-ha. cute. not likely–Mattel would get slaughtered in the press]
Real time language translation 2004 [maybe. pretty ambitious, tho]
Toys with network based intelligence 2004 [sure]
Confessions to AI priest 2004 [sooner than that, I’d think. I’m surprised one doesn’t exist on the web already.]
AI teachers in school 2004 [not likely, IMO]
Action man toys engage in war games over networks 2004 [sure]
Security Barbie used for locating lost offspring 2004 [definitely]
Shopping Barbie acts as personal shopper for children 2004 [maybe…I know kids are getting credit cards and cell phones these days, but that seems like a bit past even that]
Machine use of common sense inference 2005 [common sense interface? never going to happen :wink: ]
Behaviour alarms based on human mistake mechanisms 2005 [sure]
Computers that write most of their own software 2005 [that would be cool; sure]
Intelligent robotic pets 2005 [sure]
AI chatbots indistinguishable from people by 95 % of population 2005 [sure]
First artificial electronic life 2006 [maybe… prob. not.]
First organism brought back from extinction 2006 [sooner, I’d think]
Software trained rather than written? 2006 sure]
Domestic appliances with personality and talking head interface 2007 [sooner, I’d think]
Systems to understand text and drawings (e.g. patent information) 2007 [no way. add 50 years.]
People have some virtual friends but don’t know which ones 2007 [I suppose … depends on how much time you spend online and how good the AI’s backstory is. I doubt it, though]
AI students 2007 [nah.]
AI models used extensively in business management 2010 [sure]
Artificial Nervous System for autonomous robots 2010 [sure]
Highest earning celebrity is synthetic 2010 [absurd. no chance this century.]
Smart Barbie with personality chip and full sensory input 2010 [sure]
AI houses which react to occupants 2010 [sure]
25 % of TV celebrities synthetic 2010 [not too likely … maybe 5 AI celebrities total]
Expert systems surpass human learning and logic abilities 2011 [I don’t know what this means. We’ve already passed computation speed for specifics, but other than that, I don’t see it happening]
Most software written by machine 2011 [unlikely]
Home manager computer 2011 [sure]
Machine use of human-like memorising, recognising, learning 2012 [nah==none of that rote memorization junk we do]
Computer agents start being thought of as colleagues instead of tools 2013 [nah]
Satellite location devices implanted into pets 2015 [a lot sooner than that]
Office Automation systems using functions similar to brain functions 2015 [sure]
Machine use of human-like creativity 2015 [nah]
Leisure activities for intelligent software entities released 2015 [no]
Human knowledge exceeded by machine knowledge 2017 [not sure what they mean by this]
Electronic pets outnumber organic pets 2020 [nah]
Electronic life form given basic rights 2020 [nah]
Artificial insects and small animals with artificial brains 2020 [sure]
Remote control devices built into pets 2020 [probably]
Ubiquitous embedded intelligence 2020 [sure]
Virus wipes out half of the electronic pet population 2021 [nah; viruses don’t even wipe out computers now; you’d just reboot and load in your pet’s backup]
Learning superseded by transparent interface to smart computer 2025 [only in very affluent areas]
Robots physically and mentally superior to humans 2030 [not likely]
Living genetically engineered Furby (TM, Tiger Electronics) 2040 [nah.]

Google’s first hit, for “virtual priest”

And it says at the bottom that the page was created May 1999.

Query. If time travel is invented in 2075, why does it take another 25 years figure out how to travel faster then light?

Here’s Pearson the Futurologist’s website at BT.

I like this page where we learn about homo spapiens ludditus and their cousins homo machinus who are in turn cousins to robotus multitudinus.

Well, it’s not fake. Here’s the original white paper which I found by first going to BT then heading over to BTexact and searching on Technology Timeline. It’s still extremely silly.

Thanks everybody for the replies.

I guess the consensus is that some of the stuff is pretty ridiculous but the majority is actually feasible in the given timeframes.

When I first read it I was pretty hopeful but skeptical. I questioned whether this attempted to be accurate, was simply overly optimistic, or even a deliberate attempt to mislead.

ftg yeah what the hell are they talking about “The Matrix”???

Chronos is your chatbot available on the web? I’ve been playing with these since I was kid (Eliza on an Apple II) and recently had the pleasure to chat with the pretty impressive A.L.I.C.E. written by Dr. Richard S. Wallace.

Osiris the time travel and faster than light travel are admittedly in the Wildcard Addendum section which IMO is not really congruent with the rest of the timeline document.

Personally I’m really hoping the artificial/cloned organ aspect is realized (I don’t want to have donate a kidney to my father plus I’ve consistently mistreated my body as well :D).

Holographic TV will be pretty cool too.

Sorry, dirty1, it was IRC only. It didn’t really do much, either… It played trivia games (as a player, not a host… It was about a factor of 20 behind the best human players we had), it smiled at people, and it could (usually) identify gender based on username. I sort of disassembled it for major overhaul (trying to build in some rudimentary “learning”, stealing ASCII graphics others posted and keeping track of personal details others mentioned), and never fully re-assembled it. Nor am I likely to ever, being so far out of practice on it.

Sorry for the hijack.

Aren’t managers artificially intelligent now? :smiley:


The use of computer software, whether AI based or not, for managment decisions is strongly resisted. Most managers make decisions for really asinine reasons. They want to preserve that “freedom of choice”. Software that tells them the direct opposite of what their “hunches” tell them are unwelcome.

You can pretty much gauge the success of a company by how well they integrate computers into everything. E.g., WalMart won’t buy a paperclip unless there’s a program that tells them it’s the right thing to do.

Managers know that such software directly threatens their jobs and invent all sorts of reasons for not automating. They’ll let a spreadsheet track their budget, but they want to decide on the budget themselves.