The Future is now, revisited

(for the purposes of this thread, grousing about your flying car is verboten.)

I was talkin to one of the app developers yesterday. One of his obsessions is defunct equipment. He’s got a knack for bringing back iPods and the like. I picked up his phone and thought the memory card fell out. He said, no, that card is dead and was just sitting under the phone. It was a 4 Gb MicroSD card and it just up and stopped working.

See here for relative size

Pricewatch says a 4 Gb micro SD card is worth less than $10.

Do you have ANY conception of what that really means? That’s roughly 20 meters of shelved books. One lightly compressed DVD feature, 120+ Record Albums.

Disposeable. No moving parts. Don’t sneeze or you’ll lose it.

A Friend of a Friend has a tumor on his femur. Big, nasty, dangerous. They wish to remove it, then have him BACK ON HIS FEET in less than a week. (I forget the details, I think it was closer to 4 days than 7)

I have a (slightly flakey) Robot that (mostly) Vacuums my floors for me (with caveats). I say this because It made the thread the last time.

An Airbus A380, configured as all-economy, can carry 853 passengers. I’ve lived in towns with far fewer people in them.

My Cellphone can touch the farthest reaches of the planet, and do so in fractions of a second. It can do it via 3g, edge, or wifi. It’ll talk to my shoes, my headset, and/or my car. It can listen to 7 satellites at a time and calculate where I am on the earth to within 3 meters. It has a crappy compass. It holds 1000 times more storage than my very first hard disk, purchased in 1987. (32 Meg, RLL, $450 vs. $150 for my refurb 32 Gb iPhone 3GS)

Interstingly: people are starting to grouse about this phone because it doesn’t DO enough.
So, look around…where has the future happened, you had hadn’t noticed?

I can drive coast to coast and border to border listening to the same radio station.

I can swallow a camera that will take pictures of my instestines as it passes through and email them to my Dr. (Yes, I know they’re not really emailed)

My phone has more processing power and memory than existed on the planet when we put a man on the moon.

Today I read about a LCD screen that, interspersed with normal picture frames, uses its crystals to form tiny pinholes to focus light on an array of optical sensors behind the pixel matrix to act as a 3D-'touch’pad; after quietly making the requisite ‘…screen watches YOU!’-joke and noting the 1984 connection, I thought – damn, the future really is now.

Also, as so very often, XKCD today is strangely appropriate.

My first PDA in 2001 had more processing power than my first home computer 17 years prior. In fact, it had more processing power than the 16-bit computer I upgraded to in 1990. My phone now has about 100x the processing power of that. And 4,000x the storage capacity. And I can surf the web no matter where I am. And carry 300 CDs worth of music at highest quality to listen to on the road. And watch movies.

My first hard drive in the early 90s was 250MB and required 2 5.25" storage bays to house. (Full height) It cost me $250 used, and that was a bargain then. My current computer has 10,000x that storage and the total cost of the drives was about the same.

I can talk on my phone while my phone is in my pocket using a tiny two-way receiver in my ear. And I can talk to it, and it will carry out my spoken instructions, and even respond in an authoritative male voice. “Check battery,” I will say to it. “Battery high,” it responds. “Call home,” I ask of it. “Calling home,” it responds, and dutifully begins dialing my home phone through a wireless connection to my cell phone named after an ancient Danish king. I don’t even know how it knew which number in my phone’s address book was designated as home, because I certainly didn’t tell it. Same with my work number. It just … knew.

Money has holograms on it now.

I can scan my own damn groceries now.

My bank card has a microchip in it.

My apartment building has no mechanical locks anymore. They’ve been replaced with RFID key fobs that work by the reader box sending electricity to power the chip in the fob through the damn air. And the chip is about the size of a crumb.

Cars can adapt their handling based on the way you drive. They can record the way you drive too, like the black box in airplanes, so when you get into an accident they can tell what you were doing when it happened.

You can be found guilty in a court of law using records of your passage. Toll roads, credit card transactions, SMS records, Video surveillance.

From a forensic standpoint, they can prove you were at the scene of the crime, you used the tool, The tool authoritatively ‘offed’ the victim. And they can do so using this constant ejecting of DNA material that follows you around.

I’ve got eleven lasers in my room, right now (counting a couple attached to equipment that no longer works).

Here in San Francisco I’ve seen these little yellow auto-tour cars tourists can rent. From what I can tell, the cars have GPS built into them so they know where they are, and if they pass by something interesting, a voice pipes up from the car describing their surroundings.

Yeah it’s tacky, but I’m still blown away by it. A robot tour guide? That’s the sort of thing they’d show in an 80s movie about the future to establish to the viewer that yes, this is the future! Except, now it’s for real!

–wait, it talks to your shoes?

My friend has a phone with an app where all you have to do is point your phone at a song playing on the radio, and it furnishes all pertinent data about the song – lyrics too.

I have heard music playing at the end of a movie in my roommate’s room which I have never heard before, googled 1 line of the lyrics that I happened to catch, ID’d and downloaded the song before it finishes playing in the next room.

I might have mentioned this on the Board before; once I wanted to see what an ant’s mouth looked like really close up while eating something, so I googled,
“ant’s mouth up really close eating something,” and damned if I didn’t get a perfect video of just that. So cool.

I don’t have anything that talks to my shoes, though.

I can sit right here and call up a picture of the planet and view almost any place on Earth. Although it is not in real time.

I have zoomed in and found my car parked at work, I can see the BBQ in my garden.

Nike+ and strictly speaking, it won’t talk to my shoes til after Xmas. :slight_smile:


So that I may play with my cat.

Another thing that came to mind:

In addition to the usual discarded newspapers, coffee cups, burger wrappers and other assorted flotsam, street trash these days often includes broken and scratched recordable CDs, DVDs, and the occasional thumb drive. Oddly, nothing seems to say progress like the tech we discard because it has become so cheap and easily replaced these days that it can be chucked without a second thought when it ceases to work or be of use.

Future my arse, that personal jetpack is now almost officially one full decade behind schedule.
At this rate I’ll only see them when I yell at the kids to stop swooping over my lawn.

My motorcycle has ABS, cruise control, and an electronically adjustable suspension.

My current flash drive (32 GB) has about half a million times more storage than my first computer (a Commodore 64).

I operate a small business out of my home. I don’t print/mail a catalog, and I don’t do any advertising at all. My customers are all over the US and the world. All of my them find my web page through word-of-mouth during discussions with other motorcycle riders. Those discussions take place on web-based discussion boards like SDMB. all of my communication with my customers is done via email. The success of my business would absolutely not have been possible just 15 years ago.

On the way to work most of the billboards I drive past are giant flatscreen displays that change every few seconds.

Back the 80’s, when Blade Runner was made, that was complete science fiction.

Actually, they existed in the 80’s, but they were too darned expensive, and not bright enough for outdoor use during daylight. They were constructed of LEDs. I did some work with a company (NCR) that manufactured them in Colorado around 1982.

Could you (theoretically) have put together an LED display panel that could show photo-realistic colors in 1982? I seem to recall, and I could be wrong, that LEDs were red-only in the early days and only (relatively) recently started to come in greens and blues.

Now, for my list:

It’s the middle of December in Montana. The bananas at the local supermarket are a little green. I’m only mildly bummed out by this, because the pomegranates are probably good.

Smallpox? Gone. Polio? Last naturally-contracted case in this hemisphere was in 1991. Mumps? Never had it, never knew anyone who did. German measles? Nope, never seen it in the real world. In fact, the fear these diseases caused is so completely forgotten we have people who think vaccinations are harmful!

Actually, gree LEDs have been around for donkey’s years, it’s the blue ones that took until the mid 90s (I think) to become available.

There were quite a several colours available in the 80s. I remember, as a boredom project in the early 90s, taking my 2400 baud modem that had a row of red LEDs, buying some green and yellow LEDs, and replacing some of the red ones to make for a more colourful device. At the time they also had three pole LEDs that could shine in one of three colours, and I pondered the possibility of combining the RX and TX lights into one 3-pole LED, but then I’d have a gap where one of the combined LEDs should have been, and that would have bugged me. Plus, they weren’t available in rectangular LEDs, which is what I needed, only the round ones. In any event, I bought these at a popular electronics surplus store in downtown Toronto (Active Surplus, for my homeboys), which means they’d already been available for ages by then. I think they cost me $1.00 ea. in bulk. The 3-poles were a bit more expensive.

And speaking of modems, a full 5.25" floppy disk on my first home computer could hold 128K of data in standard density mode. With my first 300 baud modem, it took me an hour and 16 minutes to download a full disk’s worth of data. Now, I can transfer 8x that in a single second. In January, I’ll be upgrading my data connection, and will theoretically be able to transfer either 20x or 40x that a second depending on the package I choose. That’s a maximum increase in speed over the good ol’ 300 baud days of over 182,000x. Put in perspective, that’s like going from a 30mph speed limit on a suburban side street to travelling almost at the speed of light.

My first computer was an Atari ST back in the late 80s (which I realise makes me a damn yoof of today to some of you), so whenever a new data storage medium comes out, I like to think of how high the equivalent stack of 3.5" 720Kb floppy disks would have to be.

My first “serious” computer: home-built generic PC clone, 1998. HD: 6.3Gb = 9200 floppies, 30m high.

MP3 player from 2003: 30Gb = 44000 floppies, 140m high

Mum’s current laptop (2009) HD: 320Gb = 470000 floppies, 1.5km high!

First USB thumbdrive, 2001: 8Mb, £45, = 11 floppies, 3.8cm high.

Current USB [del]thumb[/del]flashdrive, 2008: 4Gb, £10, = 5800 floppies, 19m high

Hey, another Atari ST user. That was my second platform.

You know, I never thought about it like that, but that means my current storage setup in my main computer (2.5tb) would make a stack of almost 12KM! That’s up near the stratosphere from my location. Moreover, if I consider that in terms of the 128k 5.25" floppies my first computer used (about a third of the width of a 5.25" floppy if flattened as much as it can be) that’d be about 20KM.