Future Perfect


18 September 2005





“Future Perfect”, I thought it was a verb tense I remembered out of my high school Latin classes but when I just checked the Internet, turns out “future perfect” is an English language verb tense as well.  Oh, well, memory is not what it used to be but whole point is “future perfect”.


“Future Perfect”: what a combination of words.  Future!  Perfect!


At almost 60 years of age, I wonder about the future now and again and I wonder if it will be “perfect”.


I wonder (in now specific order and with new additions at the top):



         -    How much longer until someone comes up with an electric light bulb, which last forever?  Well, perhaps not forever

              but longer than they do now. Seems like the two things in my life with very short life spans are light bulbs and

              flashlight-type batteries.  Perhaps it is some form of conspiracy between light bulb manufacturers.  They know how

              to make a light bulb will "burn" for years and years and years but why would they make such a bulb when they can

              just keep selling us ones, which last 1 or 2 years at the most?



         -    When will we be able to control really nasty storms or other forms of violent weather?  I know, I know, never, but

              why not?  100 years ago, we could not even see a storm coming until it was right on top of us.  Wonder what a

              10,000 pound bunker buster bomb would do if exploded at 5 or 6,000 feet in the early formation of a tropic

              depression? Chaos thrown into an organized system would have some affect wouldn't it? Just does not seem out of

              the realm of possibility that in 50 years or so, folks then will shake their heads when they hear about the terrible

              storms we endured when we could have aborted them if we only knew how.


-         Will we ever know if we are the only intelligent, self aware, conscious life in the universe?  With the distances between stars so large and thus the time it takes for any message to travel so long, really isn’t all we can hope for is to someday we receive some message like: “You are not alone” or “Hi, and if you ever in the neighborhood stop by and visit.”  But then again, perhaps, someday, we or whoever will invent some new information transmission method and we will all be able to sit on an Intergalactic network and exchange emails with some little green men somewhere.  In various movies and other, the discovery of intelligent life somewhere else in the universe is treated as a bad thing as it seems to diminish that “we” were created in God’s image and thus can be the only God-like beings in all the vastness of space.  Personally, I don’t see how learning that there are “others” in the universe besides ourselves changes much of anything and certainly would not come as a surprise to me considering the potential for billions and billions of earth-like planets just in our galaxy alone.  I am not a chat room person but honestly, when I have gone into such Internet meeting places, I really can’t seem to find any intelligent life there, much less from another world light years away.


-         Will we genetically alter ourselves out of existence?  With the introduction of genetically engineered crops of all types, I am concerned that 20, 40, 100 years down the road, we only then will learn that all that genetically engineered corn we have been eating for the past number of years has affected the fertility rate and every year there are less and less of us.  I worry about a species that goes ahead and declares some genetically engineered something or another fine or ok for human consumption without any idea what may be the consequences in 30, 100 or 1000 years.  It took evolution millions and millions of years to come up with corn on the cob and yet we somehow thing with a twist of a gene here or the addition of a gene there, we have not really done much at all and that our “creation” is no different than something which has taken millions of years to prove out its rightness.


-         How long will it before we will have machines, which are as smart as a lesser intelligent human being? I do understand that as humans, our brains, minds, are the most complex structures evolved so far by the universe (well not considering those others that could be out there somewhere) and that even simple things like make a decision as to what brand of peas to buy and put into the shopping cart at the supermarket is way, way beyond what any computer can do today and probably for a long time to come in the future.  But as central processors become smaller and smaller and memory cheaper and cheaper and the use of them in parallel configurations or other configurations I cannot imagine become more refined, the connections between vision processing, speech processing, robotics and artificial intelligence will produce some interesting “appliances”. 


-         How long will it be before we can grow replacement human organs, which are a perfect tissue match for whomever they are implanted into?  I suspect such organs will always be expensive but I also suspect that the government will eventually, under pressure, make such implants available to those below the poverty level which will probably be about $410,000 by then.


-         Will the giant hole dug in the Yucca Mountains to hold spent nuclear power plant fuel rods and other radioactive material will ever hold such stuff? I suspect not but it might become the most expensive landfill in the US as the states run out of places to dump and hide all the garbage we create each and everyday.  Not a new concept or idea but I suspect one day, companies will be mining old landfills for metal and other precious materials.  So much more cost effective to melt down an existing piece of metal than to dig up ore in South American, transport and then smelt into new metal.  In landfills all over the US are tons and tons of already dug up and smelted ore.


-         How much longer before cars give way to bicycles and motor scooters?  Although I have faith that as the price of oil rises, other technologies will become competitively priced and other sources of energy will become available such as oil from coal or whatever.  It really is too bad that although we can send a man to the moon and get them back again, we just can not figure out a technology, which sucks up all the light and heat we receive from our sun each and everyday.  Oh, now and again, I will see a little solar panel sitting on top of some pole driving some instrument or something but only in remote locations and very, very small collectors.


-         Will we ever get nuclear fusion reactors to work?  Seems like this ought to be a major research area for all governments.  Clean energy.  And I wonder if eventually, some new physics model, some new way of looking at our universe, will yield some new way to turn mass into energy?  One day, some one might appear on the scene with some new insight like another Einstein and boom, we have it made in the shade. 


-         Will we ever be able to make a matter, antimatter reactor?  Such a device would supply limitless supplies of non-polluting energy.


-         Will the cycle of poverty ever be broken for the black race in our major cities?  US President Lyndon Johnson was supposed to have set us on the road to fixing this problem but from the news, black teenagers in our major cities appear to have no more hope in the future than they must have had when all blacks were slaves.  I have no idea what a solution to this problem could be.  Certainly welfare has not worked but a replacement?


-         I wonder how much longer until the military takes the soldier out of battle completely?  With smart bombs, remotely piloted vehicles in the air, sea and land robots, the actual fighting forces should eventually become fewer and fewer real people.  Talk about a deterrent.  Who would want to start a war with us if all our soldiers were these titanium hulled machines?   I also wonder if when American lives are no longer at stake, will that give our leaders a freer hand to start wars or conflicts or do whatever they want with hostile countries?  The threat of a nuclear attack is one thing, as most countries know we will not nuke them but I not so sure we would not send in our robot troops any old time we felt like it.


-         I wonder how long it will take evolution to make changes to the human body?  Will hair on our bodies completely disappear by the year 8000?  With clothes and climate control, why wouldn’t evolution just do way with body hair?  How about our brains?  With so much of our lives now requiring eye\hand coordination, will this ability of our brains improve over time?  Because the science of medicine keeps many weaker gene strains of humans alive when they would have died out due to infections 100 years ago, will the gene pool eventually get diluted to the point that we are all weak against infection or mentally weak?  I have read that woman with higher IQ’s are having less children than they used to and woman with lower IQ’s are having more children than they used to.  Does this spell disaster somewhere down the road? 


-         Will food ever become scarce?  I know it is scarce in some parts of the world now but as the population continues to grow and more and more farm land is taken out of production, will farming methods be able to continue to reap the kind of production we will need 40 or 100 years from now?  Will pills become our food?  For years and years I never stepped foot into a grocery store but now, when I do go, I am amazed at all the varieties of foods and selections we have.  I wonder if it will always be so?  I wonder what sort of hybrid vegetables our genetic scientists will be able to come up with like a watermelon with vitamin D in it.


-         How long will it be before Idaho or Alaska is covered in condos?  Seems strange to think some outland areas will host massive housing some day but I am sure they will.  Who would have thought that the desert of Nevada could and would host Las Vegas?  Wonder what population shifts there will be over the coming years?  Will the cities continue to attract from the countryside or will that trend reverse?  With the cost of energy rising, will the concept of villages return where you do all your business within a mile or 2 of where you live?


-         How long before I will be able to have some sort of combination, medical information, cell phone, iPod, +, + device implanted under my skin? Maybe some wireless connection to earphone and I can instantly communicate, get the latest weather forecast and news, listen to music and much more all powered by the electrical currents running through my arm or whatever.  Think it possible now to implant a chip which holds all medical information about a person, which I think makes every sense: blood type, allergic reactions, family history, etc. etc.


-         Which of the large companies around today will not survive another 20, 50 years?  Will McDonalds one day just close up and all their restaurants become cell phone sales offices?  Will Sears and other giant, all-purpose retailers, make it in a world of specialty stores?  Will Internet shopping one day be the only way to really shop?


-         Can we ever “cure” cancer?  I wonder if cancer is just the cost of living on the surface of this rock, being bombarded by millions, if not billions of various particles and rays every second.  Of course to most of these particles and high energy rays, our bodies appear as just so much empty space but now and then, there must be a collision between something from coming out there with one of our cells and a mutation is formed, a cancer cell is borne. 


-         What is the deal with physical aging, deterioration? I know, I know, the song goes “It is gravity which pulled us down” and perhaps that is the key to why we dry up after a while, but I wonder if we will ever figure out aging and be able to either slow or stop it completely?  Seems strange to me that the life span of a human would be only 70, 80 or 100 years when there are other species on the planet, which live longer.  Why do we age and die at all?  What’s the deal?  What is the physics, chemistry, other, which says we have a finite life span?  I know, I know, current theory is that as cells replicate themselves, errors are introduced in the copies and eventually, the copy of a copy of a copy becomes so degraded that the original function of the cell is lost.  Can understand that, but why the errors in replication?  Just a pill to stop the error rate; wipe the copy machine glass with cleaner?


-         When will virtual reality (VR) as an entertainment form become commercially available?  When and if I get parked in some nursing home someday, it sure would be nice to go to the library there and pick up some titles, go to the VR machine, slip on some goggles, some gloves and maybe even a full body suit and take a VR canoe trip down the Grand Canyon or stand on a ship out in the Pacific or ride every roller coaster in the US.  Got asked once by a client what the status of VR development was in the US and had to tell him I did not really know.  Do suspect that large entertainment companies are doing something with the technology.  With the video game industry a several billion-dollar market, an interactive VR market must be worth a lot more than that.  And what will be the first wide spread VR application?  Porno, of course as porno was the driver behind the sales of VHS machines and the Internet.  Interactive VR porno: bring it on.


-         Will there come a day that we never have to leave our homes, for anything?  Right now, you can order just about anything over the Internet and have it delivered to your door to include groceries or a pizza from Chicago.  With communications bandwidth growing and growing, will it eventually make commutes to an office unnecessary?  With computer automation of production facilities becoming more and more sophisticated, custom, one of a kind, whatever is almost available to anyone now.  How long before I will be able to order a new Hollywood release movie from my cable provider?  Why do I have to go to a theater to see a new movie, yet can see it in some motels right now?  How long before Hollywood releases movies for direct home viewing?


-         How long it will be before all doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and medical insurance companies are all tied to one large database system, which allows each to enter or retrieve medical information about anyone?  Right now, my doctor has to write out a prescription on a piece of paper, which I then have to take to a pharmacy who then has to connect to my insurance company to determine my co-pay.  What is that?  Billions of dollars move around secure networks everyday and so it is more than possible to set up a secure medical network.  Just think of the benefits to all of having instant access to all information about a patient.


-         Will we every have more than 2 real political parties in the US? I read somewhere that in India there is something like 300 different political parties and their government works, well sort of and so why not 3 or 4 parties here?  Or at least, how long before we get presented with some decent candidates to vote for rather than having to vote for one as a vote not for the other candidate?


In the end, I guess one’s view of the future is like the glass half full or half empty analogy.  It will be what it will be and will, I suspect, be some good and some bad.



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