The 21st Century: WHAT's THE NEXT BIG THING?

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  1. Credence2 profile image78
    Credence2posted 6 years ago

    After a rather protracted discussion with a nephew about the need to stop horsing around in regards to his economic future, I had a revelation or two.

    I was born before Sputnik, in an era of slide rules, vacuum tubes and nascent transistor technology, now I find multi-function calculators in my cereal box.

    I have gone from ENIAC to fancy computers masquerading as cell phones.

    Far from the clunky voice recognition technologies of the 1990’s, I visited Panama for 5 months and although it is basically a third world country everybody who was anybody had cell phones capable of flawless language translation between Spanish and English.

    My brother is acquainted with a Tesla technician who treated him to a ride in a car that could drive itself. Do you know what this means? A computer successfully mimicking the judgment and reasoning abilities that at one time we thought were exclusive to the human brain.

    How many nominal jobs will be eliminated in the future based on this new technology? I had to remind my nephew of the dire fate awaiting the indolent in the face of such a fast changing future.

    So my question to you is what do you think is the next “Big Thing” that will define the 21st century like the advent of electronics (Vacuum tube invented in 1906) defined the 20th?

    I want to ask all scientists, artists, futurists, anyone that can speculate on the topic. When you give your prediction, can you explain why you believe such?
    For me, I am looking at this nanotechnology stuff, much of the concepts being in their infancy right now. Where will it be by 2099? Is anybody out there working in the field? Where are we going with this?

    I am hoping for a return to the moon and a manned landing on Mars before this century is at its midpoint.

    1. jackclee lm profile image81
      jackclee lmposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Don't be fooled by the hype. I have been studying AI for many years and it is no way near "intelligent", artificial or otherwise. This comes down to the basic question what is so special about the human brain? Neural scientists after years of research have failed to unravel what make us tick. The computer is just a tool no more than a hammer or or saw. It cannot invent new stuff. Our brain on the other hand besides being able to create but can conceptualize ideas and can be self aware. That is a miracle in itself.
      My guess for the next big thing would be genetic engineering. We are learning how our DNA can be modified and spliced to repair medical defects and even create new life form.
      The caveat is man has never been good at predicting the future.
      The Bible is a better roadmap than anythiing man has come up with in 2000 years.
      Good luck in your search.

      1. Credence2 profile image78
        Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Jack, thanks for your comment and observation, it is people like you that are in a position to speak on just these sort of things. This is true, our machines are number crunchers to highest degree but are incapable of an original thought, well said.

        But, this 'hammer and saw' has been refined to a great degree over my lifetime, far beyond anyone's expectations. So, you say the higher logic functions of the human brain cannot be mimicked, and I emphasize the word 'mimic'. in any foreseeable technology regarding computer science in the foreseeable future? So, no chatty Hal 9000 computers for my household?

        Genetic Engineering? I have heard about some attempt to address diseases that are caused by genetic defects. Interesting observation, I will keep my eye on it. Lets hope that "Frankenstein" is not at the end of such research.

        Your perspective about the difficulty of man regarding the future is well founded. When I look at estimates as to what the year 2000 would bring as guestimated around 1900, it is shown that technological changes are easier( and that is hard enough) to predict than social and political ones.

  2. colorfulone profile image77
    colorfuloneposted 6 years ago

    I agree with. Jackclee.  "The Bible is a better road-map than anything man has come up with in 2000 years."

    1. Credence2 profile image78
      Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I cannot debate you on that point...... thanks for your comment.

  3. Marisa Wright profile image84
    Marisa Wrightposted 6 years ago

    I don't agree with that statement about the Bible - where in the Bible does it tell us about the amazing inventions we now take for granted? 

    However, I agree that we probably can't predict what's coming next. Just think back twenty or thirty years - if you'd been told about today's technological marvels, you would probably have laughed and thought they belonged in a sci fi movie, or assumed they wouldn't be available for another hundred years or so.

    Technology is being developed faster and faster and faster.  Unfortunately if you believe (like me) that the human race is hurtling headlong towards the destruction of the planet, it may all be irrelevant.

    1. jackclee lm profile image81
      jackclee lmposted 6 years agoin reply to this
      1. Aime F profile image69
        Aime Fposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Well that’s some confirmation bias if I’ve ever seen any.

    2. Credence2 profile image78
      Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks, Marisa, for your comment, the idea of prediction is predicated on the assumption that our current problems will be solved either with our obliteration or technology. I hope for the latter. There is a spiritual element to all of this, but this is outside the scope of the discussion. This is about techie stuff.

      By the way, off topic. You mentioned in another thread about your problems with American exceptionalism and that there are many Americans that reside in Australia. Could you tell me in your encounters with the Americans, what reasons they gave for moving to Australia?

  4. lovetherain profile image81
    lovetherainposted 6 years ago

    Everyone will be connected to their devices. People won't really communicate in a meaningful way anymore.

    1. Credence2 profile image78
      Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for your comments, lovetherain.

      Seems that we are at that state already, people talking to themselves or into little boxes oblivious of all that is going on around them.

  5. colorfulone profile image77
    colorfuloneposted 6 years ago

    What's the next big thing?
    America, energy free?
    So long Saudi Arabia?
    E, for energy!

  6. ptosis profile image67
    ptosisposted 6 years ago

    Next Big Thing:
    3D printer using you smartphone?
    Check it out:

    1. Credence2 profile image78
      Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for your comment, Ptosis.

      3D printer? No, I am waiting for pattern replicators.... Alas, such technology, if possible at all must lie well into the future at least in terms of today's science knowledge and capabilities.

  7. Rock_nj profile image86
    Rock_njposted 6 years ago

    Robots are going to be the next big thing. Robots are going to become a bigger part of the workforce and capalble of doing more things for humans, like chores around the house.  The time for robots is quicky approaching and will be the next big thing in coming decades.

    1. Credence2 profile image78
      Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for your contribution here, rocknj.

      It certainly would be nice to have a robot do the dishes and other mundane chores. A few years ago, I would have said phuey, machines could not be built with the needed versatility, relegating it all to science fiction. But with the increasing computer processing capacities today, now not so much.

      Perhaps, the film with Will Smith released in 2004, "I Robot", gives a good example of functioning robots in a near future society?

      1. wilderness profile image94
        wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        I bought a robot to do the dishes from Sears.  It's called a "dishwasher".  And I have one that tends the fire, keeping my house warm (and cold!) without me lifting a finger.  Why, I've even got one that washes my clothes - imagine that!

        Bu you're right - having R Daneel Olivaw as a house guest isn't too far in the future.

        1. Credence2 profile image78
          Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

          Nice to have you back, Wilderness.

          Yes, but wouldn't it be nice to have a robot actually prepare dinner, or take the wash and move it to the dryer and take the dry clothing and fold?

          If you can have computers/ robots drive cars with all of the intricacies involved, can I have them "do windows"?

          I am a little slow regarding Asimov characters, I have followed Arthur C. Clarke as my SCI-FI favorite.

          1. jackclee lm profile image81
            jackclee lmposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            Like everything else in innovation, it is the sex robots that will pave the way for the rest.
            Remember how VCR's came to be in the 1970s, it was invented so people can watch porn in the privacy of their homes.

            1. Credence2 profile image78
              Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

              Sex robots? Why not, she can never have a "headache" and is always ready to go and you don't have to take her out to dinner first. It is still a masturbatory fantasy while it sounds sophisticated. There will probably be a 'stud model' for the ladies insistent on a 'high standard' of performance

              Growing up in Denver, I remembered what they called the "Art Cinemas" downtown during the 1960's. They were always on the seedy side until certain pornographic films produced in the early 70's changed that. Then there were the 'raincoats', you did not want to have your neighbor see you going into such a cinema. I think of that world and realize that the internet has made such places of business obsolete, all these cinemas are gone.

              A living, functional Barbie Doll type? It is certainly not science fiction...

              1. jackclee lm profile image81
                jackclee lmposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                Be careful what you wish for. The next thing will be marriage between humans and robots...
                It is a new world and I am not comfortable in it.
                I like the old human touch.

          2. wilderness profile image94
            wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            R Daneel Olivaw was the primary robot character in the robot stories from Asimov, and that inspired "I Robot". 

            That one is a ways off I'm afraid, but increasing mechanization, often termed "robotics", isn't, and it grows every year.  Part of the problem is that we commoners expect a human shaped "robot" and that isn't likely to happen for a long, long time.  Instead we have specialized machines for specific robotic tasks - paint cars, welding, etc. - that look nothing like a human being.

            1. GA Anderson profile image89
              GA Andersonposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              R Daneel also carried over into Asimov's Foundation series. If you enjoyed the robot stories you will really like the Foundation series.


              1. wilderness profile image94
                wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                Actually, it did, didn't it?  I tend to forget the later Foundation books as I grew up with the first few and then a long, long gap till others were written.  With the good Doctor gone for nearly two decades I don't expect any more from him, though!

            2. colorfulone profile image77
              colorfuloneposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              Saudi Arabia becomes first country to grant citizenship to a robot, named Sophia.  I didn't believe when a friend notified me about it so I looked it up.  Yep! 

  8. VanessaJanes profile image72
    VanessaJanesposted 6 years ago

    With technology replacing human labor, societies will have to address rampant unemployment. I believe successful ones will transition to a radically different idea of what it means to be a contributing member of a society. Universal minimum income will become more widespread. Others will degenerate into wars over resources and millions will die while a privileged few hoard the wealth.

    My happy take on the future. ;-)

    1. Credence2 profile image78
      Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for weighing in, Vanessa.

      Your bleak forecast is certainly not outside the realm of possibility. For a matter of fact, it has to be the inevitable outcome for the current trend. Again, yours is  an accurate and interesting insight.

    2. GA Anderson profile image89
      GA Andersonposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Hi Vanessajanes, it's nice to see a new voice in the forum.

      Since Credence2 seemed to like your response, I hope he won't mind if I continue your tangent with a rhetorical question.

      " Since the early to mid-20th century, aren't we already seeing this direction being taken by some of the smaller nations?" Specifically, some of the Scandinavian nations come to mind. Although not declared a minimum income, their governmental support amounts to such.

      I also think the 20th century histories of other nations, large and small, further validate your thought. But, and not to challenge your perspective, isn't this the way societies have always been? Isn't the concept of a universal income just an extension, or a matter of degree, to efforts other richer nations have made in support of their citizens? Haven't conflicts over resources been the history of human civilizations? Your idea of a universal minimum income is just a currency change to match the times?

      However, here is the real "red meat" of your point... "What agency can you see being the arbiter of such a minmum income?"


      1. VanessaJanes profile image72
        VanessaJanesposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Hi GA,

        While my imagination can extend to foreseeing a universal minimum income being implemented by individual sovereign nations to avoid civil unrest due to the lack of resources, it does not extend to it being implemented worldwide by a common world government, if that is what you are asking.  I believe certain areas of the world will not approach this type of thinking for hundreds of years, maybe never.  The war over resources could end us before enough people see the consequences of unchecked wealth.

        This is just my opinion.

      2. wilderness profile image94
        wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Hi GA.  Minimum income - I've seen where a couple of the Scandinavian countries (Sweden?  Switzerland?)  have seriously debated this in their government.  It's failed so far, with the primary reason being that it will create such a tremendous magnet for refugees and other immigrants. 

        But aren't we approaching that in the US?  I've seen estimates where a 4 person family should be receiving total income (earned, welfare, housing, EBT, etc.) in the neighborhood of $40,000+, and if they are below that they aren't getting as many freebies as they should.  Not a true minimum income as discussed in Scandinavia, but approaching it, don't you think?  And didn't Alaska pretty much have one until the oil money ran out?

        1. GA Anderson profile image89
          GA Andersonposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          ... and that my friend was the gist of the point.

          Vanessajanes' thought was probably prescient - the richer nations probably will advance to some similar concept in the not too distant future years, because I agree with the forecast that in our very near future robotics will dominate many segments of our 'hands-on' labor force.

          What's next is to consider how many of those replaced, or no longer needed folks are adaptable to retraining. How many of the coming generation are suitable for more complex jobs, etc. etc. etc.?

          In an ideal world, when buggy whips were no longer needed, all those buggy whip makers retrained, and all the young buggy whip makers-to-be took the road to education and training for the more complex jobs related to internal combustion engine mechanics. But we know that wasn't the reality then, and it won't be the reality in your or my future, or our kid's lifetimes.

          So what will the richer nations do to sustain a society with a huge, (yes, I think it will be huge), segment of able-bodied but unemployable citizens - young and old? Just what you mentioned, and in greater degrees that will possibly reach the concept of Vanessa's universal minimum income.

          Cheers, what an optimistic outlook to consider.


          1. Rock_nj profile image86
            Rock_njposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            There might not be jobs for people displaced by robots to retrain for.  I am envisioning societies having to deal with a new paradigm in which human labor is not needed as it has been in the past.  Not sure how that will be dealt with and what people would do with their time or make a living.  Taking a positive view, I would hope that societies would utilize robots to raise the standard of living for all members, thus lessening the impact on this shortfall in need for human labor.

            1. GA Anderson profile image89
              GA Andersonposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              Hi Rock_nj, I agree with your comment, and it is your thought about how the benefits of robotics might be used that relates to Vanessajanes' comment about a universal minimum income.

              We had a conversation, (in this forum), about the future of the U.S. labor market a year or so ago, maybe another one would be a timely topic again.


  9. Luke Holm profile image85
    Luke Holmposted 6 years ago

    Lots of robotics and AI soon to come.  Also, maybe a new type of internet.


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