How is it possible to feel futureshock from a single year?
2015-Me would be undergoing futureshock right now if he saw all the shit that was happening. 2014-Me even moreso.
Actually, let's go with 2014-Me. Why? Because this is the 2 year anniversary of the first ever Yuli Banularity. Well actually, it was the 2 year anniversary a few weeks ago. May 2014 was the first time I spammed dozens of news articles at a rapid pace, and I did it because
1- I felt the forums were losing focus, as there were many news stories that were happening but no one was posting them in lieu of other petty troubles
2- there were a fuckton of news stories. Maybe that was just because I was finally paying attention, but I seriously felt as if the world had entered a pre-Singularity stage that month. It helped that I had just become a born-again Singularitarian earlier that year, in March.
A lot of things have changed since 2014, actually. I'm no longer super-anxious about the world. Sure, there are rightist movements all over the West, but what else is new? 2014 was a bloody year all around. That was the worst year in the Syrian Civil War, that's when ISIS rose to prominence in the mainstream media, that's when Russia invaded Ukraine, just a whole bunch of terrible stuff. I remember feeling, in late April 2014, like nuclear war was imminent. Maybe that high anxiety contributed to my whole 'Ether Dream' that I keep talking about?
Ever since, the Syrian Civil War has calmed down, the Ukrainian war has gone low-intensity, and ISIS is breaking apart.
Meanwhile, deep learning has leapfrogged over us all. Google bought DeepMind in 2014, remember? Just 2 years later, all those extra resources got put to good use— an AI defeated the world champion at Go ten fucking years ahead of schedule. And come to find out, Google has developed a computer chip that actually does advance machine learning by about 7 years. In 2014, I never thought that would be happening. AI today is in a place I didn't think it would be for another decade.
Autonomous cars are a thing. They've been a thing since October. Sure, they're not fully autonomous, but the Tesla Autopilot feature is still revolutionary in that, for the first time ever, a commercially available automobile has demonstrated autonomous capabilities.
I remember just a few years ago watching an NBC report on Google's driverless car and thinking how cool it would be to ride in an AV. I figured, "Huh, I'll eventually get to do it, maybe in the 2030s." The idea that the option would be available to me within a few years would've blown my sad mind. Sure, it's beyond my wallet's love, but it's still on the market, isn't it?
I still can't fucking get over that. Take a step back and realize that there are vehicles driving themselves, on the road, right now. To me, this wasn't supposed to happen for decades. Driverless trucks would be teased in the late 2010s and might see some legitimate road action in the mid to late 2020s, but this decade's too soon.
NOPE. We should be seeing them in action by 2018.
Pepper. Pepper. Pepper. I used to disregard Pepper.
Back in 2014, Pepper just seemed so... unimpressive. She seemed to be an oversized toy, rather than a legitimate artificially intelligent humanoid robot. Pepper seemed like a toy from the '90s repackaged in a humanoid plastic mold. Her answers felt stiff and pre-programmed.
Then comes 2016, and I watch videos on Pepper in action. She's still not perfect, but goddamn, it's like a whole different product compared to what I saw in 2014. And no wonder— Pepper's using IBM's Watson.
IBM Watson! The only rival to Google DeepMind thus far.
And then I learn that Pepper sold out each and every time she went on sale. 1,000 units sold in 60 seconds flat, every single time. And she's coming to America this year. Holy crap, so you're telling me I can actually buy an artificially intelligent humanoid robot companion? For $1,800?
ASIMO costs $1 million! Sure, ASIMO can do chores, but it's still heavily preprogrammed, and it's never been sold. And I don't think ASIMO is "emotional." This is a robot even the middle class can afford.
But is that all? Fuck no, what kind of Future would this be?
Virtual reality. When I created this thread, only the Gear VR and Cardboard were out. Now we finally have the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive for sale. And Google's getting into the fray, among several others.
In 2014, where was VR? Oculus just got bought out by Facebook, but other than that, nothing much. The best VR headsets were pisspoor and expensive compared to the current generation, and 95% of people were unaware they were available. 2 years later, there are now concerns that there are too many VR headsets on the market.
We went from "dead fad with the hope of a revival" to "flooding the market" in 2 years flat. And again, the market's still expanding— Apple and Google have yet to release their headsets.
And that's not including the HoloLens, Meta 2, and Magic Leap. Oh god, augmented reality. You can buy the HoloLens developer's kit now.
HOLY. FUCK. The only thing more amazing than smartwatches is our passe reaction to them. Smartwatches represent raw, unadulterated science fiction. We're watching live-streamed HD videos of Pluto and calling our friends and relatives on our watches.
More, more, I need more! My technolust is only growing stronger.
And yet, as my technolust grows, so does my love for the natural world. I used to hate living in the country. Now I kinda don't wanna move away. And I said about as much in this article.
2016. God, that sounds so futuristic. And it's only going to get better and better!