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The quotes of the Great Futuretimeliners

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Thanks, Will. ^^


Nah, Yuli. Your posts are always great and I like the pre-acceleration idea a lot, but I read so much futurism-related stuff every day that most of it spills out of my head. I do think the 2010s were very much a preparation decade though, yeah. It can look like a quiet decade on the surface, but it really hasn't been, and broader society is starting to become aware of the things that we've been keenly paying attention to through the '10s.


Self-Driving Cars in 2010: Some crazy idea that even most major car companies seemed unaware of, never mind regular people. From what I can tell, they weren't even discussed all that much in futurist circles.

Self-Driving Cars in 2019: Awareness of SDCs have become entirely mainstream, and there's cities here and there with full-blown self-driving services that are out of the beta testing/trial stage. It's a very small market, but it is a market as of 2018/2019 and not just something scientists are experimenting with.


Artificial Intelligence in 2010: About as intelligent as stuffed animals you got for Christmas when you were four.

Artificial Intelligence in 2019: Awareness of AI isn't fully mainstream yet - you can't take for granted that any guy or girl wandering the mall will be aware of it - but it's progressed a phenomenal amount, is legitimately useful in a number of fields, and almost every job sector is either already employing it or drawing up plans to do so in the next few years. A lot of people are also using it for fun outside of futurist circles, albeit people who are also somewhat into 'nerd' stuff and on the fringe, even if they're not as deeply into obscure stuff as futurists.


BCI brain scanning technology in 2010: It might have been theorized in the same way that a Dyson Sphere has been theorized, but it was mostly just a sci-fi idea.

BCI brain scanning technolgy in 2019: A working version of such a device has been created, with human tests planned for next year and Jepsen estimating a consumer product around 2022.


Full genome sequencing in 2010: I think the first full human genome, not counting the original 'example' one, was sequenced in 2008? Even heritage testing was a niche thing in 2010 that would result in blank stares if you brought it up around non-futurists.

Full genome sequencing in 2019: By the end of this year you'll be able to receive 30x full genome sequencing from Nebula for $10 (plus $7 a month to receive continual updates after that), a genome sequencing service is being rolled out across England hospitals, and other companies are finally slashing prices after having been relatively stagnant since the start of 2014 (China's planning to reach $300 next year, Veritas plans to go down to between $100 and $200 by 2021, etc). This is the textbook image of something that's on the precipice of coming into its own.


Virtual Reality in 2010: In the minds of most people, purely a sci-fi concept or some meme technology that crashed and burned during the 90s. Yuli said once that even in 2014, VR headsets on par with the Rift prototypes were military-grade and cost tens of thousands.

Virtual Reality in 2019: VR awareness is mainstream, even if the products themselves are not. Sales are slowly but surely improving. Sentiments about the possibility of a second VR Winter are slowly on the decline; by no means whatsoever gone, but the overall tenor surrounding the field is brightening up a bit compared to 2016-2018.


So yeah, all of these are a point where they're either a) already seeing some limited amount of commercial success or b) have reached the price point and level of capability where they're appealing to the average consumer. I think that by the very middle of the coming decade, 2025, all of these will be accepted and proven technologies, and they'll be as integrated and secure as things like Uber, Kickstarter, and Bitcoin became during the 2010s. Or, to drill down into each one specifically...


Self-Driving Cars in 2025: Self-driving car services are common in cities and urban areas that have become very valued and appreciated, and philanthropist start-ups have existed for a year or so that try to service more rural areas as well. The overwhelming majority of people (98 or 99 percent) still own manually-driven cars, but buying Level 3 or even Level 4 self-driving vehicles once it comes time for a new car is a growing trend that experts are predicting will balloon with every passing year. SDCs have proven to be more capable than many anticipated, with the idea that Level 5 cars are impossible mostly a relic of the past.


Artificial Intelligence in 2025: There is no creative pursuit or field of knowledge in which AI isn't proficient (I'm less certain about robotics, but I still think substantial progress will have been made and that human-like robots will be close enough that we'll have a clearer idea of how far away they are). AI might not be human-level in certain areas, but even in those select areas the gulf isn't particularly dramatic; AI will, even in the areas in which it's under-equipped, come across as an incompetent or untrained human rather than something completely bizarre or laughable. AI will play critically supportive roles in all fields of work that it doesn't supplant altogether, and the average layperson will be appreciative of it (in the fields where it only augments his job rather than renders it unnecessary, anyway - obviously, those who are put out of work will often be more resentful). AI won't be entirely human-level across the board, but its intelligence and conversational abilities will have improved to the point that it's easy to forget this while speaking to it. Interacting with sophisticated AI on one's smartphone will be as routine as people speaking with Alexa today.


BCI brain scanning technology in 2025: Given that this area will get its beginnings around 2020, this will be the most nascent of the fields by 2025, but Jepsen's product seems high-quality enough out of the box that sheer capability will allow things to progress fast. By 2025, insight into the inner workings of the brain will have become fairly old hat (same way that Deep Learning was a very familiar and well-worn concept amongst FutureTimeliners by 2017), and our understanding of almost all mental illnesses will have come far enough that scientists have solid theories on how to cure them, or at least treat them so well that - so long as you don't lapse on your medication, or whatever other treatments exist - it will seem as though the person has no mental illness to begin with. Promises begin to arise that, during the 2030s, all mental illnesses can be effectively cured, so long as medicine is taken as prescribed. Somewhere between 100,000 and 1,000,000 people are devoted to contributing their own information regarding the brain, and thus wear their BCI headbands around the clock. Services devoted to analyzing brain scan readings have existed for two years or so, similar to how companies can read one's genome, though the field is still in the early days and by no means mainstream or well-known yet.


Full genome sequencing in 2025: There were predictions in 2015 that by 2025, somewhere between 200 million and 2 billion full genomes would have been sequenced. I think we might have gotten ahead of ourselves, the same way as with the prediction that by the early '20s, genomes would be as cheap as flushing the toilet (though thanks to Nebula, you can get your genome sequenced for the same price as about two or three boxes of cereal, so we're not exactly ending on a bad note). My own guess would be that, by 2025, somewhere between 50,000,000 and 200,000,000 full genomes will have been sequenced, with the one billion milestone reached around 2029-2030. Full genome sequencing is offered at the majority of all first world hospitals, though this is a very recent development, and is even beginning to make its way to some upper-tier poorer countries. Nobody doubts the value of genomic research anymore, and it's taken as a given in the medical community that genome sequencing can unlock cures for many diseases (whereas in 2019, those that are skeptical and believe genetic knowledge might be of no real value are a declining-but-still-noteworthy subsect). It's beginning to feel as though we have as many answers regarding the human body as we do questions, though the '20s will be less about applications and commercialized miracles, and more about an insane explosion in knowledge and an endless sea of clinical trials - though that's still a world beyond the 2000s' and 2010s' theme of "Let's just make this less insanely expensive so that we can actually, like, do stuff." I think that, assuming all goes well (and this is an assumption I'm 50/50 on and in no way taking for granted), the '30s will be the decade where gene therapies begin cropping up in hospitals one after another after another.


Virtual Reality in 2025: I think that the very final "VR is dead/dying" sentiments will evaporate around 2021-2022. Around that time, the focus will shift to the fact that 5G is bringing more users into the fold and greatly expanding VR's capabilities, along with just the business-as-usual day-by-day progression that we've seen throughout the last third of the '10s. It will still only be a modestly popular field, but one that everyone now believes is stable. By 2025, news stories centering around the fact that VR is becoming truly mainstream will become commonplace. Kids in elementary school, middle school, and high school will discuss VR sometimes with their friends and make plans to do stuff in VR together every now and again, with kids who have zero interest whatsoever in the technology rapidly finding themselves as a minority. VR is not an everyday or even an everyweek thing for the average person, but everyone will be aware of the concept of livestreaming events like concerts, sports games, or other major events, and the majority of people will do so at least a handful of times per year. There were articles about how livestreaming presidential debates in VR the year prior was a fairly common and popular thing, as well as news stories about how families attending events like the Super Bowl in VR are swiftly becoming a middle-class routine.


I think the fundamental nature of the promises offered by futurism have changed a great deal since I joined in during the December of 2011. During 2011 and 2012, futurism basically amounted to "Things are kind of boring now, but they'll be really fucking cool whenever we're middle-aged and especially when we're elderly." From 2013 to 2016, that changed more to "Things aren't really exciting yet, or at least not outside of the laboratory, but we won't have to wait very long. Dramatic changes are a near-term and moderate-term promise, not a long-term one." During the late 2010s, it's shifted again to "Promises are being fulfilled and meaningful changes will come in every single field that we care about, in concrete and real world ways, with each passing year."


Good times ahead. Thanks to anyone who read this absurdly long wall of text.

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30x full genome sequencing from Nebula for $10


Sorry, is this a typo? Are you sure you don't mean partial? And what do you mean by "30x"? They offer 30 tests?


I agree with the rest of your post. This bit just stuck out for me, because it seems... insanely cheap.

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By 30x, I'm referring to the coverage; 30x is standard full genome sequencing, basically, in terms of quality and detail (you might already know that and just be thrown off-balance by the $10 part). The current test sequences at 0.4x, which is... well, not the best, but a) the organization is less than a year old and b) they have implied that the full-quality, 30x coverage version will be the same price as what's been offered up to this point, and that it will be available before the end of this year.


And nope, no typos, thankfully. It only costs $10, but in return you agree to let your genetic data be used for research purposes. I'm happy to contribute to the field, so that isn't a downside for me in the slightest; and even though the genomes they analyze are used for research purposes, the identity of who each given genome belongs to is kept private.




George Church is the co-founder of Nebula, so I have a lot of trust in the company. 

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