2028: Waiting for asteroid 35396
|November 2028 is the 40th anniversary of ESD. Click here read other 2028 lookbacks.|
An interesting thing about predictions is that just about every prediction about mechanical physics has been wrong. If what was predicted by the science fiction writers and futurists of the mid-20th century came to pass, we would be colonizing the moon, commuting in a flying automobile, using nuclear reactors in the home, and zipping to the supermarket with the aid of a jet pack. Almost without exception, the predictions about energy sources, mobility, and speed have not only been wrong, they've been extremely wrong.
If in doubt, think about the world and technology described in an early episode of Star Trek or in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey--remember when one of the main characters made a phone call from the space station's phone booth? In that version of the future, we've figured out how to travel effortlessly across space, but the mobile phone didn't make it. Clearly, I haven't yet flown beyond the moon (or even made it into outer space), and except for a brief span of a decade or so, we still aren't flying supersonic for commercial flight.
But while these predications of our ability to conquer our physical shortcomings have proved untenable, a few of the predictions that were made about information and our understanding of the world around us have indeed been met and even exceeded.
As we sit here in the year 2028, waiting to catch a glimpse of asteroid 35396 as it hurtles past the earth, we're looking back on some of the changes of the last 20 years that have enabled huge advances in information access, connectivity, and utilization. Don't worry--I won't miss the asteroid--my telescope will alert me when it's time to look. Hopefully though, it will miss us.
Twenty years ago in 2008, we were in the middle of an information explosion. In front of our computer terminals, we had access to huge amounts of data on every conceivable topic--just a mouse click away.
Today, virtually ALL of the world's accumulated knowledge is available on-demand. Historical documents including copies of manuscripts transcribed by Franciscan monks in the 13th century; personal medical data including all of the x-rays you've ever had taken; the contents of every single book in the New York Public Library; even life records of the world experienced around ourselves for the fortunate few outfitted with 360-degree video capture. What's changed is that I no longer need to access it with my fingers. With just a few words, I can find out just about anything and interact with it on the flexible display embedded in the sleeve of my rain jacket.