First appeared in The Apple COREspondent
Newsletter of LAMALUG, Mac User Group of Lansing, MI
JUNE 1990



Since I wrote the first installment of this column, I talked with a few people who seem disturbed by the ideas that deal with people reading each other's thoughts. I'm pretty sure we'll have some kind of internal censor programs - one for each of the ways we want to be presented to our various acquaintances (sort of like Filters for email). Then, for those truly special people in our lives, we can let all walls down and share everything. Perhaps that will be the intimacy of the future.

This month I want to show how I think one particular part of our lives will change gradually, logically. Let's go look at the TV.

Right now we're on the verge of High Definition TV, better quality flat, large screens, and surround sound. Instead of programming our VCR with all those confusing buttons, you'll be able to record a program by voice command. You'll be on line with an electronic TV guide so you'll just tell the machine the name of the show and it'll take care of the rest. No more VCRs left on 12:00. Everyone will be able to use them easily.

No more video stores. You'll be able to order any of the new releases as quickly as the studios make the final edit. The shows will be sent through your telephone (or some other) line into a little black box. You'll play them once and they'll automatically be erased.

No more newspapers. You'll get the news you want anytime you want it at any speed you choose on your TV. That means if you're not interested in the stock market, you won't have to listen to the stock market. Your 'soft copy' newspaper will be as individual as you are. There will even be sensors on the TV that will be able to tell when you are getting bored, move on to another topic and make note of how your interests change over time.

In the quest for more realism, TV will eventually go to 3D. Rather than bigger screens, it will be more convenient to just wear a set of wrap around goggles. You'll probably be able to turn your head and look at the action from any angle you want. Next you'll be able interact with and perhaps be one of the actors in the program and be able to determine the outcome of the story - sort of like a really hip video game. You can give your version of the show to your friends to experience. If you're watching with a friend, maybe one of you will choose to be the 'director' - sort of like being in control of the TV changer, or you'll interact with each other.

You won't need ocean front property or a mountain home - at least for the view. When you're not experiencing a program, you can switch to your favorite location and see it from the couch. Maybe you'll be able to switch to 'static view' so you will only see the ocean when you look at a particular wall.

Eventually everything will be totally multi-sensory and happen directly in your mind, like the movie Brainstorm. (If you haven't seen it, rent it. Interesting.) But, unlike that movie, you'll be protected from heart attacks and such. For awhile there will be professional 'experiencers', people who feel life more deeply than others, who will be hired to record parts of their life (and perhaps even death) for others to share. Finally, since the magic of each individual can be shared in the blink of an eye, in this future everyone will be a star for five seconds. There may even grow to be one great mind of which we'll all be a part. The line between reality and fantasy will blur. People will become less aware of their own bodies, but they won't feel any less alive - in fact they'll want to be free to experience even more. Eventually we will give up our bodies altogether. If that sounds like too much, imagine a life without pain, where you can eat anything you want and never get fat, climb a mountain without fear of death. Next month....



© 1990 Jonathan Stars

Click here for the third part of this three part series.

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