Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Promises, Promises...

Evil Little Stories Banner

A collection by Neal McKenna 

          To add your comments, click here 

100 Years of Failure: 10 Technologies We Were Promised But Never Got
In Your Flying Car Awaits, author Paul Milo discusses "robot butlers, lunar vacations and other dead-wrong predictions of the 20th Century." Here are 10 calamitous tech failures. Even the ones that did make it aren't anything like their original visions.
Let's Tawk... 

The Videophone

Videophone 1929

A combination telephone-television, engineers had been working on this one since the late 1920s, and actually built prototypes in New York City and Washington. But for a very long time, costs were prohibitive: even after they figured out how to make it work. Bell Telephone offered the service 35 years ago for a hefty $90 a month. This was in mid-70s money, remember, so that would be the same as $380 in 2011. Another problem: Bell's own market research, dating from the late 1950s, revealed people don't always want to be seen as they chat on the phone.         Via Gizmo Do

Videophone 1943

Videophone 1957

Videophone 1968

Pacific Bell Video Phone Concept 1991
In 1991, Pacific Bell released a video for a concept technology it called the video phone. The video phone would show the caller on a video screen while you talked to them, and amazingly you wouldn't even need a handset to use it. Microphones would pick up your voice and you could simply talk to the screen as through the two of you were speaking face to face.
How has it panned out? While no one in the year 2011 uses a "video phone," there is FaceTime on the new Apple iPhone 4. This technology allows you to chat with your caller via built-in cameras on the phone. Skype and other webcam chat technologies have produced a near identical reality to Pacific Bell's vision, only they use computers instead of telephones to function.                 Via Focus.Com

Cities Under Domes

The architect and all-around visionary R. Buckminster Fuller believed that one day, cities in cold-weather regions cold be encased under temperature-controlled geodesic domes. Although it might sound loopy, Fuller argued back in the '60s that such a dome over New York City would pay for itself in 10 years, as there would be no more need for snow removal. In addition to temperature control, the domes were also supposed to contain germ filters that would have prevented us from getting sick too.

The Food Pill and the Algae Sandwich

In the 1950s and '60s, when experts thought that conventional food production could not possibly keep up with baby production, some believed we would have to resort to factory-made capsules replete with all our daily nutrients; work on a true food pill, as opposed to a vitamin supplement, began about 100 years ago. Or, we might have to chow down on the most basic foodstuff of all: algae and plankton. One scientist believed we might all have algae tanks on our rooftops today. Another thought we could send out robotic "whales" to harvest kelp from the seas.

The Flying Car

For futurists, this one's an oldie but a goodie. By 1909, forecasters believed that soon, someone would combine, like peanut butter and jelly, the newfangled airplane to the equally cutting-edge automobile. For a century the flying car has been one of those perennially just-around-the-corner innovations, and while work continues on a viable prototype, don't expect to see your Honda become airborne anytime soon. Although NASA has done some work on creating a "sky highway," an electronic corridor in the sky to be used by pilots of small craft, the effort is still at a very preliminary stage.

The Knowledge Pill

Scientists at the University of Michigan in the early 1960s trained worms to avoid an electric shock, then noticed that other, untrained worms suddenly possessed this skill too after eating their learned cousins. It was thought that acquired skills were kept in RNA, a chemical similar to DNA that performs the genetic functions in cells. This led some to speculate that knowledge is stored in our bodies in edible form and to conclude that one day, learning Spanish would be as easy as popping a caplet or dos.

Nuclear Bombs for Demolition and Excavation

In the 1950s, when nuclear weapons were still novel, there was a movement to find so-called "peaceable uses for the atom"—including using atomic bombs as excavation equipment for titanic construction projects. The effort was known as "Project Plowshare" (as in what swords get beaten into) and was intended to show the world that America, then as now the preeminent nuclear power, was not hell-bent on global destruction.

Man-Made Oceans

In the late 1960s there were plans to damn up the Amazon River and carve out some reservoirs (possibly using nukes such as the ones described above) to create an inland ocean that would have covered a huge chunk of South America. The project reached a fairly advanced planning stage before it was abandoned by the leaders of the nations that would have been affected. Among the many problems with this plan: a French engineer calculated that placing so much additional water near the Equator could actually slow the earth's rotation.

Undersea Colonies

By the 1960s, engineers had figured out how to economically harvest the oil and other mineral wealth of the deep seas. Some thought that this would inevitably lead to the creation of underwater Gold Rush towns, communities that would at first house miners and, eventually, their families. A proposed, corollary innovation was the creation of artificial gills that would have enabled residents of these aquatic metropolises to breathe underwater without bulky gear. In 1964, at the second World's Fair held in New York City, General Motors sponsored an exhibit depicting these undersea homes which, of course, had "sea cars" parked in their underwater driveways.
The Self-Driving Car

By now we were all supposed to be able to take our hands off the wheel and let our cars do the driving. At the 1939 World's Fair in New York, one exhibit depicted future expressways filled with autos controlled by radio from a central tower. Sixty years later, near San Diego, engineers built a demonstration "smart roadway" that used sensors and computers to keep the traffic flowing. With the advent of GPS, advanced collision-avoidance technology and cars that can even parallel park without human assistance, this is one innovation we might actually be seeing pretty soon.

The Safe Cigarette
When the US Surgeon General officially declared, in the early 1960s, that cigarettes cause cancer, tobacco companies responded by trying to come up with a truly safe smoke. Company scientists tried a variety of methods, including attempting to identify and filter out the harmful chemicals and even experimenting with smokable lettuce, but the effort proved a bust, and was finally abandoned following the successful cigarette company lawsuits of the 1990s.

Veteran newspaper reporter Paul Milo is now a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo News, Beliefnet and Editor and Publisher. You can grab a copy of his enjoyable book Your Flying Car Awaits for around $10 at Amazon or find it anywhere else that books are sold.  Feature Via Gizmodo

Quantum Computing vs. Paleofuture

The world of technology moves along at a blistering speed. The hottest new gadgets today may become clearance items several months to a year from now, and replaced by something far more powerful (and with prettier graphics, too). Technology enthusiasts are always trying to imagine where the future of computing is headed and what mind blowing devices might change our lives 10-20 years down the road. Unfortunately for us tech nerds, these predictions are not always as accurate as we might hope. Today we examine past predictions and current technology forecasts. How accurate will todays guesses turn out? We'll let you be the judge.

How Have Past Predictions Panned Out?

Our journey into the world of futurism begins be reviewing some popular predictions from the past and examining what became of them in today's world.

Apple's Project 2000

Project 2000 was a concept for a futuristic looking tablet computer from Apple. Conceived in 1988 as part of a student competition, the project was regarded as revolutionary to the future of computer industry for its small, portable design and full video and graphic capabilities. This videoshows the concept in action, and features discussions from Apple executives about its possible impact on students, education, and more.
How Has It Panned Out? Over 22 years later, Apple finally released its tablet computer, the iPad. The technology barely resembles the project 2000 in any way, and although it has been wildly successful, it is far from the first tablet machine to hit the market. As for the Project 2000? We can only imagine that it's collecting dust in a display case somewhere in Apple's basement.
The Computer Doctor
In 1982, a book entitled Health and Medicine (World of Tomorrow) published this vision of the hospital of the future. The computer doctor, they said, would see you before a human doctor took you in. Patients without serious problems could receive advice and treatments from the machine, or even provide it with appropriate samples for further testing. Of course, those who needed immediate attention could still receive it from a human.
How Has It Panned Out? Perhaps thankfully, there is no such thing as the computer doctor today. If you walk into a hospital for any reason, you are not made to speak with a machine before you see the physician.

The Answer Machine

Hailing from a 1964 children's book entitled Childcraft Vol. 6 How Things Changecomes this prediction for a computer-like device called the answer machine. As explained in the illustration, you need only ask the machine a question, and you it will return you the right answer. Users could even request videos and images about subject matter and be delivered relevant content to help them learn about whatever they wish.
How Has It Panned Out? One word: Google. Ask it anything, you'll get as many responses as you care to read in a fraction of a second. 
Via Focus.Com

Via Your 3D Source

To add your comments, click on links to this post here or below

It will take you to a stand-alone copy of this page.There, you will find the comments box, so feel free to let 'er rip.

✔✔✔✔✔✔ ✔✔✔✔✔✔

What lies beneath...

Current Predictions for the Future of Computing 

Now that we have examined how some past technology predictions have turned out in the modern world, lets examine popular predictions being made today about the world of tomorrow.

The Quantum Computer

One of the most popular current technology predictions is the quantum computer. While all curent computers are limited in their problem solving capabilities because they store information in bits. The theory of quantum computing claims that switching over to a new system known as "qubits" could greatly increase the computer's capabilities.
Future predictions site FutureForAll describes how this is all thought to work. "The basic principle of quantum computation is that the quantum properties of particles can be used to represent and structure data," they explain, "and that quantum mechanisms can be devised and built to perform operations with these data." Though nothing close to a fully functional consumer quantum computer has been made, several organizations are working on it. Among them is Yale University, where a team of engineers recently built an algorithm to work with a quantum processor.

The Holographic Disk Drive

The holographic disk drive is a long-discussed alternative to traditional storage that is expected to hold over 30 times the capacity of a standard Blu-Ray disk. This capability comes from the drive's supposed ability to store data in three dimensions on a disk using light particles. "Instead of using a laser to burn and read a pit, as with conventional CD and DVD," explains Manifest-Tech, "holography stores a three-dimensional volume of data with each flash of light." Though it may sound like like something from the Millenium Falcon, several companies have invested substancial resources into developing this technology,including Pioneer, MEI, NHK, Sony, Thomson, Samsung, Daewoo, JVC, and Optwar.

The Optical Computer

Another limitation of the speed of the modern computer is that it uses electricity to transmit data. Since the speed of light is much faster than electricity, some predictions claim that light transmission will one day become the new computing standard. This is known as the optical computer.
NASA engineers have been working a way to harness that power and put it to use inside of a computer. Dr. Donald Frasier claims that these systems have been in the works since the late 70s. "What we are accomplishing in the lab today will result in development of super-fast, super-miniaturized, super-lightweight and lower cost optical computing and optical communication devices and systems," he explains. For all that research, however, the world is still a long way from the fully realized optical computer.

The DNA Computer

What is the greatest data storage medium known to man? It isn't computer memory - it's Deoxyribonucleic Acid, commonly known as DNA. A single microscopic strand of DNA can code for the complex biological organization of an entire living creature. To harness this ability could unlock untold storage capacity and computing speed, if it ever gets developed. FutureForAll reports that "The storage capacity of a single gram of DNA can hold as much information as one trillion compact discs." Imagine the number songs you could fit on a DNA iPod.   Via Focus.Com

No comments:

Post a Comment