As a author, I spend a surprisingly massive period of time pondering know-how that doesn’t exist. Swarms of insect-sized, armed, face-recognising drones, for instance, might take warfare right into a horrifying new dimension. (It will be fascinating to see how such drones, widely proposed, would address old school nets.)

At some point, maybe we are going to again up the contents of our mind to a cloud service. If somebody dies, it will likely be doable, in sure, legally-delineated circumstances, to obtain their mind to a newly cloned physique. The lifeless will stay on, with little extra drama than it takes right this moment to maneuver information to a brand new laptop computer.

The phrase “someday” crops up often in such predictions. So I’ve been serious about the fascinating, helpful or controversial stuff we might do with the know-how that we have already got. I name them my three We Have The Know-how concepts — with due to the 1970s tv sequence The Six Million Greenback Man.

They lie in direction of the dystopian finish of futurology. I’m not essentially advocating my three concepts — all I’m saying is that they may very well be applied right this moment.

For instance, with a mixture of in-car monitoring units, present GPS and cameras, drivers may very well be fined each time they break the pace restrict or park illegally. Within the case of rushing, the know-how is confirmed — for 20 years, sat-nav units similar to TomToms have given drivers fixed, correct pace readouts.

Wearable life recorders would supply a definitive reply to all the pieces from home rows to enterprise disputes

A zero-tolerance, technology-enforced regime would clearly be intrusive. However you might argue that the “truthful cop” ethic — by which you are taking your probabilities with site visitors offences till you might be caught red-handed — is outmoded. Street security campaigners might welcome such a coverage, and authorities would be capable to pay for the infrastructure with income from the extra fines.

We might additionally take extra of the stress out of driving. Having to fiddle round with cash, an app or phoning a quantity to pay for parking can be pointless. My common site visitors regulation enforcement system would learn about your parking and take funds robotically.

My second simply achievable thought would do away ceaselessly with home and enterprise disputes, albeit at excessive value to privateness.

If everybody wore an audio life recorder — a easy digital system — 24 hours a day, and if all conversations have been uploaded to a sort of blockchain for arguments, there would by no means be any query about who mentioned what. Any tampering with the common dialog ledger can be there for all to see.

Chances are you’ll snigger, however audio knowledge from an always-listening Amazon Echo has already been utilized by police gathering proof in a murder case in Arkansas (although the case was finally dropped, whatever the Echo proof).

Individuals like their Alexa, Google House and Apple HomePods, however most are cautious about squirrelling away home conversations. Wearable life recorders would supply a definitive reply to all the pieces from home rows to enterprise disputes.

Solely this week, by probability, I used to be locked into an argument at an area store, over what was mentioned or was not mentioned in a dialog on November 14 2016. I occur to be proper, after all, however I’ve no method of proving it. How satisfying it will have been to resolve it irrefutably on the spot.

Wednesday, 7 February, 2018

The third — and least uncomfortable — of my We Have The Know-how concepts issues supermarkets.

There can’t be a client who shouldn’t be irritated by shops’ insistence on shifting merchandise round. It’s annoying whenever you ask an worker the place a selected product is and they’re obliged to escort you to it, often carrying a pained expression. “Aisle 17, by the mustard” can be ample, however most supermarkets’ coverage is to be overly useful.

But Bluetooth beacons, an inexpensive, established know-how, might make grocery store navigation a breeze. You’d faucet a product into an app, and it will information you to the fitting shelf.

It’s moot, nonetheless, whether or not shops would decide to this when their mission is to have you ever wandering the aisles like a misplaced sheep so you’ll be able to occur upon new merchandise. Beacons went by a trial section in supermarkets a number of years in the past, however they’re nonetheless not in widespread use. Equally, I concern that the supremely handy checkout-free retailer being tested by Amazon in Seattle is not going to take off.

It’s unclear who advantages from the packing of purchasing right into a trolley, unpacking it to pay after which packing it once more to take it dwelling. However I count on it to be round for a while but. Even when now we have the know-how for change, it typically lacks the momentum to be adopted.

jonathan.margolis@ft.com
@TheFutureCritic



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