Day 6 future panel


First aired on Day 6 (08/01/13)

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What a difference a decade makes.

In 2003, cellphone users were still getting used to having cameras integrated into their devices, while Mark Zuckerberg was only beginning to work out a vision for Facebook in his Harvard dormitory. Fast forward ten years, and now today's smartphones offer more processing power than most computers back then.

How we communicate and the media with which we do it has changed dramatically in the past several years and the exponential growth of technology will mean things will continue to change. With that in mind, Day 6 brought together three authors to give their take on what the future could bring. The panel includes Jennifer Egan, whose book A Visit from the Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist and author of You Are Not a Gadget, and physicist Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Future.

The following are some of the innovations and trends that could emerge within the next decade, according to the panel:

•    Augmented reality, says Lanier. Strap on some special goggles that connect to the internet and let you see the world in a different light. Data, information, and real-time statistics will feed into your sightline as you go about your day and interact with people. In a similar vein, Kaku believes that microchip technology will eventually be so advanced and cost-effective that we'll be able to log on via contact lens. And imagine being able to see real-time translations when talking to someone who's speaking in a foreign language.

•    The internet of the mind. Kaku believes computers will become so sophisticated that we'll be able to use technology to communicate brain-to-brain. This would lead to the next evolution of the internet -- the brain net. In addition to transferring text and images, we may be able to share feelings and emotions. This type of radically advanced technology isn't around the corner, but it's conceivable the groundwork for it will start being laid within the next few decades.

•    Democracy will continue to spread as internet access spreads. Younger generations who have grown up with the internet and social media are growing up exposed to more diversity and ideas, and inhabit borderless digital societies. Kids who play online video games already "don't even think about playing a game with a kid in Russia or Korea or the South Pole," Kaku said. "They probably know more about someone in Australia than their own neighbour."

•    Backlash against mainstream technology. Egan thinks there is currently a "fetishization of connection," but people are starting to realize how much they're giving up in exchange for access, primarily their privacy. "I find myself wondering if people are wanting to get more underground." Perhaps more people will try to get off the wider internet grid and start underground digital spaces, which may actually be of benefit to us socially and culturally. "Civilization is made possible in part because we don't know what everyone's thinking."

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