Purely Info-tainment through-out Nigeria and Across the Globe.
Monday, 11 November 2013
Future Shocks: Predictions From the World's Foremost Film Prognosticator
How the designer of Blade Runner thinks the future will look
Soldiers might one day be protected with in lightweight,
self-powered battle suits constructed from electroactive polymer that
contract under a charge. Prosthetic body shells built from similar
materials could help the elderly or infirm.
Science fiction is where the future happens
first, and that puts futurist Syd Mead at least two steps ahead of the
rest of us. The 78-year-old conceptual artist may be best known for
designing the flying-cop-car-patrolled Los Angeles streetscapes in Blade Runner, but he also dreamed up the original light cycles in Tron, the Marine-transport starship in Aliens, and visions of a class-stratified, off-Earth world for Neill Blomkamp's highly anticipated March 2013 feature Elysium. Here, Mead makes predictions for what we might one day see in film, in real life, or both.
Pointing to new electroactive polymers that contract powerfully and
predictably when exposed to a charge, Mead foresees an era of
lightweight human exoskeletons. Such strap-on limb supports could
strengthen soldiers and help the elderly and the paralyzed. "These new
materials are better than hydraulics or electric motors," he explains,
"because they have a directional axis to pull and push, much like
muscles do. So they're very efficient, and more like a sheath than a
bulky cylinder. That's going to change the world."
"Cars have already become semi-sentient," says Mead, citing the
recent introduction of consumer-level "self-parking" systems. Soon cars
will be able to communicate with one another, which could end slowdowns
caused by erratic human judgment. "It's all just geometry," he says. "To
have 1,000 drivers trundling down the freeway, making their own
second-by-second decisions, is awful." There is, he notes, also a
potential downside: "Cars will be able to notify your insurance company
immediately if you've hit something." Even the smallest bump could drive
up your rates.
Printable Replacement Organs
3-D printers, which lay down consecutive layers of urethane resin to
create detailed objects, have become crucial prototyping tools for
Detroit automobile designers and Hollywood special-effects houses alike.
Mead says that soon these printers will be loaded with live human cells
rather than sprayable resins. The micro-precise nozzles could turn out
custom replacement body parts built using our own stem cells. "You'll be
able to make extremely intricate closed-volume solids at will," he
says. "No seams. That is amazing. And it reduces economies of scale to
zero. You can make one item at a time, as demand requires."
Swappable Car Bodies
Riffing off universal chassis systems such as GM's drive-by-wire
"skateboard" concept, Mead foresees a day when we'll be attaching new
car-body modules onto an underlying, independently powered frame as
quickly and easily as we change shirts. "I first rendered this concept
over 40 years ago," he says (he began his career at Ford Motor Company's
Advanced Styling Studio). "Once it gets going, in about 10 years, it's
going to mark a huge change. In some ways, it's like what happened in
the 1910s and 1920s, before cars became fully mass-produced. You'd buy a
Deusenberg chassis, then have a custom coach builder put the body on
Covert Bank Warfare
Given the ever-increasing prevalence of cashless purchases, Mead says
we are headed for a world of covert bank-account warfare directed by
government bureaucrats. "You're standing naked to the
electronic-surveillance world with every financial transaction," he
says. Whether through radio-frequency ID chips, phone transactions, or
mobile credit-card processing and Web transactions, financial
information is becoming more easily intercepted, tracked, and correlated
to personal information, such as national identity, bank-account
information and employment history. "All somebody far above you in the
hierarchy has to do is hit 'delete.' Instantaneously you've become a
non-person, economically. That's scary to me."