The soft, froggy voice startled me. I turned around to face an approaching figure. It was Larry Page, naked, save for a pair of eyeglasses.
“Welcome to Google Island. I hope my nudity doesn’t bother you. We’re completely committed to openness here. Search history. Health data. Your genetic blueprint. One way to express this is by removing clothes to foster experimentation. It’s something I learned at Burning Man,” he said. “Here, drink this. You’re slightly dehydrated, and your blood sugar is low. This is a blend of water, electrolytes, and glucose.”
I was taken aback. “How did you…” I began, but he was already answering me before I could finish my question.
“As soon as you hit Google’s territorial waters, you came under our jurisdiction, our terms of service. Our laws–or lack thereof–apply here. By boarding our self-driving boat you granted us the right to all feedback you provide during your journey. This includes the chemical composition of your sweat. Remember when I said at I/O that maybe we should set aside some small part of the world where people could experiment freely and examine the effects? I wasn’t speaking theoretically. This place exists. We built it.”
“I think we’re only 15 years away from a tipping point in longevity.” - Ray Kurzweil
The year is 1974, and Arthur C. Clarke is standing inside one of those cavernous computer centers that held the massive machines of the day.
He’s joined by an Australian television reporter with a gloriously enormous set of sideburns, and the reporter has brought his son, who’s about 5 or 6 years old. As those massive machines hum in the background, the reporter looks down at his son and asks Clarke what the boy’s life will be like in, yes, the year 2001.
Clarke — the science fiction writer who teamed with filmmaker Stanley Kubrick to give the world 2001: A Space Odyssey — is up to the task. And then some.
The flying car is a symbol of fantastical, futuristic optimism colliding with reality. It’s shorthand for our inability to predict the future and our simultaneous refusal to stop, even in the face of our incompetence. We dream about driving flying cars in childhood and never outgrow the fantasy of their existence no matter how well we understand the obstacles.
That’s why French photographer Renaud Marion‘s series Air Drive is spreading fast on the interwebs. The photos of everyday cars hovering on the ground without wheels take viewers into the alternate reality that never was and might never be.
“When I was a child, and as many children, I was dreaming that we would have flying cars and I was truly believing that we would get to that,” Marion says.
See more of Marion’s flying cars @ Raw File!
What if large groups of people could go beyond ridesharing – replacing traditional car ownership altogether through on-demand access to the cars they want: a convertible in the summer, an SUV for winter ski trips?
What if driving skills could be computed as a score that warned us of bad drivers nearby – real time, on the road – also enabling navigation systems to offer safer alternative routes? Imagine if we could get rid of traffic jams and accidents altogether. Or how about if our cars picked up our groceries on their own – and dropped us off at the airport like a self-contained limo service?
What if automakers could subsidize our car purchases by working with telecommunications and other companies that want to capitalize on the lifetime revenue opportunity of a connected driver? Consider also the possibilities for insurance providers to charge higher premiums (for those who drive their cars themselves), or for local governments to monitor personal CO2 usage (in exchange for not taxing or tolling public roads).
Whether you embrace or object to these scenarios, they’re not too far away. This isn’t just an evolution of technology-enabled, connected vehicles. This goes beyond self-driving cars. And it’s more than a simple sensor-network: This is the era of smart mobility — an Internet of Cars.
What will school science fairs look like in 2019? We suspect that the old standby—the volcano simulation made with vinegar and baking soda—will be replaced by mini-lava factories that spew molten basalt.
What do you think our world will look like in 10, 20, or 100 years? We need your help creating a new artifact from the future for every issue of Wired magazine. Each month, we’ll propose a scenario and ask for your prognostications. Check out the latest challenge, then sketch out your vision and upload your ideas. See other submissions and vote for your favorites.
This month’s kudos go to Chris Lampe, Spoken Truth and Joni Falk.
[Illustration: Jason Madara]
The year was 1999, and Steven Spielberg was preparing to turn Philip K. Dick’s short story “The Minority Report” into a $100 million action movie starring Tom Cruise. There was just one problem: The story was set in the undated future, and the director had no idea what that future should look like. He wanted the world of the movie to be different from our own, but he also wanted to avoid the exaggerated and often dystopian speculation that plagued most science fiction.