By Sharon K. Gilbert
Picture yourself ten years ago. In 2004, the Internet was just beginning to explode. Facebook was in its infancy, serving primarily as a social platform for college students. MySpace had a subcult following, again primarily for students and geeky twenty-somethings. Cell phones had gotten considerably smaller, but most business professionals and even soccer moms carried both a cell phone (Nokia being the most popular in 2004) and a PDA, that’s Personal Data Assistant for those who’ve forgotten. The Apple iPhone didn’t even debut until 2007.
iPod sales were still relatively slow, and Steve Jobs had just introduced the G5 Mac to the world. Podcasting was also a newborn babe, with just a few online op-ed files for the few who knew where to find them. Automation for iTunes didn’t even exist until late 2004/early 2005, depending on what source you quote. In short, 2004 marked a shift from analog to digital consumption–and it was a very slow shift at first.
Now, look at us. Nearly every grandma is on Facebook (much to the dismay of her grandchildren), and almost every person in America has the equivalent of a laptop in the form of a constantly connected cell phone that integrates all the PDA goodies with a fully functioning camera, GPS location service, and apps for all occasions, tastes, and budgets. Wearbles are now the new kid on the block. Google Glass and Oculus Rift to name just two. Most consumables now come with embedded RFID tags to help with inventory and import paperwork. Deep Brain Implants are all the rage with cognition researchers, and ‘smart’ pills now monitor our health and compliancy.
All in ten years.
Now, I want you to imagine where we will be in another ten years, in the Year 2024, perhaps the beginning of 2025. By that time, today’s Google Glass will have spawned a plethora of imitators, and nearly everyone will have abandoned cell phones for wearables. Smart glasses will be affordable, and they might even correct your vision while providing a heads-up display with the blink of an eye or a twist of the head. But these will be all too common by then, if they’re not already considered dinosaurs by then. Contacts will replace glasses, but implantable devices will very likely be the new high-end interface. Clear-lens extraction with an interface replacement will be all the rage by then. This means that your natural ‘lens’ (the part just behind your pupil that accommodates your visual focal length, helping you to see near and far) will be removed and replaced with a connected lens. Cochlear implants will aid in ‘hearing’ the Internet, and these new parts of ‘you’ will respond to your thoughts. Think I’m crazy? DARPA is already working on such devices, and they are very close to achieving thought control through brain implantation.
Newborns in 2024/25 will probably require insertion of a GPS tracking device that permits them access to the Internet. Parents will still have the option to upgrade when the child reaches school age (probably age 2 or 3, if not lower), but what child wouldn’t want to be part of the connected world?
By 2024/25, it is also possible that the ‘net will have suffered major growing pains. As connectivity becomes 24/7 through interfaces, the strain on our current routers, servers will reach a breaking point, and there may even be a time without an Internet. However, sky routers, and free WiFi will soon get everyone back online with a new paradigm. It’s free for most, but those with the money will have access to a higher tier with all entertainment moved to streaming.
Cyberwarfare will become the primary military strategy, but boots on the ground will still be required at times, and this will mean robots, drones, and enhanced humans. And yes, we will very likely still be in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and very likely in Ukraine and a whole slew of other places by then.
Policing will shift more to enhanced humans or robots, particularly in urban areas where economic depression has left entire pockets ravaged by crime and drugs. Privatization will become a reality as businesses hire private protection; the vision of a RoboCop may well become a reality.
Ten years from now, everything will be different–even more different than now is compared to 2004. Computing speeds are about to escalate into an upward momentum. Molecular machines based on graphene and PCDs (Phase-Change-Devices) will pave the way for enhanced men and men-like machines. We will have taken a major step toward building Cylons.
Every house that can afford them will have at least one personal robot assistant. Most of these will be purchased as virtual babysitters, but some will provide company for adults, others act as business partners. The Singularity will be ten years closer, and it is very possible that a sentient machine will make its presence known by 2024/25. Cybergods will become a very unpleasant possibility.
With most humans in the world online all the time, many of them personally and biologically connected, a sentient Internet program could do terrible and terrifying things. Advocates choose to believe that this paradigm will ennoble mankind. Considering mankind’s history, I consider that very unlikely.
If Christ has not returned by 2024/25, this is the reality that I believe will be ours. Are you ready? Do you know Christ? Time is running out, and a new dawn is just about to rise. Humanity’s self-directed evolution will inevitably result in a cyber-construct that will look at you and me, at those of us who are not ‘enhanced’ or ‘upgraded’ and see us as mere playthings at best; as mere substrate at worst.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.