The future, if Google (News - Alert) has its way, will be a lot easier on all of us. A recent discussion between Google's Eric Schmidt and a coterie of Google's biggest advertisers and partners revealed, in no uncertain terms, that Google believes that big things are in the making for the future, some of which Google is actually engaged in developing right now.
Schmidt's remarks even walked his audience through a typical day in the future, complete with several Google advances. He described a bed that functioned as an alarm clock, activating not at a set time, but rather when he had cleared his R.E.M sleep phase. He then described how a car without a driver would take him to work, how artificial intelligence would clear his schedule of mundane events like returning phone calls and building a schedule of events. A tiny robot--a microrobot, no less--that he swallows can keep track of the various functions of his body and alert doctors when something is wrong, potentially even before he knows there's a problem in the first place. He even described how a robot could go to a party on his behalf and tell him all about it the next morning. Perhaps the ultimate statement of success will come, according to Schmidt's remarks, when all of this seems as natural as breathing, when technology is so ubiquitous and unseen that we scarcely regard it, when "technology just disappears; no more ports and prompts and plug-ins."
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While Google's arsenal of technology--artificial intelligences, universal language translation and more--would have an effect on this, Google also described how opening up the world of technology to more parts of the world would result in new, unimagined advances. New perspectives come online with new connections, and the more those perspectives interact with old perspectives, the more both are changed until wholly unique ideas--ideas that neither perspective would have yielded on its own--come about.
Google's vision of the future, of course, is strictly one interpretation. Futurism is an inherently inaccurate science and pretty much everyone already knows that; we can barely predict the weather from a week out with anything resembling accuracy; expecting accurate predictions for 20 to 30 years out in even a field so broad as the culture itself is downright impossible. Anyone else still looking for their flying car?
But at the same time, since Google is already working on some of these fields themselves--most are already familiar with the Google driverless car, and Google Glass covers at least some of the waterfront Schmidt describes--it's safe to say that at least some of Schmidt's predictions aren't mere prognostication, but rather, a small glimpse into a future currently being designed by Google itself.
Only time will tell if Schmidt's vision ends up being the one that the world at large goes with, but in all honesty, most of us have heard much, much worse visions of the future.
Edited by Brooke Neuman