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Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Time Event
What will the future think?
So, nanotech (as oft envisioned in science fiction) is boring; the laws of Thermodynamics have very clear things to say, and when we get around to asking, they will say them and that will be that. But the scientifictional trope of mind uploading, where a person walks into a disassembler and shortly thereafter there is an artificial intelligence that contains the memories and personality of the disassembled person and is a continuation of their consciousness, that is a bit more of an interesting question.

Thus, a poll. In however many hundreds of years, when this technology is feasible, what will people think of our current undoubtably-quaint portrayals in science fiction? As illustrated by examples of formerly-science-fictional technologies that are now possible.

Mind uploading will be seen like we see...

...computers. It's even cheaper and better than they imagined; they had no idea how ubiquitous and pervasive it would be.
...travel to low Earth orbit. Sure, you can do it, but the resources it takes require a whole country behind it. And not one of those little countries, either.
...videophones. Been possible for a while, and everyone thought it would be ubiquitous, but nobody does it. Er, no, wait, now that it's been boring for a few decades, it's actually catching on a bit and nobody's noticing it's science fictional.
...airplanes that fly by flapping their wings. Sure, you could do it that way, if you wanted to show off and be pedantically biomemetic, but why would you want to? It wouldn't work very well, and there are far better ways to fly.
...flying cars. Who needs a flying car? They're completely impractical, and besides, we have telecommuting. The problem it's solving is obsolete.
...ballistic travel to the moon. We can get there, but not that way. That way just turns people into a pulpy disturbing mess.
...hypersonic New-York-to-Paris letter couriers. It completely misunderstands the problem, and is horrendously impractical. Solving the actual problem is trivial, and involves completely different technology altogether.
...psionics. You actually thought it was possible? Hah!
...nuclear power. Funny, it turns out to be a bit dangerous. Not really a home appliance after all. Nice technology, though.
...robots that walk like humans. It turns out to be more of a parlor trick than anything useful. It doesn't at all imply the technological abilities you thought it did.
...artificial intelligence. Half of it is still impossible, and half of it is now trivial so we've redefined it as only meaning the impossible stuff, and forget that the trivial parts are ubiquitous and run the world.
...cats. Nobody understands cats. They just are.
...this other thing which I will explain in a comment.

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