We live in what once was thought to be the space age future, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. People complain about the lack of jet packs and flying cars, about not getting a hoverboard with their Nikes, and about how 2012 doesn’t look anything like it did in “The Jetsons“. The world around us doesn’t look much different than it did thirty years ago. We live in the same innocuous houses on the same asphalt streets. The future forgot about us, leaving us with cars only slightly different than the ones we grew up with. In our delight over discovering how to implement the ideas that were once only dreamed of, we forgot to make baseball-playing robots and mag-lev trains to everywhere. But the future didn’t forget about us; instead, we developed our own way of building the world. If you really want to see the future, take a look at some of these common items that proves it is all around us.
Let us start with the obvious, just to get them out of the way. Smartphones-phones that double as media players, cameras and miniature internet machines-are becoming ubiquitous. Smartphones are used for everything, from ordering groceries to DJing parties to providing a stalker with an ample trail of breadcrumbs. That trail of breadcrumbs is thanks to:
The Global Positioning System (GPS)
Most people think of GPS as just another smartphone app because smartphones can do anything. The truth is much more futuristic. GPS is an interconnected series of 30+ satellites that use trilateration to pinpoint your exact location, and GPS units are in everything that has a computer. GPS may have gotten many people turned around and confused more often than paper maps, but it’s a testament to our living in the future that it exists, and it mostly works.
Bluetooth isn’t the only fairly secure personal area network builder on the market, but it’s the most well known. Bluetooth nibs, dongles, headsets and controllers are everywhere, and seeing people walk around talking to themselves with pretty blue or red lights coming out of their ears is a sure sign of living in the future.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology
The future might be more Orwellian than we first realized if the conspiracy theorist soothsayers are correct about RFID chips. Currently, these little devices allow us to keep track of our pets and every other animal imaginable. They’re becoming more common as human implants, however, and they’re being used for security devices and personal information transmittal. Also, some people use them to open doors.
MicroSD cards hold up to 4GB of information, yet it’s possible to lose one in a small pile of confetti. According to XKCD, a soda can full of MicroSD cards can hold the entire iTunes library. In the past, teenagers had to hide what few nudie mags would fit under the one floorboard they could remove; in the future we live in, whole DVD collections can be hidden anywhere. Parents, check your Beanie Babies for loose stitching!
I was sitting at a friend’s house when I got attacked by what I thought was a cat under the couch. Ends up, it was a Roomba. Since the small vacuum’s introduction, personal robots have gone from being strictly entertainment to taking on legitimate household chores including vacuuming, mowing the lawn and cleaning the pool.
Corn (Next Year: Rice)
The American digestive system is driven by food from the future. Corn is everywhere, from candy to Coke. Most of the corn used to fuel the American public is genetically modified, as are the soybeans, cotton and canola. In 2013, the genetically modified “Golden Rice” is set to go on the market. Our Frankenstein food has become so common it’s beginning to spread into nature. We are the mad scientists reshaping the world we live in, and if that isn’t the future, nothing is.