The above trailer for the upcoming Deus Ex: Human Revolution started to make rounds in the worldwide gaming community two days ago. To say it got me hyped up for the game would be an understatement. The trailer is absolutely badass, transcending mere advertisement.
Of course, the game might not be of the same quality. Hopefully it will be, but the trailer is an interesting piece of cinema regardless. It sets the tone for a bleak cyberpunk future, where humans and machines are becoming one, and police apply live ammunition on civilian protesters in Detroit. The game is set in 2027. That doesn't seem terribly far away, now does it? Could these things really happen by then?
Predictions about the far future usually go hilariously wrong. They are either overtly optimistic - we still don't have flying cars or Moon colonies - or overtly pessimistic. Two thirds of the world's population now have mobile phones, all connected all the time, soon also via the Internet. Who could have predicted that 20 years ago?
Recently, we've made robots that walk on uneven terrain, even balancing themselves on slippery ice. Bones can be regrown and replaced. Animals are frozen and then waken up to life again. Machines that can manufacture their own parts - and also any other small object you design - are being developed. 8 million songs are instantly available in your pocket for 10 euros a month via Spotify. Apart from the iPhone, all existing futuristic innovations may be far from the sleek and stylish versions seen in the movies, but the stuff is amazing regardless. It just sneaks up on us one bit at a time, so it's not easy to notice. But we're living in the future.
The big walking crowd control robot with mounted machine guns in the trailer? Boston dynamics is probably working on that too. Eye implants? Getting there. Robotic arm and leg prostheses? Sure. Huge TVs and VTOL aircraft? Those are so 1990s. Jumping 20 meters to the ground from the said VTOL aircraft when it explodes and then donning an invisibility suit? Okay, that might be stretching it. But a surprising amount of the technology featured in the trailer of a futuristic computer game exists right at this moment. Just a bit more polish around the edges, and we are there.
Then there's the police state. I hope that will not become a reality. But we're living in increasingly delicate times. What if everyone could have a device at home that recycles plastic toys for children but is also capable of manufacturing handguns? What if the government could spy on everything everyone is ever doing in an increasingly networked world, 1984 style but subtler? These days, preventing child abuse and terrorism are being used to justify increased monitoring of citizens, which is now easier than ever. The development of technology shapes our culture. But I'll be talking about that more in a future post.
I've thought about the theme of this blog for a while, but I think I have one now - talking about the future. I have my head in the clouds, so why not share those clouds with everyone? I'll try to be smart about it, so I hope you'll find the results enjoyable. Of course I'll also be talking about my own projects in the meantime - the scale may be smaller, but I'm hoping to contribute to science and art the best I can. Mankind may hurt itself badly in the 21st century if we are not careful. But if we are, we might achieve unimaginable things, not only in cold technology but also in a warm, humane way. To be a part of these changes is a privilege, not an obligation.