There are many interesting trends that are ripening in tech.
- There is IoT
- There is virtual reality (the Occulus is shipping this year)
- There is increasing promise of AI-like assistants in our mobile devices
- Drones are getting smaller and more powerful
I think all of these are going to converge to create a single type of experience that people are not yet seeing.
Basically, AI-simulated assistants, working on our behalf 24/7, will be parsing the status of everything around us and feeding us actionable intelligence that improves our desired outcomes.
And they’ll use everything possible to make it happen—including cadres of tiny drones that gather information about the world on your behalf, which are controlled by your assistant.
Finally, the world you see will be redrawn based on the knowledge that your assistant now has about the environment. People will have outlines in various colors, people will have a red hue, or a green hue, cars will look different based on whether they have humans driving or are automated, restaurants will look different based on whether they’re full, empty, full of single women, rated high, etc.
Life in 2028
Let’s look at how these things will converge.
Let’s say you’re walking down a Manhattan street in 2024. Your assistant, Kara, is a pseudo-AI built into your mobile device. She’s like Siri, except way smarter and extremely customized to you and your preferences.
You talk to her all the time, about everything. It’s quite intimate, actually. She knows which friends you like the most, she knows when you mutter under your breath about things. She knows what you like to eat, when you like to eat it, and who you like to eat with.
She knows you better than you know yourself, which, as it turns out, is easier than most people think.
It’s 2:30am, and you’re in a mostly-nice part of town, but you’ve had like 12 beers and you’re starting to think you might be lost. You had taken off your visor because you were making out with the girl you met earlier, but now you think it’s better if you put it back on.
She tells you this into your ear, in little more than a whisper. It’s how she always talks to you, well ever since the release of the tiny buds that nest inside your ear canal. They magnify and block sound according to preference, transmit your voice, and let Kara speak to you.
Kara: Yeah, that’s a good idea. It’s in the bottom of your bag.
You start fishing for your visor, but your hands aren’t cooperating. You finally find it, and put it on. The street instantly lights up a bit. The cameras on your body are seeing the world in multiple wavelengths, and Kara shows you your preferred night vision theme, which is something of a blue tint with strong outlines, like in Tron.
You reach in your bag again, and start nursing on the water bottle you pull from it.
YOU: So what’s the deal? Did everyone ever show up, or did they leave me there all night alone with her?
KARA: No, they never came. They’re across town at the Loft club. Judging by Micah’s heart rate, he’s either running for his life or having a great time. Actually, let me look from another perspective…(2 second pause). Well, he’s not being chased by anyone.
(they both laugh)
KARA: Hey, it’s a bit dangerous out here, I’m going to deploy some eyes. We have the credits and auth.
YOU: Ok. Don’t think we need them, but fine.
KARA: Open the bag, please?
You open your bag again and a swarm of a dozen fly-sized drones whir into the darkness. You know from experience that they’re spreading into a pattern around you, some high, some low, to see what they can see.
KARA: Ah, much better. I can see a bit now. Not many cameras around here that I can access.
As you zip your bag and start walking again, the sound of music is pulsing in your ears.
YOU: Kara, can you go easy on the music? No need to magnify sounds for me right now. I have a massive headache.
KARA: I told you to drink more water before you silenced me for over two hours (hurt in her voice).
A car starts coming around the corner up ahead, playing loud music, and the sounds of laughing and yelling can be heard. The car lets out a few people and takes of quickly, with a squeal of tires.
In one corner of your vision, a new perspective opens to show the view of two of Kara’s drones. As they get closer you can see that it’s four young males, and two of them have visors on and are carrying a golf club.
One reaches into a pocket and throws what looks like dust into the air.
KARA: I don’t like this. Let’s head the other way. They’re stumbling. Definitely drunk. And that club is all market up. There was also a report of broken windows and vandalism a few blocks away. This could be them.
YOU: I’m not changing directions. This is my city. They can go aroundiftheywant. (slurring a bit)
KARA: Those drones he released are illegal. They’re equipped with syringes and can inject a victim with any number of toxins. Most commonly, they’re tranquilizers that allow a gang of people to take everything someone has.
You hear the concern in her voice and try to clear your head for a moment. You look towards the four guys, who are just a couple blocks away on the other side of the street.
It looks like a video game a bit. A warm blue hue to everything, with the outlines of buildings lined with darker blue. The guys are pretty far away, but two of them are now outlined in red, and you can see the shape of the golf clubs as the two swing it at each other playfully.
Flying in front of him, in a star formation, he can see 6 green points of light. Those are his drones. He really should name them, he thought.
YOU: Why are they tagged, Kara? Violence? Credit? What skin is this?
KARA: Violence. The records are sealed, but it was some sort of assault. I’m researching other sources right now. Let’s go back towards the club.
YOU: No. I’ll sort it out.
As you start walking towards the guys, Kara is activating all cameras she can see through on the streets and buildings nearby. She’s looking at the four guys from all angles, from above, from behind, and from the parking meter to their right.
Then she finds another presence. Someone named Cassandra.
KARA: Hi Cassandra. I see you are this kind golfer’s agent. How are you doing today? By the way, love your avatar.
CASSANDRA: Piss off, whore. My owner is going to thrash yours, and we’re about to own 12 new drones. I’ll be happy to add them to my connection.
Just then, 4 of her drones go dark. This can happen for a number of reasons. They can run out of energy, they can be destroyed accidentally, or, sometimes, owners and even other drones can launch EM attacks to disrupt communications.
And judging by Cassandra’s cheery personality, Kara guesses it’s the latter.
Kara immediately beacons the local police station and FCC representatives with a full report of the situation. She decides not to tell you, as he seems to be thinking he’s a superhero right now, and would rather you not be mad with her.
Just then, one of the guys makes a throwing motion, that you can’t quite make out…
KARA: Move to the left!
Just as you fumble toward your left, you see a big red arc sprout and grow towards you, finally landing to your right in a crash. It was a bottle, and Kara drew the trajectory for you so you could dodge more easily.
You grab a nearby rock and throw it yourself, a green arc follows its path like a video game and you hear cussing from the group.
KARA: I found Chris, he’s on his way. He’s 6 blocks from here, get ready to get in the car when he comes up the street beside us.
Just then, Kara sees two of the hostile drones start approaching at speed. They light up brightly in your visor but it’s too hard to dodge them. You feel one hit your right arm, above the elbow.
YOU: Fuck! That hella stung. Kara, call Chris.
You see Chris pop up in your vision on the left, a transparent form that doesn’t stop you from seeing the street.
CHRIS: What are you doing, man? Why did you leave the club? We were on the way?
YOU: You were on the way four hours ago. Kara says you’re coming?
CHRIS: Yeah, she told Krom (his agent) that you were in trouble. We’re on the way. I am sending my drones now. Krom will handle their shit.
YOU: (Even more groggy) Ok, I no tomatoes on mine…
CHRIS: Fuck man, Kara says you got tranked? It’s a fucking snatcher gang, man. I’m coming now. Hold on. The cops are on the way too.
KARA: I’m activating the Faraday Cage. No more dive-bombs for them.
A humming sound comes from your belt, and you faintly hear the sound of a few drones hitting the ground next to you.
You recall being stuffed into the back seat of a car, and then being tired.
The next thing you see is Sarah, your friend who was supposed to meet you at the club. She has a light green glow and her hair and makeup are more extreme than in real life. It’s a request that she makes to all VR listeners that perceive her.
YOU: Hey Sarah. Thanks for coming to get me. I think I got a bit tranked. The beers probably didn’t help.
As you glance outside the car, you can see your current speed in the upper right, and the buildings you’re passing are color coded by familiarity, whether you like the businesses or not, or whether they’re known to be bad places to eat or purchase things.
As Sara steps back, you can see “CONCERN” hovering above her chest, and model-like face emotes the same.
SARAH: That was super dumb. Not that I’m surprised.
— END OF STORY —
That was a silly story. I just ran with it. But maybe if I do a bunch of little scenarios like this I can show off the technology better than just listing what it’ll be able to do.
Some other scenarios / capabilities:
- The visor lights up red around the field of vision when Kara detects danger to you. This can come from a car that’s approaching too fast (she can see 360 degrees around you), someone approaching you threateningly
- People set how they want to appear to others, and peoples’ agents can either honor that when they display the person or not (based on their master’s preference)
- As people walk, they can see themselves from multiple positions, and toggle those POVs, because their drones will be sending video feeds
- Their drones can scout ahead, watch from above, parse close-range daemons that Kara can’t yet read, etc. Everything they learn gets sent to Kara, and she decides what she should tell you based on her understanding of your wishes
- Drone defense will be a major issue. There will be physical protections from them (suits, shields, etc.), as well as EM protections like faraday areas, EMP blasting, etc.
- You’ll be able to know when someone’s lying to you because Kara will be running their voice through multiple filters. Obvious deception will often be detected, and she’ll whisper it to you in your ear, or vibrate your wrist if someone’s fibbing
- Kara can listen to people around you and tell you what they’re saying. Many people will disable this for obvious reasons, but many will also use it extensively
- Kara will be constantly reading news, blogs, books, and consuming daemon information from around the world. Whenever she sees that you’re ready, or whenever you tell her, she’ll ask to fill you in on some new stuff you’ll like. This is how you’ll consume news, be exposed to new ideas, etc.
[ More to come… ]
The point of all of this is very simple.
These various technologies are not going to be disparate. They won’t just be used to do their own individual things.
They’re going to be combined into the ultimate augmentation of human experience.
That’s what IoT is about. A constant stream of information from all objects–human and otherwise. And assistants that consume that stream constantly. And VR that shows you the world based on what matters to you. And drones that enhance that visibility through physical access.
This isn’t a possible future. It’s the inevitable future.
Anyone who thinks IoT is about smart appliances is missing the point entirely. Technology is a means for turning humans into Gods, and that’s exactly what it will be used for.
- A lot of this will happen before or after 2028. It’s an arbitrary date.
- If this sounds a lot like the movie Her, that’s because everything will soon. And if you haven’t seen it, go do so.