Daniel Lemire's blog

, 2 min read

The dystopia you should fear

It is popular to fear that climate change will turn the Earth into a water world or that genetically-modified food is going to kill all of us. These fears are probably unwarranted. Instead, I view the future as follows:

  • You will be hiking in a beautiful mountain with your latest exoskeleton. It is fantastic, you can walk for hours in rough terrain without getting tired… Then, just as you are about to arrive at the top of the mountain, your exoskeleton decides that it is time to update its firmware. Sadly, the update failed and your exoskeleton is locked up “for your safety”. An emergency call has been placed, you just have to wait for someone to pick you up, ETA 2 hours. It is going to rain soon.- You take a day off to go watch a ball game. Your boss calls to inquire as to your health, as you reported sick. Thankfully, your phone can silence the background noise automagically. As you make up a good story for your boss, you can hear him say: “I just Googled for your location and it says that according to Google’s drones, you have entered the stadium 15 minutes ago”.
  • Your son is 32 and he hasn’t left the house in 5 years. He is somewhere in your basement immersed in virtual reality. He prints his own food from cheap material he has delivered every month. Yet he promised to finish his fifth college degree months ago. You are pretty sure to never have grandchildren.
  • Using the latest technology, you can monitor your weight and muscle mass at a precision of plus our minus 1% in real time. But to get your drug prescription, you have to show up to a doctor that weights you using a balance first designed two centuries ago.
  • You have a smart home run by speech recognition and kept in order by smart robots. However, each time you try to sit down in your sofa, you find some cleaning robot stuck in there.
  • Thanks to medical technology you feel and look younger than ever. However, one side-effect of your rejuvenation treatments are that you have acne. Sadly, unlike cancer and Alzheimer’s, acne remains incurable.
  • You are able to type and send documents by using thought sensors, without ever touching a keyboard. However, the local government agency will require that you show up in person to fill out forms, on paper.