The Lite Side

The Future of Technology

- 2002.03.11

Given the risks of prognostication, why people venture to make predictions is anyone's guess. However, it is easy to see why people read predictions of the future; they love to see people who write predictions screw up. The Lite Side always aims to please our readers, so here's our half serious, half stupid look at

The Future of Technology:
It's Lighter than You Think

Digital Paper

Much hype has already been ballyhooed (look it up) about digital paper. No, I'm not talking about this or this. I'm talking about that flexible display screen stuff that comes on the news every fifteen minutes or so. It's supposed to replace newspapers and magazines. Content gets updated periodically and stays stuck to the paper until the next issue.

If I had any money, I'd invest in digital paper because it's going to be big --bigger than Furby, bigger than Pokémon, bigger than that yellow-haired guy on Dragonball Z who stands and grunts for hours at a time. Really big.

But not because its going to replace paper. People like paper. They like hoarding it. They like tearing it into little paper helicopters. No, e-paper won't eliminate the demand for dead tree paper, but it might ease it a bit.

The real reason e-paper will be big is that sooner or later, someone's gonna slap one on a shirt, and then you'll have a revolution, my friends. Imagine being able to have instantly changeable logos on a T-shirt. Why, the market in Berkeley, California, alone must be worth millions.

I see Britney Spears fans being able to run live videos of Britney on their chests. I see politicians giving people money to wear shirts with ever-changing logos of the day. I see Star Trek fans wearing live information from Trek Today as it gets posted to the Web.

And, of course, Scott Adams will put out a Dilbert of the Day Beefy-T that auto-updates itself. He'll probably wrap some of those nasty self-affirming burritos in them, too. And don't forget the LEM Day-in-History auto-updating T-shirt. I'd buy one of those just to see this article pop up every year.

Now you see the vision, go forth and invest.

Segway Human Transporters for two or more peeps who should be walking

Dean Kamen almost has it right, but the concept won't really take off until you make the things big enough for two - then 6, and then 20. Then it has to be souped up, made more dangerous, and turned into an X-game. When people can cause mild amounts of property damage with it, but avoid getting caught, you'll see sales skyrocket.

I'd buy one, since my commute is only a mile, but the reason I drive is that I have too many things to carry on a bike. I take 'em home, mind you, but I don't actually do anything with them. Me and a briefcase full of gear and those ungraded papers definitely overload the weight limit on those things.

By my way of thinking, if you're lazy enough to ride an SHT, you probably exceed the weight limit. They need to come out with one that's a heavy duty 350 pound hauler - with a trailer attachment and a seat. Doors and windows and a roof would be nice, too. And maybe a couple of extra wheels and an air conditioner. And a little cup holder.

Maybe a big cup holder.

Super Secure non-copyable music formats

I wish someone at the RIAA had asked me how to prevent music theft; I have the perfect solution. In about three years, the cost of a CD is going to hit the price point of a cheap CD player. At that time, you simply sell each CD with its own included player, which connects to a stereo with a proprietary plug with no adapter available at the Shack and make it so it melts the CD when you try to open the player. Simple.

CD Recycling

Remember when you were a kid, and they used to sell those little phaser guns that fired little discs that got lost all over the house just before the gun broke?

They need to make one of those that shoots AOL CDs.

If you get hit with one, it takes over your ISP and glues itself to your elbow; you have to tear some skin loose to remove it. Very effective at recruiting new members. For every new member you get 500 free hours and a bottle of elbow solvent.

Flash Memory

Does anyone else besides me wonder why flash memory is so slow?

Why call it flash? Is that some kind of joke?

Anyway, CD and DVD technology will be dead in five years. Everything will be based on giant flash chips, and I can tell you why in three simple words:

No Moving Parts

Look at this list and think, "How many moving parts do I have?"

  • old 3-speed Record Player
  • 8 track player
  • cassette player
  • CD player
  • Flash ROM

Only problem is, when the number of moving parts reaches zero, there'll be no more impetus to change in the music industry; data storage technology will grind to a halt.

Operating Systems

In ten years, Microsoft's biggest competitor will be some outfit no one's heard of yet from China or (just maybe) Russia. Someone will realize you can actually have a bug-free, user friendly OS that's 100% reliable - if you have 250,000 programmers working on it. The instruction manual will be printed in five Chinese dialects plus English and Dutch. The new OS will be distributed as a security patch worm for Windows 2012 (which will be published in 2010). Microsoft will announce it is ready to start innovating again as their next generation OS, called D-OS, finally manages to rid itself of the legacy Windows code it's been carrying around for so long.

The Mac OS will be incorporated into home video and music equipment, after Apple is bought out by Sony. No one's DVD players will flash 12.00 all the time, but people will complain because the interface on the console doesn't match what they have to use at work.


If you get rich from any of these ideas, remember, I want a cut. At least buy me an XXXL LEM Beefy-T and send it to me.

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