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The Signposts Timeline of Future Technology and Social Change
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The wealthy get perfect organ replacements and spinal cord repairs; personal relationships are undergoing big changes; TV and the internet converge; migrations into the sea; throwaway laptops

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2010 milestone: Ubiquitous computing/net access is contributing heavily to the increasing isolation of the individual and big changes in personal relationships in the developed nations

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Please notice that the term isolation as used here is a relative one. That is, there is physical isolation and there is mental or psychological isolation. The net is tending to increase physical isolation even as it reduces psychological isolation in some ways. However, it is unclear in the early 21st century how this growth in psychological intimacy (often at the expense of physical intimacy) is affecting human relationships. Could fewer physical associations in our lives lead to us eventually trusting institutions more than one another? I.e., could increasing physical isolation make us ultimately dependent on an Orwellian 'Big Brother'? Perhaps the first clues will come from the relationships between young people. END NOTE.

By around 2010, a combination of improvements in bandwidth, mobility, speed, and storage technologies have led to today's computing and net access devices being roughly 100,000 times better than those available around 2000, at comparable cost.

Unfortunately, bottlenecks in the technological infrastructure of most nations and the world in general frequently result in user perceptions of much less capability in their devices. On-going quality problems with related software in terms of reliability and ease-of-use also lower average user perceptions of the power at their command.

Net client hardware in most cases far exceeded local user performance requirements long ago. With no more need for added capacity, but available capacity per unit cost exploding, many end user devices have plummeted in price until they became free and/or ubiquitous in the public and private arenas. As technological advances continue to be made, the capacities of free or very low cost end user appliances continue to increase.

-- Computing's strides coming exponentially BY DAN GILLMOR, March 18, 2000, Mercury News; related information includes: http://weblog.mercurycenter.com/ejournal and dgillmor@sjmercury.com

Bandwidth costs for phone calls over the net will become so low by 2010 as to be negligible to consumers. Distance will become a moot issue.

-- The Bandwidth Explosion; a 'thought piece' by Stephen Young and Dr Barry Flanigan, Ovum, Ltd. 1999

There's many factors working to isolate individuals now in USAmerica and similiarly advanced networking nations. The awareness of increasing surveillance by both government and employers, as well as commercial enterprises, encourages people to greatly reduce many sorts of interaction with others in general, while widespread computing support makes such withdrawal easier, more economical and convenient with each passing year. The perceived scary capabilities of truth and emotional analysis of email and video/audio via software, combined with the detailed documentation of a user's personal web surfing, shopping habits and list of purchases, selection of home, household appliances, furniture, vehicles, etc., all make for a 'siege' mentality among many 21st century citizens-- as often complete strangers seem to know more about you than you know yourself.

Employees are increasingly being paid a premium for computer-use skills-- which translates to more money for more time in personal isolation, in many cases.

-- "Growth in computer use key factor in rising skills and rewards in the workplace", EurekAlert!, Economic and Social Research Council, 6 AUGUST 1999, Contact: Professor Francis Green, gfg@ukc.ac.uk, 44-01227-827305, telephone 01227- 827305

-- "The Valley Asks: Unix = Eunuchs?" by Joyce Slaton and Debbi Gardiner, 6.Aug.99, Wired

-- "Fewer Americans Than Ever Getting Married- Study" By Patrick Rizzo, Reuters/Yahoo! News, July 2, 1999

-- Two-Parent Families Growing Scarcer - U.S. Study, Yahoo/Reuters Top Stories Headlines, November 24, 1999

The number of never-married US singles has risen 28% since 2000.

-- Single Americans Alone Again Naturally Living single isn't just an old sitcom, it's a way of life for a growing number of Americans; 2004-02-24 - Wireless Flash Weird News; ncbuy.com

-- 57 Percent Of Singles Think First Dates Are A Waste Of Time - 2004-02-11; Wireless Flash Weird News; ncbuy.com

-- Americans trust each other less, but still trust institutions, EurekAlert!, 3 DECEMBER 1999 Contact: Pamela Paxton Paxton.36@osu.edu 614-688-8266 Ohio State University

-- Expect rapid, pervasive innovation in 21st century, EurekAlert!, 2 DECEMBER 1999 Contact: Emil Venere emil_venere@uns.purdue.edu 765-494-4709 Purdue University

-- "The Ballad Of the Cybercafe" by MICHEL MARRIOTT April 16, 1998, the New York Times

-- "HR 2008: A Forecast..."by Floyd Kemske, Workforce, January 1998, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 46-60, (sample ideas: There'll be far fewer meetings than before. Schedules (as well as physical locations) of working hours will become much more flexible...)

-- Secret Cameras Scanned Crowd at Super Bowl for Criminals By LOUIS SAHAGUN and JOSH MEYER (other contributors included Charles Piller, Michael Faneuff, Sam Farmer, and Tom Gorman), Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/updates2/lat_cameras010201.htm

-- "Micro-Containers: An Example of Strategic Web Thinking", Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for May 31, 1998: useit.com

-- "Technology's thinkers get daring at intellectual circus" BY DAN GILLMOR, Mercury News Technology Columnist, July 17, 1998

One estimate places business losses due to non-job-related employee web surfing at 5.3 billion dollars in 1999 (this is likely an estimate only for the USA). For this reason and others, at least 27% of US companies appear to now monitor email, and some monitor web surfing as well.

However, IT managers (and their executive bosses) tread dangerous territory by undertaking such surveillance of their fellow employees. It can often be unclear where to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and even more difficult to make all the resulting actions appear just and fair to everyone involved. This can and will make for a legal and moral morass for decades to come.

-- Thought cop By Sacha Cohen, InfoWorld.com, Feb. 23, 2001

The squeeze on free time looks to get worse by 2004-2006 in developed states like USAmerica. Worker's jobs will increasingly intrude into their home and family environments. Thus, many people will have less time to devote to relationships with family and friends.

-- Gartner analysts envision the next tech revolution By Nancy Weil, InfoWorld.com, Oct. 16, 2000

Human relationships in the developed nations are changing a lot, perhaps even becoming bizarre and scary from a late 20th century USAmerican perspective. How so? People today may actively 'stalk' potential love interests online much like hunters preying upon deer in the woods. Numerous private investigation firms will do detailed personality profiles, dossiers, and life histories and indexes of associates and family members on targets for a small fee. Unofficial investigative bodies exist even in high schools and grade schools; most run by students, but some by teachers. Even genetic flaw analyses are sometimes available as well. Such agents or organizations may also 'track' a target indefinitely, providing regular updates to clients on where the target goes, who they meet, what they do and say. The explosion in public surveillance cams and microphones and growing power of computers to minutely analyze video and audio to search for anything of the most trivial interest is making indepth privacy invasion a fact of life for everyone.

Of course, where reasonable people are concerned, such activities may often protect them from entering 'bad' relationships or being scammed by con artists, and the invasion of another's privacy usually won't go too far beyond what's acceptable, even by 20th century standards. Too, most people who are gainfully employed and somewhat engaged already in family and/or other previously established relationships simply won't have the free time required to take such investigations too far.

On the other hand, these heady new capabilities mightily appeal to the voyeur in everyone-- especially teenagers, and perhaps those adults who are somewhat stunted in their own social development and skills. Office workers too will often indulge in such efforts to gain a competitive edge against co-workers or the employees of a competing organization.

All this of course makes for something of an 'arms race' in terms of consumer privacy protection and cracking tools, with businesses often happily catering to both sides simultaneously.

This essential war between citizens in the privacy arena has the long term effect of reducing the total number of new intimate relationships and close associations struck by many individuals over the course of their lives, and also shortens the lifespan of many of the relationships they do enjoin, compared to what might have been a couple decades before. The multiple marriages/divorces lifestyles of the rich and famous of the 20th century are becoming the norm for the majority of citizens now.

Notice that-- in at least some ways-- these elements are acting somewhat like 'pollutants' or 'corruption' of the social environment, similarly to how industrial wastes may effect the biosphere. This issue becomes a hot one for older citizens, even as younger people sometimes adapt to it instead. I.e., some young women come to expect suitors to know their food, drink, and other preferences due to net research beforehand, rather than direct experience. They may even display impatience and annoyance with suitors who have not done their homework in this regard.

Also don't underestimate the dampening effect that the new perception of danger from infectious disease and biological weapons have on events involving social interaction in the 21st century, such as an increase in telecommuting and the growing preferences for isolation of individuals and families from physical contact with others.

But there's some benefits accrued from the new paradigm as well. For instance, in some cases people may more easily locate and 'connect' with well fitting partners of various sorts, from teachers and mentors to new friends and potential spouses. In general the quality of available selections rises at least a bit compared to the historic manner in which things were done. Close partnerships like marriages though tend to go in one of two directions as result-- either both partners try harder to get along and make the quality of the coupling better on average than such pairings might have been in the past, or else the incessant competition from alternative partners tears the marriage apart in record time. So any initial problems, excesses, or weaknesses in the relationship tend to become amplified over time.

The typical long distance nature of many 21st century relationships (due to the greater selection and perceived quality of global or national candidates compared to local offerings) means that local physical relationships become fewer and further between-- especially as people age. The virtual long distance relationships satisfy some of the needs which once encouraged physical interaction. Especially for things like friendship and scholarship/apprenticeship. Many business ventures too may rarely require more than disembodied interaction to work, and work well.

This often puts a strain on what few local and physical relationships people do choose to initiate and maintain. It heightens the importance of sex, participatory sports, and other sensual or physical activity in the local relationships, while reducing the perceived value of conceptual discussions and other intellectual activities/interaction. Near vicinity friends will tend to engage more heavily in active sports, outdoors recreation, vehicle-related hobbies, home remodeling, expansion, and repair jobs, or long trips with one another than they might have in the previous century. Going to theaters or watching sports on TV together will not be an activity conducive to maintaining a near vicinity relationship (except possibly for the very young). In some cases near vicinity friendships will naturally evolve into business partnerships as well. Sexual partners will do more experimentation (helping lead to the polygamy of many future marriages as discussed elsewhere). They will go out more too, and crowded, sophistocated theme parties (such as for Halloween) will be an increasingly popular past time of such couples/groups for years. Note that there may be intensifying pressures here for mergers of sexual relationships with both friendships and business partnerships (again, perhaps trending ultimately to polygamous marriages).

Some useful by-products of the privacy 'arms race' include (finally!) new and welcome regulation by government agencies to create at least a ground floor of privacy rights for citizens, and the generation of sufficient pressures to force both government and corporate entities to pay something nearer to the true market value for at least a portion of the private information they obtain from or about any citizen. After this, citizens at least get some official notification on occasion when someone is digging into their personal life somewhere, if nothing else.

4-12-99 Newz&Viewz: Getting paid to part with your privacy

Similarly to how commercial enterprises will continue to outstrip governments in the quality of protection average citizens enjoy from biowarfare agents and environmental deterioration in decades to come, so too will business provide the bulk of privacy protection means as well. (Of course, I'm speaking here of businesses devoted to creating such helpful products and services; on the flip side, other business concerns (as well as some government agencies) will be the 'bad guys' which will be driving you to want this protection in the first place).

John Hagel and Marc Singer write about this subject in a book titled "Net Worth".

Yes, we're talking about ultimately getting paid to divulge personal info about yourself. Or at least enjoying some discounts or free flyer miles or something else in exchange for your data.

-- "Call Your Info Agent Today", March 15, 1999, Inter@ctive Week, http://www.zdnet.com/intweek

Sources include predictions by Frances Cairncross, senior editor of the Economist magazine:

* greater fragmentation and 'looseness' in companies and business organizations...perhaps like the networked Hollywood interests which in 1998 produced theatrical films.

* a paradoxical simultaneous decline and rise in government powers over the individual. On the one hand, global commercial sales of books and other products and service reduce the censorship power and economic and legal control of individual governments over citizens. Yet at the same time it will become easier for governments to spy on citizens and locate them as it wishes. The ultimate socio-economic consequences of this paradox are unclear...

Cairncross has published a book on these subjects: "The Death of Distance".

-- "An economist ponders the impact of technology" by JENNIFER FILES, The Dallas Morning News/Mercury Center, 7-8-98

The most significant factor regarding who a person will strike up a close relationship with has always been physical proximity, according to research done on the subject. The more often you spend time physically near another person-- and the shorter the distance between you-- the more likely that a close relationship will ensue.

How will the paradoxical nature of internet spawned relationships affect the paradigm? On the internet, you can get to know someone quite intimately, and yet be separated from them by thousands of miles in the physical world. So in some ways (mentally, emotionally) you can be quite close to them indeed, even as they are certainly an enormous physical distance removed from you.

Perhaps the greatest effect on the creation of new relationships will be regional and local, rather than national or global. That is, the net will provide access to a much larger portion of the local population than would have been possible or practical in the past, thereby widening the potential pool of relationship partners in the area. And unlike other net relationships, those net folks you discover which are, say, within 150 miles or less of your own location might still be physically accessible, at least on occasion. Narrow the distance range between net-connected pairs, and you increase the likelihood of long term relationships developing between them. Thus, one's circle of acquaintances and friends can more easily extend to include not only a greater quantity of folks, but better quality too-- since the potential pool is larger. Though finding that elusive 'soulmate' may become no easier than before, locating suitable companions of a more practical and secular nature may become much easier than in the past.

Note that the net effect will play best in dense population centers like major cities and their outlying suburbs. But even rural areas should benefit somewhat from the increased accessibility to the entire local population.

Some studies suggest that the internet is reducing the number and quality of personal face-to-face relationships for many participants, even as it increases the number and quality of online relationships-- that physical relationships are suffering as something more like a true 'meeting of the minds' is taking place online in their stead.

-- Love Bytes Will the Net flatten Maslow's pyramid? by Hal Plotkin, April 12, 1999, http://www.sfgate.com/technology/beat/

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com

As of 2000, Japan must be considered at least roughly equivalent to USAmerica-- if not in some ways ahead of it-- in terms of the social impact of modern technologies and economic conditions. It is also perhaps the most homogeneous large society left on Earth, which makes it a prime site to observe for emerging social trends, in some respects. In this unique socio-economic laboratory, a new and troubling condition has appeared.

Perhaps more than a million young Japanese suffer from hikikomori, which means "withdrawal".

Hikikomori is something different from agoraphobia, depression, or schizophrenia and their ilk. It stikes people at ages in the teens through the late twenties, and lasts at least six months, and sometimes indefinitely. It involves withdrawal from school, work, and society, to just about the smallest physical space possible: home. The ill may go for years without even speaking to others. It is an affliction of affluent, healthy, and educated young citizens. It may be that males are affected more than females.

Part of the problem here may be underemployment. Many of those afflicted belong to affluent families who care for them, thus, they have little or no need to financially support themselves in terms of basic survival. This is not to say however that the afflicted have no demands upon them. On the contrary, familial and friends' expectations for academic achievement on their part may be as high or higher than in any other developed country. Many hikikomori sufferers cite these expectations as the prime reason for their wish to remain in isolation-- to avoid the constant comparison to others.

Note here that as living standards rise worldwide an ever larger portion of newly emerging generations may encounter similar conditions. As of the early 21st century the world's over-preoccupation with financial success and secular goals may also be causing a mental and psychological disconnect with up and coming generations, who all too often see their parents as confused and unhappy people, despite being relatively well off financially. Combine this in a teen's or young adult's mind with the often overwhelming realization of just how complex and fast-paced today's world can be, then add peer pressures, parental pressures, and others to conform to rules for which they themselves can see little rhyme or reason, and the likelihood of something in their world view bending or even breaking is not an altogether unlikely one. It may be that these periods of hikikomori signify these people's personal efforts to reconcile the contradictions they see around them into a personal philosophy and value system they can live with.

-- Japan's missing million By Richard Lloyd Parry, 5 December 2000, Independent Digital (UK) Ltd. (the date 12-9-2000 was also attached to this piece for some reason)

One fad among the Japanese today is that of meru tomo, or mail friends. Folks they've never met or seen, and only converse with via email. Some observers see this new practice as discouraging live verbal conversations with others, as well as the formation of real friendships.

Roughly 50% of Japanese possess cell phones, compared to 38% oc Americans.

-- In Japan, some e-friends prefer never to meet By Ilene R. Prusher, The Christian Science Monitor, FEBRUARY 21, 2001

The virtual community is a concept still struggling to become realized on the internet of the late 20th/early 21st centuries. One of the earliest goals and ideals of the budding internet, it proved much more difficult to achieve and maintain than most expected. Its early forms were far too vulnerable to domination by aggressive, attention-seeking teens and angry or mentally disturbed adults, and the early demands of the net economy, among other things. The tendency of people ostracized from physical communities due to anti-social behavior to flock to virtual communities in search of human interaction meant that such communities were like flames to moths-- only in this case merely a handful of moths could extinguish the flame.

It seems that face-to-face visuals such as live video feeds, or even the live audio of voices, would have managed the discussions in such venues much better than other efforts like designated moderators (the moderator measure was tried, but failed for the most part). However, live video and audio feeds were uneconomical and impractical for most such communities until broadband became ubiquitous. And even then many participants preferred to avoid such channels of communications, preferring instead the comfort of a higher level of anonymity-- which of course usually served to effectively damage or destroy many online communities with its byproducts of 'flames' and other elements.

As of 2000 the mainstream of virtual communities consists of transient visitors discussing amongst themselves specific issues like common diseases, workplace issues, financial and family problems, and other relatively narrow interests. Very few participants remain in any particular community for very long, soon jumping to a different one covering other niche interests, perhaps searching for some undefined 'sweet spot' in terms of subject and interaction, much like many in youth yearn and search for their own mythical 'soulmate'. The easy jumps from one group to another are further facilitated by the ease with which new groups may be formed. Thus, some groups dissolve simply by splintering into a multitude of other groups, each focused on an even narrower field of discussion than the first. And the effects of commercial concerns to use the groups dynamic to steal members from other groups simply intensifies turnover.

In other words, today's virtual communities are usually little different from the call-in talk shows seen on daily TV in nations like USAmerica of the time. Largely random ideas and opinions are fairly anonymously tossed into a public forum which rarely responds with more than a brief acknowledgement of the input.

Part of the problems of early virtual communities appeared to be too much anonymity, a lack of accountability, and perhaps the fact that the communities themselves were simply so far removed from the real lives of most participants. In the vast majority of cases participants had little incentive to moderate their comments or carefully consider the words and feelings of others in the group. Unlike a local, physical PTA or town council meeting, participants in early virtual communities could too often treat their discussions as mindgames in which whoever successfully dominated or ended the conversation won. They could then continue to shoot down all comers there, or simply move on to another community, to start an all new campaign of discourse destruction.

This greater vulnerability of virtual communities to casual disruption from largely anonymous and nonvested participants compared to geophysical face-to-face communal gatherings eventually led to something like 'gated communities' online, where anonymity was banned and actions were made much more accountable. For instance, participants who would not play by group rules would be exiled or banned from further interaction with same-- perhaps even fined or put on a 'black-list' subscribed to by many groups, to prevent such an individual from darkening the virtual doorsteps of any of them ever again.

However, achieving this was more difficult online than it would have been in the physical world, since a whole new range of contingency responses had to be devised to mimic the analog way such transgressions could be handled in the physical world. For instance, the gradual ramp up of responses to undesirable behavior in the physical world, which ranges from disapproving facial expressions, voice tones, and physical body language to gentle verbal suggestions and the offer of face-saving exits to those in deep trouble, to stern warnings, and finally eventual calls to police, had to be re-invented for the digital world, since many of the subtler physical options were absent and unavailable in any readily accessible way in the beginning.

-- Rethinking the Virtual Community Part One by JonKatz, December 21, 2000, slashdot.org, which included additional comments in online discussion boards

The immediacy of communications offered via mobile e-mail, cell phones, and instant messaging are reducing the likelihood of physical meetings, and keeping negotiations over all sorts of matters (including deadlines and appointments) alive and ongoing longer than ever before. This new environment is virtually ideal for postponing resolutions of many issues, both business and personal, indefinitely. This is allowing people to often simply delay those matters unimportant to them personally to the point that everyone else involved gives up, and the issue becomes moot, or some default contingency takes place to close it.

In cases where an issue is more important to others than yourself, simply letting the others dangle indefinitely can give you the upper hand in negotiations, allowing any eventual resolution to favor your personal interests over those of others.

The technology also makes it easy to over-extend ourselves, making promises we can't or won't keep, as the cost for such actions may be much less than it was in the past. Availability of instant communications may also encourage lower quality work, and slipped project deadlines.

This new mode of communications may thus encourage a predatory instinct in some users of the technology-- and inflict sufficient harm or inconvenience on others to render them less receptive to striking up new relationships or deals in general, and perhaps even fearful for their personal futures overall.

Thus does a new source of uncertainty and anxiety enter the human experience, to make the 21st century one of the most stressful periods in modern history.

-- How Info Age Efficiency Can Weaken Our Connections BY DENNIS BERMAN, November 6, 2000, BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE: E.BIZ PERSPECTIVE , and other sources

The overall quality of communications may be hampered by the use of videophones and webcams, based on the findings of a new study. In cases where two students were communicating online to solve a problem, both would reveal 300% more about themselves when they couldn't see each others' faces, as opposed to when they could, via live video.

Thus, in the case of online social communications, the inclusion of live video renders people less forthcoming, not more.

Keep in mind that as technology makes live video cheaper and more ubiquitous in electronic communications, it may become more and more difficult (and less common) to communicate without it-- thus, this study implies that future social communications are likely to become increasingly less personal and more sterile. Something which doesn't bode well for establishing and maintaining close personal relationships.

Another element of live video feeds was that people involved tended to focus less on themselves and more on the possible reactions of their conversational partner. Without the video, people would become more self-absorbed and therefore revealing.

Of course, the study didn't take into account the long term effects of a video-drenched culture. It may be that we will eventually become acclimated to the video feed, and act more normally in its presence after a matter of years or decades. But for now we only know for sure about the short term effects.

On the other hand, the study also shows that in online text-only formats people may be willing to openly discuss a wider range of topics than they are even in face-to-face physical contact. Thus, such text chats may allow the airing of some issues which otherwise wouldn't come out in the physical world-- and so make the physical world a bit safer and more comfortable than it might otherwise be for participants.

-- Net talk by Emma Young, New Scientist Online News, 20 December 2000

Between the 1950s and 2000, something happened to make today's young adults and children more anxiety-ridden than they were in previous generations. During the 1980s average children possessed a higher level level of anxiety than child psychiatric patients of thirty years before.

It is thought that child anxieties reflect those of society overall. If this is true, then social stresses on adults are growing. The increased isolation due to high divorce rates, plus worries about crime and disease, may all be factors here. It appears that people increasingly distrust those around them, too.

Exposure to violence, both real and virtual, seems one source of this anxiety. Disruptions in personal friend and family ties, another. Lower quantity and quality of interaction with parents breeds still more concerns for youngsters. Many of our young seem to feel less safe and less connected to others than previous generations.

This mounting anxiety is apparently contributing to rising rates of substance abuse and depression among the younger population.

-- Children's Anxiety at All-Time High By Suzanne Rostler, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, December 15, 2000, citing the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2000;79:1007-1021

Signposts 2009-2017 Contents

2010 milestone: a consumer version of the 'sleep-switch' is becoming practical

Previously in use for some military and intelligence personnel, the hi-tech sleep aid is now becoming available for the general consumer market.

Basically the technology allows a person to reliably go from consciousness to unconsciousness in only a matter of minutes, greatly facilitating the process of sleep. A combination of brain wave modulation and induced relaxation response, the device works remarkably well for most. The device does impose some rules on users however; for instance, its reliability suffers for users who get inadequate exercise during their daily routine, or indulge in a diet especially disruptive to sleep and relaxation.

The new techniques of course also help insure wakefulness when that's desired rather than sleep.

Future refinements of this technology will prove enormously important for the remainder of the 21st century, due to the astonishing stress levels experienced by many citizens of the time.

-- "E-mail, voice mail turn time off into work" BY AMY GAGE, April 14, 1998, Knight Ridder Newspapers , and others

-- "A Road Map for the Future" by MICHEL MARRIOTT, 12-17-98, The New York Times

Due to increasingly stressed out, time short employees, and the real harm possible from on-the-job drowsiness, some USAmerican companies were encouraging short on-the-job naps during certain conditions, in early 2000. A third of employees polled said they would use such a benefit if it was available.

-- Sleepless in America Seen Drowsy And Dangerous By Tim Dobbyn, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines, March 28 2000

-- For Sleep-Deprived, a Dream Drug (washingtonpost.com) By Shankar Vedantam; April 28, 2002; Page A03

-- A Pill to Stretch Your Day By TIMOTHY GOWER; April 15 2002; Los Angeles Times

Signposts 2009-2017 Contents

2010 milestone: Internet-based TV now dominates the television content landscape-- a development which also brings changes to the net itself

An observer from the late 20th century would be astonished by mainstream USAmerican TV circa 2010.

Robust computing, internet, and digital TV technologies have all combined to offer TV audiences a staggering array of choices and indepth interactivity with the ubiquitous home appliance.

However, bandwidth and cost concerns remain significant to the industry in many instances, thereby incurring certain limitations upon the new paradigm still.

Basically mainstream TV users (50%+) now enjoy only 12-30 live TV channels available to them simultaneously-- actually fewer such channels than many late 20th century viewers possessed.

BUT...this set of 12-30 are preferred channels, selected by the viewer from a total offering of thousands of different channels-- in some cases tens of thousands.

The user can change their line up of preferred channels anytime-- and some maintain automated bots that do this for them in order to offer an 'optimal' selection at all times, as circumstances change. Note that there's yet a third layer of channels available below these-- literally millions of channels a given viewer/user has never seen or experienced before. But these are typically only dipped into during extensive searches for something new or unusual, or if the viewer's attention has been pointed there by a first or second tier channel.

Consumers may well make the web into a niche medium rather than a mass medium.

-- The Millennial Mind-Set by Annetta Miller, American Demographics, January 1999

-- Yahoo! News - Sorry -- No A la Carte Cable; story.news.yahoo.com

"This is going to be the most disruptive period in the past 50 years,"

-- Hossein Eslambolchi, president, AT&T Laboratories

A third of American homes have broadband internet access as of 2004.

"By the end of this 10-year cycle, the change could be extreme...Hundreds of thousands of political bloggers, fly fishermen, chefs, and Oprah wannabes will be...creating their own channels."

-- Big Bang! By Stephen Baker, Heather Green, Bruce Einhorn, Moon Ihlwan, Andy Reinhardt, Jay Greene, and Cliff Edwards; JUNE 21, 2004; businessweek.com

New technologies like MPEG-7, which do ever more to remove from film-making any need for live actors or physical sets, plus expedite the distribution of same films online and via other digital formats, will surely shake the traditional Hollywood system/network to its roots. Will living, physical stars still be necessary at all? Or will people flock to see anything suitably spectacular or spellbinding, regardless of the true nature of the characters involved?

Even talented screenwriters and directors might become moot, given sufficiently adroit software to guide novices in their own productions.

And costs? With plunging costs in computer and video gear, and ever expanding capabilities trickling down to every desktop, high school kids may soon be able to compete with the likes of Spielberg. Throw in the distribution power of the internet and decent word of mouth, and the kids might match the biggest Hollywood studios in terms of distribution and marketing power too-- at least in some cases.

At some point the only advantage Hollywood might enjoy in film-making over the average joe in the street is government regulation effectively preventing or blocking such competition somehow. But could such laws be effectively enforced? And even if they could, wouldn't voters eventually demand that politicians revoke such laws?

Thus, the years 2005-2010 could offer a rude awakening to Hollywood.

-- Make It 15 Percent Funnier How MPEG-7 Might Change Hollywood Forever By Robert X. Cringely, 12-14-2000

The preferred 12-30 channels are readily accessible in real time instantaneously-- these form the users' priority one selections, and are often used for viewing live news and sports casts, or actively/generically/personally surfing the web (as opposed to passively/selectively/automatically web surfing, which is done by slave bots seeking out items you've requested).

(Note that some heavy net surfers may choose to maintain up to six of their live channels as different net access channels, as heavy redundancy in cases of one of more channels going down at crucial moments. In case one channel in use goes down, the system automatically switches to another channel; this is usually transparent to the user. Also, the more 'live' channels commandeered for a web connection by the user, the faster that web connection becomes-- in many cases the user connection may ultimately be limited only by the performance of the distant content server from which they are downloading.)

Users also have a second tier of channels available to them-- channels not available 'live' or in realtime, but rather recorded in various time chunks for the users' convenience and stored away until the user has finished with them. This is the modern version of programming a 20th century VCR to record a favorite show for later watching, and allows the user to adapt the schedule of many content producers to their own personal calendar, rather than the other way around.

This caching of content has been a major driver of local physical storage media sales for several years, due to legal wrangling from content producers trying not to have their commercial advertising sales dry up as a result. However, new deals now allow a greater flexibility in this caching for users, as producers now allow off-site caching of content so long as users explicitly accept all embedded commercial advertising with such recordings as well. In personal on-site caching it's relatively easy to have 20th century style 30 second to three minute advertising spots filtered out before viewing-- but as it still requires slightly more effort by the consumer, many never go to the trouble to do so. Plus, advertisers and content producers are working hard to embed their advertising so deeply into their offerings that it will remain impractical and inconvenient for years to come for users to strip it out or ignore it. The end result of this advertising war is that 21st century style advertisements usually become an almost indistinguishable part of the entertainment medium itself.

All the photo retouching and video editing of the past 50 years which could be used to modify existing imagery or create all new and entirely fictional visuals, can now be performed in realtime, on live video feeds, even as they are being captured.

Such realtime manipulation is being readily embraced by the news and entertainment media. It seems inevitable that commercial interests will exploit what in the past was fixed video of feature films and TV shows with whole new worlds of product and service advertising. Commercials will, in effect, become a part even of old rerun TV shows. For instance, Archie Bunker's household could suddenly sport new breakfast cereal brand boxes on the dining table. Or Gloria could wear different styles of clothing than the actress originally did during filming, to promote the latest New York trends.

Long dead stars may be cast into wholly new feature films so transparently viewers would swear they were the real thing.

-- Jul/Aug 00: Lying With Pixels By Ivan Amato, Technology Review, July/August 2000

So why the two tier channel access? Many homes still are burdened with somewhat limited bandwidth 'in the last mile', even today, and so such caveats are necessary.

Note that the effective video and audio resolutions/quality of these channels may also be varied by the user in order to optimize their local bandwidth or fee structures (depending on their providers' offering such an option of course). This allows a user for instance to use lower quality audio for radio broadcast receptions except and until they wish to record in high fidelity. Basic video news might also be in low to medium res under most conditions, while displays of feature films might be set to high res.

Entrepeneurial startups far outpaced reality in this emerging field way back in the late 1990s, with web sites like Broadcast.com.

-- "New Recordable Set-Top: A Removable Feast", April 5, 1999, Inter@ctive Week, http://www.zdnet.com/intweek

-- Questioning Technology: The Future of Television by Frank Beacham 12/98

The convergence of the internet and television is bringing radical change to both mediums, as well as the societies which use them. Economic disruptions and seachanges abound for a wide swath of human enterprise and interaction. Imagine a grass roots industry trading TV sourced video content like Napster was used for music.

Peer-to-peer functionality like Napster's (or better) could allow consumers to bypass and evade both corporate and government efforts to shoe horn them into someone else's idea of the next generation of entertainment access and control. Such a turn of events could force media companies to concentrate more on marketing and finance than they do today, heavily mining consumer data for support of these enterprises. Providing a one-stop shop of multi-tiered broadband entertainment services for a monthly subscription fee may become an important media model.

-- How the Net Could Nuke TV: Video File-Sharing by Tom Watson and Jason Chervokas, January 30, 2001, [Inside] magazine

As TV makes the internet ever more accessible to everyone everywhere, the net itself increasingly begins to see 'zoning' restrictions of various sorts put into place by both business and government. There's plenty of reasons for walling off certain parts of the net from others, or filtering net access for end users. Protecting children from pornography and predators. Protecting business and consumers from unreliable beta software and crackers (the proper term for what most people erroneously think of 'hackers'). Limiting the range of surfing by business employees to sites relevant to their work. Commercial access providers also have attempted to limit web access under basic services to preferred video, audio, and web destinations as a way to insure higher profits and service differentiation-- and charge consumers extra to enjoy the 'unlimited' access which was the standard for everyone, circa 1999. However, only the biggest providers enjoy even short term profits from such actions, due to intrinsic network effects like Metcalfe's Law. Plus, a consumer backlash and consequential government intervention has made it more difficult for providers to get by with such efforts unscathed.

-- Metcalfe's Law in reverse, Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, July 25, 1999, useit.com

However, matters of free speech, privacy, civil rights, and minimal impediments to continued innovation also must be addressed among the changes.

The different official spaces or internet regions can more easily allow end user browsers to warn users which section of the net they are venturing into, and prevent children from accessing inappropriate sites, while not unduly restricting adult use of the net.

Thus, the new zoning restrictions are primarily enforced by relatively modern 'smart' clients/browsers tuned to allow access to only a particular zone of the net, and/or to notify the user when they are crossing into zones other than the most beneign and child-friendly. The integrated technologies today also allow parents to be paged/alerted at remote locations if their home client somehow breaches pre-set boundaries (as a way to watch over unattended children). The zones are secondarily enforced by way of a general classification system of content maintained by three separate groups: the domain name or server owners themselves, private ratings/classifications services, and public ratings/classifications services. Thus there are four elements of filtration here, all with their own strengths and weaknesses, but typically overlapping in such a way as to perform a pretty good job overall.

Early on there were attempts by USAmerica authorities to globally enforce classification at the root servers with potential punishments of stripping domain names for non-compliance. However, as this flew in the face of national sovereignty for many other nations, this scheme achieved only limited success.

Individual state and federal governments, schools and universities, and certain foundations/institutes operate hundreds of thousands of different public ratings/classifications services for web sites worldwide. These ratings are generally free for anyone to choose and use with their browser/client.

Many private enterprises and individuals maintain their own ratings systems as well; again, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Most of these too are freely accessible; though a small number are fee-based or of restricted access in some other way.

In practice, perhaps only several hundred such services of both types are well-known and heavily used throughout the world. And if those utilized solely for the sake of foreign language adaptability are excised, the number drops down to only a few dozens.

Common clients/browsers are capable (with the help of the net) of automatically integrating/combining most such services into a single sophistocated realtime filter for their users.

Obviously, the more and better sources a consumer chooses to act as filters, the tighter and less error-prone such filters will be. But use of excessive numbers of such filters can also have two detrimental effects: (one), the extra processing required can significantly slow net access, thereby making high bandwidth a practical requirement for extreme filtering, and (two), such a severe constriction on returned results that the quality of information returned may actually be reduced rather than increased (beyond a certain level of filtering). Lots of paranoid first time filter users are often dismayed to discover their extreme settings also cut the quantity of their results as well in some cases-- all the way to zero! Imagine waiting for ten minutes for thousands of filters to distill just the absolutely best information available on a subject-- only to get a net result of 'zero items found' because you filtered away all the answers.

Users may pick and choose and mix and match their own content filters from all these hundreds of thousands of sources-- or simply allow the manufacturers/developers of their client/browser to do it for them, by ordering either a neatly classified "child", "conservative adult", "libertarian adult", or "liberal adult" client from vendors.

Many clients/access devices by default will ship with very conservative filters already enabled-- even restricted so far as to be child-rated.

With such net filtering choices widely available, easily used, and supported by hundreds of thousands of ratings services from different organizations and even individuals, there's little for censorship proponents to do but push their own preferred services to whosoever they can get to listen.

Business, government, and consumers enjoy more stable and reliable software and net connections as one result of these filters, with less worry of cracking or encountering new and buggy wares.

The Open/Public/Libertarian/Common Space is something akin to what we had in 1999-- a largely unregulated, unfiltered net. Subsets of the Open Space include Minors Space for children and other Spaces dedicated to Business, Consumers, and Entertainment suitable to all ages, and Educational materials designed for specific age groups. Clients include single browsers capable of toggling between Spaces at the user's command, as well as dedicated browsers incapable in themselves of moving beyond the boundaries of a particular Space. Single Space browsers/clients are often suitable for K-12 schools to protect children, as well as for businesses to prevent employees from partaking of pornography, gambling, gaming, or other unwanted activities during working hours. Single Space clients configured for consumers protect surfers from the unreliability of beta wares and many hacking risks too.

Note that circa 1999 Linux open source releases generally maintained a stable older code set and a newer experimental set at one and the same time. With Net Spaces, innovative beta ware availability is typically restricted to the Open Space, and only allowed into the other Spaces after it is judged sufficiently reliable and useful.

Although email and instant messaging can not be entirely fenced off via Spaces as many web sites can, still some control is managed in this area, with restrictions/filters on what can be directly and easily sent from an address classified as Open to one classified as K-12 Educational, for example.

To address various free speech and civil rights issues, as well as legal and technological bottlenecks, a portion of the Open Space requires constitutional subsidization by governments and/or foundations dedicated to such matters. For example, minimal requirements for some elements include at least one reasonably capable public search engine not beholden to purely commercial interests, so that sites of small businesses and individuals remain accessible to others so long as they are registered by the owners with the engine, and addresses, classifications updated as necessary (note this inclusion/registration in itself greatly encourages proper classification of Spaces for millions of sites, too).

A common internet exchange hub paid for by taxpayers also facilitates continued innovation and open source software development by offering a 'demilitarized zone' for competitive technologies and commercial enterprises, where data and communications between different standards and protocols may cross otherwise insurmountable barriers.

This aspect of Spaces is specially tailored for translation between possibly competitive emerging new services layering atop the internet/web, and legacy (or old and obsolete) systems still in use in impoverished or slower moving regions.

Whenever a given new technology reaches a certain confirmed level of usage among the general net population (no matter how many competing protocols are involved), governments allot 'open' server resources to providing transparent communications between it and other established protocols, to minimize loss of net resources and disruptions in communications and e-commerce, leaving it up to individual protocol developers to support the cross-over in regards to their own systems. Such public servers represent potential integration/translation sites for all those competitors willing to enable the services for their own protocols. This weakens the hand of those wishing to establish proprietary standards, or at least helps minimize the final cost of such standards for society as a whole. One downside to the interchange is that it can be slow processing sometimes compared to many other net resources.

Participating governments and businesses also gain some of the surveillance powers regarding new communications mediums they so desperately desire, by way of making a condition of use of the public servers the possibility that any communication there may be recorded for later use in persecution of criminal wrong doing. Users and developers are not locked into these open services, but they do give up some privacy in exchange for making use of them.

-- "Instant Messaging", August 01, 1999, by Dave Winer of Scripting News

Note that this is a period of global transition, and the various filters and obstacle paths put into place by business, government, and individuals do not always work as expected. Continuing diagreements regarding many related matters also contribute to the general mess. However, massive, ongoing efforts by both business and government to streamline e-commerce, increase security, and expand surveillance of citizens and consumers is heavily subsidizing the overall expansion of biometrics identification by way of giving away net access. And the current across-the-board effort to categorize site content will eventually enable an enforceable licensing procedure for access to anything on the net which might have been considered "R-rated" or worse in USAmerican film terms, circa 2000. In this way will eventually adults enjoy the widest choice of content available, even as children are typically well-protected from same.

Robert Cailliau, a co-creator of the web, proposes that controls on online behavior by put into place rather than controls on online content. I.e., net access licenses. Education and training regarding the use of the net, along with a suitable test of applicants (comparable to that required for getting an automobile driver's license) might be appropriate.

-- Web pioneer supports surfing licenses, global laws on cyberspace, Agence France-Presse, August 27, 2000, http://www.nandotimes.com

Are advances in technology reducing the intelligence of the average person? Is the mounting deluge of information, media, and marketing stripping from us the time and ability to objectively contemplate where we're headed? Are we all being seduced into an isolated state of considering little more than our own individual needs and wants, and to hell with everyone and everything else? Could all this be leading to a breakdown of civil and just society-- perhaps even a new Dark Ages?

By 2011 or 2021, might mega-corporations effectively rule the world, to the alarming detriment of public health, education, and the environment? Might carefully considered government regulation, enacted soon, be the only thing which might prevent this?

Carr's article (see reference below) asks important questions. However, he seems to overlook a few things in his analysis. For instance, he assumes that the only two forms of regulation of socio-economics in force over humanity are government or corporate-sourced, and therefore one or the other or both will definitely determine our collective future. This is a flawed argument, as neither of these groups have yet learned how to fully control market forces or the minds of citizens/consumers. Much uncertainty and unpredictability remains in this stew, and may easily have as much effect on the future course of humanity as all the power of governments and corporations combined.

Of course, this is not to say that governments and business are totally ineffectual. To the contrary, they can and do possess the power to amplify or accelerate, reduce or slow, the interaction of many of the social and economic trends set into motion by the larger entity of human need and want, and the changing potentials and limits created by advances in technology and fluctuations in population, resources, and the environment.

Another seeming flaw in Carr's argument is that governments will necessarily be more considerate of the general population in the writing of regulations than corporations. An important principle of the US Constitution is the separation of powers, intended to help prevent an easy take over of the government and thus the people by a malevolent faction of the government itself; enemies within. There are even implications in the early government formation texts of America that a citizenry may not only have the right, but the moral duty to overthrow a government if that government exceeds certain bounds in its actions.

Carr also seems to ignore the apparent growing influence of corporations over US government policies, circa 2001. In many cases government actions seem only to exacerbate corporate excesses, not ameliorate them. It may well be that basic reforms of government itself, such as campaign finance reform and others, may be necessary to be enacted and in place for several election cycles, before we could trust government to do something of the nature suggested by Carr.

There is also another argument that perhaps technologies need more time to incubate and develop, allowing us to learn more about their socio-economic implications before we create new regulations to limit their scope and direction. I'm not saying I necessarily subscribe to this last point, but it seems worthy of consideration.

Carr suggests the imposition of internet licenses, as do others. As discussed elsewhere on-site I believe such licenses may have some value, and may even be likely to become law in some form. He also notes the need for credibility ratings of some sort, if not robust banning of non-credible information from the net altogether, along with punishments for publishers found in violation of the new laws. Here we enter into much foggier territory-- censorship. As many have pointed out before, censorship is a slippery slope. Once it is begun, it may be hard to stop. It is not difficult for me to imagine a new campaign of censorship of 'non-credible' information to eventually take even this timeline off-line. After all, some might see my speculations as "irresponsible" and "dangerous". As my projections deal with a future which hasn't happened yet, they are certainly "false" in the present sense and therefore may be considered "non-credible" by some.

Would anyone have a vested interest in seeing my site took down, and so pushing for such censorship? Sure! Loads and loads of folks. Various government agencies (especially intelligence agencies), politicians, the defense department, corporations of many stripes-- you name them, and they could probably find several reasons they'd like to see me shut down.

Carr's recommendations could easily lead to such a wide-scale purging of the net that sites like mine disappeared forever. So drawing the line on what is and is not censored might be so risky a practice in terms of free speech and ideas that it ought not to be done at all. At most, a ratings system of just how credible a site was might be useful-- but even there there'd be plenty of opportunity for abuse and fairly effective censorship, depending on many factors. Like who does the ratings.

While I too am concerned about the outright false information being presented on the internet these days, I see contradictions in Carr's argument for stripping the net of First Amendment protections. For example, if movie makers like Oliver Stone can present such jaw-dropping violations of historical fact as "JFK" with virtually no worries of censorship, or the Fox network in 2001 can air a show claiming a vast conspiracy involving a coverup of the 'fact' that we never truly landed on the Moon in 1969 or afterwards, how can Carr justify such extreme measures as he suggests be imposed on the net? Feature films, starring well known Hollywood celebrities, and broadcast television shows presented as pseudo-documentaries, both capable of using state-of-the-art special effects to make themselves more believable, arguably can and do have much greater and longer term impact on viewers than any web-site of 2001. There is much evidence that many people literally believe much or all that they see on television, being unable to distinguish TV fantasy from reality. So I see little to suggest that the net is any worse than film or TV in this respect. And yet Carr advocates far more stringent restrictions on the internet than presently exists for films or TV or even books, it seems. When you compare the entry costs to these mediums, it would seem that the main thing Carr's recommendations would achieve would be heavy censorship of individual expression, with free rein given to government or corporate propaganda.

Carr also seems to be unaware that in past history anonymous authorship was often required to protect the sources of certain new ideas and truths from seizure and possible execution by those in power who felt threatend by them in some way. For example, Giordano Bruno could certainly have used the protection of anonymity in 1584 when his suggestion that "...Countless suns exist; countless earths revolve around these suns in a manner similar to the way the planets revolve around our sun. Living beings inhabit these worlds..." so angered authorities that they first imprisoned him for eight years, and then burned him at the stake [Planet sightings boost odds of life in universe, and Contact: Very modern discoveries. A FLORIDA TODAY Space Online special report By Todd Halvorson and Robyn Suriano; Contact: Is Anyone Out There? 1999, FLORIDA TODAY Space Online http://www.flatoday.com/space].

Note that Carr believes every quote, every picture, every chart, every video and audo recording and photo-- everything a person might create or post online-- should be officially registered with authorities and stamped with the identity of its maker. Never mind that some famous quotes and ideas are of unknown authorship even in reference books, or you, as a writer, might be unable to accurately identify where you heard a certain joke or folktale or song even under physical torture-- if you couldn't definitively say where something came from you better not ever tell anyone else about it, else you might go to prison, or worse, in Carr's future world.

Carr surprisingly uses Matt Drudge as an example of the sort of internet publisher who might be censored or shut down by such new laws. I personally share Carr's dislike for Drudge and his gossipy writing, but unlike Carr I will point out that (if memory serves) Drudge's most famous gossip was the item first breaking the story of Monica Lewinksy's involvement with President Clinton, which was being suppressed by more well known media outlets at the time-- and many people seemed to consider it as newsworthy after-the-fact. Carr, on the other hand, takes care not to divulge in his article that Drudge's rumor-mongering of that period contained significant truths, which in turn came to be considered highly important and valuable to at least some factions of the nation. I assume Carr neglects to mention this because it would weaken his own argument for heavy censorship of individuals on the internet.

Carr's arguments also fly in the face of separation of church and state-- for his censorship scheme could easily get tangled up in the credibility of various religious beliefs-- and practically anything could be re-classified as a religious belief of some sort simply to elude easy censorship by American authorities, if not others.

I myself would suggest that Carr's effort might more profitably be applied in increasing the quality of and access to education for everyone. A decent education for all would likely provide much better and more robust social defenses against the creation, spread, and deleterious effects of disinformation than Carr's present censorship strategy.

There has accumulated over decades and centuries ample proof that neither governments or corporations are especially trustworthy sources of information or news. Yet Carr suggests we allow one or both to effectively police the internet for information quality/credibility. To be sure, both parties would love to do so, and are trying mightily to attain that status for various reasons. Let us hope they do not succeed.

-- Information poisoning By Caleb Carr, Jan. 8, 2001, Salon.com

Signposts 2009-2017 Contents

2008-2010 milestone: Close ties to quality physical delivery services are turning out to be a critical element for modern e-commerce success-- as well as streamlined social transformation

Local agents of the global e-commerce marketplace often strive to operate beyond the bounds of local geopolitical regulations and constraints for a variety of reasons, and succeed as often as not, typically staying one or more steps ahead of any local authorities in such matters.

Although huge quantities of completely legal physical goods and elements relating to various service industries flow through all delivery mediums today, the fattest profit margins for the services often have to do with highly secure and private shipments, of contents typically unknown to the agencies themselves.

The demand for such security is high and getting higher what with the explosion in both government and corporate surveillance, increasingly intrusive private investigative services, and more. And, of course, there's also plain old business competition and common criminals to worry about too.

Note that there's usually a distinct difference between the difficulties involved in securely moving pure information, and those related to physical transport. Moving information securely is usually a far simpler, easier, and cheaper exercise than moving physical goods. Especially across geopolitical borders. Therefore the burgeoning virtual states and/or their agents typically handle secure information flow today-- especially across physical state borders.

Global economies which are largely unfettered by geopolitical state concerns and restrictions will arise under the protection of unbreakable encryption and anonymity. They will buy, sell, and trade an ever increasing proportion of the output of their participants, first in terms of non-physical goods like information and software, then eventually expanding to other items. This process will nurture the creation of new virtual currencies beyond the control of the geopolitical states as well. Ironclad privacy may well spell the death of traditional nation-states, as they lose the power to monitor and control their populations, as well as tax them.

It could be the best and brightest minds will naturally gravitate more and more towards support of and participation in these new virtual states, as opposed to the old geopoliticals. In short, a brain drain from the old way to the new may occur.


The comparative ease of pure information transfer also helps greatly reduce the need to covertly transport physical goods between geophysical states-- because in many cases the proper information alone will enable the re-creation of most any physical goods onsite locally, from scratch.

Among the 50 states of USAmerica in 2000, antiquated laws regarding legal alcohol consumption and distribution vary tremendously. Thus, the legal framework regarding such matters from a national distribution perspective (such as that of an online retailer) stand as one of the more formidable barriers to related e-commerce in 2000. Formidable, but perhaps not insurmountable. The trick, it seems, is to sell nationwide but offer fulfillment locally-- by having customers pick up the product at local vendors, or home delivery being made from same. This eliminates the necessity to ship alcohol across state lines, which would be illegal in much of USAmerica of this time.

This method doesn't do much to increase efficiency and reduce costs of distribution in the industry, but it may increase consumer convenience and privacy somewhat.

-- Drinks.com works around intrastate sales laws By Greg Sandoval, CNET News.com March 15, 2000, URL: http://news.cnet.com/category/0-1007-200-1573359.html

There's other good reasons to do things this way as well, beyond the obvious geopolitical bureaucracies and red tape-- like the time delays and fuel and packaging and long distance marketing expenses related to foreign production as opposed to local, and the good will and competitive edge of being a local producer and employer in a market, and more.

Since these are principles which more or less apply across the board to manufacturing and trade, the international trade in physical goods is suffering a grievous blow during this and following decades (though the momentum of other economic trends masks the decline for many years).

Thus, many geopolitical states are experiencing a rise in native production, and with it an expansion in employment and rise in income.

Of course, all this also clears the way for much greater availability and trade in questionable and outright illegal goods and services as well-- since much less in the way of physical items must cross heavily guarded national borders (being produced internally instead) and the ever larger number of a state's citizens earning a living from such trade are more likely to help protect the trade rather than easily surrender it to their government. Keep in mind too the rising level of discontent and distrust of government at this time among many geophysical states. The west has been exporting more than lifestyles to the rest of the world over past decades via their media; they were also exporting mistrust of government and mega-corporations in general.

Thus there comes a nearly overwhelming demand for a suitable delivery medium to tie together newly blossoming native industries to the consumers who desire their goods and services, preferably with strong protections from government (or other) snooping, and free of the censorship and regulation of Big Brother/political opposition as well.

The solution is a willing and able delivery agency; an organization which can do the job despite sometimes substantial obstacles and risks, and which does not ask too many questions about the contents (or senders and recipients) of such items. This is of a course a natural avenue for organized crime to pursue-- and they do.

FedEx Corp resources were used to ship $140 million (100+ tons) of marijuana across the USA. An 18-month long investigation led to 100+ arrests.

-- U.S. Arrests FedEx Employees in Marijuana Bust Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines April 13, 2000

Geopolitical efforts to stymie such trade merely help further enrich and empower many of those involved, much like similar efforts in the past (such as how USAmerica's Prohibition helped nourish American organized crime). Too, wherever political idealogy becomes tangled in the issues of such practices, governments tend to lose support as the delivery agencies gain it among the populace at large. For not all the merchandise carried by these deliveries are clearly wrong or detrimental for anyone; much are merely medicines not yet approved in a particular state but legal in others, religious, political, and philosophical texts banned in certain regions, and messages or financial help between friends and family living in two geopolitical states presently at odds with one another.

This new secure and private delivery service never goes financially public directly, therefore avoiding many securities and operations disclosure rules, and works out an ingenious arrangement with similar delivery services in foreign states and global net entities which largely prevents any problems about items crossing borders. As mentioned previously, the most sensitive non-information packages rarely move across borders, and information alone enjoys a multitude of options for transfer. Eventually the delivery services even go so far as to help new business startups begin manufacturing certain sensitive items locally, to make the most of the more flexible information transfers, and to minimize the troublesome physical crossings of borders.

The delivery service works so well and securely, even many geopolitical governments themselves tend to use it for various purposes. Thus, it becomes very difficult for the geopoliticals to control or limit its operations in a meaningful manner.

This fact of life makes the enterprises more than simple delivery services; they also become a robust conduit for social change in many regions. Thus, the effect on social transformation with which many credit (or blame) the delivery agencies for years and decades afterwards.

-- "eBay makes strategic shipping investment" By Georgie Raik-Allen, http://www.redherring.com/insider/1999/0527/vc-iship.html, Redherring.com, http://www.redherring.com, May 27, 1999

-- "Webvan delivers logistics lesson to online vendors" by Dylan Tweney, InfoWorld Electric, August 9, 1999

-- "The Internet Economy: the World's Next Growth Engine" By MICHAEL J. MANDEL With Irene M. Kunii in Tokyo, BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : OCTOBER 4, 1999 ISSUE

The squeeze on free time looks to get worse by 2004-2006 in developed states like USAmerica. Worker's jobs will increasingly intrude into their home and family environments. Consumer and business services will become much more important and diverse.

Voters will demand more direct voting on political issues-- thereby putting a squeeze on the power of (and need for) politicians/elected representatives at all levels. Many government agencies may be dissolved (up to a third), government employee rolls cut. Such moves will inevitably lead to stagnation or outright reduction in the enforcement of many laws and regulations upon the internet-- and perhaps other sectors.

This immense new influence of the internet on virtually every aspect of life will bring many demands for regulating and taxing the new medium. Enforcement of such measures however will require somewhat different models than those used in the past for more purely geophysical transactions and processes, which could not be so easily hidden or re-routed as such stuff may be on the internet.

-- Gartner analysts envision the next tech revolution By Nancy Weil, InfoWorld.com, Oct. 16, 2000

The emerging virtual states and somewhat under-the-table delivery systems are also unwittingly nourished by maniacal mega corporate efforts to protect both intellectual property (like music and films) and high profit margin retail sales from discount gray market competition by exercising ever greater control over consumer options and equipment. Corporate and government zeal to institute wholesale surveillance over the world populace is also fueling a disobedience and outright outlaw backlash. Corporations and governments alike also tend to encourage censorship, filtering, and other restrictions on consumer choice which often may only be bypassed via illegitimate channels.

Another beneficiary of the tightening squeeze by governments and corporations has been open source software, which users may use to continually adapt to new restrictions placed on them by multiple sources, including legacy OS developers and hardware makers.

-- TV-Distributed Web to Be PG-13 by Brad King, Feb. 7, 2001, Wired Digital Inc.

Motorola now has the technology to automatically disable electronic devices purchased through unauthorized channels.

-- Turn-off by Barry Fox , 21 February 2001, New Scientist Online News, newscientist.com

"Fair use" consumer rights are under seige from greedy corporations. Prior to widespread digitization of media and the internet, citizens had the legal right to make copies for their own personal use of copyrighted works. Now corporations are trying to prevent "fair use" from being available for elecrtronic media. In other words, it would be illegal for you to save a web page to disk to read later-- or even to make a back up copy of a computer program you bought, in case your first copy is accidentally destroyed.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 is the central threat to such consumer rights at the moment.

-- Anti-Piracy Laws Rob Consumers of Rights By DAVE WILSON, Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2001, http://www.latimes.com/business/cutting/20010222/t000016018.html

New technologies are on the way which will allow downloads of copyrighted video and audio to be tracked and stopped in realtime. This is big time surveillance and intimidation, folks.

Note that such tracking wouldn't necessarily be limited to tracking piracy; it could just as easily be used to compile a list of what any particular user was downloading off the web, whether it was information about a sensitive medical condition, materials relating to a particular religion, or something else. Imagine China using such tech to root out every last Christian hidden in their hills-- or every last follower of the Dali Lama in Tibet-- for imprisonment or execution. Picture your own worst enemy at school or work paying $5 to get a list of everything you downloaded in the past year, then divulging the worst possible tidbit from that to everyone you know.

- New Technologies Target Swapping of Bootlegged Files By JON HEALEY, Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2001 , http://www.latimes.com/business/20010220/t000015255.html

Signposts 2009-2017 Contents

2008-2010 milestone: Over 60 million USAmericans may lack health insurance; Emergency medical treatment and first aid practices are making huge strides...

...in the developed nations anyway, with 'instant sealing' bandages for even the most terrible wounds, both internal and external, which is helping to greatly reduce deaths and organ damage due to blood loss, as well as accelerate healing of injuries.

-- "New Bandage Could Prevent Thousands of Deaths" By WARREN E. LEARY, March 9, 1999, The New York Times

-- "Fiber From Crab Shells Underlies New Wound Dressing" 24-Aug-1999, unisci.com

-- New plasma foam may stop fatal bleedings; report contributors included Louise Schiavone, CNN, September 22, 1998

New hydrogels can be used to deliver medications internally or externally, or anchor skin or other tissues

-- Biologically Active, Biodegradable Gels Developed At Cornell Have Potential Uses From Skin Grafts To A Better Diaper, ScienceDaily, Source: Cornell University, Web Address: http://www.sciencedaily.com//releases/1999/11/991116054943.htm, found on or about 11/16/99

Brain damage due to strokes can be reversed, if the patient is treated soon afterwards (within three hours) with clot-busting drugs.

-- Stroke damage may be reversible By Penny Stern, MD Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, April 10, 2000

In tests, merely a two degree reduction in body temperature of a stroke victim within hours of the event reduced brain damage and cut fatalities in half

-- Cooling Stroke Victims Can Save Cells , Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, August 31 2000

A new and possibly 200% faster method for purging the human body of carbon monoxide offers new and highly effective first aid options for victims of such poisoning. Ambulance paramedics may utilize a modified form of the present oxygen tank and mask to provide the new treatment. The modification mixes carbon dioxide with the oxygen in a manner which purges the body of the CO faster than oxygen alone, thereby helping minimize the long term effects of the poisoning.

-- Simple new method holds great promise for treating carbon monoxide poisoning quickly and easily, 15 JUNE 2000, EurekAlert! US Contact: Steven de Sousa steven.desousa@utoronto.ca 416-978-5949 University of Toronto; Still more information may be found via contact of Alex Radkewycz Public Affairs Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network 416-340-3895 Information regarding Toronto General Hospital may be found ar http://www.uhealthnet.on.ca

Other welcome medical advances coming online by this time include a reduced role for legacy needles in injection/sampling procedures, and personal drug profiles which minimize unwelcome side effects from medicines; patients are beginning to get pills of compositions uniquely created just for them.

Acoustic/sonic devices can replace needles as injectors, perhaps in something akin to Doctor McCoy's painless injector from the classic Star Trek series. It turns out sonic devices may temporarily turn off the water proof nature of our outer skins to painlessly insert drugs or extract blood samples without leaving a hole behind like a needle.

-- "Skin dipping" by Jeff Hecht, New Scientist, 6-20-98

Extracting blood samples can be done non-invasively via ultra-sonics. The process could likely work for diabetics and others, by 2003-2005. The process is suitable for injections as well. Ultimately the technology could be packaged as a patch or wristwatch-like accessory for those requiring regular usage. The procedure in testing requires about 30 seconds and skin permeability stays high for around 15 hours afterwards.

-- Drawing blood could become history with MIT ultrasound technique, EurekAlert! 29 FEBRUARY 2000 Contact: Elizabeth Thomson, MIT News Office thomson@mit.edu 617-258-5402 Massachussets Institute of Technology

Children often don't receive the same levels of pain relief as adults do for similar injuries. Rectifying this, as well as better training medical personnel in dealing with hurt or sick children, would do much to lower childrens' stress and reduce the long term trauma many suffer from visits to the emergency room today (circa 2000). Parents often should be allowed to be with their children during examination/treatment as well, as this also minimizes distress in both.

-- 'Ouchless' emergency rooms urged for decreasing kids' distress EurekAlert! 28 FEBRUARY 2000 Contact: Diane Duke Williams duke@medicine.wustl.edu 314-286-0111 Washington University in St. Louis

Besides increasing patient comfort, reducing suffering, and even saving lives in some cases, personal drug profiles also save money. The Human Genome Project is very important to the creation of personal drug profiles.

-- Experts: Personal Drug Profiles to Cut Side Effects By Patricia Reaney, Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, April 7 2000

Many hypothermia victims might make full recoveries with little more treatment than injections of EDTA and temporary dry housing at room temperature.

-- New Scientist: From death's icy grip by Joanna Marchant, From New Scientist magazine, 21 October 2000; further information available in the Journal of Thermal Biology (vol 25, p 467)

Under reasonably good economic conditions between 2000 and 2009, over 48 million USAmericans are expected to lack health insurance by 2009. If at least one recession takes place during the period, the tally of uninsured is expected to exceed 61 million by 2009. If the economy grew rapidly, spurring higher inflation costs, by 2009 there might be 55 million uninsured.

-- Uninsured Could Top 61 Million by 2009, Reuters Health/Yahoo!, December 15, 2000

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2008-2010 milestone: Operating systems and applications software for general purpose computing and networking purposes have stabilized sufficiently so that these type wares are declining to negligible cost for consumers

However, heavily customized and/or self-promotional wares may still command a premium over more generic, functionality-driven applications.

One important element in all this has been the strong advertising driven subsidization and distribution of software applications by independent programmers which years before would have languished in the dysfunctional 'shareware' model. Other important factors were the 'open source' movement, object-oriented programming (which made software code more 'reuseable'), competition between net access providers, and a world-wide effort to take marketshare and influence from Microsoft, regardless of the cost.

-- "Linux Founder Sees Software Price Crash"By Roland Moller, September 23, 1999, Yahoo! News Tech Headlines, Reuters Limited

-- "Microsoft Prepares For Web War Over Office" By Dick Satran, September 23, 1999, Reuters/Excite Inc

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2008-2010 milestone: The state-of-the-art in mid-range to high end PCs and certain peripherals

Yes, there's still a significant number of these around, despite being under seige by more futuristic net-based clients for years now.

Modern mid-range to high end PCs have tried to counter NCs/set top boxes/low end PCs by incorporating all possible internet-related capacities possessed by the cheaper devices, while adding resource-intensive client innovations like speech recognition and advanced 3D display and other interface options, even as maintaining reasonable profit margins for their makers. This has been a tough job, especially as net bandwidth opened to floodgate-size, and developers greatly enriched the online app library, thereby enabling relatively low end devices to present a dizzying array of options to users.

In a typical home or office the PC today is surrounded on all sides by both complementary and competing technologies. Email/voice mail/video phones/intercoms, web surfing TVs and gaming consoles, carry along PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and palmtops, and more. In this environment PCs have been forced to become much more reliable, cost-effective, and flexible than ever before, something like how American auto manufacturers increasingly turned to production of minivans, sports utility vehicles and trucks in previous decades to better survive the onslaught of more consumer choices in the market. However, the general computing market has proven far more cut throat competitive and fast paced than those earlier auto markets did.

Most desktop PCs today are essentially much improved, ruggedized versions of the portable/laptop PCs of 1998, with virtually all peripheral connections made wirelessly, automatically, and transparently on-the-fly as desired. The flat displays may often be removed from the rest of the device for improved positioning, and/or otherwise reconfigured to act as a handier-to-carry and lighter pen and tablet computer. These portable machines boast impressive security and anti-theft measures-- though these measures are focused more on data security and protection than the security of the machine itself. High end examples of these portables are among the vanguard of new field energized devices (wireless power feeds), but also still retain onboard batteries for times the fields are unavailable.

By far most data storage in typical portables is remote today-- securely housed in vast data warehouses, accessible on demand from the client. However, those users who desire it may have portables with hundreds of Gigabytes of local storage, as well as local RAM measured in the Gigabytes (though memory architectures have changed much over the past ten years; virtual memory for high bandwidth clients may include Terabytes on remote servers). Client/PC CPU speeds of 10,000-20,000 MHz (or 10-20 Gigahertz) are not uncommon (with still greater virtual processing speed available from distributed processing shared with other CPUs over the net). Net bandwidth inside the home for PCs? Some enjoy 100 Mbps now (but offices often enjoy still higher speeds).

Many PC manufacturers these days offer their own online service optimized for their own PCs, and typically offering vast powers and resources to customers, such as multitudes of software agents and aids, remote, secure, and transparent data warehousing, and more.

The laptop-like devices may also be placed near or inside more substantial enclosures which perform essentially as expansion chassis-- empty boxes of additional slots and I/O options. Such expansion chassis accept not only hardware upgrades but software upgrades as well, in something similar to the game console cartridges of an earlier era.

Today's upgrade cartridges are in a state of standards flux (and have been for years), but the latest are often little larger than thick credit cards-- so an expansion chassis may accept dozens or even hundreds of the cards, depending on the capacity of the chassis (some high end chassis may be as large as a closet).

Software upgrade cards often contain not only any specialty hardware required, but a special dedicated edition of the PC's operating system, customized for the software application in question (of course, not all cards incorporate their own customized operating systems, as many apps today have no need for an OS layer intermediary).

Each card also usually contains its own dedicated RAM, which simply cannot be accessed by other cards in a standard system. It's not uncommon for such cards circa 2010 to possess their own 128 to 512 MB RAM-- although contemporary software's heavy object orientation and AI-aided applications development have substantially reduced RAM requirements in general over the past ten years, in terms of what quantity of RAM is necessary to support a given level of functionality and reliability.

The PC typically also has much general purpose RAM of its own (in addition to individual card RAM), divided into two primary sections: one, 'overflow' or 'premium' memory, meant to provide added memory space for especially resource-intensive applications and databases, and/or RAM disks, all of which (according to the users' desires) may be totally cleared inbetween usages by different programs; and two, memory devoted to holding data in the process of being transferred from one application to another-- useful for things such as copy and paste operations or file transfers, for example. Should a PC user attempt to run a program which demands more RAM than is available locally, there's the option of using virtual memory via the net (when online, anyway). Net-based virtual memory is infinite, so far as most users are concerned. The only way a typical citizen could max out that memory space is basically via truly advanced hacking, or happening upon some extremely improbable software bug in their actions. Usually if there's a problem the net will inform the user of the local error, and how best to correct it. The net-based virtual memory is paid for via monthly service fees.

Typically a 'supervisory' OS acts as intermediaries between separate application cards installed in a PC, treating each card and/or peripheral device as a client in a local high speed network. This same OS also provides the primary conduit between all local resources and remote net elements.

This design, combined with object-oriented programming, has contributed much to the stability, robustness, and security of modern PCs in recent years, with little or no drawbacks in terms of providing a 'universal' platform for third party developers.

Of course, the design described above is somewhat demanding of RAM. So low end PCs typically use a less RAM intensive version of it, or else much different and older technology instead. Some variations of both these alternatives include: One, low end PCs which are little more than NCs with hard drives and/or removable media to enable greater standalone resources. Two, machines where hard drives/removable media are used as much slower, cheaper, and less reliable substitutes for much of the RAM used in pricier units. Three, greater use of net-based virtual memory than more expensive clients, and so on and so forth.

The printer too is undergoing substantial changes. For instance, the best units today no longer accept the old-fashioned reams of paper older printers did. Instead, their print media of choice now comes in the form of cartridges containing various liquids from which a wide array of paper-like material as well as colored inks may be produced. Not only print outs but envelopes too may be manufactured by the units (note that many envelopes and the documents they carry are merging today, with one sided print media incorporating a water and tear resistant outer layer to serve as the exterior of the envelope; the envelopes unfold to reveal their message to recipients; such envelopes also serve well to transport slim lightweight objects of other sorts too). The resource cartridges may produce a considerably larger volume of output than a late 20th century observer might expect from their size, as their chemicals are designed to pull some bulk from the surrounding air itself (though in locales of heavy use such as offices and schools, adequate ventilation may require confirmation for safety reasons). This new generation of printers with their new media are extremely versatile, capable of producing a wide array of paper sizes, shapes, and thicknesses, as well as graduations in transparency from totally opaque to truly transparent, and everything inbetween-- including color tinting of the medium.

Some modern printers also collate and bind output in various form factors as well-- such as paperback book form. This factor alone has helped make much hard media distribution mostly a local phenomenon: a local source of books will often print a desired hard copy on the spot from virtual storage rather than receive it in physical shipments as in circa 1995.

Both the new paper and colors may also be varied in terms of their resistance to damage or destruction, with the best output being immune to fire, tearing, folding, smearing, and highly resistant to puncture or cuts. Indeed, the industrial high end of the 'printer' market today is actually capable of producing chameleon-like color and pattern-changing clothing (actually printing electrical display circuitry onto cloth or other materials), light duty temporary portable displays resembling old fashioned paper but capable of dynamic imaging, and light duty to medium duty construction materials-- however, consumer units won't make substantial gains regarding those higher end capacities for another decade or two...

Sources include article(s) about the future of computing in PC WEEK, PC Magazine, on or about 3-7-97

Laying down luminescent plastics onto various mediums via inkjet printing...

-- YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS! VERY SMALL LIGHTS By Neil Gross EDITED BY ELLEN LICKING, Developments to Watch BusinessWeek: November 9, 1998, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

-- "Borders to try a new weapon: printing books inside its stores" By Rodney Ho of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, June 1, MSNBC

-- "A $1000 supercomputer?" by Mark Brownstein, IDG/CNN, June 15, 1999

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2010 milestone: The majority of new spacecraft delivered with long trailing tail wires (or the option thereof)

The reason is that "electrodynamic tethers" are simply too rich in cost-effective maneuverability and/or power generation possibilities in the vicinity of planet or moon-size magnetic fields, to leave out of craft designs.

Such trailing wires effectively provide a backup power source and manuevering system for any craft likely to encounter large magnetic fields in space. Both features can be critical in space travel.

-- EurekAlert!, "High wire act may be best way to explore Europa", March 13, 1998

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2010 milestone: The impact of the internet is allowing small business and new entrepreneurial startups to shake up the slower moving bureaucracies of the medical industry in many developed countries

In-office medical visits overall may have decreased by some 20% or more by now, compared to 1999.

-- Consumerism, e-commerce and biotechnology to cause changes in health system over next decade, worldwide PricewaterhouseCoopers study reports , EurekAlert!, 28 OCTOBER 1999, Contact: Karen Metropulos, karen.metropulos@us.pwcglobal.com, 312-701-6085, Porter Novelli, www.pwcglobal.com/healthcare

The squeeze on free time looks to get worse by 2004-2006 in developed states like USAmerica. Worker's jobs will increasingly intrude into their home and family environments. Consumer and business services will become much more important and diverse.

Corporations too will be pressured by the new trends, into becoming more forthcoming in regards to earnings and other matters, on a daily basis by 2010 or so, and eventually perhaps even on an hourly basis sometime later. The difference in responsiveness on such issues to the public may empower faster companies with the extra resources needed to buy out slower competitors (here we run into an increase in issues of anti-trust).

-- Gartner analysts envision the next tech revolution By Nancy Weil, InfoWorld.com, Oct. 16, 2000

Signposts 2009-2017 Contents

2013 milestone: Significant migration of human homes and businesses to sea-based and undersea locales is encouraged by new technologies and scientific discoveries...

...especially increasingly cost-effective apparatus for breathing underwater near indefinitely without need of resupply or critical maintenance. A combination of artificial gill technology and air recycling makes this possible. Complementary technologies include actual breathing of special oxygenated fluids for deeper undersea workers. Another crucial advance is in underwater communications: divers now can easily and coherently converse either vocally or subvocally (with computerized assistance), depending on their breathing apparatus and other undersea-related technologies. Diver awareness undersea has also been greatly expanded with computer-aided dolphin-like sonar capacities, helping illuminate what previously were often murky and mysterious depths to human perceptions (people find it much more comforting to be able to 'see' as far underwater as they are accustomed to on land). This newly increased vision capacity underwater also adds much to worker productivity in the environment.

Breathing like a fish

Perfluorocarbons can serve as a safe way to deliver oxygen to users in a liquid medium, and may someday help us more easily adapt to living undersea, as well as enjoy greater flexibility in spacecraft design and use.

The undersea adaptation help could come from equalizing the enormous pressures at the depths of the sea, in both our bodies and our housings and vehicles used there-- as illustrated in the film "The Abyss".

Submarine communities which possessed vehicles and homes filled not with air but oxygenated perfluorocarbons or other liquid mediums could not be catastrophically crushed by small leaks. Spacecraft with liquid breathing mediums might also lose such mediums much slower due to leaks than they would gaseous air. Plus, the constant resistance of swimming through such stuff would provide much needed resistance to help against the effects of microgravity on the human form. It might also provide some additional protection against radiation, and help buffer the worst effects of sudden accelerations, thereby increasing a spacecraft's maneuverability and fuel flexibility, as well as possibly top speed.

Perfluorocarbons are clear, transparent, odorless fluids that are denser than both water and most other bodily fluids. They are inert biologically, volatile in air, don't mix with water, but readily absorb and release the oxygen and carbon dioxide that are essential to the human respiratory process.

-- "MEDICINE: Breath of Fresh Liquid; Saving the sick by flooding their lungs", by W. Wayt Gibbs in San Francisco, found on the web on or about 1-14-99 (sorry, when saved to disk this was all the citation information it gave).

-- "Doctors turn fantasy into fact with liquid-filled lungs" by Roger Dobson, August 29 1999, The Sunday Times: Innovation: Medicine, http://www.sunday-times.co.uk, Times Newspapers Ltd.

Some of the earliest generic undersea housings/workstations resemble tall sunken towers floating underwater, with their tops bobbing just above the surface as VTOL landing pads and/or boat anchorages (eventually some groups of these tower tops grow into full-blown artificial atolls the size of small towns, with perhaps dozens or hundreds of towers dangling below them). The outside of the towers hold piping that, combined with internal turbines, automatically generate electricity for the complex from natural temperature variations between shallow and deep water. Partially submersible vessels do double duty as both boats and mini-towers among these fixtures; that is, they are designed to travel the seas horizontally like a standard 20th century ship or submarine, but also sink one end to become vertical and act as a tower such as described above.

The earliest and cheapest towers require location at or near the equator, but over time further technology advances allow the towers to slowly widen their region of viability to more temperate climes.

Typically positioned in ecologically 'empty' regions of the ocean, the towers do not interfere with previously existing ecosystems, but rather create their own new ones, as the churning of water they do enrich the shallows with nutrients from the depths. This enrichment allows a profusion of new life to develop in the vicinity of any tower, making such towers essentially fish farms in addition to whatever other purpose they are built for.

Eventually the economic break-even point of tower-based and other forms of aquaculture become competitive to or even superior to land-based agriculture. For quite a while this competitiveness isn't very controversial, as the two fields produce largely very different sorts of food. However, technology advances gradually enable each to cross over into the domain of the other, in terms of the output end consumers perceive. As this happens, the greater cost-effectiveness and profitability of aquaculture disrupts those big agricultural concerns which did not begin adequate migratory investing early on. The politico-economic fight between big agriculture and growing aquaculture also represents one of the earliest conflicts between the old line geopoliticals and the newly emerging virtual states-- a struggle between what is and what will be.

The growing demand for food due to a growing world population and increasingly rich palates of consumers, helps keep conflict to a minimum for a decade or two-- but after that amicability between the two factions deteriorates fast, not improving again for another decade or more (with news headlines of sabotage and adulturation of one or the others' products not an uncommon sight during the worst periods).

In the earliest days, the biggest obstacle to tower construction is the cost. Over $150 million for a net 59 megawatt generating tower, circa 1994 (The Millennial Project by Marshall Savage, page 40).

However, in the beginning, few of the actual towers are 59 megawatters, costing this much to construct. Instead, many are built by individual entrepreneurs or families, producing around 5 net megawatts or less, and being supplemented with other technologies for practicality. Towers and their crews are almost entirely self-sufficient after proper initial set up, and with appropriate ongoing maintenance. They are also profitable business concerns in one or more products or services as well.

-- "The Millennial Project" by Marshall Savage; Little, Brown, and Company, circa 1994

-- "'Fishboys' - the new cowboys of a world dependent on water...and ceramics.", Contact: Andrew McLaughlin Andrew_Mclaughlin@materials.org.uk 44-171-451-7395, Institute of Materials, 22 JUNE 1999

The desire to avoid many taxes and regulations imposed by land-based geopoliticals is also fueling the move into the sea.

-- U.S. Submarines SeaRoom Habitats and Freedom Ship - City At Sea]

Other possibly relevant links include: Triton 650 Luxury Submersible, The Discovery 1000 Luxury Submarine, and SeaView 10 acrylic tourist submarine.

As early as 2000 experimental aquaculture facilities were popping up in urban centers like Baltimore Maryland.

-- Downtown Fisheries? By J. Raloff, Science News Online, May 13, 2000; Vol. 157, No. 20

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1998-2013 milestone: Biochemical weapons and related defenses; hazardous waste disposal/recycling timeline

Click here to see the text of this section.

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2010-2015 milestone: By now the first international sea parks have been established...

...in order to reduce the alarming rate of species extinctions/mutations now underway, as well as protect the world's food supply from overfishing and continued poisoning from toxic wastes.

Some parks are fixed similar to national parks on land, but many are "mobile" and of shifting shape and size-- being located in different regions of the oceans according to different seasons and reasons.

A mostly volunteer group helps provide the security forces safe-guarding the areas in the beginning. Some (but not all) of the parks allow some tourist-related business to go on within their borders.

Environmental concerns have risen dramatically around the globe since the 20th century, as third world citizens became sufficiently prosperous to shift away from many previous worries about financial matters towards clean air and water and safe, plentiful food instead and the alarming pace of new species extinctions/mutations being reported from surprising spots about the planet. The oceans, wetlands, and rainforests have especially suffered the last few decades. The damage to the biosphere is becoming so obvious even many nations which otherwise oppose everything more civilized states propose are beginning to cooperate in new environmental initiatives.

Australian Sea Preservation Effort

Australia has launched action towards creating a sea preserve near the size of Russia and spanning three oceans, calling it an "Oceans Policy".

Basically the new policy seems meant to encourage commercialization of local marine environments with a minimum of damage or modification to the natural biospheric elements therein.

-- "Australia Launches Ocean Protection Policy" By Jane Nelson, Reuters Limited/Yahoo, 12-23-98

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2014 milestone: The wealthy of the developed nations now enjoy major organ replacements with astonishing medical warranties, as well as partial rejuvenation of their muscular systems to as much as half their true age

New and improved livers, kidneys, hearts, lungs, and more may now replace a person's own organs where necessary-- and be guaranteed not to fail unless radically abused in some way by the owner or their circumstances.

These replacement parts are bio-engineered to be the optimally performing organs compatible with each patient. Typically they are better than the ones the patient was born with, and highly unlikely to ever be the cause of such a patient's eventual death on their own.

Needless to say, these expensive replacement organs are in high demand by the populace at large, which leads to significant changes in many health insurance, government, and employee benefit programs and policies.

Geron Corp. apparently had found a way to isolate human "stem cells" for potential growth into replacement internal organs and related tissues, as far back as 1998.

The stem cells themselves also appeared capable of living much longer than the typical cells in an adult human body (maybe a minimum of five times as long, in fact).

Circa 1998 it was unclear how the lifespan of the cells was related to human aging-- perhaps it merely means the same batch of cells can be used indefinitely to manufacture organs (which themselves will age normally in a human body). But some media sources and investors seemed to have jumped to the conclusion that the cells could allow immortality of complete human beings in some way. Fueling this premature conclusion may have been previous announcements by Geron about genetic engineering techniques they'd found to perhaps reverse at least some elements of aging in testing. More fuel was added to the fire by a possibly erroneous statement indicating that the actual developed cells inserted into a patient's body might be immortal themselves.

If true-- true that we could gradually replace parts of ourselves with immortal cells-- then a few folks might actually be able to use this process long enough to make it to much more robust and repairable wholly inorganic or machine forms a few centuries from now.

Actual applications to human patients appeared at minimum ten years away (as of 1998), and even then might consist only of insertion of tissues to replace damaged muscles in hearts or brain or spinal cord tissue, as well as various treatments for cancer and diabetes, among other ailments.

-- "Biotech Firm Geron Soars On Eternal Life Hopes" By Mark Egan, 11-6-98, Yahoo, Reuters Limited

The aging process has been slowed in mice via genetic engineering. Specifically, age-related muscle decline has been practically eliminated. To use human analogs of the mouse results, an 80 year old human might enjoy a muscular system similar to that of a 40 year old. Treatments using the technology may be available after 2011.

-- Mighty Mice to Fight Aging, Muscular Dystrophy By Julia Hancock, Yahoo! Health Science Headlines, February 7, 2001

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2014 milestone: Spinal cord repairs and replacements are now available to the wealthy

New hope for spinal cord injuries?

Researchers recently fused together a severed guinea pig spine with a polymer called "PEG" (polyethylene glycol).

Five to fifteen minutes after applying the PEG, between 5 and 58% of the nerve impulses transmitted before severing had returned.

This may have been the first success with splicing a mammalian spinal cord ever recorded.

Note that if this method proves viable for human beings it may still be at least five to ten years before it's widely available to patients. Even then, it's likely that months or years of therapy would be required post-fusion for patients to actually regain a portion of the control and mobility they might hope for, as the resulting nerve pathways will likely be somewhat 'scrambled' from their original configuration, forcing a person to 'relearn' how to walk, etc., again.

-- "Researchers splice severed spinal cords", Purdue News, 11-12-98, and other sources

Brain and spinal cord repair

Nerve cells grown to order for transplantation into the injured or diseased is becoming a technological possibility.

--"Human Brain Cell Transplantation Study Aims To Reverse Nerve And Brain Damage", Cedars-Sinai Medical Center , 12-29-98

Stem cells not only act as master templates which can transform into many types of cells needed to heal an injury-- they may also move towards the damaged site naturally, on their own, to do the job (at least in some test cases so far).

-- Stem Cells Could Help in Cancer, Spine Injury, Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, April 10 2000

Lesser nerve system elements have also enjoyed vast improvements in regeneration and healing possibilities. Not only can nerve growth now be more accurately joined/directed after severing, but healing may also proceed 300-400% faster than it did circa 2000. Electrical stimulation is one of the techniques used in the advances.

-- Damaged Nerves Heal Faster With Electricity, 4/12/2000, Source: University Of Alberta (http://www.ualberta.ca/)

Electric stimulation via a new conductive polymer can aid the growth of peripheral nerves. A coating or distribution of a particular blood vessel sugar molecule along the polymer tube also helps the process. New nerves grow along the path laid down by the polymer and gradually replace it entirely as the polymer itself slowly dissolves in the biological environment. Past and present treatments require transplantation of nerves from lower priority locations to higher ones.

-- New Plastic Heals Damaged Nerves, 4/11/00, American Chemical Society (http://www.acs.org/), Second article URL: http://center.acs.org/applications/news//story.cfm?story=342

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2014 milestone: Commerce and employment are changing drastically in the developed nations...

Click here to see the text of this section.

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2009-2014 milestone: Vaccines and other drugs are becoming a normal ingredient in some food and drink ingested in the developed states now

-- "Plant Institute, UK Company To Test Potato Vaccine", Reuters/Yahoo! News, July 8 1999

-- Vaccine-Containing Tomato May Prevent Respiratory Virus, Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, August 4 2000

Increased nutritional richness in foodstuffs (sometimes targeted against specific vulnerabilities) is also becoming commonplace.

Food companies are digging deep via research to discover previously unrealized health benefits of legacy foods in order to reap marketing rewards. And where few or no benefits are found, they tweak the recipe to inject some.

-- 'Functional foods' are on the market By DANIEL Q. HANEY, Nando Media/Associated Press, November 21, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

-- Novartis Launches Food for Heart And Bones By Helen Jones, Yahoo!/Reuters Science Headlines November 16 1999

By 2010 it's expected that genetically-based personal drug profiles will dramatically cut costs and improve the quality of medical treatment for patients, by reducing the risk of adverse reactions. Around 2000 roughly 100,000 patients in USAmerica died from adverse drug reactions alone, per year.

Centrally-compiled databases of a population's profiles (where individuals are anonymous), should also help insure the widespread safety of drugs/vaccines added to mainstream foods and drink.

-- Experts: Personal Drug Profiles to Cut Side Effects By Patricia Reaney, Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, April 7, 2000

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2009-2014 milestone: Solar powered generation of electricity is becoming a rugged, reliable, and cheap source of energy-- and helping many poorer nations to accelerate their own development

-- "Solar roofs get trendy in California", CNN, July 15, 1999 (Correspondent Jim Hill contributor)

-- "Freeman's choice" by Marcus Chown, From New Scientist, 26 June 1999, discussing ideas from the book "The Sun, the Genome and the Internet" by Freeman Dyson, of Oxford University Press

In 1999 Paul Zambo in Cameroon invented an electrolysis device perhaps capable of cutting energy costs for billions worldwide by up to 90%.

The device economically uses a small electricity source to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas, which in turn may be burned as fuel. [The addition of solar cells to Paul's device might effectively make the energy produced from the invention virtually free].

-- "A miraculous new device created by an inventor in Cameroon is turning water into gas.", 30th June 1999, BBC Online - Tomorrow's World - Features - Cameroon Inventors, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ (possibly found online on or around 7th September 1999)

The semi-conductor material copper indium gallium diselenide has been found to 'self-heal' damage inflicted by environmental hazards such as radiation. Copper atoms actually move within the crystal lattice to rebuild sites damaged by external factors, similar in some ways to the healing processes of biological organisms.

-- "Self-Healing" discovered in a solar cell material, Contact: Jeffrey J. Sussman, Jeffrey@acwis.org, 212-779-2500, Weizmann Institute, 29 JUNE 1999

Copper indium gallium selenium solar cells have achieved 16.6-17.7% efficiency in the conversion of solar energy to electricity.

-- Swedish Team Sees Solar Power Competitive in 10 Yrs, Reuters/Yahoo! Tech Headlines, August 4 2000

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2012-2018 milestone: Full-powered throwaway portable personal internet clients (in psuedo laptop form factors) are becoming widely available for under $30 each

These devices are about the size and physical flexibility of an average printed magazine circa 1996. They offer much of the local, non-networked capability of a state-of-the-art computer laptop from the late nineties-- but with a non-recharged battery life extending for perhaps 24-72 hours of continuous use (and considerably longer in non-continuous use).

However, their real forte is as internet clients, allowing users convenient and disposeable access to their online accounts and databases.

Add a special recharging system (which doubles the total cost), and you get a pretty complete and reasonably functional internet client as well as local computing solution. However, the unit's somewhat awkward, limited, obsolete, and inconvenient physical interface options, combined with a robust market in alternative devices, makes this appliance appeal to only a niche market in the developed nations (as throwaway contingencies for business people, and cheap clients for low income students, for example)-- although it's quite a hit in the less developed states.

-- The $15 PC By Robert X. Cringely, found on or about 1-19-2001

Flexible, cheap circuitry will provide the means to truly make computing power ubiquitous throughout society. Organic circuitry is being studied as one possible solution; however, it tends to be slower than its inorganic cousins.

A promising new approach involves a hybrid of organic and inorganic technologies. The hybrids not only appear to offer the potential performance, economies, and flexibilities desired, but may also be printable like ink on paper.

-- Flexible Transistors By Peter Fairley, The Technology Review, January/February 2001

Advanced Lithium Batteries largely consist of a liquid similar to a polymer, which may thus be utilized in a wide manner of shapes and sizes (even as thin sheets) to enable a whole new generation of batter-powered devices.

-- Toshiba touts slimmer, stronger batteries By Richard Shim Special to CNET News.com February 13, 2001, http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1006-201-4802527-0.html?tag=prntfr

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2015 milestone: The net finally grows up; Human endeavors worldwide are being synchronized and coordinated like never before; Speech in telephone calls between foreign nations is often translated both ways via computer in realtime; Cool-to-the-touch, immortal LED replacements for incandescent light bulbs (which cut home electrical costs by 20%) are becoming available

Though pretty much everyone in the developed nations has had access to the internet for a decade now, only in recent years has the net as a whole become as reliable, fast, and easy-to-use in those regions as many thought it should have been way back in 1997. Unfortunately, net reliability/accessibility/performance continues to lag behind in places like third world nations, even today.

Locating up-to-date, useful, relevant, and reliable information on the net today is for many a near automatic and transparent process. Many users enjoy software-based agents or proxies capable of locating and stockpiling information their users want almost before the user realizes they want it.

Of course, as always, the well heeled enjoy a certain amount of greater convenience and access to certain narrow niches of information that the less financially well off do not. However, for most circumstances this particular disparity isn't large enough to concern many lower income users. Where discrepancies tend to rile people the most these days is in the realm of entertainment and recreational media on the net...

Near-immortal replacements for incandescent light bulbs could be on the way in the form of gallium-nitride computer chip LEDs (light emitting diodes) encased in coated glass-- which, besides relieving users of the chore of changing bulbs, could also cut household electricity costs by 20%.

The new bulbs also require only 12 rather than 120 volt electrical power sources, making them immediately applicable to the auto and other vehicle industries as well.

-- Everlasting light bulbs - 4/6/2000 - Features - Environmental News Network By Claude Morgan, April 6, 2000

Some experts expect realtime speech translation in international telephone calls by 2010.

-- ABCNEWS.com: Man and Machine Blur in Next Millennium By John Lang, Scripps Howard News Service, October 27 1999

-- Searching questions; Interview by Victor Keegan of Sergey Brin of Google, November 23, 2000, Guardian Unlimited

The widespread combination of computer and networking technologies today is enabling a new level of precise and widespread synchronization in human efforts worldwide, thereby cutting costs, improving quality, and increasing productivity on major projects of all sorts-- and spurring planners to dream up astonishing new goals for ever bigger and more impressive government and corporate endeavors.

The robust synchronization of human endeavor at this time may be at its strongest in the realms of transactions and employment. The greater efficiency and satisfaction it brings to the job fulfillment category helps minimize both unemployment rates and wage inflation-- because workers often trade incremental wage increases for other benefits such as health insurance, flexible working hours, guaranteed geographical stability (or instability, as personal preferences dictate), a freer hand in how they perform their work, and/or telecommuting options. Workers are also often willing to forego wage increases in return for gaining or keeping a job they enjoy doing.

To be sure, some businesses and workers do suffer from the new efficiencies, as profit margins are often tightened even as customer demands for better service and quality go up, due to competitive pressures. Quite a few businesses go bankrupt, and many workers must endure periodic re-training and re-education. But new business startups abound, and worker re-training/re-education options are more flexible, enjoyable, and economical than ever. Plus, the downward pressures on prices in many fields benefit not only consumers but many businesses as well.

-- Mankind Pursues Forbidden Fruit, Via Computer JAY BOOKMAN; COMPUTER NEWS DAILY - NYT SYNDICATE/Cox News Service, http://www.coxnews.com, found on or about 4-11-2000

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com

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2015 milestones in on-person gear

Embedded wireless miniature telephones and Global Positioning Systems equipment are becoming commonplace in certain outdoor clothing items like skiing and hiking apparel. Disposeable tracer chips are offered free to parents to place in their children's pockets in shopping malls and amusement parks in case the children get lost (in some cases tiny tracer chips may be swallowed by the child in a treat, and be eliminated hours later by normal digestive processes).

-- Smart Chips Bring Consumer Product Surprises By Marcel Michelson, Yahoo/Reuters October 29 1998

Adaptive optics are being used to make better contact lenses and more effective eye surgeries related to clearer vision. They are also making contributions to improved eyeglasses and sunglasses.

-- Supernormal Vision By CORINNA WU, Science News Online, November 15, 1997 , http://www.sciencenews.org

Signposts 2009-2017 Contents

2015 milestone: First and second class users utilize Network Computers, third class users still burdened with PCs...

The typical 2015 USAmerican/other developed state citizen is using what in 1997 we'd have recognized as an NC (Network Computer), while the typical third world citizen is using a more complex, more expensive, and less reliable personal computer (something similar to what many 1997 users had sitting on their desks).

Though there's a flood of 'free' low end NCs available to choose from now, most any premium NC actually purchased by a user in 2015 can be upgraded to awesome workstation capabilities relatively easily. Elements involved may or may not include something similar to having cable TV installed in one's 1997 home, as well as switching out a smaller monitor for a larger one, and perhaps plugging in a more advanced interface device like a digitizing pad.

Many variations of these appliances retain a size and form factor similar to much older set tops primarily in order to make room for removable media, I/O connectors, and a minimal set of physical controls. The actual electronics inside are miniscule, but equivalent to perhaps a dozen circa 1999 high end PCs. Other models are wireless mobiles equipped with their own displays; these too look remarkably similar to much older devices in overall size and shape. But batteries in portables now may last a year or more for many users.

-- Second U.S. Team Takes Step Toward Tiny Computer By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent, Yahoo!/Reuters Tech Headlines November 19 1999

-- Calif. Engineers Report Chip Breakthrough, Yahoo!/Reuters Tech Headlines, November 22 1999

Personal computers as we knew them in 1997 are no longer being manufactured in significant numbers in the developed nations; instead, the old style PCs (or the form factor we were familiar with in 1997-1998) are purchased for scrap in nations like USAmerica and then resold in third world countries to the poor.

Why aren't NCs displacing PCs in even the less developed nations too? Because many poorer nations in 2015 still don't enjoy an adequate telecommunications infrastructure to support NCs; therefore they need systems that may also function as standalones. Too, even in poor states which do possess a sufficient infrastructure, telecommunications fees are often prohibitively expensive for practical NC use. The bottomline is that the developed states' old PCs trickle down to (or are built for) third world citizens as the more fortunate in the developed states tend to utilize the entire internet as their platform, rather than a single, limited desktop machine.

-- Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for April 19, 1998: "Global Web: Driving the International Network Economy"

-- "Net appliances to get edge on PCs, IDC says" by Kathleen Ohlson, InfoWorld Electric 6-17-98

Signposts 2009-2017 Contents

2015 milestone: Mainstream digital TV undertakes yet another major standards/format change in the developed nations; Digital scents are becoming a mainstream technology

This change is multi-pronged. The high end 2-D image quality of HDTV which was defeated by cheaper SDTV (or similar technologies) a decade or more before is now ready for prime time in terms of cost. However, this alone would not be sufficient to lure government, business, and consumers into yet another new round of format changes for mainstream TV viewing. Luckily, HDTV-like tech isn't alone in new technologies which are now ready for widespread commercialization.

Basic PC/set top/net technologies have long been incorporated into most new televisions sold by now. Net/PC savvy remotes and keyboards and DVD player/recorders and FireWire and USB ports are all hum drum elements as well. Basic speech recognition is also ubiquitous for many daily tasks now (if not all).

No, the other new technologies which are helping HDTV finally become a consumer standard include open-ended bandwidth and three dimensional imagery and interaction. Bandwidth supply in most regions of the developed nations has only recently surpassed demand by a comfortable margin, and the necessary delivery infrastructure is finally in place in 'the last mile' to consumer residences, after many lengthy delays and technology updates. Low end 3D consists of helmets and visors that interface with the TV appliance, while the high end adds a full body suit and gyroscopic acrobatic appliance in which the user normally assumes the sleeping astronaut crouch position, when idling. This crouching position is aided/encouraged/supplemented by the body suit and gyroscopic cage, and primarily is a part of the design to make the overall appliance small enough to fit within the average home or apartment (Users with larger rooms may opt for a less cramped body appliance). The body suit includes an electrically reactive inner layer of fixed gel which may apply heat, cold, and textures, as well as low frequency sound and even simulated physical blows to the wearer's skin, to make virtual environments more realistic. Significant factions of the public find some capacities of these 3D cages alarming, repulsive, and dangerous, and strive for years to ban them completely or else substantially downgrade them in certain ways-- to no avail.

Rentals of the cages will become hugely popular for use in remote dating, as well as 'instant mini-vacations' in the years ahead.

The 3D cages may optionally include drink and food feeds to the wearer-- as well as hook ups for other bodily functions to cater to extended play (for hardcore gamers).

These 3D technologies are primarily used for games, but not exclusively. More and more telecommuting/employment/education uses are being found for them as well.

The growth in access to the 3D cages spawns a whole new content creation industry to support them. Just some of the major fields of endeavor include:

* Nostalgic interactive three dimensional transformations of old 2D television and film works; i.e., a wearer may become Indiana Jones or Captain Kirk, and explore possibilities of a particular original scenario not pursued in the 2D fixed version.

* The same as the above, but for old video/computer games.

* Accelerated training for various jobs/employment, military training, or recreational hobbies and sporting games.

* Enhancement of exercise sessions.

* Enhanced educational classes and 'field trips'.

* Emergency backup systems for airliners and other mass transport; i.e., an airliner which loses all pilots onboard may have its controls taken over by a pilot on the ground using a 3D cage as the interface.

* 3D experiences based on popular novels.

Another expansion of the TV and VR experiences is stemming from widespread use of digital scents.

Digital aroma technologies have been around for quite a while now. However, marketing and interface problems, as well as maintenance needs, spotty compatibility, and sometimes incompetent initial applications, have limited their scope for much of their early history. For example, there are cases where the same scent may offer wonderful perceptions to the majority of consumers-- but be plain repulsive to a minority, such as allergy sufferers and others. Thus, a system of ratings must be put in place and individual consumers classified according to their own scent preferences/sensitivities, at some point. And such scent classifications must be updated perhaps several times during a given person's lifespan, due to the physiological changes associated with aging, and increasing capacities of the scent technologies themselves. Scent cartridges for non-single use items also require replacement similar to how late 20th century printers needed ink tank changes (although as of 2015 high end scent-makers on the horizon look to render resupply maintenance virtually negligible).

But recently entertainment industry competition, plunging technology costs, and improved interface techniques have all combined to bring digital scents into the mainstream. Another factor is the raw sensual power of aroma-- at least for much of the population. In many instances it may evoke emotional reactions as powerful as the best musical scores did for feature films in the 20th century. Digital scents can also make experiences more memorable, as odors are so closely tied to human memory functions. Thus, word-of-mouth regarding new scent-enabled rides at amusement parks, or films, or online games, offer lots of free marketing clout to those firms using the technology-- at least until it becomes ubiquitous, thereby leveling the playing field once again.

Other aspects to digital scent generation include possible disinfectant of the living spaces they are used in, as well as the addition of pheromones (aromas which may enhance sexual sensations). Digital scents are also increasingly applied to foodstuffs for greater flexibility and range of tastes for food and drink, often at lower costs than other methods. Parents often may use it to change the tastes of foods they otherwise could not get their children to eat.

"Reekers" (the odor equivalent of 'speakers') are becoming ubiquitous.

-- You've Got Smell! By Charles Platt, Archive | 7.11 - Nov 1999 | Feature Wired Digital, Inc. The Conde Nast Publications Inc. DigiScents, Inc.(http://www.digiscents.com/) may be another relevant link (found on or about February 1, 2000)

The relatively sudden widespread adoption of the new technology brings with it occasional reports of puzzling events involving its use-- but no one takes much notice.

Signposts 2009-2017 Contents

1997 through 2015 sub trends and detours; technology begins radically reshaping our 20th century world into something startlingly different

Author's Note: This lengthy section has been moved to allow greater expansion in text and graphics. Please click here to view reshaping of our 20th century world section.

Signposts 2009-2017 Contents

2000- 2015: If humanity faces a major threat from an asteroid impact anytime soon (like before 2050) we're likely aware of it by 2015 or before

By around 2015 scientists should have mapped out 90% of the threatening asteroids in the void (comets are another story).

-- No escaping asteroids Dr David Whitehouse, Sci/Tech BBC News, 12 January, 2000, http://www.bbc.co.uk

Keep in mind that 10% of the potential asteroid threats may still remain unknown in 2015. So until that last 10% is surveyed, we still face a significant risk of a surprise asteroid impact over coming decades.

Signposts 2009-2017 Contents

2015 milestone: The Voyager 1 and 2 space probes are enduring multiple shock waves as they pass through a 'wall' in space roughly 50 au in thickness...

[Astronomical Units; one au is equal to the distance between the Earth and the Sun; about 150 million km].

The wall is composed of denser than usual hydrogen gas, according to Gary P. Zank, a theoretical astrophysicist at Bartol Research Institute, University of Delaware.

The wall is actually a boundary layer between our solar system's heliosphere and the rest of space. Our sun's solar wind creates a bullet-shaped protective bubble about the solar system called the heliosphere, which (among other things) helps make the climate on Earth conducive to life. However, our heliosphere can shrink in size and effectiveness when we pass into a region of denser gas in space (or impact a gas cloud).

For some time now (5 million years) we've enjoyed a fairly big heliosphere because we were traveling though a very low density region of space, where our heliosphere could easily push off the scant hydrogen gas of the void. However, that's going to change sometime in the future-- possibly without warning.

We could hit a cosmic cloud at least a hundred times denser than our present space anytime. Such an event could expose us to damaging cosmic radiation and substantial climate changes, as it essentially sweeps away our protective heliosphere. One almost certain impact could come within 50,000 years via a cloud from the Aquila Rift. There's also the Local Fluff, or random cloud clusters much nearer to our present location than the Aquila Rift monster-- and almost impossible to detect for reasons of warning or analysis of possible impact consequences before-the-fact, due to our instrumentation not yet being sufficiently sensitive for such things.

-- "UD Space News: Cosmic Cloud Could Burst Earth's 'Breathing Bubble,' New Bartol Computer Simulation Shows", 28 May 1998, University of Delaware

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2016 milestone: By now field-powered temporary incapacitation devices are being surgically implanted in certain convicted criminals

The devices make it much easier to deal with known repeat offenders and/or violent criminals, as the subjects can be incapacitated at a range of 25 feet by the radio broadcast of a particular encrypted number sequence and an accompanying energizing field.

Essentially this is a self-contained 'stunning' system planted into a criminal's own body, which will 'shut down' that criminal physically on demand at the behest of an authorized law enforcement officer or similar official.

In certain locations and contingencies a 'shotgun' or 'wide-net' field may be applied to incapacitate any and all such implanted persons who happen to be in range at the time, such as when alarms have been tripped in certain bank vaults and the like. Some private homes also have them installed to automatically incapacitate potential thieves or child abductors who might enter the residence (due to liability concerns, the devices typically only apply to the less public areas of a home, such as the bedrooms of children, rather than the living rooms).

A somewhat related system (for tracking purposes only) is being surgically implanted in children so that anytime they pass certain types of broadcast stations (hidden in malls, parks, parking lots, gas stations, convenience stores, etc.) their field-powered implant informs those stations of the child's ID, and the child's location is relayed back automatically to a central database. In kidnapping/disappearance cases where implanted children are missing, this tracking system often helps relocate and recover them within a matter of days or weeks.

Both children and mentally impaired elderly can be tracked for safety and security reasons via a low cost coin-sized badge and monitoring unit (the "Safe Distance Locator Device") invented by East Tennessee State University professor Mark Rajai and his engineering students.

One central receiver unit can track up to 50 individuals at once, at adjustable distances of 2-400 feet, beeping an alarm if/when an individual moves outside the distance deemed safe. The price of a minimal system may be as low as $40.

-- "Engineering students invent beepers aimed at stopping child abductions" By ANGELA K. BROWN, Nando Media/Associated Press, April 23, 1999

Take one business card-sized GPS (Global Positioning System) card, add the guts of a cell phone plus antenna, and you get the gist of the new 1.5 pound "SatCel" kid tracker, which can be hidden in a backpack or fanny pack. The unit guards its battery life by staying in low power standby mode unless and until a call from the tracking center activates its GPS function, allowing the child's whereabouts to be seen by satellite. Cost may be $200 upfront for the onperson unit and $5 per month for the service.

Bill Brown and Dan Booker, founders of Protect Me Toys in Anderson, South Carolina are the creators of the system.

-- "Satellite device helps locate lost children" By ALLEN G. BREED, Nando Media/Associated Press, April 25, 1999

Signposts 2009-2017 Contents

1997-2017 sub trends and detours; Civilians worldwide often find themselves on the frontlines of conflict as geopolitical power begins giving way to sociopolitical power

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