The future of relationships

May 26 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Relationships   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Technology promises radical change in relationships.

We are in the midst of a sea of change, in which not only are many traditional relationships failing, but unexpected new arrangements are beginning to appear; gay marriages are becoming increasingly popular, and many people are consciously choosing to live alone. How does technology affect relationships? Telephones, cameras, and camcorders have long been instrumental in bringing people together. Today, many spend time chatting on the phone or the Internet – trying to develop or strengthen friendships.

Now technology is entering a bold, but controversial new step. In the UK, University of Redding’s Kevin Warwick, and his wife Irena will soon link their emotions together with chip implants. Tiny silicon chips will enable the couple to “read” each other’s feelings wherever they are. Every feeling – positive and negative – will be shared.

This technology will not be endorsed by everyone. Many believe sharing every feeling is too invasive – some feelings need to be private. But we live in a time when over half of all marriages end in divorce, so researchers in their search to fill needs, examine where technologies might help. (cont.)

By 2015, wall-size, 3D voice-interactive screens with huge-bandwidth Internet capacity will bring life-size images of family members and friends into our homes. This will be a boon to the elderly who have precious little contact with people. Interactively talking with an image on a screen could be a life-saver to some.

By 2020 or before, electronic contact lenses will produce computer-generated overlays on what we see in the real world. If your partner’s physical appearance is not quite up to standard, you can digitally enhance what you see, or replace it completely with something closer to your dreams.

By mid-2020s, holographic virtual reality will enable images to leave the screen and appear as virtual real people in hologram form. Nanobots will provide a sense of touch making the image seem real. Wrap your arms around the hologram and you feel the touch.

By late 2020s, nanotech will connect the hologram to your body. It follows you everywhere; and can appear and disappear on command.

By 2030, the real fun begins – simulated reality. Unlike virtual reality, which can easily be distinguished from reality, simulated reality describes an environment impossible to tell from “real” reality. A program would be downloaded from the Internet depicting any scene our mind can conjure up – a friendly chat with family members or friends; or even a wild romantic encounter with a stranger.

Psychologists say simulated reality could become the addiction of the future. Some people might prefer to spend most of their time in simulated reality adventures, depriving themselves of real life.

Philosopher Nick Bostrom offers an even deeper thought on simulated reality. He suggests that our world may not be real at all – we could already be living in a simulation. “Given sufficient technology,” he says“, it is possible an advanced civilization could simulate entire inhabited planets, including all the people on them.”

If he is right, I hope whoever created us marked me for health, success, happiness, and an indefinite lifespan. Comments welcome.

What technology in this article do you find most exciting?

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