We, that is everyone, are bad at predicting the future.
Only occasionally does Nostradamus appear.
Here is my guess for the next big thing; equivalent to the atomic bomb, telephone or printing press.
It is mind reading.
Not the out and out reading of minds as such, rather the translation of brain-waves into intelligible language that another can understand.
You see, this exists already.
It is well known that the military have technology that is available at least 10 years before the rest of society – take microwave ovens, night-vision cameras and GPS, for example. Well, you see, they already have this.
What happens is, the ‘receiver’ has to wear special equipment – a relatively (as of January 2019), cumbersome head-kit with shiny red and yellow electrodes and antennae, yet the ‘transmitter’ i.e. the person who is having their thoughts read just needs to be nearby – they don’t need to wear anything special (Otherwise, what would be the point? – the army would just use more reliable, tried and tested methods such as waterboarding.)
The devices currently have a range of approximately 14 meters – anything further and, particularly if there are others around, the interference level becomes too great. This, in the jargon is referred to as ‘cacophony.’
Clearly these big head-wearing devices that currently are only available to special ops personnel or, those on espionage missions wouldn’t work for everyday people (you and me) – a little like the origins of the mobile phone – remember Dom Jolly? (Hello… I can’t hear you! I am on a mobile phone…) For this technology to become truly revolutionary, the receiver (that is, the device, rather than the person), will have to become something more like an ear bud. They’d need to be relatively unobtrusive, but once engineered, off you go.
What effect will this tech have?
Well, as with all revolutions, it is impossible to predict.
The end of private or personal thought? The end of people thinking bad things about others? ‘Die, you bastard!’ Would people become risk averse? Ashamed to express certain thoughts?
It is commonly accepted by adherents of Cognitive Psychology that thought processes are malleable. I think what I think I think when I want to think.
Sure, there is mind-wandering, but real, purposeful thought can be controlled.
They try to do this in North Korea; fortunately, this tech is only in the hands of the Mossad and hasn’t been put on the general market, although the inevitable will surely happen. (I can imagine Tim Cook getting excited already.)
With these ideas you could also envisage the sale of lead-helmets; thought protecting defences that those with particularly pernicious or sinister tendencies might opt to wear. Then again, unless these counter-measures were unobtrusive themselves they would be a bit of a giveaway.
‘Look at Eric over there with the metal Kippah, I always knew his thoughts weren’t healthy’ – indeed, this would be an inadvertent red-flag for dubious ideation.
And, what of the world where mind-reading becomes commonplace (like smart phones today)? My theory is that this would support the next big step in the evolution of mental- health. Why? Well, imagine:
(Actually, for this, both parties would need to wear the buds) –
Romeo and Francesca.
It would be a little like old long-wave radios tuning-in, negotiating climactic conditions;
….hungry….red…..palaeolithic….she has never liked me…too late for dinner…..cough medicine…….rabies……gigolo…..I wonder…did she look at me?.. Is it love that I am feeling…chameleon……….Santander..grey….red…..apple..Vote Labour..it has always been and always.I’m a believer…..remember the Alamo….Malvinas……Puerto radish…. Cinema?….Next Friday?
Yes – it will be a babble and, a whole new profession of thought interpreters will appear – you didn’t think it was ever going to be easy? Stephen Fry narrating the ideas of your beau or rival.
With the evolution of the analysis would develop the realisation amongst people that as their thoughts are potentially open to scrutiny, they had better watch what they think.
People would wear thought-doms or, if not available, they would have to only allow nice ideas, positive, cosy notions to enter into their consciousness. And the consequence? Everyone thinking pleasant thoughts?
Well, it would be the new age of Aquarius, 21st Century hippies would emerge and, everyone would be happy.
Not tomorrow, but soon.