Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Google Earth is still staggering

My wife and I are in our mid 40s. At dinner the other night we were trying to imagine what the world might look like in 20 years, taking the median assumption that it would change less than one might expect. So no climate crash, oil exhaustion, teenage bioweapons, gray goo nano, reengineering brains, China bust, ocean exhaustion and (especially) no sentient AI. For that matter no meteors or super volcanoes, alien visitors, or massive suboceanic landslides. Ok, so gas is $20/gallon, but I'll have a really trick trike.

The median assumption is not unlikely. I have a hunch that our inter-connected world is increasingly a self-reinforcing system, that shows some emergent properties of homeostasis and healing. Even incompetent governance of the world's most "powerful" nation may be corrected by system level effects. After all, if I were to be transported from 1986 to 2006 I'd probably not notice many differences on the surface. I might notice it was hard to find a payphone and that people seemed to talk to themselves quite a bit. Ok, so that's a bit weird.

But then there's Google Earth. That still manages to astound. I played with it on my PC at work, but it really is impressive on my iMac at home. The overlays of photographs and links to wikipedia articles have added an entirely new dimension since I last looked. It gives me a wee sense of the future shock I got when my friend Paul Kleeberg showed me Gopher [1] at a family medicine meeting @ 1992-1993.

I do need to contribute some twin cities photos. We are very under-represented.

[1] Wikipedia claims Mozilla Firefox 1.5 is the only mainstream browser app to still include Gopher support. It was added after 1.0. Odd!

Update 10/11: I edited my original to link back into some earlier related notes of mine, and to strengthen the case for the median prediction.

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