On New Year’s Day 2020, I noted that we are not living in a future with flying cars, much less floating cities patrolled by superheroes. As I said then, that’s the downside, but the upside is that we’re not living in this either…
How quickly reality likes to disabuse us of our quaint notions.
Ok, so it’s not exactly like the way the 80s envisioned 2020, but let’s look around us –
- Computer and communications networks linking nearly the entire world
- Global economy teetering on the brink of collapse
- People being socially ostracized for thinking outside the Officially Approved Narrative
[from the sourcebook NeoTribes, 1995]
- Corporations essentially ruling, or at least strongly influencing, the world
- Worldwide pandemic, with people wearing facemasks outside to avoid breathing the “bad air”
I’m sure you can think of more. The Cyberpunk book even mentions something called “Storm Technologies” coming to prominence into 2019 and 2020, which might amuse any Qanon fans out there.
But not William Gibson, not Rudy Rucker, not “The Mighty Bruces” Bethke and Sterling, not even Mike Pondsmith and the crew at R. Talsorian predicted this.
A prototype smart toilet that can identify you by your “analprint” and monitor your trip to the loo has been created by researchers at Stanford University. It’s equipped with cameras and sensors that collect information on your bodily waste, and it uses that data to look for any health issues you might have.
The “analprint” is the toilet’s primary way of identifying each user. Much to the authors’ dismay, it’s also the aspect of the toilet that’s gotten the most attention since the paper describing the proto-toilet was published in a press release and the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering on Monday.
“It’s a minor part of our system,” Seung-min Park, a senior research scientist at Stanford University and the paper’s lead author, told The Verge.
The article reports that the inspiration for “analprints” was Salvador Dali. Somehow not surprised.
It’s not a bad idea, in theory. It could help people discover health problems before they become serious. But of course, it can’t be that simple.
The article cites privacy concerns, which are well-founded in a bizarrely disturbing way – the government has always been up your ass, but this makes it literal. But the article also notes “due to the fixed camera angles of the GoPro, the smart toilet would film female genitalia in addition to the anal region, which is why the first study included an all-male participant pool.”
Imagine your toilet being hacked.* Not only are you at risk for identity-theft-by-ass-recognition, you might end up the star of the show on the internet somewhere. With your identity clearly known.
The forthcoming game Cyberpunk 2077, dark and oppressive as it is, might be looking a little too optimistic.
H/T to this Redstate article I found while researching , and to Ace of Spades HQ, your go-to source in all toilet-related concerns.
*Now there’s a phrase I never envisioned writing.
As the year nears its end, let’s look back on the past of the future. Tomorrow was different back then.
Edmond Hamilton was a science fiction writer and primary driver behind Captain Future, a juvenile-oriented space opera series. Known as the “Man of Tomorrow” and “Wizard of Science,” The Captain sailed through many adventures…
Hey, wait, what’s he doing fighting that other Man Of Tomorrow? And did he get a promotion?
Colonel Future appeared in Superman #378 in 1982, and threw down with Supes. But who is this mystery man?
Upon recovering from his ordeal, Hamilton did what any scientist would do in his situation…. don a retro-futuristic costume and embark on a career of crime.
A man gifted and cursed with the power to see the future…. but only when in mortal danger. This was a pretty wild idea in comics at the time, and kinda blew my 12-year old mind.
Superman flies off to find Colonel Future stealing more scientific equipment, and once again fails to stop him. Our Hero begins to wonder if the Colonel really is a man from the future, as he seems to know exactly how to best Superman at every turn.
Following another defeat, Supes flies off to deal with the threatening asteroid…
The good Colonel learned his lesson… or so it seemed.
Colonel Hamilton returned in 1984…
…after having a vision that convinced him Superman was soon going to die.
Unlike the first story, which was pretty clever and engaging, this one turned out to be rather lame. The guy at the end of the page is dressed as Superman to collect for a charity drive. Several others are doing the same, and some criminals get the idea of infiltrating by wearing Superman costumes and stealing the money. Through a complicated event chain, Hamilton ends up in a costume and gets shot at and techinically dies until resuscitated by Superman, fulfilling his vision.
The story did give us this neat sequence, though –
There’s also a brief scene of Hamilton congratulating a Dr. Isaacs on a proposal for a navigation system for the space shuttle. Perhaps a shout-out to another science fiction writer turned supervillain?
BONUS ROUND: In 1978, four years before this Colonel Future appeared, there was another version in a retro-style Superman story set in the 1940s…
The Colonel was of course stopped, and four years later he appeared again, lamenting how his failure to kill Superman had hurt his standing among the supervillain community –
And that was it for this version of the Colonel. He was last seen in July 1982, a mere 5 months before the jetpack version first showed up and replaced him.
Indeed, the first Colonel didn’t even get a write-up in 1985’s Who’s Who series, listing nearly every DC Comics character that ever appeared, while the not-so-villainous villain version got a full page…
So just how did Edmond Hamilton come to be connected to Superman, anyhow? A couple of readers wrote in asking that it be explained for younger readers, and one even suggested a possible inspiration for the story of Colonel Future –
Strangely, the editor’s response didn’t mention that longtime Superman editor Mort Weisinger created Captain Future in the first place!
Extra Trivia Bonus: Captain Future’s real name was Curt Newton. The first appearance of each version of Colonel Future was drawn by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan, who drew some of Hamilton’s Superman stories. A second appearance of the first Colonel was drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. All of which, I’m sure, probably amused the writers and editor of the stories.
Coyote writes about a new gift idea –
T-shirts with the entire text of great books printed on them. Here is the one for Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. My son wanted a George Orwell one but there are none available as of yet. Most seem to be books old enough to be in the public domain, which is likely no accident, though there are a few newer books.
All the great books as a fashion statement. I wonder what Da GBFM (TM) thinks? Lozllozlozlozlzolzlzlozzlzlzzzzzzzzzz
The book is well worth reading. I’ve seen examples of SJW attacks and tactics in my own life, and they happened pretty much in the manner Vox describes. He lays out strategies for anticipating and dealing with them. If they haven’t happened to you or someone you know, it’s just a matter of time.