ONE OF THE BEST PIECES OF ADVICE
I ever received when my kids were young was
this: “Your job as a parent is to prepare your
children for their future.” For their future, not the one
that you grew into — that’s their past. So when my
kids got old enough to be interested, I started News
From the Future as a private mailing list for them
and their friends, wanting to send them stories that
I thought might help prepare them for what may
come. But it’s also great grist for a stream-of-consciousness news feed in the style of Harper’s “The future is here. It’s just not evenly
Weekly In that spirit, here are some headlines from distributed yet.” — William Gibson
recent news stories….
Korean roboticist Kim Jong-Hwan has developed fingerprint” service, and Alaskan researchers created
“artificial chromosomes” he says will allow robots to an artificial aurora they say might one day be useful
feel lusty, and could eventually lead them to repro- for writing advertising messages on the night sky.
duce. UK researchers have developed a computer Scientists at the University of Manchester have
that was able to learn “rock, paper, scissors” by developed an inkjet printer that can print human
watching humans play the game, and at the University cells, and a Chicago chef prints out flavored-paper
of Bath, a tiny sensor drone powers itself by feeding sushi. Ophthalmologists at Rush University Medical
on dead flies. A University of Minnesota team has Center implanted artificial silicon retina microchips in
constructed synthetic DNA that could be used to the eyes of five patients, and in San Diego, researchers
direct the assembly of computer circuits. Meanwhile, plan to hold an arm-wrestling match between a
some Lexus cars may be vulnerable to infection by a human being and an artificial arm made from
virus transmitted via Bluetooth from mobile phones. electroactive polymers. A Utah State University
New Orleans is experimenting with IP-based professor plans RFID-equipped robots to guide
surveillance cameras on a wireless mesh network in blind people to products in the supermarket. And a
high-crime neighborhoods. A new service uses company in Los Angeles is taking orders for geneti-cellphone location to track how fast teens are driving, cally engineered hypo-allergenic cats. Freeman Dyson
and sends alerts back to parents, while California is wonders if we’re ending the “Darwinian interlude.”
entertaining proposals to require GPS in all cars so At MIT, a space elevator prototype successfully
that it can tax miles driven rather than gasoline used. climbed a 260-foot building. A group of amateur
China plans to launch 100 surveillance satellites by astronomers processed the raw images of Titan
2020. But the surveillance society won’t be without from the Huygens probe faster than the official space
its countermeasures, and its rats hiding in the walls. agencies. A new solar-sail design could theoretically
HP just received a patent on a system for broad- reach Mars in a month. NASA is looking at commercial
casting an “image inhibitor” signal that would fuzz alternatives for space-station resupply, and a private
facial images captured by a digital camera. space-flight bill was signed into law.
Never mind outsourcing — the spread of GPS Seen signs of a future not yet widely distributed?
navigation systems is leading to the closure of Report news from the future to email@example.com.
lighthouses along the German coast. Meanwhile, To sign up for the News From the Future mailing
imaginary worlds are big business: traffic in LA was list, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
snarled as thousands tried to get to a new-release You can get URLs for the referenced stories at
event with the creators of the World of Warcraft makezine.com/02/nff.
MMORPG. Maria Schneider won a Grammy for an
album financed by her fans and distributed only on Tim O’Reilly ( tim.oreilly.com) is the founder and CEO of
the web. A Seattle supermarket introduced a “pay by O’Reilly Media, Inc.