|By Clyde Lewis
In 2001 it was announced that IT had arrived. IT is being touted as the most revolutionary thing and that it will have as much impact as the PC and the Internet. IT is about to be unveiled to the public. Now as of this writing only a few people know what IT is. Mysteries allow a lot of speculation as to what IT might be. Regardless of what IT is there is still room for someone to bring up what IT should be. Or what IT could be. One thing is for sure with all of the nihilistic and dark views of the future IT better be something spectacular.
An article is making the rounds on the Internet and it was even spoken about in the Morning news shows sandwiched between Howardís retards and Strippers and traffic on the "9ís." It simply was a story that talked about a revolutionary new invention simply called "IT."
"IT" has a nickname. "IT" has been known as Ginger and it comes in the Metro and Pro, model but in order to keep the enigma wrapped in the riddle "IT" sounded more romantic.
Steve Jobs was quoted about IT saying: 'If enough people see the machine you won't have to convince them to architect cities around it. It'll just happen.' A venerable press pays $250,000 for a book on project cloaked in unprecedented secrecy.
Harvard Business School Press executive editor Hollis Heimbouch has just paid $250,000 for a book about IT -- but neither the editor nor the agent, Dan Kois of The Sagalyn Literary Agency, knows what IT is.
All they do know: IT, also code-named Ginger, is an invention developed by 49-year-old scientist Dean Kamen, and the subject of a planned book by journalist Steve Kemper. According to Kemper's proposal, IT will change the world, and is so extraordinary that it has drawn the attention of Amazon.comís Jeff Bezos and Technology heavy weight Steve Jobs and the investment dollars of pre-eminent Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr, among others.
Kemper -- who has been published in Smithsonian, National Geographic and Outside among others -- has had exclusive access to Kamen and the engineers at his New Hampshire-based research and development company, DEKA, for the past year and a half. He tags the proposed book as Soul of the New Machine meets The New New Thing and won over his agent and publisher with e-mails describing the project in carefully couched language. He also included an amusing narrative of a meeting between Bezos, Jobs, Doerr and Kamen.
The invention itself is as interesting as the inventor. Kamen is 'a true eccentric, cantankerous and opinionated, a great character,' the proposal says, with large gaps when it comes to pop culture.
In the proposal, Doerr calls Kamen -- who was just awarded the National Medal of Technology, the country's highest such award -- a combination of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Doerr also says, a touch ominously, that he had been sure that he wouldn't see the development of anything in his lifetime as important as the World Wide Web -- until he saw IT. According to the proposal, another investor, Credit Suisse First Boston, expects Kamen's invention to make more money in its first year than any start-up in history, predicting Kamen will be worth more in five years than Bill Gates. Jobs told Kamen the invention would be as significant as the PC, the proposal says.
And though there are no specifics in the proposal as to what the invention is, there are some tantalizing clues. Is IT an energy source? Some sort of environmentally friendly personal transport device? One editor who saw the proposal went as far as to speculate that IT was a type of personal hovering craft.
One thing is for sure the proposal does give clues as to what IT definitely isnít.
IT is not a medical invention.
IT can be assembled in 10 minutes, using a screwdriver and hex wrenches from components that fit into a couple of large duffel bags and some cardboard boxes. The invention has a fun element to it, because once a Ginger or IT was turned on, Bezos started laughing.
There are possibly two Ginger models, named Metro and Pro -- and the Metro may possibly cost less than $2,000. Bezos is quoted as saying that IT "is a product so revolutionary, you'll have no problem selling it. The question is, are people going to be allowed to use it?"
Jobs is quoted as saying: "If enough people see the machine you won't have to convince them to architect cities around it. It'll just happen."
Kemper says the invention will "sweep over the world and change lives, cities, and ways of thinking."
The "core technology and its implementations" will, according to Kamen, "have a big, broad impact not only on social institutions but some billion-dollar old-line companies." And the invention will "profoundly affect our environment and the way people live worldwide. It will be an alternative to products that are dirty, expensive, sometimes dangerous and often frustrating, especially for people in the cities."
IT will be a mass-market consumer product "likely to run afoul of existing regulations and or inspire new ones," according to Kemper. The invention will also likely require "meeting with city planners, regulators, legislators, large commercial companies and university presidents about how cities, companies and campuses can be retro-fitted for Ginger."
Kamen, the guy who has invented it has also invented an off-road wheelchair that can climb stairs, cover sand and gravel and rise to balance on two wheels. A prototype iBot was showcased by wheelchair-bound journalist John Hockenberry at last year's TED conference in Monterrey, Calif.; the demonstration was greeted by wild applause.
IT won't be revealed until 2002, the proposal says. No one has seen the project except Kamen, Kemper, the engineers and the investors -- which include Doerr, a partner in the venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which helped launch Netscape, Amazon, Juniper Networks, Excite, and @Home, among others; and Michael Schmertzler, managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston.
Others who have seen the invention and signed confidentiality agreements include minor investors Paul Allaire, CEO of Xerox; and Vern Loucks, recently retired CEO of Baxter. Bezos, Jobs and writer/venture capitalist Randy Komisar sit on the advisory board. Kamen retains 85 percent of his new company, according to the proposal.
Why the secrecy? Kamen fears, as he states in a letter to Kemper that is included in the proposal, that "huge corporations" might catch wind of the invention and "use their massive resources to erect obstacles against us or, worse, simply appropriate the technology by assigning hundreds of engineers to catch up to us, and thousands of employees to produce it in their plants."
But such secrecy may have been enough to turn publishers away. "The Internet changed the world, too" said one editor who considered the project, "but books about it don't really sell." As for the quarter-million-dollar price tag for North American rights: on the one hand, it doesn't seem to be a lot for a book about an invention which has mesmerized such well-known technology moguls. On the other, $250,000 is a lot to pay for a story about a product that hasn't been seen, defined or named.
And itís a lot of hype for something that may not be anything more than a disposable car, or a mechanized hang glider. While I am hesitant to even guess as to what IT is, Iíll play along just so I can imagine what IT might be. Chances are IT will be less fascinating once IT is revealed. Itís like when you are wondering what it would be like to have sex with the hot babe in the office. You imagine quite a bit and then if you are lucky to find out sometimes itís not quite what you think.
When I first heard about IT my mind was sent reeling. This was enough for me to start digging through the past and looking at all of the prophecy and Sci-Fi predictions that I was immersed in as a kid. I drew up in my head the alien technology that was given to an aviator in the movie "This Island Earth." For those unfamiliar with the movie I will give you a brief synopsis.
Dr. Cal Meacham assembles an interociter, which is a revolutionary technology sent to him from the Planet Metaluna by an alien scientist named Exiter. The interociter was also given the title of a revolutionary device with circuitry that could take in power and regenerate more power. The circuits and capacitors were only a part of the device. The interociter was also a futuristic TV/telephone device for interplanetary communication.
The film devotes itself to alternative energy sources and somehow the communications device that we see gets put on the back burner as we focus on planetary magnetic fields, uranium, and electrogravitic flying saucer technologies.
The saucer seemed to use gyroscopic energies and natural magnetic fields from earth.
In fact Ginger the other nickname for IT lends itself to an acronym that would fit into the "interociter" family.
I was toying with the GINGER acronym and came up with Gyroscopic Interplanetary Natural Gravitic Energy Resource. Of course this is purely indulgent on my part and probably far from the mark. It is all just cosmic projection.
But most Science Fiction has actually been accurate in depicting future events. It was always the speculation that Star Trek would show inventions that would eventually be marketed to the public at a much later time.
I guess it is totally obvious that as a kid I was hooked on science fiction books and movies. I read the Asimov Foundation Trilogy when I was 12 years old. I read Arthur Clarke when I was in Junior High. Managed to pick up on Huxley and Orwell when I was a sophomore and the Martian Chronicles and Illustrated man when I was a Junior in High School.
The first time I watched Kubrickís 2001 a space odyssey I was blown away by itís imagination and figured that I would be in my mid 30ís in the year 2001 and hoped that maybe I could walk in space. The Pan Am Orion space liner could shuttle people around in space much like an ocean liner. I do not understand why corporations have not privatized space travel. We have not seen the advanced travel shuttle and the X-33 seems to have been mothballed and so we see the space programmed left up to the secretive government. The exclusivity is far from the Clarke/Kubrick Vision.
There was also a focus on the biometric identification systems. Voice recognition technologies and a cashless society that arguably is supposed to improve our lives. There was also the use of video /phone communication systems that already are here in the 21st century and will quite possibly improve as time marches on.
The mechanized future is what we are headed for and there is no doubt in my mind that the Monster that lies in wait will be a technological one and that whatever IT or Ginger might be, (that is if it isnít all a hype fest), can strike fear and paranoia in the hearts of people. Those who will not fear IT will say that it is a passing fad.
However if Ginger or IT is developed to further our evolution then it can take on the metaphoric guise of the Monolith. Here now is where we cover some already covered territory.
I have already compared life in the now compared to Kubrickís 2001 in previous articles. It seems to be a clichť for all dreamers and writers to compare ad nauseum to the movie, I figured that there were other places to look for synchronicity and eerily prophetic things that have been ingrained in the pop culture to try and determine what exactly IT may be. What IT may not be and what IT should be.
My father used to listen to a song called "In the Year 2525" that always gave me the creeps. The song was a rock and roll attempt at prophecy and warning. As we explore the lyrics we see that in 1969 Zager and Evans the men who performed the song were not too far off in their weirdness. The lyrics are in bold type with my commentary about what they might mean.
In the year 2525
If man is still alive If woman can survive they may find that you ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies.
Everything you think, do and say Is in the pill you took today.
There are many people who have voiced their concerns regarding the misuse and over medicating of the populace. Especially when the topic is rooted in the drugging of our nationís children. Many critics have stated unequivocally that children today are literally programmed to think, do and say what the system tells them. It is easier to conform. Those who rebel become outcasts and many of the kids that are on these drugs rebel with Violence.
Aldous Huxley who wrote the book "Brave New World" said in 1961 that there will be in the generations to come a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude. This will produce a dictatorship without tears. It will be in a sense a painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties stripped from them. They will enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel. It will be used in tandem with propaganda, brainwashing, and brainwashing with drugs. He declared that these will be the silent weapons in the final revolution.
In the Future you wonít need your teeth, won't need your eyes you won't find a thing to chew. Nobody's gonna look at you.
I look at this as a possible forewarning of what will happen if we continue our obsession with Vanity. I was watching the American Music awards recently and noticed that Brittney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Jessica Simpson looked like cardboard cut outs of each other. Blonde big-breasted Aryan looking females that looked as if they had been cranked out of a factory. Many actresses in Hollywood have been criticized for being too thin. Many older actresses including some of the men have had makeovers and plastic surgery. I have a member of my family who has been obsessed with her weight because she is afraid of being made fun of at school. She has had bouts with bulimia and anorexia.
There was a Twilight zone marathon that was shown on the Sci Fi channel that showcased episodes with a futuristic slant. There was one in particular that was set in the year 2000 that applies to our vanity. The episode entitled "Number 12 looks just like you" was a parable about losing ones individuality in the future.
A young woman who is considered ugly by her peers, and her family rejects treatments that will make her look beautiful. When they ask her why she refuses she claims that she wants to retain her individuality. After careful programming and even the suggestion of taking something called a cup of "happy" she finally gives up and gets the operation. Everyone looks similar. All the men look like the perfect model, the women do too and the girls all look the same as well.
In the present we see people changing their eye color, hair color, getting breast implants and hair implants to look youthful. In the process they begin to look flawless. It becomes so weird that you arenít really looking at the person for what they are inside but merely the cheek implants, and chemical peels that make them look somewhat freakish.
When the song talks about not finding anything to chew it means literally a famine of food, knowledge and spirituality. How can one look at someone in the eye knowing that they are not genuine, truthful, and competent.
In the Future your arms will be hanging limp at your sides, your legs got nothing to do because some machine's doing that for you.
It is arguable that machines have made our lives better. This is a supplemental to the previous verse. For those who do not have the money for stomach stapling and plastic surgery there are those who become inactive , fat and atrophied. Washing machines have done away with hand washing of clothes. Vacuum cleaners make sweeping a thing of the past and computer games have taken the place of sports that require physical activity. More and more people are becoming Obese in the United States. They are becoming weaker and are fatigued from staring at a computer screen for hours.
In the future you wonít need a husband, won't need no wife You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too from the bottom of a long glass tube.
This of course has happened. Test Tube babies are common now. More so than in 1969. In vitro fertilization is happening all the time. In well publicized cases lesbian celebrities have conceived children through the donation of sperm. Such is the case with Melissa Ethridge. David Crosby provided the sperm for the conception of the baby. Other celebrities like Jodie foster had a date with the Turkey baster. Soon cloning and bioengineering will be available to select your son or your daughter, the color of hair, and eyes.
In the future If God's a-comin' He oughta make it by then Maybe He'll look around Himself and say guess it's time for the judgment day.
In the Future God is gonna shake His mighty head He'll either say I'm pleased where man has been Or tear it down and start again.
Well of course this passage is a given. The doomsday scenario where God will open his wrath on the inhabitants of earth and all of their iniquities. Religious millennialism is very real in the minds of most Christians. While many will laugh at a seven headed beast rising out of the ocean, there are many that are convinced of the rapture where 144,000 people will be beamed into heaven suddenly and without warning. Prophets of doom have preached from pulpits for years that calamities are ahead, storms are looming, and fire and renewal are at hand. There are those who speak of the baptisms of earth.
The baptism by water (which happened at the time of Noah.) The baptism of blood which was brought about by the slaying of the unblemished lamb (Jesus) and the baptism by fire before the arrival of God or the second coming of Jesus. After the earth is burned it will be rebuilt and will become the new Garden of Eden.
In the future I'm kinda wonderin' if man is gonna be alive He's taken everything this old Earth can give And he ain't put back nothin.
Now it's been ten thousand years Man has cried a billion tears For what he never knew. Now man's reign is through But through eternal night the twinkling of starlight So very far away.
Maybe it's only yesterday.
This passage brings up all kinds of speculation on just how long we have on this planet. Scientists have said that we have anywhere from thousands of years to 40 or 50 years left. There are some who speculate that Machines will replicate themselves and eventually find no need for us. There are many that also worry that asteroids are heading for the earth. There have been many close calls and we tend to forget that we are a moving target in a large turbulent area namely the uncontrollable universe.
Whatever the outcome of our lack of vision, the earth will always remain. People may not be here and manís reign will be through. The end of the song says "that through eternal night the twinkling of starlight So very far away. Maybe it's only yesterday " reminds me that the earth goes through cycles and that all of this may have already happened before and that man continues the cycle in an eternal circle never ending, and infinite with different outcomes each time.
The things we hear and see today give us reason to dream and to speculate. The news of a revolutionary product in a time where many science fiction prophecies have yet to be fulfilled fuels the fire even more.
We think about those science fiction gadgets that made life easy. We wonder what the wave of tomorrow will bring us, even if tomorrow never comes.
We are always travelers and never arrivers when it comes to the future and what it holds.
After all, itís the 21st century and I have yet to see a flying car that folds into a suitcase.
The Jetsons lived in a city that was peppered with towering Space needles that rose above the clouds of pollution. They had a talking dog name Astro and a Robot with a trashy voice named Rosie. Some of the futuristic gadgetry has already made its debut. Coupled with the arrival of IT or Ginger the Jetsons would probably feel right at home in the year 2001 and beyond.
While many people are saying that we are not living like the Jetsons there are some things that exist today that exist in the time frame set in the future where "Spacely Sprockets" are made.
In the Jestsonís universe, as in ours there is news delivered via the computer, online gambling, electronic surveillance systems, TV phones, Large screen televisions, microwave ovens, and talking computers.
Now you may say; "Stop right there Clyde! Those are simple things and easily imagined by cartoonists."
But have you really looked to see what is really out there now?
Technology is moving so fast that sometimes we are unaware of what we share with George, Jane, Elroy, and Judy Jetson.
Probotics has produced a Robot that is a crude simile to the android Rosie.
It is a Robot called Cye. The robot costs about a thousand dollars and is capable of vacuuming the floors and serving drinks to guests. You can either Clap to get him to work or command him to do chores with your computer.
Eureka has also announced the prototype for a new Robotic vacuum cleaner. Robo Vac retails for about 4000 dollars. It has built in sensors that help it avoid obstacles. The vacuum is about 15 inches in diameter and has to scout the roomís parameter before going to work. It will vacuum a floor and will avoid bumping into pets, legs of chairs, and children.
If the carpet can have a robot clean it then a Robot must be able to mow a lawn.
Robo Mow from Hammacher Sclemmer retails for about $700 dollars. It works much the same way as the Robo vac and can mow 5000 square feet of lawn on a single battery charge. It makes about as much noise as an air conditioner and so you can program it to mow the lawn at night and it wonít disturb the neighbors.
The Jetsons of course dabbled with a Robot dog named Electronimo and now with the arrival of AIBO we have a convincing Electric Dog that wonít poop on the floor or tear up the carpet. His artificial intelligence makes him responsive to stimulus. He can see colors, and senses distance. He also has a pressure sensitive head so he responds to your touch.
AIBO is expensive however. A little over $2000 dollars for the powered pooch, but donít worry Fisher Price developed one for about $90 bucks and radio shack created a mutt for $25 dollars. As for the little device that walks a dog in place, you know the conveyer belt that goes out of control prompting George to yell "Jane Stop this Crazy Thing." There is actually one available. Itís called Jog a Dog.
It comes in three sizes with a steel base. It is a treadmill designed for a dog who canít get out of the Sky high rise.
Oh and if you think they donít exist you can contact Fritz Meyer of Grand rapids Michigan who has the ultimate Millennium Sky home which looks uncannily similar to the Jetsonís Sky Pad. The cost of the house that towers in the sky was a whopping $3.5 million dollars. The company that builds them with local contractors is Sky pad technologies and you can call them at 616-454-5009 but only if you are interested in keeping up with the Jones or at least towering above them.
If your home is still stuck on the ground you can have the home of the future like the jetsons had or at least a home similar to the one written about in the story "There will come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury.
All you need is some software called appropriately enough HAL.
HAL of course is an acronym for Home Automotive living.
Home Automated Living produces easy to use voice controlled digital home systems integration software. All you do is download their software on your PC. From there you are able to control all the systems of your home, including lights, security, climate, telephone, home theatre, and the Internet. Itís all done by voice Ė from anywhere in the home Ė or anywhere in the world. You can talk to the computer - to manipulate devices like thermostats and lights or to retrieve information like stock quotes - from anywhere in the home or the world.
This is like the home of tomorrow that was featured in an old Daffy Duck Cartoon.
You donít have to rewire your house Ė HAL will send commands from the computer over your existing home power lines to control devices anywhere in or outside the home. You just say to your house, "House I want the lights turned on at 6 before I come home, then set the thermostat for 60 degrees Fahrenheit and then turn on the oven and cook the roast for 2 hours at 300 degrees."
The time of the Jetsons has arrived however it seems that no one is paying attention because obviously the new gadgetry is not affordable at the moment. One of the staples of a Jetson like household is of course the Flying Car.
Many are not aware that one has been developed.
At the turn of the new century news hit the presses about a flying car. Something that George Jetson went to work in and then folded up and carried into his office. Moller International has developed the M400 Skycar Volantor.
While no one has said that this car can fold up it does have some interesting specs. From your garage to your destination, the M400 Skycar cruises comfortably at 350+ MPH at 15 miles per gallon. No traffic, no red lights, no speeding tickets. Just quiet direct transportation from point A to point B in a fraction of the time.
Very impressive, which again takes us back to the speculative playground of what IT or Ginger is. The Washington Post has elaborated that the GINGER is a form of Transportation. According to the post Sources in Silicon Valley are saying they are convinced "Ginger" is a personal vehicle resembling a pogo stick with a single wheel under it that you cannot push over, no matter how hard you try.
Some say it is a graduated razor scooter that zooms to 100 miles per hour safely. What makes it so secretively unique is that it uses small, smart miniaturized gyroscopes to propel it and so you would never need to use fossil fuels.
A pretty down to earth explanation after all of this long and drawn out speculation. If IT is as simple as that then one thing we do know about enigmatic hype, it will get people to come up with all sorts of ideas as to what IT might be from Alien technologies to alternative sources for power.
It also demonstrates that we are needy for the very object that will save the world from its problems. So much so that we will devote our dinner conversations and water cooler talk to itís esoteric secret.
The wonders that are about to be revealed to the world are remarkable and truly it is a great time to be alive.
Houses that clean themselves, genetic manipulation that will make me live for a long time and all of the cybersex sounds like one hell of great time in the future.
Appliances will talk back to us and our grandchildren will freak out and wonder how we ever lived without our robots and appliances making conversation. How we ever got by without the refrigerator telling us that the milk has gone bad, or the dryer telling us that our clothes are still damp.
You see IT can be many things in an unfathomable future.
Let us hope that IT will benefit us and truly enrich us. We already have too many ITS that are more secretive ways of spying on us or killing us.
IT can be good for us or IT can be a little bit like ITíS cousin.
That of course being SHIT.
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