How science is transforming entertainment

Future fun: Microsoft’s HoloLens projects interactive holograms onto the real world. © Microsoft

Will we have more fun in the future? By 2050 we could take holidays in space, use cyborg superpowers, and play games in super realistic VR. Here are five predictions for the future of fun…

1/ Space holidays. In 2017 over 18,000 people applied for between only 8 and 14 spots on the NASA astronaut programme. By 2050 we could all be astronauts. Richard Branson plans to take tourists into space by next year. This trip will cost passengers $250,000. But former astronaut Don Thomas predicts an end to astronomical prices: "In a decade or so you will see flights to space for $10,000," he claims.

2/ Physical virtual reality. Currently most VR headsets only project sight and sound. But Nelson Gonzalez, co-founder of computer company Alienware, expects future machines to let users "participate physically" in virtual worlds. A future VR remake of Titanic would make viewers sense the icy wind in their hair. While players in VR football games would actually feel the ball at their feet.

3/ Interactive Holograms. TV can be a window into the lives of others — from nail-biting crime dramas to footage of Elvis concerts. But what if you could bring its stars directly into your living room? Holographic TV may do just that. Samsung are working on a screen able to project holograms. And scientists in Japan have created interactive holograms using high-powered lasers. This technology could even create holographic pets.

4/ Rise of cyborg superpowers. Known as "biohackers", some people are now turning their bodies into machines. They implant microchips and magnets into their bodies which have a range of uses — from controlling lights to moving metal objects. Meanwhile, entrepreneur Elon Musk wants to create a "merger" between human and machine intelligence with implants that connect human brains to computers.

5/ Unlimited toys. If the growth of 3D printers follows the same trajectory as personal computers, every person in America will own one by 2040. So while previous generations lived out their imagination in Lego, children of the future could design and print any conceivable plaything.

But will the future be more fun than the present?

Fun-damental rights

“The future cannot come too soon,” declare some. Space travel is the cherished dream of thousands — and it could be true for all. Even if that does not take off, virtual reality will transport us to exhilarating new worlds. What is more, 3D printing and holograms will allow the power of imagination to come alive in more realistic ways.

“We will lose our selves in machines,” say others. Virtual reality, holograms, cyborgs: all these things give us are illusory powers and perspectives. From playing sport in muddy fields to cuddling a treasured pet, there is nothing more fun than experiencing the real thing. As for 3D printing: creating infinite amounts of stuff will make possessions worthless and disposable.

You Decide

  1. Would you like to go on holiday in space?
  2. Will the future be more fun than the present?

Activities

  1. Imagine you could use virtual reality to travel to any place — imaginary or real. Where would you go and why? Share with your classmates. Are there any particularly popular destinations?
  2. Do some research into the Space X and Virgin Atlantic space tourism programmes. What major problems will they need to overcome? Have they had any big setbacks? How realistic do their targets seem?

Some People Say...

“If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else.”

Richard Branson

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
American businessman Dennis Tito was the first space tourist. In 2001 he paid $20m to travel to the International Space Station, staying for seven days. Between 2001 and 2009 seven civilians travelled into space. In 2016 Bloomberg predicted that China’s domestic virtual reality market would grow by 36 times in four years, reaching a value of $8.5 billion. This year Elon Musk raised $27m to fund Neuralink.
What do we not know?
Holograms are still rudimentary, and it is unclear how long it will take to develop sophisticated and widespread hologram technology. We do not know whether 3D printers will become as popular as personal computers.

Word Watch

Richard Branson
Branson’s company Virgin Galactic is one of several high profile space tourism businesses. The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, also wants to take tourists into space next year with his company Blue Origin. Elon Musk, who owns Space X, hopes to put people on Mars by 2025.
Scientists
Researchers from the Digital Nature Group at the University of Tsukuba.
Cyborg
A person whose abilities have been increased beyond normal limitations by machines built into the body.
Elon Musk
Musk founded the company Neuralink in 2016. Musk predicts that brain implant technology will be necessary for human beings to keep up with the powerful artificial intelligence of the future.
2040
According to a projection by Farnell, a British technology company. Check out their full 3D printing infographic in Become An Expert.

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