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Thread: Inventions of the Near-Future

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    Inventions of the Near-Future

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    Technology is moving so fast it's almost impossible to predict what kinds of amazing advances will be available to us in the next fifty, thirty, or even ten years. In fact, I think trying to predict technology of the near-future is even more difficult than postulating about the far-future. Many near-future games that have tried to speculate on what the face of technology will look like even just a couple decades out have had to had to later revisit their vision of the future. I remember when I first played Cyberpunk 2020 in the early 1990s. I remember well that my netrunner -- of course, I was a netrunner -- had to find a physical connection to connect to the network. Who could have predicted then that even as soon as the year 2000, the idea of a wired connection would start to become outmoded?

    In any case, I often find myself inspired (or horrified) by technological advances of our day and how I might expand on those concepts and take them to their interesting and perhaps unconsidered natural conclusions. For instance, as I was driving to work today, I was listening to yet another one of those commercials for OnStar. In the advertisement, a desperate OnStar customer calls when he has locked himself out of his car. Cheerfully, the operator confirms a few personal details and then sends a signal to remote unlock his vehicle. At the end of the radio spot, the announcer adds that this is just one of the many safety features of the OnStar service.

    Being the pessimistic sort, I thought to myself, if they can remote unlock my doors, what else could they control? Obviously, they could potentially hook into virtually any function of the vehicle. Stop, start, slow down, locate, whatever. And I wondered, what then prevents law-enforcement from using a car equipped with such technology to not just locate a vehicle, but also totally lock that vehicle down and stop a high-speed car chase before it started?

    As it turns out, I found out after I visited their website they actually already do this. (Aww.. Isn't that such a happy video?) It sounds like such a good idea... Until, that is, the government decides that all vehicles should be equipped with a device like this that allows them to track and stop a vehicle in its tracks. In a near-future game, where the PCs might at some point be fleeing from law-enforcement (perhaps not so friendly law enforcement, if this is a dark-future game) it might be a nasty little surprise to pull on them when they find out that the police can remotely shut off their get-away car's engine...

    So, that's one idea of a near-future expansion of present day technology. What others can you think of that would be interesting to throw into a near-future game?
    Robert A. Howard
    Pen & Paper Games
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    Microwave riot suppression fields, remote police drones based on UAV flyers, bio-emp weapons (grenades)......just to name a few!!

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    Oooh, I remember seeing or reading something about the directed microwave fields. Apparently it is supposed to be QUITE painful. What the heck is a UAV flyer or bio-emp weapon?
    Robert A. Howard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    What the heck is a UAV flyer?
    UAV = Unmanned Air Vehicle

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    . . . bio-emp weapon?
    Biological Electro-Magnetic Pulse Weapon = stunners or "Zat guns" if you watch Stargate SG-1

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    From the "Chtorr War" series by David Gerrold, when they came out with energy weapons, there was a chip in them that controlled their use (think Intel chip). Little did the purchasers know that there was also an On*Star-like thing in there that allowed for remote (satellite) deactivation of the weapon. BOY did it play havoc with people setting up ambushes and the like!!

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    The "Vang" series has some interesting future tech, mostly explained in the vehicles the people use. One item I use quite frequently in my sci-fi campaigns is a computer in all vehicle engines that not only tracks where the vehicle is, but keeps the user from driving it if their blood alcohol level is too high and can also be used to shut down the vehicle.

    Consequently, it's against the law to remove/disable the computer!
    Skunk
    a.k.a. Johnprime



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    Quote Originally Posted by Skunkape View Post
    The "Vang" series has some interesting future tech, mostly explained in the vehicles the people use. One item I use quite frequently in my sci-fi campaigns is a computer in all vehicle engines that not only tracks where the vehicle is, but keeps the user from driving it if their blood alcohol level is too high and can also be used to shut down the vehicle.

    Consequently, it's against the law to remove/disable the computer!
    They have those today....I've seen them in action and they are pretty nifty. They also have black boxes designed for use with teenage drivers that record every piece of data you could ever want.....including the number of rapid sudden accelerations and decelerations.
    Last edited by Digital Arcanist; 12-20-2007 at 11:14 AM. Reason: punctuation error

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    I'm surprised no one had mentioned the advances in body armor. On Good Morning America about a fortnight back they showed the prototypes for a set of Spartan-like (Halo) armor and a muscle-force enhancing exoskeleton. The armor, of course, was a replica but the exoskeleton worked well. I can't remember exactly, but I think the DoD guy said the armor was supposed to be ready by 2015-2020. That's pretty close.....

    The armor had a new form of self-healing kevlar using memory material. It also had environmental adjustment systems, water/food system, and biometric sensors that coupled with some programming would be able to diagnose certain battlefield ailments. The helmet was chocked full of sensors and they were working on a 360 view inside the helmet. All-in-all it almost makes me want to enlist, but not quite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    So, that's one idea of a near-future expansion of present day technology. What others can you think of that would be interesting to throw into a near-future game?
    Well, the bigger dissapointment has been and will be the Robots (Revisualizing Robotics: New DNA for Surviving a World of Cheap Labor, Steven Baard Skaar and Guillermo DelCastillo)

    According to my friend (Guillermo) one of the bigger challenges for this futuristic development is their limited ability to recognize objects using their vision systems (his PhD project was a "robotic" wheelchair for paraplejic) .

    UAVs were mentioned before, and are an example of what to expect. Machines being extensions of humans, enhancing our abilities, but not acting as independent units.

    Being Human Rights so important these days (So, no bombing civilian enclavements), warfare I imagine will still be fought in urban environments, so I agree with the Body Armor.

    I forsee the Rise of a new "NET"and the current Internet will function like a "Catacomb" network for rebels, radicals, thugs and criminals.

    Ah! and Stephen Colbert's Icecream will be the only one available.
    Saluti
    Carlos

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    Robert A. Howard
    Pen & Paper Games
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    Why? Why would you meddle in the affairs of the divine? Have they learned nothing from their own Manga/Anime? This has biological nightmare written all over it. If I have to spend my middle years fighting off gigantic radioactive Iguanas, I'm going to be very angry!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Arcanist View Post
    Microwave riot suppression fields,
    USA Army already has directed versions of these, They are being fielded in limited numbers in Iraq. Along with a sonic riot suppression weapon. Modern Marvels did a story on these a few years back.
    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Arcanist View Post
    remote police drones based on UAV flyers,
    The UK is doing field tests with these in London and a few other places.
    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Arcanist View Post
    bio-emp weapons (grenades)......just to name a few!!
    Haven't heard anything about this but the latest riot grenades are basically epic level stink bombs. They took all of the smells that humans find universally repulsive and made highly concentrated synthetic versions of them and crammed it into a grenade.
    My prediction for near future tech is full VR. Combining sensory deprivation with visual stimuli, false sensory input(basically little shocks to fool your brain into creating its own stimulus to fit the scenario), and new technology in using nervous system interface as controls. Everquest 3 could take on a whole new level of interaction.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

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    Isn't technology grand? I, personally, believe the Star Wars project was a success but its housed somewhere because its defense is not yet feasible. I'm waiting for the government to create some real cloaking technology and then look out!!!

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    What about the situation of non-renewable resources like oil? Predictions vary on when we'll actually hit peak oil production, but clearly we will run out eventually. Let's postulate for a moment that in the next twenty years, we will have a major oil crisis. This would have broad reaching consequences on everything from heating our homes to the distribution of food stuffs.

    As I see it, there are really two possibilities. Our government and the oil companies will stop selling us out and get to the business of developing viable new energy technologies. If that happens, we may have a rocky transition, but perhaps we'll sidestep the worst of it and avoid pesky little problems like people starving to death because their communities are far separated from their food sources. The other possibility, and this seems more likely, is that when the time comes, we will be almost completely unprepared with no infrastructure of alternate fuels in place. In which case, there will be a global equalization of our population as we scramble to deal with the problem at hand.

    So, what if we had a global oil crisis in 2030. Would we have technology in place to deal with it? What about if it happened in 2015?
    Robert A. Howard
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