Tomorrow You Probably Saw This Already

by Jay Cuthrell
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Fudge SundayIn this issue, we take a look at the future, past, and the creative combinations of both marked by technology and popular media. We’ll look at the relics that persist and the promises yet to be realized. Along the way, the potential for unintended parachronism grows larger with each passing year.

p.s. Thanks to the folks behind Vecteezy Editor for the new logo!

To set the stage, we will examine necessity, humanity, movies, gaming, and music. We start with a look at our (sometimes) forgotten past and how the future is portrayed as eternal, shiny, and chrome.

2013 - Parachronism, Possibility, and Penny-Farthing Futurism


Some fun examples here.

The Case for Necessity

Over 40 years ago, imaginations in the United States were fueled by toy marketing influenced Saturday morning cartoons, milk-soaked sugar infused rice and corn cereals, and limited interruption by educational commercials.

1977 - Schoolhouse Rock - Mother Necessity

When I was 5 years old we had JAMS on Saturday morning. So awesome.

Today, we live in a time where there are growing numbers of electric vehicles that promise to displace both hybrid vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles. While electric vehicles are seen as the future – there is absolutely a past and history repeating.

For all the shouts of electric cars being the future, the past tells us when there is necessity the future already arrived long ago. In fact, the past might only be at odds with planned obsolesce and other curious quirks of modern consumption.

1912 - C-T 4WD Electric Truck


If you remember your first car, do you think it would run for 52 Years? How about 107 years?

1947 - Tama Electric Car

The 1940s provided limitations that sparked innovation. (no pun intended)

Remember, technology is the response to a perceived need. Necessity could be argued as being more than a perceived need but the epistemological view of 4WD trucks probably didn’t anticipate the world of SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY.

The Case for Humans

Self-driving elevators are the future! Wait. Elevators? What about vehicles? Well, elevators still have their human driven examples even today.

2018 - The Second Life of Elevator Operators: A Lesson in Service Design


Uses cases still exist for elevator operators where a human still performs tasks primarily associated with self-service buttons.

Even as self-driving desires extend from the roadway to the open seas, there are going to be examples where the past more like is the future we desire.

2007 - Tres Hombres Shipping


99% emission free transport sounds like something from the future but it is based on something from the past.

As modern cargo ships evolve into the cargo ships of the future there will be geopolitical, economic, and then technological considerations. Expect to see solar, wind, hydrogen, and even nuclear become part of the self-driving ships of the future.

At the same time, there are promises of self-driving vehicles on roadways and elsewhere that are fulfilled in very controlled and variable limited situations.

2018 - The Future of Autonomous Cargo Ships


Again, AI/ML might not be as sensible as a human pilot for certain applications.

2019 - Phantom Auto raises $13.5M


Self-driving forklifts and robotaxis might take a long time. Meanwhile, training data can be collected in anticipation and to quicken the process.

General self-driving vehicles are not yet a reality even by Gibson’s definition. Until then, the training will continue as the machines attempt mimicry and to learn.

The Case for Movies and Gaming

Each year brings greater degrees of cinematic largess to electronic gaming even as movies attempt new formats. Contrasting early pong graphics and sound against the audio-visual splendor of modern games is just one example. Movies like Hardcore Henry are an example of movies influenced by electronic gaming first-person point of view.

1998 - BNL - It’s All Been Done

And the 2049 Academy Award for Best Cinematography by a Pet goes to…

Perhaps the next wave storytelling device of cinema might be influenced by Twitch or music videos from 20 years ago. Perhaps the experimental cinema of yesterday becomes de rigueur.

1999 - Being John Malkovich

A portal into the life of another person sounds like a good idea for a video game… oh wait.

Then again, the future might simply decide to take a page from the past both metaphorically and literally. A post-remix culture is fascinating to consider.

2019 - Virtual Cinema


Pick your own adventure books leaves behind the printed page and comes to a personalized theater of director free Nihilism near you?

The Case for Music

Even in movies, there are moments where incidental non-soundtrack scores are a reflection of trying to envision the future. Beastie Boys is considered classical music in the latest reboot of the Star Trek universe.

When I think about the future of music, the first artist that comes to mind is Aphex Twin. Of course, I’m not alone.

2007 - Freesound sample in “Children of Men” - Creative Commons


While some of my favorite songs are remixes or interpretations by producers, I’ve not developed a taste for mashups yet. Regardless of my personal tastes, the remix culture is now over a decade old. Looking ahead, the future is brighter more varied than ever for artists using new creative tools and how they apply their talent to harness these tools.

2008 - RiP: A Remix Manifesto

The future is a collage of the past and present.

Looking back, BT’s release of These Hopeful Machines is almost 10 years old now. Consider that BT, the composer, harnesses electronic music technology as a natural extension of the time we happen to live in now. BT interviews (badly paraphrased by me) posit electronic music technology (had it existed then) would have been the tools of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven.

Then again, if you like death metal, there’s now computationally generated music based on Canadian death metal (Archspire) being streamed 24/7 on YouTube. The next question to be played out in a court of law will likely be who gets paid – be it monkeys, humans, or the creators of the machines.

2019 - AI-produced music raises copyright questions


\m/ >.< \m/

So, until the eventual Behind the Music series on tomorrow’s creators of post-BPTT swing-disco-funk-rap-dubstep snake-eats-tail Billboard Top 100 winners, thanks again for subscribing and reading!


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