What's the Latest Development?
New medical sensors, combined with the data-crunching power of miniature technology, will soon provide everyone with a wealth of health data, according to author Tad Williams. "We'll know pollen counts in different localities, and other stress-factors waiting unseen. We'll know if we're walking in front of a speeding car, or into a dark alley where another heat-signature suggests someone's waiting to mug us. In the grocery store, we will be scanning every new item purchased for its personal safety and appropriateness and getting instant feedback." These powerful personal services will increasingly drive politics, as disparate groups fight for equal access.
What's the Big Idea?
While personalized health systems offer some promise, there is reason to worry about their larger social effects. Critics say the Internet has already made communities more horizontal as people are increasingly able to choose what kinds of influence they receive. This atomized vision of the future, however, may create generations of navel-gazers. "Our challenge in the coming century will be to resist hiding in the comfort of these self-made bubbles... It may be difficult, but we will still need to hear what we don't want to hear, sometimes from people we don't like. We will still need to think about others, and not just ourselves."
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