Signs From the Near Future catalogues the ominous future of science-fiction safety warnings, one eerie sign at a time. We took a look, and found that many of them actually will, or are, a sign of things to come.
1. Present your hand for payment, citizen.
This one isn't so far off. Swedish firm Quixter claims to have 1,600 active users around Lund University registered to biometric scanners capable of automatically processing payments at 15 stores and restaurants.
Convenient? Probably. Drawbacks: Not many, except for the possibility of cybercriminals cutting off your hands.
2. Super fast trains. Maybe TOO fast.
Super-fast maglev trains are already running down tracks in Shanghai and are being tested in Japan (but no longer at Germany's Emsland Transrapid Test Facility). But they probably won't be coming to tracks in the U.S. or the West anytime soon.
3. Don't be a glasshole.
4. Attention. This is a driverless car. Please fasten your seatbelt and hold on.
Google's self-driving car may be as close as five years from commercialization. It now knows how to avoid annihilating cyclists, drive aggressively, and speed, but not how to drive in incelement weather, pull over for cops, or avoid annihilating squirrels.
5. Drivers in the driverless lane will be shot on sight.
With an automatic camera, and promptly ticketed.
Then with a drone.
6. User takes full responsibility for use of, and consequences of use of, the jetpack.
Sorry, but this is really never going to happen. The best personal jetpack commercially available is marketed for search and rescue use, but there's nothing a jetpack can do that other flight technology (like a helicopter) doesn't already do better. And even if they do become available, they'll cost at least $100,000 and likely require a sport pilot's license to operate.
7. You are in violation of the Preventing Indecent Photography Act. Please await the arrival of the authorities.
Considering how creepy pornographers are already without the ability to take snapshots just by creepily winking, this is pretty much a foregone conclusion.
8. The TSA has the right to confiscate, but is not limited to confiscating, the following body parts.
Really fantastic neuroprosthetics are probably decades away, but the potential for brain augmentation and other such technology is virtually limitless. Whether or not the society they create will be one you'd want to live in is another matter entirely.
9. All banned items will be removed from your person, if necessary via surgery.
OK, that's a little extreme. But considering the TSA's already interested in metal implants, its authority to regulate other kinds of technology could come into question.
10. All of our meat is 100% synthetic, but may contain arthropod, feline, and human DNA.
The world's first lab-grown burger was consumed in Aug. 2013 at a news conference in London, and said to be a "very good start." Taste-testers said the burger had a good mouthfeel but different flavor than regular beef. But the research needed to create it cost $330,000 of Google co-founder Sergey Brin's money, so you might have to wait a few years for truly suffering-free ground beef — and quite a while longer before you're slicing a three-inch-thick ribeye off the end of a 300-foot-long rack of meat.
11. I, for one, welcome our slimy fungal overlords.
Just take a deep breath and submit to the almighty slime mold computer. It's easier if we don't have to get violent.