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The future is here right now, if you can read the signs

October 29, 2007 | Chris Payatagool
svHAMMOND_wideweb__470x291,0.jpgIT'S the year 2040 and Ray Hammond is getting advice from his software assistant Maria. Located in an implant just behind his left ear, Maria has a direct connection with Mr Hammond's brain. Linked with Google and other search engines, Maria is able to filter, search and speak softly to Mr Hammond, as quietly and as transparently as if she were his own thoughts.

Financial service providers, banks and retailers have made it their business to connect with Maria. As a result, she is able to provide Mr Hammond with the best deals around.

And, of course, Maria is much smarter than Mr Hammond. Too smart to let him know.

Mr Hammond, a European author and futurologist, says Maria is very much a sign of things to come. The signs are already there.

"My particular approach is to study trends in the present and work out the number of ways that they may extrapolate into the future," Mr Hammond says.

"This doesn't mean being able to predict anything in concrete terms. I can't tell you who is going to win the 3.30 race tomorrow but I can be certain there will be an energy crisis in the next 50 to 100 years."

Maria is the product of one of the six key drivers of change, something he calls "accelerating exponential technology" -- "I use Google a metaphor for an emerging intelligence. Every single day that I use Google, and I use it constantly, I notice that it's getting a little bit more capable at understanding what I mean when I don't say precisely what I mean.


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