[extropy-chat] Futures Past

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Sun Oct 9 19:09:49 UTC 2005

At 07:49 AM 10/9/2005 -0500, Greg Burch wrote:

>we know what happened to all of those glossy futures.
>But somehow, I never seem to learn.  Seven years ago, we had a discussion 
>here on the List about what we called "near-term projections" for the 
>future to c. 2015.  I gathered together some of the ideas in that 
>discussion and put them in what I called a "futurist time capsule."  Here 
>it is:
>        http://www.gregburch.net/writing/NearTerm.htm

One item:

circa 2005
    * Computer Technology (Processing, Interface, Software, Networks):
        * speech input ubiquitous; It isn't of course, but we're getting 
closer. Since the start of 2005, almost all my text production has been 
done using the commercial voice recognition system Dragon 
NaturallySpeaking8 (Preferred edition). That includes most of my e-mails, a 
number of book reviews, and an entire hundred thousand word novel. I 
haven't been doing this for the sheer neophiliac fun of it, to be out there 
on the cutting edge, but because 45 years of pounding on the keyboard has 
so damaged my arthritic fingers that it's excruciating and finally 
impossible to type. I have the impression that certain crisply spoken 
Californians might be able to dictate unhesitatingly to this system, but I 
can tell you that an educated working-class Australian accent is not the 
program's favourite, despite this more expensive version allegedly having a 
tailor-made Australian vocabulary. (So far, I've had to make three or four 
rather labourious corrections to the female, no you stupid bastard, to this 
e-mail, including several words that I had to spell out. Tedious, but 
preferable to pain or muteness.)

        Despite the drawbacks, I'm much better off in 2005 than I would 
have been in 1998, which was roughly when I tried an earlier version of 
this program and threw it away in disgust. With any luck, subsequent 
iterations will improve to the point where I really don't need to stop 
several times per paragraph to correct the damned thing. On the other hand, 
at the rate that I'm going functionally blind from vitreous floaters, being 
able to speak to a machine and have it transcribe my words faithfully won't 
necessarily be a whole lot of use, although I look forward to hearing it 
read my words back in a Shakespearean accent rather than the somewhat Dalek 
tones it uses now.

        Damien Broderick

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