Review: Futurescape, With James Woods

kelloggs2066's picture

The Science Channel has come up with a new futurist series called "Futurescape" with actor James Woods as the host. It has physicist Michio Kaku for "legitimizing" backup. It also is peppered with sound bites from various "futurists," "biophysics ethicists," and other such "experts."

To sum it up, it is another one of those paranoid drivel TV shows designed to scare you. The opening episode about advancing technology in the field of Brain/Machine Interfaces seems designed to drive up the price of stock in the Tinfoil Hat industry.

I won't give you a blow by blow, but basically, they were describing people using telepathic Blue-tooth devices that could not be controlled. They described the problem of computer security as if it simply didn't exist up to now, totally ignoring the last 30 years of history.

At one point they claimed that unrestricted telepathy (in reality, a headset you'd have to wear) would drive you insane. I assume that in their vision of the future, people have forgotten what an off switch is. I also have to assume that they think their text messages are read by everyone in the world. (Perhaps they're confusing Twitter Followers with the population of the Earth?)

They then described how people would have computer driven graphics provided to them in a corneal implant. (I presume that these guys never heard of pop-up ads, or even telemarketers. Do you really want telemarketers able to access your brain anytime of the day, anywhere on Earth? Isn't it bad enough you've got your browser trying to throw suggestions at you every time you type a word--imagine if it could respond to your every thought? "I'm hungry, I think I'll..." "PIZZA HUT! McDONALDS! OLIVE GARDEN! CASA VINCENTE! BIG BUCK's WING SHACK!")

At another point, they describe the idea that if your thoughts could be uploaded to "The Cloud" they would exist forever, and your descendants could understand "Who you really were." They said that our memories are our only truly "private" information, and that if we could imprint out thoughts and feelings to The Cloud, we could let future generations in on how we were thinking and feeling at any given time. Wow. I guess they haven't heard of a device a few millenia old called a "Diary."

And they never once stopped to consider that there will probably be a large percentage of people who either can't afford all the high-tech cybernetic interfaces, or simply, just don't want to join the Hive Mind. My Wife--who for the record, never owned a digital watch--was sitting there, shuddering, saying that she really wanted us to retire to a place without electricity, because the idea of *that* much connectivity scared the bejeezis out of her. If that's what the producers were going for, then it worked. But if they were trying to promote this technology, then--at least in our home--they failed miserably.

So, no new ideas here, just a lot of fear dressed up in new clothes, with pulse pounding beats, flashy, but mostly meaningless, computer graphics, and knife-ringing-while-being-drawn musical stings. (When did it become fashionable to have chase scene music get overlaid on a talking head interview?)

If this is what the rest of the series is going to be like, I'd say, "pass."