Can You Can Afford This Hotel Room?
George W. Bush famously said, “The future will be better tomorrow.” The hospitality industry can’t wait. They’ve seen the future of sleep – and it’s great.
We owe this bountiful projection of the future to the British corporation Travelodge. Known for innovative surveys of all manner of rest, Travelodge commissioned futurologist Ian Pearson, who according to a report in Hospitality. Net, gave us the ideas of text messaging and the active contact lens, to depict the hotel sleep experience of 2030.
Folks, let’s hope we live long enough and have the cash to experience the hotel room of the future.
First, the dream thief movie “Inception” will become a practical reality. Electronics embedded in bed linen and mattress will be used to make dreams feel real, and we will be able to replay our favorite dreams from a menu – just like a movie (film imagery plays prominently in Pearson’s future sleep.) We’ll also be able to link and share our dream experience with “partner or family or friends.”
Imagine Andrew Weiner’s internet connections, updated 19 years from now into continuous consensual sensual reality.
Next, dream management will allow us to learn while we sleep – including new languages. Since dream sleep is necessary for learning and memory, why not put it to conscious use – like figuring out all those partial differential equations we just could not get to during our waking hours.
Third, lovemaking will technologically enhance, “allowing individuals to connect with their partner whilst away from home.” Linking peripheral nervous systems through “active skin electronics” will not just improve lovemaking, but allow individuals to “experience each other’s feeling and emotions.” Perhaps more controversial, active contact lenses will change the image delivered to their retinas, so “individuals will be able to adjust how their partner looks whilst making love. This will enable people to change the image of their partner on a regular basis, and only they will be aware – their lover “will not be able to tell what they are looking at.”
Picture it – morphing your hubby in a youthful, studmuffin version of Dick Cheney.
If Pearson is right, Harold Camping and his now belated version of “The Rapture” – which he claims has already taken place “invisibly” – will have possesss substantial earthside competition.
Some other media manifestations of the future include:
1. Augmented reality – Hotel walls and furniture will be used to display anything – paintings, fantasy games, or virtual family images for lonely travelers – including “a picture of their home bedroom.” (For movie buffs, Fahrenheit 451 – the doomed Truffaut version with the terminally unhappy Oskar Werner – should come to mind.)
2. Atmospheric temperature controls, 3 D outdoor sounds, and fabrics broadcasting scents and colors will allow the simulation of any kind of environment (Star Trek and innumerable Sci-FI television series and films will become our future.)
3. Travelers will enjoy theatre or local tourist attractions or wander through town remotely from the “comfort of their room…regardless of the actual time or weather.” (Stanislav Lem’s World Futurological Conference is a cautionary novel on this subject.)
Other projected future opportunities sound very close to what is already or nearly available – medical monitoring while asleep; shopping from the room, with the “walls replicating the interior of a shop” (this can now be done off your smartphone.) Some will play virtual reality games within the hotel rooms – or link up with other guests to play “between rooms.”
Fantasy, Fiction, and Fact
Delmore Schwartz said that in dreams became realities. Many internet entrepreneurs knew very early on that porn represented an enormous “business opportunity” for the Net. Huge resources are flowing into “enhancement” of virtual reality. Much of this will be driven by games technology, working to make these experiences more lifelike year by year. As the pleasures of games become increasingly irresistible, their effects on the brains and bodies of youth (and many adults) will also increase (see my “Overloaded” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-edlund-md/add-symptoms_b_656590.html#s119834&title=Broken_Attention_ ). There’s little reason to doubt these rapidly moving technologies will change man-machine and human-human interaction greatly over the next few decades. And they won’t require a hotel room – just any handy mobile computing unit.
How much will we enjoy the results? Though pleasure and learning will take on different characters, those who shout “I want to be a machine” should be careful what they wish for.
As for understanding brain chemistry and dynamics well enough to “hack” into dreams and consciously change their content, I remain short-term skeptical (see my http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-edlund-md/dream-sharing-inception_b_652088.html#s116939&title=Is_Time_Altered ). Computing power is growing as quickly as Moore’s Law says it should, but that and more will be needed to figure out the manifold information systems involved in the simplest human thoughts. Perhaps I’m jaded. When I was a kid I read about fabulous rocket cars that in 1985 that would zip 200 mph on the highway before going airborne to land in the parking lot of an elevated shopping mall.
Brains are complicated. Some complex systems are truly complex – and as contradictory in their forms as quantum mechanics, now renovated as quantum information theory. Making the brain as well understood as a formulaic daytime soap operas may take us a little while.
The Asymptotic Curve
Some things change fast but others don’t. Richard Nixon declared the war on cancer in 1969 so that we would “cure cancer” in a few decades. Instead, the death rates of most tumors have not appreciably changed, despite major progress in scientific understanding.
That’s how things go – the asymptotic growth curve works that way. Many technologies show little progress, a virtual “flat line” until things really gear up – then rapid changes take place with geometric progression. Information technology has been like that over the last three decades – and hopefully will rapidly advance. We can hope something similar will occur in biotechnology – particularly as varied technologies converge.
But in the meantime we’re stuck with our old brains and our rapidly regenerating though still aging bodies. Lucky for us, through predreaming, spiritual rest exercises, and the old but biologically sophisticated effects of a hot bath, we can make present day sleeping a rather fantastic experience right now. And we don’t have to worry about where we’ll get all the energy resources to enjoy the hotel room of 2030.
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