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Entries in safety (1)

Sunday
Feb212010

The Super-Safe World of 2002 (1981)

The 1981 children's book World of Tomorrow: School, Work and Play accurately predicted the rise of debit cards, but may have overstated how much safer we would be in the futuristic world of 2002. The phrase, "in tomorrow's world computers will be able to guard over us," might seem humorous, given our current fears about online identity theft and high tech hegemony.

But per usual, I tip my hat to the techno-utopian authors and illustrators of the 1980s who promised kids like myself a pretty incredible future. Well, I guess when those same authors and illustrators weren't making us soil our Underoos with tales of the coming robot uprising.

Computers and robots will certainly be able to make life easier for you in the future - by allowing you to work, learn and shop at home, for example. But they also improve your life in several other ways, and one of the most important is that they will make your life safer than it is today.

Even if you're lucky enough to have escaped harm, you probably know of someone who has had a car crash or been robbed. However, in tomorrow's world computers will be able to guard over us. Let's follow a day in the future and find out how.

Imagine that you want to go into a city from your country home to watch a sports event. You leave your car at the city parking lot and then complete your journey by autotaxi and beltways. All these transports are guided and controlled by computers so that you travel in perfect safety. But you have to pay for your autotaxi ride, the sports match and a meal afterwards. Nevertheless, you walk about confident that no one will try to rob you. How can you be so sure?

 The answer is simple: you do not carry any money on you and neither does anyone else. You pay for everything you buy with an identity card like a credit card. it has a magnetic strip containing your name and other personal information in the form of a magnetic code that the computers in the autotaxi, the stadium and the restaurant can read. They simply contact your bank's computer and ask it to pay them the sums of money due to them. This done instantly, and you can check how much money you have left in your back account at any time.

But someone might try to steal your card and use it to pay for anything they want. This would be now use, because you have to authorize every payment by giving the computer a secret code number or code word. Or the computer may check your thumbprint or voice to make sure that it is dealing with you and not someone pretending to be you.

Previously on Paleo-Future: