Tuesday is Soylent Green day

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6298456541/” title=”soylent-green-ext by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6045/6298456541_18bbceac3f.jpg” width=”500″ height=”217″ alt=”soylent-green-ext”></a>

I was just watching this movie again because as a countryboy australian living in korea, it really speaks to me. If, in some far off future, where lots of bad decisions were made on the way, australia could end up as polluted, noisy and crowded as korea. That sounds pretty over the top, but more subtle, yet real examples are not being able to see the stars at night, the milk just not tasting as good, you can’t drink the water straight out of the tap, and living in one-room apartments with low ceilings.

A quick check of wickerpedia says that the film was based on a 1966 novel titled <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Make_Room!_Make_Room!”>_Make Room! Make Room!_</a> and that it was set in 1999, with a global population of 7 bil — funny eh? Which goes a way toward reminding us that things never turn out as bad as people and get alarmed about. (or do they?) I’m not very good at maths and such but I was wondering what the global population would be if everywhere was as densely populated as south korea. Not that it’d be sustainable for a week, even if we started eating eachother in neat little dried squares.

Anyway there’s a great story under all that ’70s clunkiness of Soylent Green and it’s definitely ripe to be remade. It got me thinking about why Soylent green is more or less buried and another dystopian future flick from about ten years after (Blade Runner) is considered a classic — what’s the difference? A vangelis score and some long shots of futuristic cityscapes? More than that – but it’s more than I’ve got the brain-power for right now.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6298988828/” title=”soylent-green-int by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6220/6298988828_967edde9bb.jpg” width=”500″ height=”221″ alt=”soylent-green-int”></a>

robot new york

It’s funny that <a href=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14103537″>this</a> news-a-bit should come up now about robots. Quite amusing to see them walking around in various odd ways. Just recently I was buying an electric shaver, the last one quitting it (more or less) after 7 or so good years. But I had this short, weird thought after the sales guy had done well at being helpful and I’d surprised myself by getting enthusiastic and deciding, ‘yeah, I _do_ want to buy this shaver today’. We went over to the cash register and he handed me over to another person, and I thought wouldn’t it be funny if he went back to where he was standing and went into a static, standby mode until the next customer came along.

Also, this morning I was at the local, large supermarket, Home+, and as can often be the place on weekdays during business hours, there was almost no other customers there. There was plenty of staff doing all the things they do but again it occurred to me that one day in the future I could be there like that and really be the only person in the place because all the shelf-stockers and salespeople are human-looking and sounding robots.


Here’s how change happens. One day you wake up and find out something else has been added. Like ‘Radiation’ becoming part of the weather forecast. Yesterday it was rain coming up from the south with a slim chance of radiation. Today it’s dust blowing in from the north-west with a greater chance of … radiation. It’s really blowing my mind, like I’m in a Philip K. Dick SF plot detailing a nasty future. I was thinking about going to the Seoul motoshow tomorrow, but it’s a bit far out of town and apparently a fair chunk of the new stuff is electric cars — not that exciting to look at. This is changing much faster than I thought it would too. The main car manufacturers seem to be dead-serious about getting these electric cars onto the roads and the first thing it makes me think of is, where are we going to get all this extra electricity from. Unfortunately, my guess is a lot of countries like s.korea and china will be building more nuclear power plants. I really hope Australia isn’t dumb enough to start building nuclear power plants.

I had this brainwave the other day. Why don’t they design solar energy collectors that are shaped like trees? It would depend on the photovoltaic cells being thin enough that some light could pass through, like with real leaves, but I think they (THEY) might already be onto this because I read something about producing a solar film that can be coated onto the outside of skyscrapers. Anyway, it would be more space-efficient than the flat, satellite-dish looking things that are common at the moment.

leaps forward

Now here’s progress, <a href=”http://singularityhub.com/2010/11/02/a-robot-in-every-korean-kindergarten-by-2013/”>robots for teaching English in kinda</a>. It was just last Monday that I was fantasising about having a conversation with my university students where I told them that one day in the future they would have a robot teaching them instead of me. Then I imagined the robot: it would be about 8 feet tall, shiny metal and if those students at the back kept talking out of turn, the robot’s hand would morph, Transformers-like, into a fat laser and blast their slack arses into smouldering, vaporised nothing.

Meanwhile, in the future I will be living on Mars with Elon Musk and a select group of other really cool people.