I’m reading William Gibson right now, so what better time to talk about his quote: “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
The implication is that we can look at those people with access to the cutting edge of technology, and extrapolate what the world will look like after that technology has been democratized.
Example: In the 1920s, only the fabulously wealthy could afford to fly across the Atlantic. In the 1960s, only universities had computers. In the 1980s, only scientists used email. And so on.
So, what high technologies* are today restricted to an elite few? What happens when they’re made available to everyone?
Access to scientific data (I just really want to read those journals without paying for them)
Supercomputers and server farms (connected to the grid and available to neighbors ala home-generated electricity?)
Private planes (Not in the sense of private cars. Uber for business jets?)
Cosmetic surgery (or maybe that’s just me reading too much Gibson)
Personal assistant/stylist/lawyer/doctor (come on automatization!)
Custom medical procedures (see Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End)
*I’m not talking about luxuries or conspicuous consumption. No gold-infused food or live-in maids — we’ve always had those.