On the books of Michael Crichton

Virtual Reality and the Man-Machine Interface in Disclosure and The Terminal Man

By Ray Kurzweil

The NPS staff has developed a computer that will monitor electrical activity of the brain, and when it sees an attack starting, will transmit a shock to the correct brain area. This computer is about the size of a postage stamp and weighs a tenth of an ounce. It will be implanted beneath the skin of the patient’s neck.

—Michael Crichton, The Terminal Man

In Michael Crichton’s 1969 thriller The Terminal Man, Harold Benson undergoes a surgical procedure to attach his brain to a postage-stamp sized computer. Crichton astutely predicts the potential for implanting a computer chip in the brain to help manage neurological ailments (see “Shock to the System” elsewhere in this volume). Twenty-four years later, in Disclosure, Crichton again predicts the future of man-machine interface with his description of a virtual reality device that allows Tom Sanders to literally walk through his company’s databases. In both cases, Crichton effectively predicts the direction of future technology and man-machine interface in particular. In both cases, his predictions fall substantially short of the truly exciting developments that are down the road.

I’ve become a student of technology trends as an outgrowth of my career as an inventor. If you work on creating technologies, you need to anticipate where technology will be at points in the future so that your project will be feasible and useful when it’s completed, not just when you started. Over the course of a few decades of anticipating technology, i’ve become a student of technology trends and  …

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