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A Visual Timeline of AI Predictions in Sci-Fi

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They say you shouldn’t believe everything you see on the big screen.

However, in the case of science fiction, the human imagination has gotten a few things right—especially when it comes to futuristic forecasts. Today, the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is transforming everything, but it turns out we had a hunch about it all along.

When AI Comes to Life

Today’s infographic from Noodle.ai takes a look at how some movie and television predictions for AI’s capabilities have taken hold in the real world.

AI Predictions in Science Fiction

Many early “predictions” about future technologies certainly missed the mark—but it seems science fiction was able to accurately forecast a thing or two about AI.

AI Basics: Making Life Better

Artificial intelligence is all about equipping machines with the ability to mimic human decision-making processes. It has a wide range of applications, from basic automation to advanced machine learning models.

AI has proliferated into virtually every aspect of life, and in the graphic, it’s clear that several sci-fi-turned-real inventions are aimed at making things more convenient for us humans.

Sci Fi PredictionAI in Reality
1962: The Jetsons cartoon shows video calls on a tv screen, and a robot maid.2002: iRobot Roomba is the first robotic vacuum.
2018: Facebook Portal is a video-calling smart display.
2019: Moley robotic kitchen is able to prep meals from scratch and clean up afterwards.
1966: Star Trek inspired several tech innovations that have become commonplace.Examples include: Bluetooth headsets, voice assistants, cellphones, and automatic sliding doors.
1989: Back to the Future features smart glasses for television and phone calls, and a smart watch which can precisely predict weather.2012: The Dark Sky app provides custom alerts on the weather to the minute.
2013: Google Glass is able to make calls, send texts, display photos, and provide directions.
2015: Apple Watch comes enabled with WiFi, Bluetooth, a GPS, and even a heart sensor.
1999: Smart House showcases a fully automated house that is able to respond to verbal requests, cook and clean, and control thermostat settings.2019: A HGTV contest lets people win a WiFi connected smart house, complete with voice-enabled thermostat and security systems.

Of course, these have had varying degrees of success. While Google Glass didn’t initially resonate with the wider public, the augmented reality smart glasses have now proved useful in businesses such as manufacturing.

Elsewhere, sci-fi-inspired advances in industries like healthtech are providing a new lease of life for many patients—and continuously reinventing the frontier of what we think is possible.

Sci-Fi Helps Us Push Boundaries

One monumental event in AI history occurred in 1997, when IBM’s Deep Blue beat a chess master at his own game. This event shook the world when we realized what AI could truly be capable of—even though sci-fi had in fact anticipated it 20 years prior.

But as the graphic shows, not all is rosy in science fiction’s likeness of AI. It’s often depicted as something to fear, and certain predictions have proved to be eerily accurate.

Sci Fi PredictionAI in Reality
1977: K9, a robotic dog in Doctor Who, beats its master at a chess game.1997: IBM’s Deep Blue computer beats a Russian chess master, Garry Kasparov.
1984: Skynet from Terminator, a self-aware AI program, attempts to extinguish humanity.2019: The U.S. Army creates an autonomous system to “acquire, identify, and target threats” (ATLAS AI).
2011: AI monitors surveillance cameras and predicts future criminals in Person of Interest.2018: The National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS)

While not all of these are causes for alarm, they clearly demonstrate that sci-fi has the capacity to influence the breakthrough technology we could end up seeing a few years down the line. However, turning reel to real can raise some curious dilemmas.

Rights for Robots?

Last year, the European Parliament debated an interesting question: do robots qualify as people?

The resolution considered granting “personhood” to sophisticated, autonomous robots. However, over 150 AI experts strongly warned against this proposal, arguing it would “blur the relation between man and machine” in a way that is too unethical.

Nevertheless, this thought experiment proves that artificial intelligence is matching our wildest imagined predictions for it.

AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet.

—Tesler’s Theorem

As we move ever closer towards a world where AI is inextricably linked with the everyday, how else could science fiction shape our expectations of the future?

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Maps

Wired World: 35 Years of Submarine Cables in One Map

Watch the explosive growth of the global submarine cable network, and learn who’s funding the next generation of cables.

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submarine cable network

You could be reading this article from nearly anywhere in the world and there’s a good chance it loaded in mere seconds.

Long gone are the days when images would load pixel row by pixel row. Now, even high-quality video is instantly accessible from almost everywhere. How did the internet get so fast? Because it’s moving at the speed of light.

The Information Superhighway

The miracle of modern fiber optics can be traced to a single man, Narinder Singh Kapany. The young physicist was skeptical when his professors asserted that light ‘always travels in a straight line’. His explorations into the behavior of light eventually led to the creation of fiber optics—essentially, beaming light through a thin glass tube.

The next step to using fiber optics as a means of communication was lowering the cable’s attenuation rate. Throughout the 1960-70s, companies made gains in manufacturing, reducing the number of impurities and allowing light to cross great distances without a dramatic decrease in signal intensity.

By the mid-1980s, long distance fiber optic cables had finally reached the feasibility stage.

Crossing the Pond

The first intercontinental fiber optic cable was strung across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in 1988. The cable—known as TAT-8*—was spearheaded by three companies; AT&T, France Télécom, and British Telecom. The cable was able to carry the equivalent of 40,000 telephone channels, a ten-fold increase over its galvanic predecessor, TAT-7.

Once the kinks of the new cable were worked out, the floodgates were open. During the course of the 1990s, many more cables hit the ocean floor. By the dawn of the new millennium, every populated continent on Earth was connected by fiber optic cables. The physical network of the internet was beginning to take shape.

As today’s video from ESRI shows, the early 2000s saw a boom in undersea cable development, reflecting the uptick in internet usage around globe. In 2001 alone, eight new cables connected North America and Europe.

From 2016-2020, over 100 new cables were laid with an estimated value of $14 billion. Now, even the most remote Polynesian islands have access to high-speed internet thanks to undersea cables.

*TAT-8 does not appear in the video above as it was retired in 2002.

The Shifting Nature of Cable Construction

Even though nearly every corner of the globe is now physically connected, the rate of cable construction is not slowing down.

This is due to the increasing capacity of new cables and our appetite for high-quality video content. New cables are so efficient that the majority of potential capacity along major cable routes will come from cables that are less than five years old.

Traditionally, a consortium of telecom companies or governments would fund cable construction, but tech companies are increasingly funding their own submarine cable networks.

tech company submarine cables

Source

Amazon, Microsoft and Google own close to 65% market share in cloud data storage, so it’s understandable that they’d want to control the physical means of transporting that data as well.

These three companies now own 63,605 miles of submarine cable. While laying cable is a costly endeavor, it’s necessary to meet surging demand—content providers’ share of data transmission skyrocketed from around 8% to nearly 40% over the past decade.

A Bright Future for Dark Fiber

At the same time, more aging cables will be taken offline. Even though signals are no longer traveling through this network of “dark fiber”, it’s still being put to productive use. It turns out that undersea telecom cables make a very effective seismic network, helping researchers study offshore earthquakes and the geologic structures on the ocean floor.

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Markets

The World’s 25 Most Successful Media Franchises, and How They Stay Relevant

This infographic ranks the most successful media franchises of all time, and explores how they innovate to stay relevant.

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The World’s 25 Most Successful Media Franchises, and How They Stay Relevant

Great stories come and go, but there are a certain few that can truly stand the test of time.

Tugging on the heartstrings with nostalgic stories can be a powerful tool. Yet, even the most world-renowned storytellers like Disney face pressure to constantly innovate.

Today’s infographic from TitleMax illustrates the highest-grossing media franchises, and dives into how they generate their revenue and adapt to new mediums in changing times.

The Supreme Storytellers

According to the infographic, the majority of franchise revenue comes from merchandising. Video games, comic books, and Japanese manga are also significant drivers of income.

Rank
FranchiseYear CreatedRevenue (USD)Main Revenue Source
#1Pokémon1996$92BMerchandise
#2Hello Kitty1974$80BMerchandise
#3Winnie the Pooh1924$75BMerchandise
#4Mickey Mouse1928$70BMerchandise
#5Star Wars1977$66BMerchandise
#6Anpanman1973$60BMerchandise
#7Disney Princesses2000$45BMerchandise
#8Mario1981$36BVideo Games
#9Jump Comics1968$34BComics and Manga
#10Harry Potter1997$31BBox Office
#11Marvel Cinematic Universe2008$29BBox Office
#12Spiderman1962$27BMerchandise
#13Gudam1979$26BMerchandise
#14Batman1939$26BMerchandise
#15Dragonball1984$24BComic and Manga
#16Barbie1959$24BMerchandise
#17Fist of The North Star1983$22BVideo Games
#18Cars2006$22BMerchandise
#19Toy Story1995$20BMerchandise
#20One Piece1997$20BComics and Manga
#21Lord of The Rings1937$20BBook Sales
#22James Bond1953$20BBox Office
#23Yu-Gi-Oh1996$20BTrading Cards
#24Peanuts1950$17BMerchandise
#25Transformers1984$17BMerchandise

Perhaps surprisingly, Marvel is not included in the top 10. Despite nearly $30 billion revenue and a long history rooted in comic books, the entertainment behemoth still has much ground to cover as the newest franchise in the ranking.

Reinventing a Classic

While the list proves that success builds over time, these classics need to constantly reinvent themselves as their audiences become reliant on new technologies and demand more immersive experiences.

Pokémon

As the highest grossing media franchise earning roughly $4 billion a year, Pokémon’s strength lies in it ability to adapt to new technology.

The Japanese phenomenon has continued to reposition itself since it first introduced Pokémon cards in 1996. These days, the franchise is perhaps best known for bringing augmented reality to the masses with Pokémon Go—an app that attracted 50 million users in just 19 days.

Hello Kitty

Yet another Japanese brand tops the list of media franchises. With 50,000 product lines available in over 130 countries and cumulative revenue of $80 billion, Hello Kitty is famous for harnessing the power of cute.

The fictional character has evolved into a globally recognized symbol as a result of big name partnerships and licensing deals with the likes of Puma, Asos and Herschel—and is etched onto almost every type of accessory thinkable.

More recently, the brand announced its foray into video games, and will collaborate with the global esports organization FNATIC on content and merchandise.

Winnie the Pooh

The chronicles of Winnie the Pooh have transcended time by providing a connection to the innate wonder of childhood.

Originally created following World War I, the newest movie rendition “Christopher Robin” became the highest-grossing film in the franchise, grossing $197 million worldwide.

Mickey Mouse

With 97% brand name recognition, Mickey Mouse is officially more recognizable than Santa Claus. Similarly to Winnie the Pooh, Disney introduced Mickey Mouse as a symbol of hope following the World War.

Over 90 years later, global brands such as L’oreal, Beats, Uniqlo and more recently, Gucci are paying homage. In 2019, the luxury fashion brand licensed the Mickey Mouse image for a 3D printed bag worth $4,500, making it even more of a ubiquitous symbol of pop culture.

Star Wars

Another Disney favorite, Star Wars holds the title of most successful movie franchise, with cumulative revenues of $65 billion.

The franchise successfully appeals to a multi-generational audience by mixing old characters with new storylines, such as ‘The Mandalorian’, broadcasting on the new streaming service Disney+—hailed as one of the more exciting moves to come from the saga.

Making Magic

Disney owns three out of the top five highest grossing franchises, so it comes as no surprise that the media conglomerate is investing heavily in digital innovation to provide a more immersive customer experience.

In fact, every franchise in the ranking relies on multiple touchpoints and revenue streams to create a more interactive and emotional experience for their audience.

By harnessing a compelling combination of both imagination and technology, Disney and other top global franchises can continue to lead in the business of making magic.

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