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January 20, 2021

Fictional Forecasting of Advances in Technologies by guest @graybasnight

by Gray Basnight

For reasons I cannot fully explain, my two run-for-your-life novels are set several years in the foreseeable future.  This afforded the opportunity to add a minimal touch of science fiction, even though I’m not a sci-fi writer.  The fact is, forecasting the near future is a lot of fun, especially when it adds to the suspense and adventure of the story.

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Madness of the Q
Dec 2020; Down & Out Books; 978-1643960883
ebook, print (368 pages); espionage thriller
For both Flight of the Fox, and the sequel Madness of the Q, I took existing technologies and imagined how they might advance over time.  Would they continue to get smaller and faster?  Would they make our lives safer and easier, or might they become more-and-more invasive and controlling? 

In Flight of the Fox, I imagined how laptops would evolve.  My answer was called “Flexi-Flats” – a disposable laptop with the dimensions of a paper towel that could be rolled or folded and stuffed into a pocket.  The obstacle of Flexi-Flats as a new PC option was that they had a short life-expectancy and were quite expensive, so they were accessible only to consumers with plenty of disposable income.  By the time Madness of the Q takes place, they’ve become a bit more mainstream.

In that first novel, there was also a navy Fighter Drone Program, called FIDROPRO, that designed, tested, and deployed aircraft that can do everything a fighter jet can do, but without a pilot.  It was controversial in the story for the same reason the idea is contentious in reality: the technology puts pilots out of business, and pilotless planes are really scary.   

In Madness of the Q, I fictionally invented these technologies: 

Advanced Military-Style Mini-Drones

Today’s civilian drones are used for photography and perhaps eventually delivering packages and pizzas.  The military, however, is known to be plowing lots of money into drones for many uses.  
In Flight of the Fox the drones launched against my protagonist were the size of a baseball and used exclusively by the US government.  In Madness of the Q, they’ve shrunk further to the size of a common housefly – and still available only for use by government security agencies.  Drones, in one form or another, will soon be pervasive in our lives.  Get ready.

Personalized Public Pop-Up Ads

Nobody dislikes pop-up web ads more than me.  They’re uniquely annoying because they’re smart.  Not only do they know what I’ve recently been shopping for, but they also know how many microseconds it takes to “X” them out.  Consequently, they know exactly when to shift to another location on the screen.  I sometimes imagine them letting out an audible “ha-ha” as I play whack-a-mole with the cursor.  
Where’s this going in the future?  You’re walking down the street when AI software scans the credit card in your wallet or the key fob in your pocket.  Suddenly a micro-targeted ad—with your photo—appears on the nearest public billboard trying to sell you shoes, a new car, or a trip to Bermuda.  This is what happens to my protagonist when he’d rather be invisible.
If this seems far-fetched, consider Xiangyang, China.  Facial-recognition cameras there post photos of people who jaywalk on giant billboards as punishment for their shameful transgressions.  

Ocular Metal Detectors

Remember the first metal detectors at airport security?  When you walked through the security portal, they beeped if you failed to remove all your hardware.  Now, those full-body wave scanners can view what’s on—or inside—your body.

In Madness of the Q, these OMD devices are reduced to a monocle that cops and spies wear to learn who’s got what in their pockets or elsewhere.  As that technology advances in reality, we will likely have security officers at airports and other venues wearing goggles that allow them to see through the clothes you’re wearing.   

God Glasses

This is a name I gave to a combination device with advanced night vision goggles and an ocular metal detector.  When wearing these ordinary looking eyeglasses, one has near-Superman vision.  Equipped with Doppler radar, the user can both see in the dark and through walls to detect the presence of humans through heat emissions.  A hand-held version of this technology already exists and is used by many police departments.

Life Guidance Apps/Personal Improvement Managers

I got this idea from the movie Her, where the actor Joaquin Phoenix has a romantic relationship with a virtual assistant he carries in his shirt pocket.  In Madness of the Q, they’re called PIMs (Personal Improvement Managers) and they supervise every aspect of an adherent’s life, and I do mean every aspect. 

Immediate Ground Pulse Radar

This is an advance to today’s GPS.  My version also includes radar and laser. In Madness of the Q, it’s used by government or military vehicles to scan the nearby environs and alert the user of proximate persons or vehicles with firearms who may otherwise pose risk of ill intent.  I hope this really is a fictional stretch because it requires AI analysis of emotional and psychological states of mind.    
The future is a constant – it will always be there, just as there will always be new developments and new adaptations of old and current technologies.  Some will be real, others fictional.  Having shared my vision of where technology may go, I’d love to hear what you foresee.  Feel free to contact me through the email portal on my website

Buy Madness of the Q at Amazon

About Gray Basnight: 

After almost three decades in broadcast news writing facts, Gray now writes fiction. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, he’s lived in New York long enough to consider himself a native. His books cross several genres: Madness of the Q and Flight of the Fox, his thriller series with an everyday hero uncovering revelations that could change history; The Cop with the Pink Pistol, a modern NYC-detective mystery; and Shadows in the Fire, a Civil War historical about two young slaves on the edge of freedom as Richmond falls in April 1865. For more information, visit or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.  


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