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What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:41 am UTC
by kevmus
Assume that you can send a box to the future* containing as much information about us as you can fit inside, while still being possible to imagine (a hundred thousand pages is fine, but please don't print out wikipedia), what would you put inside it? What would the future find interesting about us? We've spent much time trying to figure out how humans were like 2 or 3 thousand years ago, could we make it easier for future humans to learn about us?

* by 'send to the future' I mean, assume it is put in a hole and it is dug up in a few thousand years.

My ideas:
- We have no idea how their technology will be like. They might have left computing by the side as much as we've left writing on stone tablets, or they might be writing on stone tablets themselves because wars/mass extinctions set them back. This means that low-tech is key. It's a lot easier to figure out English than it is to figure out .pdf encoding on 32bit systems or any other form of data.

- A bunch of detailed geographical and political maps might be useful
- A dictionary of a few languages - Most common by speakers, maybe? So Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, and Russian (we'd have most of the character sets, too)
- The CIA world factbook would be a quick guide to countries.
- Some important literature (shakespeare etc)
- Constitutions of several countries
- Explaination of all different types of government system

What more might be interesting or useful to the future, if they want to learn about us?

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:13 am UTC
by FrankManic
I'd send two and a half pounds of really good maple cured bacon, the complete Led Zeppelin discography on Vinyl, and a bottle of Johnny Walker Black. The future will never understand us, anyway, might as well send them a party.

*Two thousand years pass*

"The ancients were much like us. We have recently discovered a two point five units of mechanically extruded machine lubricant, a plastic ration biscuit, and a small container of lung fuel."

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:05 am UTC
by Splendid
kevmus wrote:My ideas:
- We have no idea how their technology will be like. They might have left computing by the side as much as we've left writing on stone tablets, or they might be writing on stone tablets themselves because wars/mass extinctions set them back. This means that low-tech is key. It's a lot easier to figure out English than it is to figure out .pdf encoding on 32bit systems or any other form of data.

- A bunch of detailed geographical and political maps might be useful
- A dictionary of a few languages - Most common by speakers, maybe? So Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, and Russian (we'd have most of the character sets, too)
- The CIA world factbook would be a quick guide to countries.
- Some important literature (shakespeare etc)
- Constitutions of several countries
- Explaination of all different types of government system

This. I liked the 'Rosetta Stone'-style entry to the safe and the explanations of the current countries/governments/territories. As much as you don't think including a .pdf would be worth while, I still think something that basically told (in a low tech way) how 'high tech' the people of this era are would be beneficial (at least interesting to them). Hey look! We can pause TV! Jealous, future me?

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:24 am UTC
by Magilla

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:53 am UTC
by vslayer
i also like the rosetta stone type idea. we then compile a range of the best political essays of our time to convey the way in which our society works and the views of the people on this society. maybe throw in a computer made of non corrosive metals and load it up with some of the technology of the time, but I think it's a pretty safe bet that in 100 years they will still be digging up our old toasters, so should have a fair idea of most of our techonology.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:26 pm UTC
by lulzfish
As a college student who's been forced to take both western and non-western civilization, I can safely say that 90% of the future will not give a damn about us or our hobbies at all.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:51 pm UTC
by Lareth
"Despite what your religious leaders and/or politicians tell you, the internet was mostly porn from pretty much day one."

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:21 pm UTC
by You, sir, name?
Magilla wrote:This thread


Yeah. They'll scratch their heads over that one for hundreds of years. It'll be the Voynich manuscript all over again. Actually, at a glance, they do have some profound similarities.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:03 pm UTC
by Oskar
My guess is they will wonder how the internet could be so free.
I'm really afraid the internet will be more and more controlled by all sorts of instances. (look at the downloading laws in the UK and France. Three strikes and you're out. Pfff)

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:45 pm UTC
by rubber314chicken
Add french to that list.......

Lets also include let tech stuff like the telegraph and morse code, because after all if they are using stone tablets......

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:06 am UTC
by mmmcannibalism
I think we should leave behind a conversation about what we thought the future would find interesting about us.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:46 am UTC
by the_stabbage
What about things that we will leave behind without any choice?

Massive cities, with huge sewer systems, skyscrapers. Garbage dumps. Mining pits.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:04 am UTC
by Sir_Elderberry
Hrm, it seems like the most useful things we know from the past come via recovered written/inscribed documents. I would send back some texts on history, with a focus on the contemporary. (Barring a collapse in civilization, I expect current knowledge about ancient history to be preserved.) Give them context. Give them some of our fiction, our nonfiction--rigidly divide the two. Send them some technical texts, dictionaries, thesauruses so they can translate.

And, along with those technical texts, send them a Kindle with instructions on how they should work the AC charger.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:29 am UTC
by boring bore
Image
Alt text: if something happens on july 30th 2215 they're gonna find this comic and it will BLOW THEIR MINDS

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:11 pm UTC
by Chfan
That we were fucking backwards, horrible people. ?But who are they to judge? The people from 2300 say the same about them.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:59 pm UTC
by Levi
This box travels instantaneously from our time to theirs, right? Whatever we send, they'll figure it's a hoax because it's not old enough.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:07 pm UTC
by Dromtry
rubber314chicken wrote:Add french to that list.......

Lets also include let tech stuff like the telegraph and morse code, because after all if they are using stone tablets......

No, as Futurama has taught us, French will die soon any way.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:09 pm UTC
by kevmus
Levi wrote:This box travels instantaneously from our time to theirs, right? Whatever we send, they'll figure it's a hoax because it's not old enough.


Well, what I really meant by "send a box to the future" is "dig a deep hole and put a sign on it that says 'Merry xmas, do not unwrap until December 31, 2999' or something"

More thoughts: Any way to store video that would last a thousand years? Like, hand crank charger on an insulated dvd player or such? Let's rickroll the future.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:20 pm UTC
by You, sir, name?
Chfan wrote:That we were fucking backwards, horrible people. ?But who are they to judge? The people from 2300 say the same about them.


How do you fuck backwards? And horrible how? Like horrible swamp monster? Or like Hitler horrible? ... I'm not sure if I would do that. Sure, some may, and whatever rocks your boat and all that, but personally, I don't know.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:11 am UTC
by '; DROP DATABASE;--
You, sir, name? wrote:How do you fuck backwards?
She wears a strap-on?

I'd probably want to design some kind of very simple computer, screen/controls built in, which when turned on will simply display an archive of Wikipedia. It could be a very simple device, so designing it to last a few thousand years in storage probably wouldn't be terribly difficult.
I'd include some printed, largely pictographic instructions of how to power it. A battery likely wouldn't retain its charge that long, and they may drain it before they can finish following any displayed instructions.
I think I'd have it designed such that pressing any button turns it on, and the first screen displays simple, pictographic instructions that include how to turn it off. If it could play sound as well, that'd be really nice. Might include two of them, or more likely multiple boxes each containing one, in case it's damaged.

I think it'd also be worth including some interesting objects. I'm assuming this would be a pretty damn big box and a heavily funded project, so we could put things like a car inside. It's hard to think of things you could put in though that would last that long. Assuming they would last, some ideas:
-A globe and printed world map
-A more advanced computer (off-the-shelf desktop/laptop), that they hopefully can figure out from the information on the tablet
-Some clothing, to show what kinds of things we wore back then
-Interesting photos
-Printed copies of some of the most important information and books in case they can't manage to get the machines working
-Models from biology labs to show the composition of the human body. If the ones who find it are human, that will show them that we were as well. If not, it'll give them some insight as to what the heck we were.
-A rubber duckie, on a shrine. Just to mess with them.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:44 am UTC
by Ivora
Like the distant future?

Probably that we:

-Fight a lot (sometimes for stupid reasons)

-Judge people based on race, sex, and sexual perference (Although by then most of these issues will be a non-issue)

- Have poor people ( loI for some strange reason I can see the future without poor people)

- Poor technology and strange forms of media

Yeah. Theres a lot wrong with us. And those are only SOME of the things they would find amusing or interesting. :shock:

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:48 am UTC
by KallistiEngel
I'd send a single laptop computer with a backup of the internet as it exists today. Barring that, a case of Bawls. Just because what the fuck?

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:24 am UTC
by rubber314chicken
KallistiEngel wrote:I'd send a single laptop computer with a backup of the internet as it exists today. Barring that, a case of Bawls. Just because what the fuck?


You think you could fit a backup on a laptop hard drive? I'm thinking a HUGE array of hard drives.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 5:46 am UTC
by TheChewanater
I'd put in some ancient looking pots depicting spaceships and cell phones. They likely will think it's older than it really is and freak out at the predictions. Then, throw in an ancient looking scripture predicting the destruction of the universe if they don't use the time machines we know they will not be able to make to send an everlasting supply of the infinite life pills we know they will not invent to our time period.

Actually, maybe some depictions of plants and animals. They won't have plants and animals in the future (at least not all wild and stuff like today). Also, maybe Cobra by Timothy Zahn. If it's accurate, which it's probably not, that would freak them out.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 2:39 pm UTC
by Sir_Elderberry
TheChewanater wrote:Actually, maybe some depictions of plants and animals. They won't have plants and animals in the future (at least not all wild and stuff like today).

Eh. I'm not so sure about this. After all, the population is projected to fall later this century as a result of a natural decline in birth rates, and people on the whole are getting more aware about biodiversity and such, compared to fifty or a hundred years ago. We're fucking up the environment, yes, but I doubt we ever get to the point where there's nothing wild left.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 5:01 pm UTC
by TheChewanater
Sir_Elderberry wrote:
TheChewanater wrote:Actually, maybe some depictions of plants and animals. They won't have plants and animals in the future (at least not all wild and stuff like today).

Eh. I'm not so sure about this. After all, the population is projected to fall later this century as a result of a natural decline in birth rates, and people on the whole are getting more aware about biodiversity and such, compared to fifty or a hundred years ago. We're fucking up the environment, yes, but I doubt we ever get to the point where there's nothing wild left.


In a thousand years, we won't need wildlife.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 6:38 pm UTC
by KallistiEngel
Sir_Elderberry wrote:
TheChewanater wrote:Actually, maybe some depictions of plants and animals. They won't have plants and animals in the future (at least not all wild and stuff like today).

Eh. I'm not so sure about this. After all, the population is projected to fall later this century as a result of a natural decline in birth rates, and people on the whole are getting more aware about biodiversity and such, compared to fifty or a hundred years ago. We're fucking up the environment, yes, but I doubt we ever get to the point where there's nothing wild left.

Hydrofracking. That's all I have to say about that.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 6:56 pm UTC
by You, sir, name?
TheChewanater wrote:In a thousand years, we won't need wildlife.


Yeah! Screw nature! We'll build our own wildlife! With blackjack... and hookers!

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 6:57 pm UTC
by Briareos
You, sir, name? wrote:Yeah! Screw nature! We'll build our own wildlife! With blackjack... and hookers!
In fact, forget the wildlife!

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 7:00 pm UTC
by sje46
Diaries from ordinary people. Photos of ordinary people. Try to limit the professionally done stuff. I find more value in the diary of an ancient roman than in Ovid.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 9:16 pm UTC
by Cold
We could bury one on the moon without including evidence that we had ever sent people to the moon to bury it. So that in a thousand years, the colonists on the moon will dig it up and say "Wow! I didn't know the moon once had native people living on it!"
Though I doubt that'd work. It would still be pretty cool.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:28 pm UTC
by SecondTalon
Just seconding here, but Geocities backups. Myspace profiles. Facebook.

Basically, archive.org.

I mean, look back at how the world was changed after the dawn of writing, and again after the printing press. The Interobangy is just another leap forward in getting dead people's thoughts to living people's heads quickly and easily rather than trusting some jackass to remember it's "due to" and not "because of", as that subtly changes the meaning of the sentence.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 6:16 pm UTC
by Sir_Elderberry
SecondTalon wrote:Just seconding here, but Geocities backups. Myspace profiles. Facebook.

By the time they realized why the time portals from the future were full of armed nuclear weapons, it was too late.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:03 pm UTC
by Snowflake
What would they find interesting about us?

How crazy we are, just like how crazy we thought the people before us were.

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:32 pm UTC
by Internetmeme
Send 'em absolute lies. Make manuscripts about utopias, cities of <precious metal here>, advanced civilizations harnessing the power of black holes, that then left Earth.
Then, when they are exploring space, they will be fruitlessly looking for the new version of the Fountain of Youth, El Dorado, and Atlantis!

Wait...
I think I know why we have never found these things!

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:51 am UTC
by Forum Viking
We could do something likethis and really give them an adventure (except more perilous, of course).

Re: What would the future find interesting about us?

Posted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:27 am UTC
by LuNatic
Ivora wrote:Like the distant future?

Probably that we:

-Fight a lot (sometimes for stupid reasons)

-Judge people based on race, sex, and sexual perference (Although by then most of these issues will be a non-issue)

- Have poor people ( loI for some strange reason I can see the future without poor people)

- Poor technology and strange forms of media

Yeah. Theres a lot wrong with us. And those are only SOME of the things they would find amusing or interesting. :shock:


You know, I have doubts that any of these will have changed.