It's March 18, 2012. I've entered the doors of a nice hotel in the outskirts of Austin, Texas. As I greet the agent and approach the reception desk I get my photo ID and my credit card out and lay them on the counter. After a moment of looking at a box on the counter, the agent at the desk replies to me that the fitness center and the swimming pool are on the ground floor. In response to this information (which I will not use), I ask how I can connect to the Internet service in the room and the procedure to follow to have something printed out.
I enter my room and, in anticipation of my arrival, the fan and air conditioner are turning full tilt. I immediately find the thermostat on the wall and turn off everything. The temperature is to my liking. I open the curtains to let in the natural light.
If I were an author, I would write a poem or a short story about a time in the future when all the people, places and things around me are able to detect who I am, what I'm saying, to whom and every gesture I make. The environment will be organized in a way that my every need will have been considered and the options are made available.
I will be able to choose how to be reached (since there won't be these antiquated devices such as telephones and computers any more). Though the inner workings will be invisible to my naked eye, the "alert" surfaces of my surroundings and the objects I carry with me will be the interfaces by which I receive suggestions and make my choices known. When I arrive at the restaurant for an evening cocktail, I'll be served a bowl of freshly made tortilla chips accompanied by dishes of guacamole and salsa.
For a small monthly or annual fee, my preferred provider of premium anticipatory services will be tracking and logging my every move and anticipating my future. When the experiences I have exceed expectations, I will be happy to pay yet more!
I've recently learned, from an article written by Bruce Sterling in the April 2012 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine on the Origins of Futurism, of the HG Wells essays of 1902 on the topic of life in 2000. The "Anticipations," as the author entitled them, are available as part of the Guttenberg project. I am really looking forward to digesting these, in particular how he thought of the urban life we lead today.
I wonder if he also thought of anticipatory services.
I regret that my visibility into the near future confirms I will be unable to digest these works in the coming days. And that the next place I stay an agent will similarly greet me as a guest with expectations they seek, but will fail, to meet. When I am home, my expectations are lower and the astounding reliability of my world to deliver beyond what I need is much appreciated.