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Ask HN: What will entertain us in 20 years?
40 points by Apane on Aug 25, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 60 comments
Television was cannibalized by the internet, the internet is becoming cannibalized by mobile and tablets. So, what's next?

Prisoner death matches. And you become a prisoner from future thought crimes. And you fight to the death vs jungle animals in Antarctica. Streamed by Google (gl)Ass - the rectal implant that turns you into a networked device.

I'm doing sort of like a sad quiet rage cry with a dash of laughter in it reading your response.

I'm not even sure what entertains "us" today. Leisure-time activities vary by class, race, occupation, age and many other (ever increasingly specific) social categories. Some of us are "laptop loners" [1] while others enjoy mass sporting events; some provide endless free labor to Facebook in their "leisure time" while others use that time to engage in protest.

George Packer noted that most new "apps" are geared towards what rich 20-somethings want and need. Whatever future forms of entertainment Y-Combinator grantees develop, they will almost certainly be designed to be pleasurable -- and profitable -- for them.

1: http://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/louis-c-k-and-the-rise-of-t...

2: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/05/27/130527fa_fact_...

I'm not sure I understand exactly what you are asking for in your question. Entertainment content has remained largely unchanged in the past 2000 years, and still consists mostly of dramas and comedies - whether it's a performance in a theater or the latest episode of HIMYM on netflix. If you are asking about the medium through which we will consume it the question becomes much harder to answer. Probably still some device with a screen, but it might be attachable to our wrist or foldable, or integrated in our glasses... who knows.

Excellent point. But note that the business that finances, creates, produces, and distributes the entertainment has evolved enormously. Expect Internet to continue to disrupt many aspects of the business of entertainment.

missed out: 3D holograms? :)

We will be entertained by the same sorts of media that entertain us today. The economics will be a bit more worked out and the players a bit more entrenched. And we'll probably simply have more options as the tools of production fall into more hands. This'll mean a lot more crap is produced, but we'll also have more weird out-of-left-field sorts of media hits.

Television isn't being cannibalized by the internet. The "traditional" means of distributing it are (cable, broadcast TV, etc). It's more like the internet is being cannibalized by television programming as more people use services like Netflix and Hulu -- and as more people pirate TV shows. More people use the internet to watch television than ever before.

It is also important to distill what television is as an entertainment medium.

The market for short-duration consumable video content is not going away. It is larger than ever. The medium by which you transmitted it via frequency over dumb cable is going away, because it is more convenient to watch what you want when you want.

But people still watch tons of video.

One thing to remember is that entertainment is always sensual stimulation. Digital information is consumed audibly and visually, and physical information is consumed by all the senses (maybe not taste as much).

We have already seen a marked decline in physical information consumption as entertainment, because physical activity is hard. We saw a lot of that be distilled into gaming, where you can have an interactive experience with a lot of sensual feedback without the extertion and strain.

We will probably see the transfer medium shift - in decades, probably to brain-machine interfaces with direct electrical signaling our brains can interpret rather than using photons and molecular vibration over translation layers (ie, over the optic nerve and ear drum).

Maybe we will have a happy compromise, where we just replace our eyes with bionics that can either display recieved photons or other pixel based media over a connected nerve cluster. Replace the ear with bionics and either playback the microphone input or whatever music we want to perceive.

Though I guess just an embedded system hooked into the brain is less convoluted, if we can learn to properly generate and interpret the electrical signaling of the mind. (ie, the way we can read a cats memories as images, or command a mouse with electrical signaling).

One particular thing I've noticed while playing video games is that it's very easy to lose track of where you "are" in the scene. Despite a relatively simple building layout, I notice that my mind doesn't "map" out the scene like it would if I was actually walking through the building.

This causes a huge break in immersion, where I've been walking around a town/building in a game for 30 minutes and have no idea where I am or how I really got there.

I think that VR is going to be the nail in the coffin for this problem. Awhile ago I tried a VR demo on one of those omni-directional platforms where you literally walk in the direction you want to go, and I noticed that my mind was internally mapping out the scene. As a result, the simulation was -much- more immersive, and I was quite content with just walking around the game world that was set up.

If this tech becomes widespread, I can see it opening up video game niches that have previously been untouched. Simulators for stuff ranging from exploring complex ruins to talking a walk in a forest, to showing home buyers what houses are like without having to drive out to them.

The Internet is integral to tablets and mobiles, so not sure how it is being cannibalized. I see "computing" moving into areas such as packaging - i.e. walk down the cereal isle in your store and boxes call out to you as you walk by advertising their contents. Cheap, flexible screens with integrated CPU/GPU/flash will be pennies in 20 years.

Edit to add an "entertainment" part: we'll have new grammy/emmy/oscar categories for "Most Creative Use of Integrated Packaging" and "viral" packaging will be all the rage.

Next generation may just decide they don't want to be tracked, segmented, attributed, targeted. They may just turn off.

Entertainment may be gardening, stockmanship, fishing, painting ...

Everything that's cool to us right now is going be 's--t my dad uses' soon.

Lol, I think today's generation is more closely aligned with Netflix than Ted Kaczynski.

Robots that are attractive to the opposite sex (humans) and will perform life like sex acts to order.

But perhaps this is much further in the future.

And one day much farther down we will have same sex robots as well.

Or any sex at all. The early prototype female robots will say, "not unless you take me out to dinner first." The updated version will say "What? Sit around and talk, then mate? But I have important work to do! Shall I indulge your childish fantasies or work on curing cancer?"

Too bad people can't be updated like robots.

You'll probably be turned on by an implant. Something more like Tek or the Orgasmatron.

This would immediately reduce crime rates 1000-fold.

Setup a kickstarter project immediately.

In 20 years I expect immersive virtual reality to actually be viable and widespread. Digital experiences will be experienced in the 3D world, mostly through interactive multiplayer games with friends. Gesture control will make these experiences intuitive.

Wearable technologies will bring these virtual experiences into our real world. Constantly keeping the real world updated with your virtual experiences, and vice versa. The separation of real and virtual worlds will break down.

We've already seen this with social networking; you are interrupted in the physical world by experiences in the digital world. This trend will continue as people decide to share more media, richer experiences, and immersive 3D interaction.

The Oculus will have higher resolution and become the new norm for many digital mediums. Thalmic Myo, Fitbit, etc are all going to improve to track us and bring the physical into the digital world.

The digital landscape will diversify into richer experiences, more connectivity, and more physical tracking.

Furthermore, desktop 3D scanners will have a big impact on 3D printing in the short term, but the value in 20 years will be personalizing your digital world with the physical souvenirs and trinkets that you already own. People will soon have the ability to duplicate their physical surroundings into the digital world to show off their favorite products and memories.

Camera technologies are also improving greatly. Soon we may all have phones with 3D scanners embedded in them for augmenting photographs, better object recognition for comparison shopping, and other cool computational photography techniques. We tend to put as many technologies into our phones as we can, so the trend of 3D scanning might be more viable in 20 years.

Netflix originals (programs produced or at least financed by Netflix) such as House of Cards and the new season of Arrested Development are a very likely a peek into the future.

Edit: Also the recent success of HBO and AMC in producing high quality big budget shows such as Mad Men, Breaking Bad or Game Of Thrones.

How do you measure success? Is it number of viewers, awards won, etc.?

My cynical side says that success is (advertising_dollars_per_episode * #_episodes) / (cost_per_episode). So the more ads they can sell for more money divided by the cost to produce.

Advertising is not the only source of revenue of cable channels and that is especially true for HBO and AMC. Channels get paid a certain rate by cable companies for each subscriber they have. Certain popular or premium channels get paid more. HBO and AMC get paid substantially more than other channels. Popular shows put channels in a position that allows them to negotiate higher rates.

AMC does not have high subscription fees. They are somewhere near $0.27:


That isn't very high relative to others.


What they do do is collect lots of fees from non-viewers.

Porn will still be here. Even more interactive and personalized. The rift in relationships will be of the Oculus kind. :)

LED or similar Shirts/Clothing.

Imagine having to buy one shirt that doesn't get dirty (ie similar to never-wet, it just will repel everything). And then you can buy packs of designs for $5, or make and sell your own. It will totally change the fashion industry. You can have a wardrobe of one shirt, one pair of shorts, a pair of pants, a v-neck for when you're feeling different, etc.

The whole clothing item would be a screen basically, instead of only a small area. That way you could literally design every small facet.

OK here's a startup idea (probably patented by a billion other corps already)

So you add a GPS to a phone and you get real world geographic games (stand here and click to "win").

My guess is the next big treadmill/grind game will involve geographic and photos and social networks. "Your mission today for 200 possible points is to get a pix of a dog within 100 feet of this coordinate, lose one point per foot from that coordinate and the other 100 points come from social evaluation/rating of the pic"

It seems inevitable, you add a gps to a phone, you get gps games. You have a camera now... you're going to "have to" use it in gaming.

Now in 20 years kids will make fun of old people who played that "cellphone camera game" that was at its peak 15 years ago.

Here's another free startup idea. You've got accelerometers and they're cheap so wrap them all over your body (to get positioning info). You've got poor people on the other side of the planet to take the liability. So... i-yoga e-yoga whatever across the internet with some "genuine" (yeah right) dude in India evaluating your pose and cheering you on. Sell some yoga pants (and top) with a bunch of accelerometers as position sensors.. or some kind of Kinect type thing. One way or another... And I suspect this kind of sorta-social networking might apply to other things. You now have a hired personal trainer on the other side of the planet devoted to nothing other than training you personally all day (well, supposedly).

Not a big company thing but your first idea is basically geocaching

True observation, and I've been doing that for about a decade now (not on a phone at first, obviously), but I was thinking more specifically of Google's Ingress game.

The point being that sticking a GPS into a phone led to some interesting gaming genres, therefore why haven't more games developed out of sticking a camera, or an accelerometer, in a phone. And in the future, the trend of sticking ever more sensors in a phone means we'll have new gaming concepts.

One thing that I already see happening is that there's less friction to be able to capture sports videos.

For example, five years ago, if you wanted to make a Redskins highlight video, you would have to record every Redskins game - which required a TiVo and some sort of video capture card hooked up to your TV set - transfer them to your computer, then parse out all the big plays and put them into a highlight video. It was a very high-friction time consuming process.

Now you can subscribe to NFL.com and get videos of every NFL game and the coaches film, and the radio calls, immediately after they air with big play markers already tagged. So if I wanted to make a highlight video or a database of every big play from the season, it's a pretty painless process.

Because it's getting easier for motivated fans to produce content such as highlight videos, or analysis on sports, I think we're really going to see an erosion of sports reporting on networks like ESPN, as slowly their only purpose becomes live broadcasts. We're going to start sourcing our sports content from podcasts that we like, or a youtube channel that produces good content as opposed to "whatever garbage espn has on at the current time". So anyway there's opportunity for third party sports content.

The same stuff that entertains us today and entertained us 20 years ago. It seems clear that "lean forward" electronic entertainment ("video games") will reach a larger proportion of society as game developers figure out how to simulate a broader range of activities (let's take the obvious example: sex), while "lean backward" entertainment will still have its place.

I've been predicting the near future death of broadcast TV for fifteen years. I still think it's close, but the content producers need to wean themselves from the broadcast networks, while remain the main mechanism for funding long-form content. The movie industry is already pretty much dead, reduced to producing amusement park rides (nothing wrong with that, but storytelling has been ceded to indies and TV).

So, in a nutshell:

* Radio stays as it is

* Broadcast (I mean this in the "central model with a schedule sense, not the over-the-air sense") TV becomes like radio (throw-away content with commercials; possibly some subscriber funded content such as PBS/NPR or even HBO may survive)

* Movies become more-and-more like amusement park rides

* TV entertainment becomes on-demand and probably keeps getting better and better and more and more ubiquitous

* Interactive gaming gains reach as it finds more niches

Nothing revolutionary.

The killer app for broadcasting is live sporting events, and "events" ranging from nice peaceful music concert to unfortunately humanity will continue to have onsite news reports of disasters.

Locally radio is nothing but top-40, live sports, political propaganda, and infotainment "morning shows". TV is rapidly evolving toward the same point, now with pictures. If you search for "old time radio" you can find decades old mp3 files of radio dramas. Exactly the same topics on radio as are now on TV (action, drama, cop/lawyer/dr shows, etc) Broadcast TV is headed the same direction... inevitably someday you will see the last broadcast "cop show" as the whole genre moves to pay per view/youtube/itunes/whatever.

I'm not clear how marketer types will promote show release times. Download the new episode of "Barney Miller 2014" at 5pm EST today or whatever. There's probably a great startup opportunity in "handling" how new episodes are made available. Not just the technical side (thats all solved) but the economic / practical side. Maybe an auction where the highest bid class at a certain time gets it two hours before steerage but its free for everyone tomorrow.

Another peculiar, possibly unworkable startup idea is something like etsy for radio drama. Or a virtual network. Once it becomes retro enough to be cool, you'll have people lining up for it. There are individuals working in this field today, but the closest thing to a network or industry-wide scale effort is probably twit.tv and their audio versions.

The desperate cries of our enemies.

In all seriousness, I think video games will be even bigger than they are today. Instead of fixed characters, they will have people you know—friends, relatives, people you dislike, etc—generated through analysis of pictures and video of them.

This will lead to something of a moral panic when people grasp that they can't keep someone from having them as a characters in a game.

A similar thing will happen to porn, feeding into the moral panic.

That would be interesting for video games and pr0n, but why not apply that tech to plain ole "womens drama TV show"?

Oh wait we already have that... My wife already "watches" TV while she holds her tablet and scrolls thru facebook and whichever is more interesting get the attention.

Why watch a reality TV gameshow/drama about say... some dude getting married, when you can watch a real world version play out live on facebook today?

I'm not kidding about this. We're about one, maybe two, "innovations" away from facebook (or equiv social network) replacing most "big network TV".

So theoretical viewer (perhaps my daughter) clicks certain checkboxes and dropdowns on a web page and then some youtube quality CGI video of some girl she knows meets some boy and there's a teen pregnancy and then tragically one of the CGI characters... Or rather than your social network, you get to pick "stars".

Perhaps there's the idea that we'll just tag along and jump onto other people's google glass, a group of you could join one climber, more HUD broadcasting, rather than the current crop of reality TV. It could be interactive, hangout with your friends with one or two of you in a physical location. A rock climber could sell their live experience.

You're probably onto a good future (startup?) idea.

I could also see a startup doing some kind of glass thing for career counseling, to give the real story.

I've watched a couple kind of cheesy Mt Everest documentaries. I would pay some $ to defer expenses for the unfiltered experience of a real live mountain climber. Maybe not a huge amount but certainly in the range of pay per view. Please, no soundtrack, no voiceover narrator, no team of yelling sportscaster personalities. Kind of like the difference between watching a sports event on TV and being there watching live. Or like the difference between Japan Ninja Warrior which was cool and USA American Ninja Warrior which is intolerable.

Forget the moral panic, generative porn is a legal minefield; use one 17.99-year-old's image and you're a (probably undeservedly) sex felon. Other accidents could deservedly make you a sex felon.

Ah the headlines will be entertaining, but what about more practical closer to home problems?

The wife finds out I generated a pr0n CGI video of her best friend. Or worse... her sister...

There's a classic Star Trek TNG holodeck episode about ... getting busted for generating a G rated but on the way to pr0n of counselor troi. "I am the goddess of love" or something, and he gets busted, awkward all around.

Goddess of empathy...

Poor Barkley.

I am willing to bet my money on porn - but I could be wrong there

Maybe venues for entertainment will change. HN may go thru a few redesigns by then. Places life Fark & CNN (yes, to me they're about the same) are already providing plenty of entertainment. I wouldn't be surprised to see more niche centered entertainment spheres. What today is independent will become tomorrows corporate machine delivering entertainment for the masses.

I just hope the stupid 80's style hairdo's people are sporting are out by then.

Of course this is the cheery optimistic view. In reality we have no idea what it will be like. To think things will progress in a linear fashion and society will keep progressing in a similar manner is a bold assumption to say the least.

I do expect Bollywood to possibly surpass Hollywood as India's economy grows stronger and power starts to shift more to the east.

I think more people will be entertaining themselves by making things. We may see recreational product-making in the same way that today we have recreational programming.

It's already happening among people who have sufficient resources and empowerment. It may never go totally mainstream - I think the creative mindset will always be a bit rare. But consider how almost anyone can write and publish a book today, compared to what was required just a few years ago, let alone a few hundred years ago.

I wonder what the animated gif of real-world products will be? By that I mean something which has a template of sorts, but which requires a small amount of creativity, which can then be shared far and wide.

It's really hard to tell. Extrapolating from current trends, AR (probably goggleless) and touchscreens with tactile feedback seem plausible as major new near future gaming technologies. Also, instant audiobooks of anything through quality voice synthesis (we are almost there already). More virtual pet/friend/girlfriend/boyfriend "games" with NLP and sensor-based input. UAV games (with AR elements?).

Let's hope we play the energy game right and have a global war over the natural resources or else we might be too busy (or dead) to look for entertainment.

Based upon the comments from "Lonliness Is Deadly" (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6268080), I would like to see something that tackles that. I think in the last 20 years we have become a lot less social (why entertain ourselves talking to people, when we can watch any number of TV shows at anytime online?), however I still feel that people have a need for social interaction. I would like to see something that tackles in a better way.

I suspect contact lenses screens will become the "next big thing" as it's technology is further developed. Imagine it's computing capability came from your smart phone.


Stretching a bit too far; but if you could get earphone implants, then you have a entertainment system wherever you are.

Controlled sleep + selected dreams that will last as long as you want (a la Inception). I also second Zalzane on "immersive experiences."

With all the control springing in USA and EU, I don't know how we will be entertained. When the lobbies are stronger than ever cutting all the possibilities to consume culture without paying a tax for it, I see the future black instead of whiter. 15 years ago, even with Internet, we have the same consuming habits, imho, we listen music, we play video games, we download movies, etc.

Drugs. Either the pharmaceutical variety, or some sort of mechanical equivalent. Who needs entertainment when you can simulate it for cheap?

Blog posts from 2013

I think "space" will definitely be an option for the future. We will get closer and closer to finding out more about our universe and other life forms. Maybe the idea of traveling to other planets and creating life on other planets.

Traditional content will still look a lot like what we consume today, but there will be alternatives that are far more immersive, and completely personalized. Oh, and movie theaters will all be gone.

Movie premiers streamed through the internet and delivered in home. Movie theaters would be second class citizens with people getting larger and more powerful entertainment systems in their houses.

Almost definitely some form of VR: we are reaching the point (both hardware and software) where we can have compact, cheap eye mounted imagery.

Highly technical simulations (may or may not look like games). ie. much more detailed versions of farmville, kerbal space program, etc.

Seems we will be NSA slaves

Posts from 2013 postulating what will be funny in 20 years.



Thought sharing.

"Ow My Balls"

Virtual Reality, no doubt about it. Having tried the Oculus dev kit, VR will blow everything else away. The limitations currently, screen resolution and sensors, will be chipped away because they align nicely with the troubles smartphone makers have (smartphone makers want people to keep buying newer models, but there wasn't a good reason to until now - higher screen resolutions that are needed for VR - retina is no-where near retina in VR).

People will spend most of their day in VR - work, entertainment, socializing - and new forms of entertainment will arise that are hybrid between movies and games.

Huge fortunes are about to be made

- how much are eyeballs worth in VR as opposed to tiny screens ? (a lot)

- how much is it worth to replace most physical products, including real estate? (software eating the world in turbo-drive)

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