Robot stars 'will be the top earners by 2010'
By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent
IN an age when the manufactured celebrity has become
commonplace, scientists made a grim prediction for the
future of showbusiness yesterday.
By 2010, the world's
highest earning actor,
pop star or model will
be a synthetic
looks, voice and
At the same time, a
quarter of the faces seen on television will become
completely synthetic as artificial celebrities become cheaper,
and more watchable, than real-life presenters.
The predictions appear in a new report from BT's research
and technology laboratories, BT Exact Technologies,
compiled by Ian Pearson, one of Britain's leading
Although attempting to second-guess the future is
notoriously difficult, Mr Pearson's record is impressive.
Around 85 per cent of short-range predictions made during a
similar exercise in 1993 have been accurate to the year.
The 500 new predictions aren't just bad news for actors, pop
stars and readers of Hello! magazine, they also include
disturbing news for humanity.
According to Mr Pearson, machines will be smart enough to
pass a GCSE exam by 2006, with A levels following the year
A computer will be able to take a degree by 2013 and a PhD
by 2015. The first artificial intelligence Nobel Prize winner will
be in 2018.
By 2015, machines will show human-like creativity, while
machine knowledge will exceed human knowledge by 2017,
In 2020, electronic life will be given basic rights. By 2030,
robots will be physically and mentally superior to people.
Toys will also begin to show frighteningly life-like qualities.
Barbie dolls will be linked to the internet within a few years
and will have virtual social lives outside their owners' homes.
Some dolls may even demand allowances that let them buy
the latest clothes and accessories online.
In the sphere of health, Mr Pearson predicts designer babies
by 2005, the first wholly artificial heart by 2010, artificial lungs
and kidneys by 2015 and electronic memory enhancement by
2020. Artificial brains will not arrive before 2035.
Household gadgets will have voice control by 2005, while
three-dimensional television without the need for special
glasses will arrive by 2012.
The "timelines" also include new leisure pursuits, including
"zorbing" - the jumping out of aircraft in inflatables - by 2005
and internet attendance at most theatres the same year.
Britain will introduce online voting in 2007 and electronic
referenda by 2010.
The orgasmatron - a sexual pleasure device first dreamed up
for Woody Allen's 1973 film Sleeper - will be made a reality in
2012. Life expectancy will approach 100 by 2020.
"What must be remembered by anyone preparing for the
future is that technology change isn't very important in itself.
What matters is what this change enables or destroys," said
"The intention of the timeline is to illustrate the potential lying
ahead for beneficial technologies.
"Not all will be successful in the marketplace; some won't
ever be implemented at all. But as the rest come on stream,
our lives will improve in many ways.
"Of course, the far future is much harder to imagine than the
near future. One thing is certain in the distant future - the
world will be a very different place."
In 1993, Mr Pearson predicted that vehicle number plate
recognition systems would be in use in 1996, the first
wristwatch television would be available in 1997 and flat,
high-resolution television screens one metre across would
be in the shops in 1998.
"They all turned out to be correct. However, I've probably
made more errors with virtual reality than with anything else,"