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What 'fizzle'? (our science fiction future)

A recent piece on CNN asked why our future isn't more like Star Trek, with amazing devices like jet packs and flying cars.

Maybe it's just me, but this seems like a perfectly bizarre thing to say in a world with cellphones better than any Federation communicator (at least those in the first series), the internet, laptops, modern medicine, etc.

Not that any of those can't be taken apart for their flaws, and not that we're living in some kind of utopia (we aren't, for all the obvious reasons I'm sure I don't have to point out here). But any consideration of the world today compared to years past that doesn't acknowledge the serious advances in quality of life seems a bit strange.

The suggestion in the latter half of the article that unintended consequences of new technology often leave us only with a different set of problems misses the point that some sets of problems are much more preferable to others. I suspect a person drawn from the past into our future would have no trouble seeing the real improvements in quality of life that we take for granted.

Anyway, just throwing that out there. What do you guys think?


One of the things that sci-fi never seemed to predict (until it happened) is a planet's Internet.

Also, in Star-Trek, they could always see a street scene from the bridge of the Enterprise and I wondered how this was possible - until I saw Google Streetview.

KarnuVap - but you can call me Mr. Vap.

kelson.philo's picture

For myself, I don't think

For myself, I don't think it's so much the technology of Trek that's lacking as it is the general attitude. We're not so much 'boldly going' as we're more 'hesitantly sidestepping'.

The planet's reached the point where the only places left to colonize will require investment capital that are well beyond your typical Conestoga wagon endeavor. Most of the land area left in outside of the temperate zones, and would require specialized infrastructure to thrive. Ocean colonization would require desalination devices of some type.

I'm a fan of OTEC, to be sure, but Ocean Thermal Conversion units aren't something I can build in my back yard.

Well. Not very well.

And cardboard has a tendency to fail under saltwater assault.

So. It would be a matter of getting a critical mass of dedicated, hard-working people (with fairly deep pockets) together to pull off such a stunt.

You hear rumors on teh interwebs, of course.

However, I will say that those sorts of enterprises are exactly what humans need to give them purpose in life. And it sure as hell beats war.

sim's picture

We have jetpacks

The CNN article points out that a lot of stuff that was speculated and dreamt in the pulp-SF days actually exists, but not in the "chicken in every pot, flying car in every garage" way. Actually, with chicken, that's pretty spot on. I mean, chicken is *everywhere". Burger places carry chicken. Nathan's -- a hot dog place -- carries chicken. Anyway, some people have more utopia than others, and for longer durations. For me, there was a science fiction convention with two girls dressed up in STTOS uniforms with the the miniskirts, hose, boots. More recently, I caught the ISS transit across the sky. Which is more stunning? Think of it like a pearl necklace, each one part of a valuble string.