Back in the 1960’s it became all the rage in science fiction for people to flit about on jetpacks. So these days, when all of us are still sans jetpack one of the favorite jokes of cynics all around the world to put technology and the progress thereof down by asking “where’s my jetpack?”. I find this especially amusing when it’s people born in the 1980’s doing this, considering that they were indeed not promised jetpacks but oppressive corporate dystopias. And oh, look…
Anyway, I’m digressing. The thing is that while the science fiction writers were dreaming about personal jetpacks for every American man the most advanced communications technology they could find it in themselves to imagine was a large scale intercom. The most amazing computer they could manage to imagine was something the size of a house that could perform voice-commanded searches into a localized database.
What we have instead of jetpacks is instantaneous communication across every continent, computers that fit in your pocket, capable of so much more than just performing searches based on voice commands. Every week I get to talk to my friends halfway across the world just because I feel like it. So yeah, not everyone has a personal jetpack, mostly because the development of technology went a different way. I prefer the future we got to the one they envisioned.
All of this is not to rag on the futurists of the past but rather to say that predicting what will come is incredibly hard. And yet imagining the future is exactly what science fiction is supposed to do. Technology takes the direction it wants to take. But then again, we have cell phones today because someone watched Star Trek and wanted to make a communicator. We have tablets because someone else watched Star Trek and wanted to create a tablet computer. Science fiction does inspire the future and thereby is party to creating it.
So what do you think technology of the future will look like?