It’s 2010. 2010!
I was awakened this morning to the sound of waves gently crashing upon the seashore. As my eyes focused, I could see my personal robot had already laid out my clothing choices. I chuckled how 2010 was a letdown because we didn’t have Jetsons-like machines to automatically dress dress and groom us. But, at least we do have flying cars. Flying cars! How awesome is that?
I walked into the bathroom. It looks pretty much the same place it has been since that fantastic invention of indoor plumbing, but that’s not a complaint; it’s functional. A flip of the switch and the stored sunlight would cascade gently upon my body as I searched for my NanoDents(tm). Now there’s some pretty sweet tech — thousands of naked-eye-invisible robots cleaning away the plaque and bacteria from the night’s sleep. A swish of the minty-fresh neutralizer and I’m ready for my first cup of coffee of the day.
As it is every morning, my robot has my cup of coffee waiting at my desk (sorry People for the Ethical Treatment of Robots, or PETR, a robot is no more a living being than a car or video game console). The hologram user interface pops up as soon as I say, “Internet”. Immediately, I see what the computer has learned from my habits of what interests me most. President Obama, our second female president, is pushing for a manned exploration to Saturn, saying that our Jupiter moonbase on Io is ready for deeper-space exploration; Another breakthrough on the medical front. And Apple just released the iWare 2.0: Contact lenses which will revolutionize how we see the world.
iWare 2.0! How awesome will that be? Augmented reality system which overlays information or graphics onto real-world places and people (never get lost or forget a name again). iWare Retro will still be around for those who prefer glasses over contact lenses. I can’t wait to play World of Realcraft with them, which allows me to get out and have some fun pretending I have real magical powers. It’s quite a workout, to-boot.
Fun. It sure is great to live in the 21st century. One can only imagine what wonderful things are in store in the 22nd.
2010: The Year We Make Contact, with reality.
In Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 and 2010 humans are exploring their solar system in large space ships. Computers such as the HAL 2000 are darned close to intelligent, if not already. The USA already had the Clavius Base on the Moon by 2001. While we apparently hadn’t gone out any farther than Jupiter, given that when 2001 was released in 1968, it seemed a reasonable goal.
Other movies have predicted great things for the 21st century. Metropolis promised biplanes would be common and that there would at least be an evil robotic overlord. Countless TV shows, movies and even cartoons promised great things for the turn of the century. 1999 came and went without anything even resembling Space: 1999. Worlds Fair after World’s Fair foretold of great things. The prologue to the 1932 horror film Freaks, which stared real deformed sideshow people of the day, declared:
Never again will such a story be filmed, as modern science and teratology is rapidly eliminating such blunders of nature from the world.
Nope. Sadly, we still have those problems in this world. And no flying cars. No holograms other than the occasional novelty. No free energy; no base on the moon. Heck, we barely have a base in space. Astronauts haven’t visited the moon in decades, even though I would wager that the average iPhone has more technology crammed into it than the Apollo 11 writ-large.
And that’s the thing. I think the iPhone and its sister product the Touch are the technology I was wanting for this century. They really just are that awesome. So-much-so, in fact, that it made Wednesday’s announcement of the iPad such a letdown. I’m really not sure what we, including this author, were expecting. Multitasking and USB ports would be a good start, since those are even on non-revolutionary computers. How about a built-in projector keyboard, where it displays a useable keyboard on any surface? Or alternatively projects a screen? Or almost anything but a glorified Touch? But then, as I wrote: The smaller versions really were just that awesome when released.
So where does this bring us? Well, the future apparently is a drag, and I suspect it may have (hopefully temporarily) invaded our subconsciousness. It’s like ordering that awesome Polaris Nuclear Sub for $6.98 only to receive it and find out it’s made of cardboard, not waterproof and certainly not nuclear. It’s going on a blind date and getting what you expected rather than you hoped. It’s the hard face slap of reality. And it’s a bummer. Even the very popular Battlestar Galactica had little in the way of new technology (space ships and human-compatible robots?) and little more. Plus, it also showed us what a bummer it was to be human on any planet. But, I digress.
This seems to pervade throughout American life right now. Kudos to President Obama for pointing out that it doesn’t have to be only the other countries to have the cool toys, such as high-speed trains. We can have them too, folks — if we can move past our nihilistic (or too-realistic?) look to the future. We need to dream; to look forward and to the future. 2001 and 2010 are just two tiny milestones in the map of the human ‘verse. The future doesn’t have to be rainbows and unicorns — it just has to be. Even if we dismiss Avatar‘s script as run-of-the-mill, the technology shown was pretty neat. I’d give an ounce of Unobtainium for a holographic map table. Who knows what that may inspire for the future? The real future?
Keep on dreaming, dear readers. The human race depends upon it.
Well, just as soon as I give President Obama a complement on high-speed trains, his spending freeze targets a 2020 mission to the moon:
“Constellation is dead,” the [White House advisor on space issues] told AFP on condition of anonymity, referring to a program that envisioned returning to the moon by 2020 and using Earth’s nearest neighbour as a base for manned expeditions to Mars.
Mr. Obama, you broke my heart again.
Let’s hope those evil corporations can step up to the plate and fly me to the moon.