Not Cease from Exploration

Thursday, June 24, 2010

From the Archives: Flying Cars

Note: I have reams of stuff that I've written over the years prior to starting this blog, so I thought it might be fun to resurrect a few every once in a while.

From March 14, 2006


"...the future's so bright, I gotta wear shades..."

As a child growing up in the 1970's, I feel cheated. How, you may ask? I want flying cars.

Yes, in the 1970's, it seemed that the future held some unlimited promise; there would be space stations and bases on the moon, everyone wearing Neru suits, laser pistols, and of course flying cars. Oh, and if there were going to be cars, they would all have cool gull-wing doors and would would be really sleek looking. It seemed that technology held so much promise. You have to wonder where it all went.

So now we live in 2005. There is a space station...a sort of creaky dysfunctional one...no bases on the moon, clothes are more likely to be skin tight or six sizes too big (forget classy Neru suits), you do have a laser...in your cd player...but not as a weapon, and some of the more popular cars (Honda Element and Scion Xb) are shaped like bricks. Oh, and there are no flying cars.

Where did it all go wrong? Or did it all go wrong? First and foremost, discount anything you think about future fashion. I think the word 'fashion' is probably French for 'fad'. So let's throw that right out the window. Relative to the technology stuff, what I see now, while not as flashy as what we were led to expect all those years ago, is remarkable in it's own right. While we clearly have mostly quit the game relative to space exploration, we have grown tremendously relative to information sharing. The Internet has created something that is utterly remarkable in its ability to share information across geographic, political and class levels. Oh, and it does it in real time. We don't have 'Hal' from 2001, we do have computers in our homes that are as powerful as room-sized computers from back in the 1970's. Computing technology and the rise of the Internet have, in my humble estimation, forever changed the world for the better. That change continues...and will continue...in ways that we can only imagine. Information may not be as slick as a laser pistol, but has far more power. See what it does to the Communist Chinese within ten years.

So maybe things aren't so bad relative to those lofty 1970's predictions. But I still want a flying car...

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