So it is 2015 and people are still waiting for their flying cars — which is good thing. Given how most people drive in two dimensions I’d hate to see what they would do with three. Still, while the future may not be all that it was cracked up to be in optimistic science fiction novels and movies of the fifties and sixties, it is still pretty good. As William Gibson says: the future is here; it’s just unevenly distributed.
And at least we are not all trying to survive in a nuclear wasteland or any of a number of the other post-apocalyptic scenarios that we all seem to find so entertaining.
In 2015, we are supposed to dress and act like the kids in Back to the Future II. Remember those odd fashions with the floppy sleeves and ill-fitting jackets. It was almost right; they just got the main apparel wrong — it’s the pants that look weird. And I will point out that they did invent a working hover-board last year. So keep on the lookout for Marty McFly.
I was saying just this morning that the SF novel I wrote about ten years ago had a number of plausible predictions for biomechanical improvements that I projected would occur thirty years in the future. Many of those have already shown up in labs around the world — prosthetics that function as well as real limbs, for example, complete with a sense of touch and capable of being operated through the thought processes of the users, are already pretty much here. They have even managed to transmit simple thoughts and images directly from brain to brain using the Internet.
The ability to video conference at the drop of a hat is also now readily available— and for free other than the cost of your internet connection. Virtual money was also a factor in that novel and here it is: BitCoins! Even if no one really seems to understand how they work.
Some other things in the novel on the dystopic side were radically increased income inequality and a more frequent use of guns in Canada. These sadly have also come to pass — though not to the extremes that my novel portrayed (it was a crime novel after all). Still, the novel didn’t predict scenarios in the world where overall rates of violence are falling, where fewer children die or live in abject poverty and where alternative energies can realistically compete with coal and oil for electrical production.
Whatever we think will happen over the next year or ten, only one thing is certain. The future is bound to surprise us.
And that is ten minutes.