Popular Science Magazine : The Ultimate Science Fiction
I must have heard this phrase hundreds of times back in the early 80’s when I was a child: “In the year 2000…..” It is a phrase that is usually at the beginning of sentences containing predictions dealing with technological advancements.
In the year 2000……there will be a human colony on the Moon.
In the year 2000……bionic arms and legs will replace the damaged limbs of para and quadriplegics.
In the year 2000……Doctors will have discovered the cure for cancer as well as other major ailments and the average lifespan of a human being will be increased to the age of a 100.
In the year 2000…….Automobiles will be replaced by hovercrafts able to make traffic horrors like the B.Q.E. and L.I.E. a thing of the past.
And in the year 2000…….we will harness the power of the Sun and replace all fossil fuels ( oil, petroleum, coal ) as the chief energy supplier to the planet.
It is now coming to the end of the year 2011, more than 10 years into the 21st century, and with it comes the announcement of the most recent technological advancement human beings have brought forth………the new IPHONE 4S…………with a better camera and…..oh yeah….Siri , a voice recognition personal assistant application that allows you to do the one task that many people today have a hard time performing…….remembering Dad’s birthday.
Not to throw fresh dirt on the grave of Steve Jobs ( who was a true visionary and a genius ), however, it never ceases to amaze me how we aim high when it comes to dreaming of technology and how we fall short in its implementation. One of the publications I love to read is Popular Science. Science has always been a favorite subject and I love the magazine, but I can’t help wondering if it doesn’t contain more science fiction than any of the novels by H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, and other “sci-fi” authors I have read. Every other month, I see some new technological wonder in the form of a “interplanetary space ark” or an android gracing the cover. Unfortunately, it is usually depicted in a painting created by a fantasy artist rather than a photograph of an actual construct. Not to doubt that the science behind these concepts are possible………I just don’t believe I’ll see an interplanetary space ark or android in my lifetime or any future generations to come. Especially not in today’s political and financial climate. There’s no urgent need for them.
If you think of every major technological advancement in the past 20 years, it usually occurs in either the military or “big business” arena. Communication’s technology will always improve due to the “smartphone” industry and its aim to satisfy the multitasking needs of its customer base. Aerodynamics will also see a rise in advancement due to the need for faster aircraft for the needs of United States military complex. Human achievement ( the likes of which brought about the1969 Apollo moon landing ) is no longer the foremost motivating factor behind the furthering of technology. We just don’t have a need for an android, time machine, or an artificially intelligent computer. Not unless Microsoft or Apple finds a way to commercialize any of these or if the United States finds out that another superpower is experimenting on these for possible weapons production ( a need which brought about the creation of the atom bomb ).
I love to read about the possibilities of bionic limbs, but when Popular Science claims that it is only a few years down the road…………well………..I’m not about to throw away my old episodes of “The Six Million Dollar Man” just yet….