Published On: Sun, Oct 7th, 2012

9 Marvelous Things the Future Still Hasn’t Delivered

Science fiction movies really fed us a line of baloney about the future. From fun popcorn flicks like Back to the Future: Part 2, to highbrow entertainment like 2001: A Space Odyssey, films portraying the future have shown us a whole host of cool stuff we could expect by now, from hovercrafts and flying skateboards to sentient robots. People are seriously embarking on asteroid mining missions, but we have yet to experience hovercraft use on a mass scale. There’s something wrong with that! Priorities, science. Priorities.

We still don’t see people zipping up to the moon for a quick weekend — and that’s a real shame. Here are some innovations we thought we’d have by now.

1. A Moon Base

Yeah, yeah, the Mars rover is cool. But we were expecting a full-fledged, settled, bustling, Starbucks-stocked moon base, with cities and suburbs and lines for brunch and lots of wacky moon high jinks. We wanted a Moon NFL team. Moon-cations. And while Lance Bass can semi-realistically aspire to go to space, the rest of us have no destination to lure us there.

A moon base would solve all of that. They could hire David Bowie to perform there, kind of how they get people in-house in Las Vegas. It’d be a huge draw, since every sane person ever would have a hard time passing up the opportunity to see Bowie perform “Major Tom” from the moon.

2. Hovercrafts Whizzing Through the Streets

This is a serious disappointment. Traffic is a massive problem, especially in China, where jams can last for absurdly long periods of time. There are aircraft in the works that can transition from car to plane, but they’re exceedingly expensive and just plain impractical, even if they do run on normal gasoline. We need to get hovercrafts — cars that can hover about 20 feet or so off the ground, max. Then we could just have two or three vertical lanes of traffic. You wouldn’t need a full-on pilot’s license, and there would be clear rules for where you could go so that the FAA wouldn’t have a heart attack.

Google managed to make driverless cars, yet still no hovercrafts. Technically, there are hovercrafts on the market, but at $190,000, they’re way too expensive for the average Joe.

3. Immortality

Even though making humans immortal would be a big problem for the planet, since overpopulation would happen in a devastating way in like five years, it would still be pretty much the best thing ever for everyone ever. Not dying would rule.

Science has successfully kept a line of human cells alive for decades. That line, called HeLa, may be immortal. Unfortunately, it’s cancerous. But if they can keep human cells alive long after their host human died, perhaps the key to keeping the whole enchilada alive and kicking indefinitely isn’t too far off.

4. Sentient Robots

OK, maybe this one’s better left uninvented. Sentient robots don’t usually lead to good things in sci-fi films and books. Although the idea of a Rosie the Robot maid is sorely tempting, “reaching self-awareness” in terms of robots and computers is generally code for “trying to kill all the humans.”

5. Teleportation

Teleportation offers a lot of advantages, although we imagine the people behind hovercrafts won’t be too happy if science figures out how to make a commercially viable hovercraft and then immediately proceeds to render them obsolete by figuring out teleportation. Of all the things on this list (besides possibly immortality), this is probably the least likely to happen.

6. Contact With an Alien Civilization

Science can only do so much when it comes to making contact with aliens, since communication is a two-way street. And since most of the alien encounters portrayed in science fiction involve invasions and conflict (fromWar of the Worlds to Independence Day), we might be lucky to hear radio silence thus far.

Still, if the more optimistic alien encounter films are any indication, like Contact and Close Encounters of a Third Kind, we might be missing out. Scientists thought they may have discovered an alien mummy in Peru, but they probably just found a human mummy with a deformity. Even if they had, dead aliens aren’t very useful for contacting their living brethren, so it’s back to square one.

7. Cure for the Common Cold

This one’s not quite as exciting as alien meet-ups or eternal life, but it’d still be nice to say goodbye to pesky sniffles, sneezes and wheezes. We’ve managed to eradicate smallpox, but the less lethal cold virus is very much with us. People are even getting rhinoplasty to alleviate their symptoms, so colds are definitely still a major problem, albeit one with a low mortality rate.

8. Snazzy One-Piece Future Suits

Pop culture has made it very clear that future people favor monochromatic jumpsuits. Think of all the time and money we could save if we agreed as a society on one utilitarian outfit. Plus, we hear they’re very slimming.

9. Food in Tablet Form

Imagine: Instead of spending your days confronted with a myriad of food choices, you could just pop a pill to ingest total, optimal nutrition. If scientists found a way to mass-manufacture total food pills, a lot of good could come from it, including an end to world hunger. And this would really help solve the obesity epidemic, although it would cause some major damage to restaurants, grocery stores, the farming industry, the diet industry, and the way we mark and spend our days. Taking a food pill sounds boring, but it would definitely be futuristic.

Hopefully scientists can hurry up with all of these developments. We’ve left out time travel here because it’s confusing and we don’t want to get Looper‘d (that’s when your future self comes to kill your younger self and vice versa — sounds like no fun at all).

Anything we missed? Tell us in the comments below.

Alien image courtesy of Flickr, Markusram


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