Tag Archives: Flying Cars

Science Fiction Today – Hover Boards

I’ve been amused to hear that Hover Boards are finally showing up, that people have been pushing forward to create them. The deadline they were aiming for was the date from Back to the Future 2 last year. Which made Hover Boards like a prophecy: that they would happen in that year.

More than anything else in that movie, the Hover Board is what seems to have captured and held our collective imagination. Or maybe because it seems easier and more likely than flying cars or Jaws 19. Maybe because it’s a sellable commodity that you can hope to make a bunch of money off of – but no, I think more than that. It seems like a labor of love. Of trying to bring a bit of the “future” here to us now.

Because this world we’re living in – as we pass dates from future visions, like Days of Future Past and Back to the Future – looks nothing like what science fiction envisioned. And what did science fiction envision?

Thanks, Commander Sisko.

We were expecting flying cars. Hover Boards. Things that move us around faster. And space travel, moving us into the stars. What we got instead, as the commercial says (and which has stuck with me all these years) is the Internet. Or maybe, drones, which work as a networked extension of ourselves, rather than us moving ourselves.

Rather than transmitting ourselves via improved transportation, we’re transmitting ideas. Meaning that we get to both bring the world – information-wise – to us, and we get to send our ideas back out. In such a way as science fiction somewhat failed to predict. That’s part of the reason why something like Neuromancer (a 1984 novel) is seen as such a classic: it was far closer to right than wrong when it comes to predictions of the future. Certainly better than so much other science fiction.

I’m not saying the point of science fiction is to perfectly predict the future. Nor that it’s our job to try to build the future that has been predicted. Which makes the anecdote of the Hover Boards being created just in time for their “predicted” date just so interesting. It’s a little piece of trying to create not the future we’re building towards, but the future we dreamed up.

And so maybe, if we can perfect the Hover Board, we can create some of the other things science fiction has dreamed up. Or solve some of the other societal problems science fiction shows us moving past. Maybe we can avoid some of the pitfalls science fiction warns us of. Maybe, just maybe…

We can dream.

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The Future Is Now!

I loved Back to the Future 2 growing up. I made my own Hoverboard out of construction paper. It’s not quite what Lexus has done to make a fake Hoverboard

And the day is tomorrow. And it hasn’t happened. The future’s not what we were told… the future is now. The strongest image, for so many people, of what the future would look like. 30 years on… and it’s not at all the same.

And what did we get instead? The big one is of course The Internet. But did we wile away our time playing MMO’s and Angry Birds instead of inventing Hoverboards and flying cars?

Maybe. But that leaves me thinking that maybe it’s time for a new vision of the future. Maybe it’s time for a return to Back to the Future.

After all, as the trailer today for Star Wars: The Force Awakens shows, there’s lots of returning-to-franchises going on. And people can get excited, and it can be awesome. Or Ghostbusters returning next year. Or a whole bunch of TV shows, with the most recent ones I’ve seen being renewed talks about a return to Firefly, and then Gilmore Girls.

Meanwhile, instead of a new Back to the Future we’re getting a documentary at least this year…

So I don’t at all think a new Back to the Future movie is on the horizon. But I’m realizing… it would be a good one to come back to. The plot: something happened in time that made it so that none of the things Marty saw in the future actually happened. Show our world now. So there’s fixing that… and a chance to go forward, into the future from now. To make a cinema image of our future, of 30 years from now. And to revel in what society was like, 30 years ago, in the past.

So not reboot, not a remake. Not entirely. I guess maybe my idea falls in the “modern retelling” genre? I don’t know. What do you think? Should Back to the Future come back? What would they see in our future? Let me know in the comments below!

Cloud Connected Vehicles

Every year we see new technology growing in leaps and bounds. One of the areas that has not moved as quickly – but is still progressing – are vehicles, in particular cars. In today’s world you almost need to be a computer programmer or engineer to work on a car anymore. No longer is it simply about an engine, but now a computer runs the entire system. Not only does it run the entertainment, air, and windshields it also helps you park and warns you when you almost hit another car.

Weren't we supposed to have this flying car by now? Found on http://io9.com/5989200/20-lies-back-to-the-future-ii-told-us-besides-the-hoverboard

Weren’t we supposed to have this flying car by now? Found on http://io9.com/5989200/20-lies-back-to-the-future-ii-told-us-besides-the-hoverboard

While not fully functional we are not far off from being able to have driverless cars as a viable option. Now on one hand this seems like a a great idea, on the other you could easily raise issues with a computer being able to control all the features on a vehicle. Particularly the question is: how do you protect the vehicle programming that makes it run correctly?

Recently an article in Wired magazine shows that these questions are actually issues that currently exist. The problem seems to be the fact that the cars are not closed systems, but connect wirelessly, presumably to the manufacturer somewhere. This means that someone can access the vehicle remotely and mess with a large number of functions that could cause serious problems. Continue reading

Possible Future for the Environment – Science Fiction Today

In our Science Fiction Today posts, we’ve aimed to get out of the political fights of the present, and out of the logistical problems of the present, and think about what these issues will look like in the future – through the lens of science fiction. We have a lot of ideas, but a major one for me has always been the environment. A sticky and politicized problem, it’s hard to find someone without bias, or with a fact we can agree on, on this topic.

The problem as I see it is we are fighting over specifics like what is happening (global warming? climate change? or not?) and what is causing it (humans? not humans? not happening?). As someone who turns to science fiction for my food for thought, I think the better questions are the what ifs: what if the ice caps melt, or what if the earth cools? Science fiction can help us think of what might happen in this situation, and what people might do about it.

So first, I’m going to point out a real life situation where science fiction thinking might have helped, and then look at some possible thoughts for possible environmental situations for the future. My thinking at the moment seems to largely be hovering around the oceans and water, so we’ll go with that. Plenty more that could be talked about, and probably will be in the future.

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Science Fiction Today – Federal Budget Cuts and Transportation

So, there are topics that are perhaps a little harder to talk about in nerd and geek circles. We thrive on our shared fandoms, thrive on sharing our favorite shows, movies, and games with each other… Loan each other books, DVDs… Get into multiplayer games – or especially MMOs – to play them together…

However, on Comparative Geeks, we feel strongly about a couple of areas that are outside of these realms, and we will occasionally talk about them as well. So today, I wanted to start us talking a bit about political issues.

Now, in terms of politics, we aim to avoid taking a confrontational approach. Rather than join in the partisan politics of the day – which we feel like is much of the reason that politics is avoided in polite discussion – we would rather look at politics in a science fictional way.

After all, we’re all embroiled today in partisan battles of this should or should not be law; or, we should fund this, not that. Tax this but not that. War here, but not there. If you take a little further view of things, however, and think just a little in terms of science fiction, a lot of today’s problems disappear – or grow much worse.

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