Thursday, September 12, 2013

5 Things Sci-Fi Overlooked

One of the more entertaining things about watching dated "futuristic" films and television shows is observing the technology. In most cases they were way off. Much of the time what they predicted to have happened by now has still yet to be actualized. If you're like me I know you're thinking, "hoverboard!" There are flying cars, full bipedal robots with artificial intelligence bordering on sentience, FTL space travel, and much much more. But even more interesting is what they missed. Following is a list of inventions that flew under the radar of the great pop sci fi prophets of yesteryear. The list is by no means comprehensive, so please add your favorites. And if I was way off on anything go ahead and let me know.

  1. Smart Phones - That's a big, duh! While cordless and even remote use phones have been predicted, the smart phone is just too good to predict. Possibly the single most pervasive and significant piece of technology ever, the smart phone is a phone - a video phone if you so choose - that's also a camera/video camera, web browser, video game console, radio, digital sound recorder, virtual library, personal assistant, television, compass, calculator, and thousands of other things, thanks to the app market. It's funny to watch old sci fi works that portray the current era or even some time in the future and yet nothing close to smart phones exist. Star Trek (the original series) had their flip-phone-esque communicators, which were more like walkie-talkies, and the Next Generation series had their badges that also acted as communication devices, but nowhere in old sci fi do you find a personal touch screen device AT ALL, and especially nothing that does all the things, or even a small percentage of what an iPhone can do. Thank God they were just short-sighted and we did get the smart phone! Oh, smart phone, what did we ever do without you?
  2. High Definition Video - I LOVE those scenes in Back To the Future II where Marty or whoever is communicating through the video television and, forgetting the fact that they overlooked wireless personal video phones for a moment, the picture quality is terrible! But really you can watch any sci fi movie or TV show from the past and it's hilarious how bad the picture is on their "futuristic" video devices. Another invention I am personally grateful for...
  3. E-Cigarettes, a.k.a., Vapor Cigarettes - Please do not take this as my endorsement for any kind of smoking of addictive and harmful substances. I am squarely opposed to smoking, not necessarily because it's sinful, but because it's stupid. That disclaimer out of the way, isn't it funny that in movies like The Fifth Element, predicting the semi-distant future (a couple hundred years in the future) that they're still puffing away on those archaic tobacco products? Get with it, Korben Dallas...
  4. The Food Network - Who could have predicted that humans would become so starved for entertainment that we would create an entire television channel for cooking and then huddle around a TV to watch someone cook? Not me. I do enjoy my Food Network, so don't think I'm pointing any fingers that ain't pointing right back at me.
  5. Digital Music - I may be wrong about this one, but I can't think of any media that anticipated the doing away with of physical tapes, CD's, or whatever. I think people just assumed that the medium would just get smaller and smaller, but no one guessed it would be completely intangible and accessible through the Cloud, or streamed over the internet.
That's my list. Anything I missed? Post it in the comments. Don't say Internet though, because Marl Twain predicted that!

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