My local public radio station played a piece from a PRX podcast called “99% Invisible” this weekend about the history of pneumatic tube delivery systems. It was quite interesting. Unfortunately it contained the following howler, uttered by producer Sam Greenspan:
If you think about the kind of technology that we were promised by something like Star Trek, we have just about all of it except the transporter.
Has this guy ever actually seen Star Trek?
If so, then I am really excited because I guess I missed the latest issue of Sky Mall, which I assume now features:
- A real-time language translator that works from thought, and not just human thought, so it can translate alien languages it has never encountered.
- Food synthesizers
- Faster than light travel
- Time travel via manipulation of faster than light travel
- Artificial gravity
- iPhone-sized communicators that can talk to orbiting spaceships…without requiring any cell towers or satellites.
- Beds that can monitor all of your medical vitals with no probes or straps.
- Hand held laser-style weapons that can stun or kill
- Spaceship mounted laser-type weapons
- Near infinite, powerful clean energy from crystals
- Robots so much like humans you can’t tell the difference
And that’s really just the beginning of a complete list.
So, Sam, either you need to send me some “Buy Now” links for this stuff or you need to calm down your tech triumphalist hyperbole about our current, really quite lame state of technology compared to Star Trek’s actual implicit promises to the contrary.
The much more accurate and interesting point is the very opposite of Greenspan’s sentiment: very, very few of the things promised us by 20th Century sci-fi have come true. Why is that?
(Oh, and let’s not forget the greatest expectation the producers instilled that we in glorious 2015 have failed to invent: world peace.)