I did another little slot on the radio the other day, talking about the technologies that futurologists thought would be commonplace by now. There are plenty to choose from that excited us all twenty years ago but remain distant dreams.
Jetpacks for example, have never overcome their various technical challenges. Even if they did, there would serious issues of user error to overcome. Assuming people could be trained to be perfect pilots, there is still the problem of ensuring that no-one runs out of fuel at 5,000 feet.
The authors of the Book of the Future thought that laser guns would be standard issue on the battlefield by now. The last demonstration of a portable military laser I saw was somewhat less than effective. It required sustained contact for a few seconds to cause a mild singeing of the eyebrows. You can just imagine it: “Hold still Mr Bin Laden, I’m trying to shoot you…”
The most distant dream from that book remains the Replicator. By 2000, the authors believed a device would be able to rearrange individual atoms using lasers, to recreate any product or substance. It sounds fabulous — I could do with one right now to recreate me a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. But sadly the technology remains some way off.
Without my replicator or jetpack, I guess I’ll just have to walk to the cafe.