Future present


Welcome to 2011. Can I rehydrate a freeze-dried nutrient pack for you?

Obviously I cannot, since such a thing still only exists for astronauts and tourists to Cape Canaveral. Even if I could rehydrate some food for you, I would have to go through the task of filling a pitcher of water and then manually dousing the food pack – a feat that would take minimal effort but would prove slightly inconvenient. Anyway, the entire idea of rehydrating food is so 2002; in 2011 we really should be getting all the nutrition we need in simple, convenient pill form.

Alas, such pills do not exist. There is no decent way to survive on nothing but vitamin and nutrient supplements here in the future. We are stuck eating old fashioned food. Worse, we even have to prepare our food the old-fashioned way – with our hands, stove, and patience. Where are the rehydration machines from Back to the Future that can steam a pizza to perfection in seconds? Where is the magic button on the wall that rushes our favourite food out to us like in The Jetsons? The most plausible explanation is that scientists in the 1990s seriously dropped the ball.

And it is not only in the world of food preparation and consumption that scientists have failed humanity. What about the much-anticipated jet packs that were expected no later than the year 2000? Oh sure, there are a few private jet packs among the ludicrously wealthy, but what about the common working Joe tired of using his feet to move about? There are certainly no commercially available jet packs for his convenience. The closest the common man ever comes to science-fiction mobility nowadays is the Segway – and come on, it’s still dependent on wheels for locomotion.

Speaking of wheels, where are my hover cars? More to the point, where are my hover-bikes and hover-boards? Heck, if scientists spent more time and money developing hover-boards and less time searching for the Higgs-Boson, maybe we would already have found a way to ensure that hover-boards will work on water.

Even more disappointing, people of the year 2011 remain dependant on fossil fuels to power basically everything we do. From our transportation to the conveniences we have thanks to electricity, we are releasing carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. By our most optimistic estimates, this is going to result in the fiery and painful death of every human on the planet. Where is the garbage-powered fusion reactor of Back to the Future? I’ll tell you where: on scientist’s list of things deemed ‘harder than we originally thought.”

Another disappointment is the fact that even now, 40 years since the moon landing, we are still trapped on this blue-green prison known as Earth. In 1969, man set foot on the moon, a location 370, 000 kilometres from Earth. Surely that was a stepping stone to Mars, and eventually to new planets? Of course not. Thanks to science and economics, the farthest humans get from earth now is a few hundred kilometres aboard the International Space Station. It is depressing to know that here in Regina, I am closer to people in outer space than I am to someone in Saskatoon. Why are humans still aboard this dump known as “spaceship Earth”? We could be aboard Spaceship Awesome with a destination of Planet Good-Times.

Of course, not all the predictions that did not come true are disappointing. For example, while we watch the television, it is not watching us back, as was the case in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Despite the fact that food is not freeze-dried or in pill form, at least it is not yet made of people. Fortunately, most humans do not need a permit to reproduce as of yet. And we are still a good quarter-century away from being peasants in the feudal empire of a mega-corporation – probably a conglomerate of Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Google, Exxon-Mobile, and Goldman-Sachs.

I guess the truth is, instead of developing the technologies to make all these wonderful, futuristic things possible, we decided to spend our time developing a little something known as good taste. I mean, look at the hideous couch at your grandma’s house and then decide if outlawing that fabric was more important than creating a hover-board. I hope you will agree that it was. Our understanding of what looks good architecturally has improved dramatically since the 1960s. Look at the Classroom Building and tell me it was not worth it to develop our architectural understanding past “modernist” into something a little less ugly. I mean, we could have plain, boring, fusion-powered transport cubes or we could have sleek iPhones. We chose the better looking option.

We might not live on the moon yet. We might not have managed to create hover-vehicles. We might not have widely available freeze-dried instant meals. We did, however, create the Internet and somehow avoided nuclear Armageddon in the process. I suppose that is something.

Edward Dodd

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