Science Fiction Technologies that People are Hoping for in Their Lifetime

I asked people from Facebook, reddit, and the what science fiction technologies they really wanted to see within their lifetime that they believed were achievable. Immediately some people forgot about that last little requirement, but that is okay. The few who gave estimates were in the 25-50 years time-frame. Few people explained why they wanted a certain technology, so I had to infer their intentions using wit and cynicism.

Space Travel – We gotta get off this rock.

  • Mars Mission / Colony – You’d think 45 years after landing on the moon we’d already be permanently stationed there and going to Mars. What happened to our future?
  • Cheap Access to Space – Why only rape the Earth of its natural resources? There is a whole Solar System out there, people.
  • Asteroid Mining – I’m looking to get my hands on the literal Silicon Valley.
  • Space Elevator – It’s what Michael Scott called ‘the big ride’ in The Office (S1:E3)
  • Anti-Gravity – America’s solution to morbid obesity.
  • Interstellar Spaceflight – Once the Solar System is ours, the whole universe will be ours.
  • Worm Hole Generator – Find out just how terrible living in the movie The Event Horizon would really be.

The thing I like about space travel is most of this stuff doesn’t sound like science fiction, it is just a matter of investing billions (or trillions) and hoping it pays off.

Advanced Computers – Life is too boring.

  • Artificial Intelligence – The supporters were keen to mention it would be a ‘friendly’ A.I.
  • Iron Man’s (or Mass Effect’s) Holographic Computer Interfaces – I hate physical contact with everything, even computers.
  • Virtual reality – Finally, the ability to commit murder using all 5 senses instead of the 2 you get from today’s limiting video games.
  • Artificial Artist – I’m not really sure what this is, but I guess we could finally free up all those starving artists out there so they can do something they truly love.
  • Sex Bots – I have nothing to say.

We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t make killer robot police? – Dave Barry. Don’t worry Dave, we are totally going to make them friendly.

Healthcare – What I like to call ‘fear of death.’

  • Starship Trooper’s Full Integrated Prognostics – Cyborgs of the future unite.
  • Full Body Regeneration – The K12 from Better Off Dead just made my bucket list.
  • Star Trek Medical Tricorder – This device can tell you when you are going to die, but modern science can’t do anything about it.
  • Elysium’s Health Care – All conditions can be diagnosed and treated; eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you will be cured.
  • Mind Uploading – Transcendence and Lawn Mower Man are apparently not cautionary tales.

Death isn’t so scary if you believe we’ll have technology to talk to the dead later (see The Insane).

Transportation – When I travel, I want it to be exciting.

  • Back to the Future 2’s Hoverboard – Because skateboards need to be more dangerous.
  • Jet Pack – I’m pretty sure Budget has already mastered this.
  • Flying Car – Because everyone is good enough to become ace pilots.
  • Self Driving Car – I promise not to crash if you wash me regularly.

There are two kinds of people, those who believe traveling is too dangerous, and those who believe it isn’t dangerous enough.

Manufacturing – We hate blue collar jobs.

  • Replicators – Say goodbye to even the premise of a healthy diet.
  • Nano Tech – Big projects just need lots of little solutions.

Energy – Save the planet.

  • Back to the Future 2’s Mr. Fusion

Only one person mentioned cheap clean energy. Personally, I see that as the technology that allows for all the other stuff. A new abundant energy source means we can finally build autonomous robots, and then we can upload our brains into them and live forever. With everlasting life, traditional space travel just becomes an exercise in not being bored, cue the virtual reality (which will be easy, since we are robots). Everything falls into place when we get a Mr. Fusion or a Tony Stark miniaturized Arc Reactor.

The Insane

  • Talking to the Dead – That’s a technology? Okay.
  • Pleasure Gun – I have nothing to say.
  • Bender Robots – I guess a robot would have to be crazy to wanna be a folk singer…

Space Saga – Chapter 1: The accident

Chapter 1: The accident

Cara Miller stared out of her lifepod window into the vastness of space. For all she knew, she was the sole survivor of the ill-fated Astral Light, a rescue ship that ultimately would need its own rescue. It was all supposed to be routine. The Astral Light had been called out to assist a mining freighter which had suffered a major collision with a dislodged piece of asteroid. Systems were failing and the freighter sent out a general distress beacon.

When the freighter came into sight, Cara could hardly believe anyone was still alive. The ship was a mangled mess, with pieces of the hull splayed out in all directions. Clouds of gas, probably oxygen and fuel, were billowing out of the ship. It would be a miracle if anyone had survived. Still, they had to make sure, so the Astral Light glided up alongside and attempted to hook to the docking port.

Sometimes bad luck is all a question of timing, she thought. The first boarding crew had barely crossed the docking arm when a stray asteroid fragment crashed into the beleagured ship. This evidently was the final nail in the coffin. What little air remained in the ship was enough for a massive explosion. Tethered, the Astral Light took heavy damages. The evacuation siren went off and Cara raced to an escape pod. The last thing she remembered after diving into a pod was a violent explosion. She awoke some time later, drifting in space.

The lifepod had preprogrammed behavior depending on the circumstance. If near a planet it would attempt a landing, if in deep space it would power down nonessential systems, minimize life support, and wait for a pickup. The standard lifepod was designed to support life for up to one week. Cara peered at the controls, a small battery of indicator lights and the thruster controls. The pod was in pickup mode. So no one was near.  Originally the lifepods contained enough sensors, advanced communications, and propulsion to make them into their own little spacecraft.

However, people had a tendency to panic after a catastrophic event. They tended to make irrational decisions, and would constantly be turning on the sensors to see if anyone was coming, draining power from the life support system. They would broadcast message after message, pleading to be rescued, only to use up their oxygen faster. And sometimes they would point their lifepod in a direction they believed to be home and shoot off to some unknown place, making them very hard to find. Eventually the people in charge of such things decided it was better to give them virtually no options– a couple of maneuvering thrusts to keep them from crashing into something and an indicator if a ship responded to the distress beacon. This dramatically increased recovery rates of lifepods and their passengers, but for some made the experience more stressful.

There were lots of stories floating around about people’s experiences in lifepods. People told them like ghost stories. Being trapped for days in the tight space meant the likelihood of cabin fever or a nervous breakdown was high. To combat this some crewmen would stash a little nap sack in a lifepod, usually the one closest to their station or to their bunk. They’d toss in a few odds and ends, books, tablets, games, whatever they thought would help them get through a bad situation.

Cara had never bothered to do this, but as she looked around the pod she noticed someone else had. She reached down and pulled up an old cloth sack and pulled out the contents. A very old tablet computer, a few protein bars, and a yo-yo. Cara examined the tablet. Not surprisingly the battery was dead, no charge cable, and even if it was there, it wouldn’t be wise to use the lifepod’s power anyways. Next she examined the protein bars, the date on them was several years old. I guess this little sack has been here for awhile, she thought. Longer than she had served on the Astral Light. And finally, the yo-yo. Cara stared at the yo-yo. The lifepod was little more than a reclined chair in a cylinder, there was essentially no open space. She couldn’t even see her feet without a great amount of effort. She wondered at the rational of a crewmate who would place a completely useless toy in a cramped lifepod. Stupid yo-yo.

Frustrated, Cara powered up the thruster. She wouldn’t use too much power, just enough to turn the ship so that she could see the wreckage from the explosion. But no matter how the pod turned, all she saw was empty of space set to a background of stars. Strange. She wouldn’t have expected the lifepod to take her very far, but she saw neither the debris from the ruined ships nor the asteroid belt. Where am I?



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