Weelcome to the far-future year 2019! Let's take a tally, shall we?
-Television is still not 3-D. However, the screens are huge, the colors are true* and the resolution is nearly as good as film. An awful lot of the programming is still, well, awful -- but the same could be said of books, plays and films.
-There is no Lunar colony. There is no Mars colony. There's a space station, but it's government business only these days. On the plus side, it's a whole lot of governments working mostly together. Occasionally there are two space stations, but the second one is run by a government the others don't much trust, which decided to go it alone. That's going to be a problem, eventually.
-There almost is commercial space travel. Passenger flights may begin this year. Downside, they won't go anywhere, just up and back. But we had barnstormers and balloon demonstrations long before commercial air travel, so don't give up hope. Commercial cargo and communications satellite flights to orbit have been around for a long time (remember SeaLaunch?). SpaceX is doing well as a government contractor, with United Launch Alliance (ULA) and OrbitalATK nipping at their heels. Blue Origin is making good progress as a commercial space transport company. Watch this space! Well, that space. Space in general, watch it.
-The rich are getting richer faster than everyone else is getting less poor, sometimes a lot faster. Many people think this a problem. If enough of them decide so, they'll make it everyone's problem. Meanwhile, fewer people are starving; fewer are dying in childhood. I keep wondering if the trade-off's not worth it, a handful of people living like Emperors in exchange for a steadily-increasing number of people doing okay. History suggests you don't get anything but a change in bosses if you simply expropriate the assets of the extremely wealthy and hang a few as an example to the others -- and you don't get anything but a mess if you start working your way down the ladder, "equalizing" by main force. Angry men, hungry men, men convinced they're not getting a fair shake are generally not amenable to logic; the "big picture" means nothing to parents with a house full of hungry children. Nature -- yes, even human nature -- generally fixes this by population reduction, war and disease being the best-known means. When you have a choice, choose wisely. When you don't, run like hell.
-Cars are better than ever; roads and bridges suck. I'm sure this means something but I don't know what it is. Do road-use taxes (on fuel and the like) go into the general fund, or are they earmarked for the roads? The problem with public funding is that "economy of scale" keeps scaling up, and an increasing percentage of it seems to vanish into administrative overhead.
-We still don't have flying cars. We do have smartphones, which many of us can't keep ourselves from using while driving. This is why we shouldn't have flying cars, at least not 'til they get that self-driving thing worked out.
-Speaking of telephones, you have one in your pocket. It can even make "picturephone" calls, but most people don't bother. In fact, many people don't bother with the talking part either, and prefer to use telegram-like methods -- texting and Twitter. Who could have known the only objection to the personal telegraph was the need to learn Morse code?
The future isn't what it used to be. It's better -- and worse.
4 months ago