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Don't look now, but the future is here!

Mike Elgan | Sept. 8, 2015
We didn't get the future that was predicted. We got a much better one.

Two companies are working on vertical-takeoff airplanes for the consumer market. One is the TF-X from Terrafugia. The other is the TriFan 600 from XTI.

These airplanes will both let you fly as you would in an airplane and land in your front yard (regulations permitting) --  or on a helicopter pad on top of a building in a major city.

Food in pill form

Another favorite idea of the 20th Century futurists was technology that would free us from the problems and hassles of eating. The concept was that all the nutrition you might ever need could be delivered in capsules, thus relieving us of the need to expend time and energy on shopping, cooking and cleaning up.

A Silicon Valley venture-backed startup called Soylent is selling that same vision in powder and liquid form. It explicitly touts the benefit of saving time. And it's enhancing that vision by promoting the environmental friendliness and low cost of its product (you can survive on Soylent for about $70 per month).

But we have something now that's far better than food pills or even Soylent: We have real food that's really good. A '50s-era futurist wouldn't have been able to imagine the quality and variety of food we have today. (Turns out people enjoy eating. Go figure.)

The reality is that much of our world today meets or exceeds the expectations of yesterday's futurists.

We're growing food in space, developing drone air-traffic control systems (all computer-automated, of course), developing advanced kitchen computers, mass-producing robot vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers, and sending robots to preschool to learn the way babies do.

No, we don't have moon colonies. But we do have robots on Mars. We're landing on asteroids. And we're taking close-ups of Pluto.

I'm not sure exactly when the future happened, but it did. So I'm going to say it: The future is here. And it's vastly better and more exciting than anything anyone predicted.

 

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