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Dude, Where’s My Flying Car?

Where's the 2013 once imagined in 1985?

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

July 19, 2013 - 11:00 am
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Hell, I’ll even settle for a hoverboard.

Here’s my elevator pitch for a modern follow-up to Back to the Future. Since this is likely the only place it will ever be expressed, I am willing to waive any shot at a story consultant credit.

The year is 2015, our 2015, the one we tick toward now, unremarkable and mundane. We don’t watch holographic movies. We don’t eat rehydrated food. And we certainly don’t commute in flying cars. Of course, most of us wouldn’t expect to be doing any of that. But one among us does, one who years ago glimpsed a future very different from our present. For that man, Martin Seamus McFly, the world is wrong. Ever since a tragedy which first triggered his suspicion that the future was not unfolding as it should, McFly has become increasingly compelled to find out where and when history went off the rails.

You can imagine where the tale might go from there. Suffice it to say the disparity between how 2015 was imagined in Back to the Future Part II and how it has manifest in real life would be the catalyst for brining the band back together.

The nearly thirty year interval between the release of Back to the Future and today has unfolded very differently from how writers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale imagined it. As it turns out, the world does not yet run on garbage-fueled fusion and fashion still refuses to accept the wearing of two ties or the turning of pockets inside-out. Perhaps we can live without those innovations. But I want my flying car.

Why do our projections of the future prove so grossly inaccurate? Some imagined developments manifest more quickly than expected. Star Trek’s communicator portended the cell phone, as its pads and touchscreens portended tablets. Yet, it also imagined we’d still be using “computer tapes” in the 23rd century. Other imagined developments remained imagined. We’re still some time away from anything approximating warp drive or transporter technology. What enables us to achieve some but not all of our imagined progress?

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All Comments   (12)
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This was all explained in the book "Good News From Outer Space". The aliens have decided we have had enough progress for awhile, time for a rest.

Check out the article in The Baffler "Where is My Flying Car?". Government, in the form of grants for science, has killed scientific progress.

Amazingly, USB drives have not made a damn bit of difference. Fifty years of computing, what have we got...a slightly better word processor!!! (See Jaron Lanier)

The main problem: the reason we use digital computers, is because they are simple to make and use. And if they are simple to human beings...they are simple indeed! Analog computers, on the other hand....HARD.

The next fifty years, will see exponential progress in materials science. But, without political progress, we will suffer the fate of Spain.

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
We may not have reached Zemekis' future 2015 from 1984, or even Walt Disney's future 1985 from 1967....but we have something that NONE of the futurists of the past hundred years were able to foresee.

While you're whining that you don't have a flying car, think about what you DO have. It's hard to see, since it happened so incrementally, but we live in a magical futuristic twenty-first century world that would be unimaginable to a person living thirty years ago. For we have ubiquitous, affordable, tablet-sized computers that connect wirelessly to the sum total of human knowledge. Available instantaneously. Tiny, self-contained telephones that send typed messages, take pictures, movies, and connect to the internet, instantaneously, planetwide.

I saw a tiny flash-drive yesterday, that was no larger than the USB socket in which it fits, available at Wal-Mart for less than ten dollars, that has a greater storage capacity than the sum total of the hundreds of computer hard drives at Virginia Tech my freshman year. We live in a marvelous future.

Of course, we also are on the cusp of a tyrannical Imperial government that records our every move, but that's another issue. ;)
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's enough bad driving in two dimensions. Adding a third dimension would exponentially increase the problem.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Flying cars will be for the most part 2D. Only little 3D. It will be better, not worse, because there won't be need to restrain oneself within those narrow lanes where we are now. There is really plenty of room for everybody in the sky.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is there? .......those flying missiles will need collision avoidance systems while their occupants will be busy, busy, busy with their 3D cells phones and video games while chewing gum.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I 'spect manually controlled flight in flying cars will be quite illegal. Think I, Robot where the car was rather annoyed when Spooner chose to drive it himself.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
The greatest mistake, and so the greatest disappointment, that SF writers gift us with, is ignoring gravity. Simply thrusting stuff is incredibly power inefficient. Exploiting the difference between air pressures above and below versions of modified wings is all we lay claim to. Any reusable multi-purpose craft that can achieve orbit will have to be some version of a space plane. Maybe some day we can manipulate magnetic fields and hop around like cicadas.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is also air buoyancy that can take care of gravity and everything on the cheap and with best maneuverability. Better than road cars. As an aerospace engineer I have my own designs for that. There's a spot on TV about these guys who help with patenting. Anybody remembers who they are?
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Give it some more time. The flying car for everybody is coming. And I am an aerospace engineer, which means I know what I am talking about. I hope in 10 years from now the flying car will start to dot the sky in a fairly common fashion, and in a few more years will become as ubiquitous as the running cars. Then all this old road infrastructure will become even more obsolete and useless.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ha! I just saw four eperienced pilots, all in the same cockpit, crash a jetliner, on a huge runway, in perfect weather! And there was nothing wrong with the plane!

Don't place your trust in human beings, human beings are unreliable things!

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Re:
"I hope in 10 years from now the flying car will start to dot the sky in a fairly common fashion, and in a few more years will become as ubiquitous as the running cars.

OH!...OH!....the horror!
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your opening picture explains why flying cars wouldn't survive a year even if technically feasible. That reason: teenage boys. But to be fair, these days also teenage girls. Oh, and teenage boy obsessed teachers. Why? It's bad enough to have a boys cruising by a teenage girls house, but buzzing her window? A hue and cry would arise from fathers everywhere.

Although, I read one town was looking having an open season for drones. Extend that to flying cars outside teenager windows and fathers may accept the compromise.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
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