The Morning Briefing: It's 2020 So Where Are My Hovercar and Robot Butler?

(Image: Clubfungus via Pixabay)


I hope everyone’s 2020 is off to a good start. It was a mercifully slow-ish news day yesterday, free of any “I” word bickering. I was wondering where to go with this morning’s briefing when I happened upon this:


Nanobots, ape chauffeurs and flights to Pluto. The predictions for 2020 we got horribly wrong

These are the kinds of things that we tend to think about as we flip the calendar on a new decade. This is the second decade of the 21st century, however. The 2020s were a far-off time we read about in sci-fi books when I was a kid.


I have to admit that I had never entertained the idea of an ape chauffeur — I’ve always been more of a robot butler guy. Now that the idea has been put in my head, however, I might be disappointed until it becomes a reality.

The article examines a variety of predictions from over the last 100 years or so about what life would look like now. Some of the stuff — the ape chauffeurs and time travel — were a bit ambitious.

Others, like the development of artificial intelligence, were a little more reachable but have hit some hiccups:

“It hasn’t progressed as fast as I thought,” Pearson tells CNN this month. “AI was developing very quickly at the start of the century, so we had predictions that by 2015 we’d have conscious machines that were smarter than people.”
“There was a big recession and that held things back a bit,” Pearson reflects. “I would estimate AI has probably progressed about 35 or 40% slower than we expected it to.”

Everything I’ve read about AI in the last couple of years says that we’re much further away from the sentient robot revolution than we think we are. That’s fine with me, I want the ape now anyway.

Space travel is a more valid personal disappointment. We got to the moon when I was a kid and I really did think we would be doing a little more with it by now. Alas, we still just stare at it through telescopes.

Accessible vacations in space have been predicted for decades. “Look back to what people were talking about back in the 60s or 70s — space tourism has been a vision for a long time,” says Laura Forczyk, founder of space consulting firm Astralytical. “Go back to that Stanley Kubrick movie, where Pan Am was taking tourists to various destinations,” she adds, referring to the blockbuster “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
In 2009, it finally seemed we were on the cusp of a breakthrough, with a number of companies and individuals expressing a desire to make the 2010s the decade of space tourism.
“By 2020 you’ll have seen private citizens circumnavigate the moon,” Eric Anderson of Space Adventures told the website in 2009. Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk went further. “I’m going to go out on a limb and say that by 2020 there will be serious plans to go to Mars with people,” the same site quoted him as saying.

I just want to live long enough to have a neighborhood pub on the moon and I don’t think that’s selfish.

Here’s a video from the BBC about the “home of the future” that was made in 1989. This is interesting because it’s full of tragic British ’80s fashion and some of these predictions are pretty close:


Still, it’s the hovercar that I really want.

So There’s That

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PJ Media Associate Editor Stephen Kruiser is the author ofDon’t Let the Hippies ShowerandStraight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage,” both of which address serious subjects in a humorous way. Monday through Friday he edits PJ Media’s “Morning Briefing.”


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