Fictional Technologies We Wish Existed (VoIP Systems Already Exist!)
Even though we seem to hear about a new scientific breakthrough every week or so, some of the more outlandish technological ideas still seem to lie just beyond mankind’s collective reach. Below are some of the more fantastical ideas that populate speculative fiction, but still haven’t materialized in the real world.
The Internet can transport data, and thanks to VoIP systems, phone calls, but when will it transport us to another time?
It’s probably a good thing we haven’t mastered flying car technology yet, because it seems like many of us still haven’t mastered the ground-based travel options already available to us. Even so, flying cars are a staple of any self-respecting sci-fi epic, and once they’re made available, we’ll know for certain that the Wonderful Future has arrived at last. A close second: Futurama-style transport tubes. Who wouldn’t want to travel to work in something that resembles a water slide, without the water?
We seem to be flirting with true 3D thanks to the incredible technology behind movies like James Cameron’s Avatar, or Nintendo’s slightly-groundbreaking 3DS handheld. Even so, compared to movies like Minority Report, such offerings feel downright primitive. True holographic screens won’t require Buddy Holly-style glasses, and it won’t just be window-dressing; it will completely revolutionize the way we work and play.
True Artificial Intelligence
If the Terminator franchise is any indication, the pursuit of true artificial intelligence is a slippery slope toward planet-wide devastation at the hands of our new robot overlords. Despite this, we probably won’t rest until we’ve got something that makes Siri look like an antique.
Transporters have had a place in our collective imagination for quite some time, but it was Star Trek that first brought the idea to the attention of the public. This isn’t the first transportation technology on this list, but it’s probably the most outrageous: being disassembled at the molecular level, and reassembled somewhere else, sounds like the stuff of nightmares. Even so, instantaneous transportation may well be worth the jittery feelings.
A Worldwide Communication Network
You may be thinking “But we already have the Internet and VoIP systems!” or “We already have cloud phone systems!” The truth is this: as wonderful as these inventions are, we still have a ways to go. There are vast dead zones across the world where the words “wi-fi” and “LTE” have never so much as been uttered wistfully. Google has expressed an interest in using balloons to provide Internet access to heretofore unreachable locations, but even this is a long way off.
Separate from the above-mentioned holographic screen, the holodeck is not so much a new way of interacting with computers as it is an entirely new way to immerse ourselves in virtual reality. We’re making steady progress, thanks to gadgets like the Oculus Rift, but we have a long way to go before we reach true, Star Trek-style virtual reality. True VR won’t require cumbersome headsets.
Maybe this one is better left on the “impossible” list, because we’re probably not ready for it. Then again, the fact that we still exist may be proof enough that time travel is impossible, since we haven’t yet found a way to travel back and unravel our own history. Even so, the idea of traveling through time to un-stub toes and take back thoughtless comments is way too tempting to pass up.
Photo courtesy of Scott Beale via Flickr