Science Fact

To Infinity and Beyond!

I realise that we have been approaching the Age of Science Fiction for a long time. In a world where technical development seems to be a constant drive and the next best gadget lurks over every horizon, it can only be a matter of time before we finally can wear silver space suits and travel to work with our personal jetpacks.

The Internet seems filled with sci-fi prospects of late. I understand that one state in the US legalised self driving vehicles. Nevada passed an act last year, and Hawaii and Florida have laid the groundwork for similar laws. Seriously. Nevada passed the act in June 2011 – something I obviously missed at the time. I daresay the early adoptees could well be the freight industry who would like nothing more than introducing automated lorries that run circuits across the highways. On roads that already support lanes for traffic with more than just a driver, could we see the addition of a lane slaved to the road system, ‘zombie’ traffic running from A to B without human intervention. Who would have thought it?

Google has announced the intention of making “smart specs” that provide the wearer with a heads-up display using the sort of augmented reality viewing technology currently accessible through smartphones and tablets. Despite the fact I checked the date when I saw this news item, suspecting an April Fools prank, I’m all for the possibilities of such technology. Spectacles might be pushing it, but I can envisage useful applications in motorcycle helmets, providng the implementation doesn’t create health and safety issues. You wouldn’t want the HUD crashing while you’re on the motorway and filling the visor with view obscuring error messages. It would bring new meaning to the Blue Screen of Death on a Microsoft implementation of the technology.

I have also recently seen televisions so trimmed down you would struggle to find cardboard as thin, a picture of something that looked like a transpent smartphone, and Ubuntu (a Linux operating system) creeping from the desktop to the mobile platform and televisions. Strange little blips and spurts in technology promise many bright and shiny things in the near future…

Of course bright and shiny generally means more waste and more mining of precious metals you can only find it remotes areas of the world. Alas, it seems to be the way of things that you can’t have all these good things without giving up something precious in return. Technology often seems like some sort of deal with the Devil. When the news heralds the possible extinction of animals like the Koala and we have constant war and suffering in the Middle East and Africa – it tempers the excitement of what may yet come. Perhaps we need to concentrate as much effort, research and resources into saving the world and ensure the future of all the species with which we share this little blue planet.

In the meantime, you might want to exercise a little so that you can fit into that silver space suit without looking too much like an idiot…