Where has the future gone?

by pittcaleb Email    720 views

When I was a kid, I went to EPCOT Center with my grandparents. It was simply amazing! In the pre-internet, pre-vaporware, pre-pre-announcement days of yesteryear, you could see things at EPCOT Center that you couldn't have even imagined. In the early and mid-80's, the slope of the technology-curve was astonishing and engineers were predicting all sorts of things.

Contrast that with my recent visit to EPCOT and it was so disappointing (neat link). When we visited a few years ago, there wasn't a single invention, technology or idea presented that wasn't announced, developed and on the market. The most interesting things of the entire place were seeing many people use Segway's for transportation and a display where you could play/interact with a Sony Aibo dog. But both those items I could have at home for relatively little outlay of cash.

Now EPCOT has some cool rides and we had a blast and I'd go tomorrow if I had the chance, but it's not the same as it was in the 80's. In the 80's, I played with prototypes of today's in-car GPS Navigation systems. Those used LORAN rather than GPS as that's all technology would permit.

Say I saw this in 1984, I didn't get my in-car Nav system till 2004. It took 20 years for this future to arrive in my hands - Quite disappointing! I grew up watching sci-fi shows that took place in the not-too-distant future. I was promised a future of flying cars that folded up into briefcases, robots that would do our everyday tasks - you know you fellow children of the 80's. I believe our future has been robbed from us!

One of the many awesome automobile features found in the Innovations buildings from the mid-80's was the automated car. You wouldn't have to drive - the car would drive itself with little, if any, driver input. It would accelerate & decelerate based on conditions. A smart car. CMU even developed one that worked on visual sensors rather than magnets embedded into the roadway, which was the proposed solution.

So when I saw this video on YouTube of a Volvo that uses active radar to stop the car automatically, I was thrilled. I believe another luxury car also either has or is working on this. What I want to know is WHAT TOOK SO LONG? Everything promised to us is "10-15 years out." I mean 15 years ago, when I was in college, they said "fuel cell technology is 10-15 years from production." You know what, they said the same thing last week! Is it just far enough out, their promises, that we'll forget they ever made them in the first place?

Kudo's to Volvo...