Think back to when you were growing up. How did you envision the future? Did you imagine driving a flying car, or beaming yourself up with a Star Trek-esque transporter device? Maybe coming home from your job on Mars to eat a nice meal cooked by your snarky robot housekeeper? Really think about it–how much of what you thought would happen in the future has actually happened?

Since I’ve been writing here, one thing I’ve started doing is reading other blogs. It’s a great way to get ideas and see what other folks are writing about, and there really is some interesting stuff out there. Earlier today I read this article, and it really got me thinking. How often have our visions of the future ended up being even remotely accurate? We don’t have flying cars or underwater cities, and I still don’t have the option of traveling to my scenic vacation home on Jupiter. Heck, our manned space flight program hasn’t even taken us farther than our own moon, which is no more than a short stroll down to the mailbox, in the grand cosmic scheme of things.

We’re 10 years into the 21st century, and as far as my childhood predictions go, I’m still batting .000. But the older I get and the more I think about it, I don’t think I’d want many of my predictions to come true. Flying cars? Yeah, it’s been done, but can you imagine if flying cars became the norm? I mean, have you seen the way people drive now, when they’re safely on solid ground, and only have two dimensions to worry about? Imagine rush hour traffic at 5000 feet. It would be chaos.

The fact that it took me 30 seconds of searching to find two separate incidents of planes trying to LAND ON TOP OF EACH OTHER is proof enough for me that the general public has no business in the sky.

But before you get all disappointed about the things that we don’t have, think about what we do have. As I’m typing this, my cell phone is sitting beside me. If I were so inclined, I could pick it up and make a phone call, send a text message, take a picture, watch a movie, browse the internet, make an online purchase, find my exact latitude and longitude, or read a book. None of that seems out of the ordinary to me–it’s just a cell phone. But if somebody had showed me that same device 10 years ago, I would have crapped my pants. When I was growing up in the early 90s, I never could have imagined things like HDTV, DVRs, smartphones, and the internet. Nowadays, we don’t bat an eyelash at these things… they’re just the norm (with the exception of DVR–that’s still the coolest thing in the world to me).

Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke once wrote “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” This is absolutely true. If you went back in time before cell phones were ever thought of and showed someone a modern-day smartphone, what else could they think? If you went back far enough, even something as simple as a remote control for a TV would seem like telekinesis.

It all just makes me wonder… what’s next for us? 10, 20, 30 years from now, what technology will we have that would seem like magic today? I hesitate to even make any predictions, since all my childhood predictions ended up being kind of ridiculous, but imagining what sort of gadgets we could have to play with in the future is always kind of exciting to me. So I’m curious what other people think. Where do you see us in a few decades? What exciting new technologies do you think the future holds for us?

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