Tag Archives: cow-free burgers

What Happened to Flying Cars?

3 Jan

I hope everyone has had a great start to the new year.

I remember all the promises of technological advances for this period. By this time, we were supposed to have flying cars, robots in every home, and teleportation, among other things. So what happened?

I have no doubts that the technology for flying cars is already out there. They probably have not figured out a way to implement it without us killing each other in transit. I mean, we have trouble operating a car on solid ground. I do not think we’re ready to drive amongst the clouds. How would you know which lane you’re on? Where would they put the traffic lights, yield, and stop signs? I could see it now, vehicles crashing into skyscrapers and firefighters getting cars out of trees.

I love to travel; it is one of my passions. Traveling and reading give me the tools I need to write, especially for worldbuilding and characterization. Although I enjoy visiting new countries and enjoying the people and culture, I’m not too fond of airports and airplanes, so I was looking forward to teleportation. To be able to enter a pod and in seconds, be transported to another country––what a dream. Of course, what is probably delaying the process are the test subjects. I don’t know about you, but I would not want this technology tested on animals or people, so there’s the problem the scientists are facing. The last thing I want to hear on the news is that they tried to test teleportation with a human subject and only hamburger arrived on the other side. Gross! What if the other scientists are vegans? We wouldn’t want to offend anyone, would we?

Seriously, although we did not get every technological advance promised for this decade, we did get a plethora of cool things. I own an iPhone, and it’s like walking around with a calculator, compass, dictionary, camera, and computer in my pocket––among other things. If someone had told me in 1999 that my phone would speak to me, answer questions, and assist me with specific tasks, I would have thought that person was talking about something he or she read in a SciFi novel. How about gene therapy, reversing paralysis, Wi-Fi (devices powered by the air!), Nanotechnology, computers that are figuring out how to do things no programmer could teach them (anyone thinking SKYNET?), 3D metal printing, artificial embryos? Wow! We’ve come a long way since 1999, but have we gone too far in certain areas?

Let me share with you the 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2019, curated by Bill Gates.

1. Robot Dexterity – Robots are teaching themselves to handle the physical world. (SKYNET comes to mind again)

2. New-Wave Nuclear Power – Advanced fusion and fission reactors. (This reads scary. Did anyone see the drama miniseries on HBO, Chernobyl?)

3. Predicting Preemies – A simple blood test can predict if a pregnant woman is at risk of giving birth prematurely. (This I like. I worked in the NICU (area in the hospital that provides care for premature infants and seriously ill babies) for a while, and it was heart-wrenching.)

4. Gut Probe in a Pill – A small, swallowable device captures images of the gut without anesthesia. (Another good one. Anesthesia is not suitable for everyone.)

5. Custom Cancer Vaccines – The treatment incites the body’s natural defenses to destroy only cancer cells by identifying mutations unique to each tumor. (It’s about time.)

6. The Cow-Free Burger – Both lab-grown and plant-based alternatives approximate the taste and nutritional value of real meat without the environmental devastation. (I do not eat beef, but I did once, and I do miss a good burger. Maybe I would try the plant-based one––lab-grown does not sound appealing.)

7. Carbon Dioxide Catcher – Practical and affordable ways to capture carbon dioxide from the air can soak up excess greenhouse gas emissions. (How do plants feel about this? Plants need carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, right?)

8. An ECG (Electrocardiogram) On Your Wrist – ECG-enabled smartwatches, made possible by new regulations and innovations in hardware and software, offer the convenience of a wearable device with something closer to the precision of a medical one. (Well, it’s practical, but that means ECG techs will be obsolete in the future.)

9. Sanitation Without Sewers – Energy-efficient toilets can operate without a sewer system and treat waste on the spot. (What does it use concentrated sulfuric acid?)

10. Smooth-Talking AI (Artificial Intelligence) Assistants – New techniques that capture semantic relationships between words are making machines better at understanding natural language. (SKYNET)

There you have it. We cannot teleport to Bora-Bora, but there were so many advances in the last twenty years I cannot wait to see what this new decade has in store. Please excuse my somewhat weird sense of humor. I wish everyone happiness, good health, love, and prosperity in this new decade.

What are some of your goals for 2020?