Science fiction vs reality

Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads. Just make sure there’s high-speed internet.

The future was bright and efficient. Hover boards and flying cars the norm and pollution something only old people reminisced about. At least that’s was the plan. The discrepancy between science fiction and reality has never been so acute as on the day a young Marty McFly was supposed to come flying in from the past in a DeLorean to set the future right. But despite this crippling disappointment, science and technology have come a long way in the past 30 years.

The remarkable boom of the digital age has seen computers converted from glorified 1985 calculators to sleek 2015 machines that are indispensable. A day without food? No problem. A whole day without FaceBook? Traumatizing.

Humans are after all social animals and anything that can connect us faster to other humans, and more humans, is going to be taken up with relish. Mobile phones took the world by storm but that still relied on talking to one person at a time. Text messaging could cover more ground in shorter amounts of time than a phone call and email could go further, wider and longer. Being able to email using a mobile phone was always going to be a winning combination.

Video calls are real. Wall-sized TVs are real. Paying for goods by waving a card in the general direction of the card-reader or just by pressing a button on a computer, also real. Listening to music on the go for hours on end without having to carry a CD case is just a bonus.

This is also a golden age of medical miracles. The level of understanding of the causes of cancers and how to detect and treat them has grown exponentially in the past 30 years. Likewise understanding and treatment for HIV, Parkinson’s disease and malaria.

We may not have everything predicted by 1980s sci-fi stories but we have come a long way. And even I have to admit that a hover board that can go across water is not as awesome as, say, early cancer detection. Or even FaceBook.

It would still be cool, though.