As of the time this is being written, the year is 2010. It is officially The Future. Not quite what you expected, right? From what I was told, by this time were supposed to have become a race of golden brown superhumans with cheap and easy access to all the sex goggles, synthetic tree bark, and all the child abuse simulators we could carry. Obviously this has not come to pass. Unfortunately, when it comes to cool future technologies like hoverboards or pianos that play themselves (!), science has failed us utterly, electing instead to focus its efforts on decidedly un-fantastical technologies like heart valve replacement surgery, cordless telephones, and low-sodium Wheat Thins.
Not that I'm complaining about how things have turned out. It's also true that there are plenty of hypothetical "Future" technologies we are better off without. Here are four of the worst offenders.
1. FLYING CARS
The IdeaHumanity would have access to these flying automobiles, which would quickly replace traditional cars as the dominant mode of transportation within society. In many instances, drivers are simply free to fly wherever they will, and little thought is given to the logistical nightmare which flying cars would no doubt pose to city planners and engineers. But hey: Any invention that combines the relaxing, worry-free pleasures of piloting a small personal aircraft at low altitudes with the experience of navigating a dangerously complex cityscape in three dimensions along with thousands of other drivers gets a pass from me for all the convenience and good cheer it would bring into our lives.
It should also be noted that "Magical" flying autos--such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang--are NOT to be recognized as true flying cars, for their powers of flight are derived from occult sources. In true science fiction, surrender to the unhallowed arts (even by semisentient machines) is not to be tolerated under any circumstances.
Why It Was DumbAre you kidding? Most drivers today can't even handle driving in two dimensions, let alone three. For chrissake, you still see people stopping on freeway entrance ramps to merge. I can only imagine the horrors one would be subjected to while driving on a multilevel, multilane flying car freeway.
And I ask you: How precisely are we to control the routes of flying cars? As noted above, allowing total freedom of flight is out of the question (what with the total chaos it would cause and all) so obviously there is going to have to be some kind of complicated system in place involving sky buoys or virtual lanes. Seeing as most cities have trouble figuring out how to get a basic freeway system to function properly, I'm sure they would have NO trouble at all designing a system which would, by all rights, be ten times more complex, right? Right?
And don't even get me started on safety. Sweet morphing Jesus, driving is already dangerous enough as it is, do we really want to be adding height, speed into the mix? No thank YOU.
Imagine if you will: The futuremeth-addled trucker who--while receiving aggressive fellatio from a prostitutebot while speeding along at 1,000 feet--is suddenly wrenched into a Grand Mal seizure by a roaring brain aneurysm he could not have anticipated, plummeting his tanker into a 90 degree dive. It barrels down through countless lanes of traffic below, knocking car after car out of the sky before finally striking the ground in a brilliant white fireball. In the aftermath, 154 are pronounced dead. Amongst the casualties is a hovervan carrying several hunchbacked orphan children and twelve blind syphilitic nuns in wheelchairs. They were mere seconds away from their destination (a kitten factory) when the tanker batted them aside, sending them careening into a quarry filled with molten Helium.
The coroner claimed that death had surely been instantaneous, but employees from a nearby office complex testified as to having heard the screams.
2. MOVING WALKWAYS
The IdeaMORE THAN 100 YEARS AGO, H.G. WELLS posited that moving walkways would replace sidewalks in the cities of the future. Countless others have proposed variants of the same idea since then, in some cases predicting that these would even run though shopping malls, department stores, and private homes. This never quite panned out for a number of reasons (but mostly because it was almost entirely unnecessary) and these days such walkways are mostly relegated to airports (where I'm told they're helpful if you're hauling a large bag) museum exhibits (they keep people moving), and China ("We'll focus on the horrendous damage our explosive industrialization has done to the environment and the health of our citizens some other time. Chinese people be tired yo!"). So as you can see, they keep prestigious company.
Why It Was DumbAside from their costliness and the fact that they were almost entirely unnecessary, the biggest reason citywide moving walkways were a stupid idea is simply this: Humans are fat enough already. Just think of the increase in girth we'd see if people didn't even need to walk anymore. And honestly, is walking really so difficult that we need to waste countless hours devising a complex and prohibitively expensive workaround for it?
Many moving walkway apologists would have you believe that these treadmills would be used to augment walking, as opposed to replacing it entirely. Unlikely. Just take a look at how people use escalators (the moving walkway's moderately successful asshole of a cousin).
Occasionally you'll see someone walking up a still-functioning escalator, but the majority of patrons simply stand there staring out into space rather than expend any extra effort. Not only would citywide moving walkways encourage the same sort of laziness, they'd likely take it even further, as there would be no reason to stay standing on a long trip across town. You might as well just allow yourself to topple over, it's far easier. Balancing in order to remain upright is for suckers.
I can see it now: The Utopian city of the future, every building connected by a network of moving walkways. Enterprising human slugs would need only to flop out of bed and allow the groaning walkway to pull their hulking frames to Future Burger King, where they would lie gape-mouthed and bleary-eyed under a large nozzle, squirming delightedly as a grayish slurry of chicken tenders and mountain dew was pumped down their bloated throats.
Some of you may automatically dismiss the above scenario as dire and fantastical hyperbole, but I feel this is unfair. There just so happens to be PLENTY of evidence proving that human beings who are not forced (either directly or indirectly) to "stand up and walk the fuck around once and a while" will quickly become astonishingly obese. To wit:
I would pose that what you see here is what most of us would now look like had the proliferation of moving walkways taken place as futurists predicted. Luckily, we dodged that bullet.
3. LASER GUNS
The IdeaIn "The Future" (now) guns were obviously going to fire lasers instead of bullets. Why? Hell if I know. All I know is that in 50s, laser guns were the weapon of choice in science fiction, and were considered to be far cooler than bullets. This may be due to the increasing public awareness of laser technology around this time, but more likely it is because almost everyone in the 50s was a huge idiot who barely knew anything about anything, especially what would be likely to happen in the future.
Why it Was DumbThere's really very little incentive to upgrade to lasers. Ammunition-based murder as it exists today has few disadvantages. Guns are not difficult to obtain, they aren't overly expensive, they aren't difficult to use, they're portable, ammunition is easy to come by, and most importantly of all: Bullets fired from a gun will make things die. And honestly, that's all most people require of a gun. There really isn't too much room for improvement.
But even so, I'll give lasers a fair shake. Here's a quick list of advantages and disadvantages of laser-based weapons.
DISADVANTAGE: UnsatisfyingIf I want to I blow a guy's brains all over a wall, I want to BLOW HIS BRAINS ALL OVER A WALL. All a laser's gonna do is soundlessly burn some tiny ass cauterized hole in his head. What a disappointment.
ADVANTAGE: Can't Dodge a LaserSince lasers travel at the speed of light, the person you're shooting at wouldn't be able to dodge it. This would be a vast improvement over bullets, which can be casually sidestepped with ease.
DISADVANTAGE: Lasers Were in Star WarsFuck Star Wars.
ADVANTAGE: No Bullet DropModern ammunition-based weapons are subject to the wicked designs of gravity, and as such Currently, there is absolutely NO WAY to compensate for bullet drop, causing any bullet fired at a target from more than a few meters away to drop uselessly to the ground without ever reaching it's target. This is a huge problem in the military.
DISADVANTAGE: A criminal could hold up a mirror and a cop would shoot himselfShit ain't right.
WINNER?Bullets. Score it.
The IdeaUsing DNA from human cells, scientists create a direct copy of a human being. This clone could be put to use in a number of ways. It could be used for spare parts (limbs, organs, etc.), raised as a child, or even used for medical testing. In the best case scenario, the clone would be made to run errands and perform various menial chores around the house while it's owner lounges by the pool sipping a drink with a parasol in it, until invariably, it's resentment can be contained no longer and it revolts, brutally hacking the owner apart with a garden spade, burying him in deep in the Nebraskan wilderness, and assuming his identity.
Why It Was DumbAside from all the murders, the most troubling aspect of cloning is the deep emotional trauma a cloned human would be forced to endure upon discovering that his cloned true love had been lobotomized due to his failed escape attempt. In this rare, never-before-seen footage from the US Government's top-secret CLONUS project, we are able to witness this heartbreak firsthand.
I cannot help but believe that only the most heartless of scientists would even consider cloning after seeing the devastation it would hypothetically wreak in the lives of cloned puffy-haired late 70s bachelors.
FINAL WORDSWell, I hope you've enjoyed this enlightening look into the future that never came to pass. While we may not have flying Chevy Malibus, Clones of Martin Sheen, or Repeating Laser Rifles, we do have Starbursts, MP3s, and Benadryl, and I'll be goddamned if that isn't a better deal. All in all, I'm glad things turned out the way they did.
You have to admit: The future was sort of a stupid idea anyway.
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