1623: 2016 Conversation Guide
|2016 Conversation Guide|
Title text: The real loser in an argument about the meaning of the word 'hoverboard' is anyone who leaves that argument on foot.
As each year turns (or other milestone dates, perhaps set out in popular fiction) it is common enough to remember that what is now the present was once considered the future!
This New Year comic, published just prior to the start of the New Year, 2016, aims to clarify a number of the things one might have expected by now. (Another New Year comic followed on New Year's Day: 1624: 2016, making it two in a row with titles beginning with 2016...) The classic target of personal futurology is the ability to levitate or fly, to varying degrees. This topic was discussed before in 864: Flying Cars, where Megan suggests that the real advances in futuristic technology are in computers and electronics, rather than methods of flying.
"Where's my jet pack?" is one of the tropes addressed here, and has actually been developed in a somewhat workable fashions and analogues, but is dismissed as being too personally dangerous to have a Jetson-like ubiquity.
Similarly, various forms of flying car have had varying degrees of success (although it's debatable whether these examples are actually cars or just small airplanes), but the comic points out that the regular helicopter is as close as most of us would ever get to levitating personal vehicles.
The levitating Hoverboard has been popularised by the Back To The Future franchise of films, with several attempts to fully emulate such a device with air-blast or magnetic levitation, but the term "Hoverboard" has ended up being applied to a Segway-like personal transport system that has at least become a mass-produced device (albeit with a number of safety concerns) even if it doesn't fly or levitate. The very concept of the hoverboard is therefore predicted to be reduced mostly to arguments between opposing camps of opinions; and then, in the title-text, the conclusion that giving up and resorting to old-fashioned walking is inferior to any of the possible alternatives.
A much bigger challenge in levitation is the 'sky city', with various forms from fiction (e.g. Bespin, Mortal Engines Quartet). In reality, this seems highly unlikely to ever come to pass while there is perfectly good ground to lay the buildings down upon, due to the sheer mass.
It might be considered more reasonable to build a settlement of some kind on the Moon. The basic engineering exists, but the comic blames financial pressures for it not yet having come into existence. Arguably political pressures, or perhaps the lack of them, are also a factor.
From the fields of automation, the self-driving car has had a lot of recent development put into it, with many and varied prototypes being tried out, and may actually end up featuring in our immediate future, even if not in 2016. Google has built a very good prototype but it needs improvement.
Meanwhile, the long-held science-fantasy aim to create a robot that can do odd tasks has been limited or differently implemented. The fully omnicapable version is probably almost as far out of reach as it always was considered to be. "Jeeves" as a less than superb robot butler presumably refers to the early search site Ask Jeeves, and may be a reference to the robot of that name that can be "built" by characters in the popular Massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft. "Jeeves" as a stereotyped butler name goes back to P.G. Wodehouse in 1915.
- [A chart with three columns of text with only one entry to the left - which is written in the middle of the panel. Then there is one line going right from this text but soon it splits into seven lines going either up (3), almost straight (2) or down (2) ending in arrows that points to the next column with seven entries for different possible future inventions. From each of these entries a horizontal arrow continues to the last column at the right with seven more entries commenting on these inventions.]
- It's 2016 – Where's my...
- Flying car → They're called "helicopters"
- Jetpack → Turns out people are huge wimps about crashing
- Moon colony → No one has put up the cash
- Self-driving car → Coming surprisingly soon
- Floating sky city → Turns out cities are heavy
- Hoverboard → This question is now ambiguous thanks to a new scooter thing (and will lead to an argument about the meaning of "hoverboard" which is way less interesting than either kind of hoverboard)
- Robot butler → He was called "Jeeves" and he wasn't that great
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