Today’s post is another instalment of Mrs NW’s top 10 series. Previously, Mrs NW gave you the 10 Rules for Living with a Sci-fi Nerd.
Do you remember watching science fiction movies as a kid or reading books and being absolutely in awe of the ideas they contained? I was one of those kids and from that I’ve compiled a list of things I thought would be a much bigger issue as a “grown up” than they actually panned out to be.
1. The Y2K Bug
This is not so much out of a book or movie, but the idea of computers all failing due to an incapacity to handle the /00 date seems like something out of a science fiction novel. This was supposed to be disastrous. The sudden shutdown of computers world wide. What if the nuclear missiles accidentally go off? I remember standing there at the turn of the millennium waiting for the sudden loss of power, satellites falling out of orbit, and just general mayhem. Instead, Windows 95 was still running strong on our home PC, the CDMA network was still up, and everyone just got on with enjoying their summer holiday. But it did cause 150 slot machines in Delaware to stop working.
2. Artificial Intelligence Taking Over
What if machines become smarter than us? So, I was a tiny bit obsessed with The Matrix (**cough** may have seen it more than 10 times **cough**, but which self-respecting 13 year old girl didn’t have a crush on Keanu Reeves). Now this only just makes it on the list. Why? Because there is some evidence of machines starting to take over. Not in The Terminator “I’m going to kill you” styles. More of a slow creep into daily life. For example, Mr NW’s workplace has just worked out it might be cheaper to have an app than actual employees to talk to customers.
3. Flying Cars
Would you need a driver’s licence or a pilot’s licence? It’s confusing. And how do you avoid collisions if there are no road markings? My belief that there would be flying cars in the future was heavily inspired by some the classics (The Jetson’s, Back to the Future). Clearly, flying cars and monorails never really took off, but self-driving vehicles are looking more and more like a reality. It will be interesting to see if we ever need to teach the little NWs how to drive.
4. Implants for Telecommunication
I can’t remember where I first saw or read this, maybe Total Recall, but the idea of carrying around a phone implanted in your skin is kind of creepy. I’m glad this hasn’t come into fruition. I do remember reading about the idea of using vibrations against your teeth or jaw so that you could hear people talking in your ear. They even made these singing lollipops…
5. The Planet Being Destroyed by a Meteor
Closely followed by the possibility of massive volcano eruptions wiping out mankind. I’m beginning to think I watched way too many disaster movies as a kid. The idea of volcano eruptions wiping out mankind wasn’t helped by studying the eruption of Mt Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii in Latin classes.
6. Space Travel
The film Gattaca blew my mind as it covered genetics (!!) and space travel. This was at a time when we had just learnt how to extract strawberry DNA. I thought by 2017 we would at least have a space hotel. Is Richard Branson still working on his space program? If anything space travel seems to have taken a backward step since its initial breakthroughs. On a side note, The Dish, is an excellent film about the true story of getting the images of man landing on the moon to people’s TVs.
7. Alien Invasions
After listening to the classic War of the Worlds radioplay, I had nightmares of alien invasions. I was about 12 at the time and a friend of mine had pinched it from her parents’ collection. Absolutely haunting. I had heard that the original airing of the play caused mass panic, but this article suggests that rumour is a long perpetuated myth.
8. Genetically Engineered Dinosaurs
My dad let me watch Jurassic Park for the first time when I was 7 and I was terrified. Those were the most realistic dinosaurs I had ever seen. To a 7 year old, the whole premise of reviving dinosaurs from a bit of DNA found in preserved mosiqutos seemed totally legit. About the same time, scientists announced that they had produced Dolly the Sheep, a clone. All of the sudden it seemed like cloning and reviving extinct species was going to be a piece of cake. But actually, as the scientists found out with Dolly, it’s not that simple. For starters, using cloned mitochondria causes all sorts of problems with the “genetic age” of the animal. And for that reason, I don’t have a pet brachiosaurus, no matter how much the little NWs would love one.
9. Time Travel
Paul Jennings, an Australian children’s short story writer who covers some wild ideas, first introduced me to the concept of time travel (and a story about a girl being born with an eye on her finger). To a kid, time travel seems as easy as inventing a machine. Just pick a time and wahoo there you are. However, no matter how many fancy subatomic particles they discover at CERN, time travel being a reality seems incredibly unlikely.
10. Pirates and Quicksand
Ok, this isn’t a science fiction issue but I really thought pirates and quicksand would be a much bigger problem in life than they panned out to be.