For those of us who grew up on Star Trek and the adventures of Marty McFly, the future looked bright indeed. From space colonies and superintelligent computers to time machines and teleportation, sci-fi stories promised us an exciting, glimmering world of tech gadgets that enabled excitement and made living easy.
Unfortunately, the technology we wound up with hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations. Below, we’ll go over a few visions of the future that didn’t quite materialize in the ways we might have hoped.
1. Robot assistants
What we were promised: Helper robot maids and butlers who clean the house and wait on our every need. Think Rosie from The Jetsons.
What we got: So far, there’s the Roomba if you need your floor vacuumed, and for $980 you’ll soon be able to buy a laundry folding machine. Most robots in homes are task-based machines, with only a single function. If they do have a more humanoid form, they’re usually a little creepy, somewhere in the uncanny valley.
What we were promised: Something between a skateboard and a jetpack, similar to what Marty McFly used in Back to the Future.
3. Sentient machines
What we were promised: A super-smart operating system that can make intelligent decisions and anticipate our next response, like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, without all the murder, of course.
What we got: Amazon has Alexa, Apple has Siri and Google has Google Assistant, but so far there’s nothing in the way of a truly sentient machine. Preferably one that loves humans, just saying.
4. Flying cars
What we were promised: A helicopter-car hybrid that can take off and land anywhere. Whenever you see a flying car, you immediately know you’re watching a sci-fi movie, like the spinner police cars in Blade Runner.
What we got: It’s 2018 and still no flying car – although Elon Musk and SpaceX did launch a Tesla into space… so there’s that.
5. High-tech visors
What we were promised: A computer that goes on your face and that you wear like glasses to access all kinds of high-tech features.
What we got: Remember Google Glass? Google would probably prefer you didn’t. The project isn’t quite dead, although it’s now oriented toward enterprises instead of consumers, and Intel is developing its own Vaunt smart glasses. Unfortunately, you won’t see Geordi LaForge from Star Trek: The Next Generation walking around anytime soon. But we’ll always have TV Hat.
6. Living in VR
What we were promised: Speaking of TNG, how about that holodeck virtual reality system for creating artificial environments?
What we got: Virtual reality is still a long way away from hitting the mainstream, but this might be the closest we’ve gotten of any item on this list. The HTC Vive is already working with the company VRChat to build social experiences in virtual reality.
7. Future food
What we were promised: The dehydrated pizza from Back to the Future Part II that’s ready to eat in two seconds.
What we got: Hot dog stuffed crust pizza and astronaut ice cream. No matter what, they all taste like disappointment.
What vision of the future are you still waiting for? Let us know in the comments.