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10/20/04 4:04 PM
Copyright 2004 David C. Loebig

Random Digressions

The Present Reality of Science Fiction Past

    OR

Science Fiction Reality

We are right where they said we would be. Back in the 50’s and even back in the Buck Rogers days of the 20’s and 30’s they predicted today’s technology.

You know what I mean. Wrist-watch radios, routine flying and servant robots. Okay, we’re still waiting on the robots, but we have advanced computers everywhere.

It doesn’t always seem like it, but we have many gadgets futurists of the past would envy. It’s just amazing when you think about the details of it all.

We have laptop computers--powerful, portable computers--that can design graphics, play videos, hold a dictionary, a thesaurus and an entire encyclopedia. It was once portrayed as science fiction, and now we have it.

In fact, I’m typing this on my laptop while flying at 25,000 feet and listening to my entire music collection on my iPod. Well, not my entire collection. This would be a very long flight.

I bought a ticket from the comfort of my home and received an electronic confirmation.

I boarded my flight in Tampa where I was told at which gate in Washington I would find my connecting flight. It’s only possible because of a network of airport computers communicating across the country around the clock.

The plane flew 800 miles and landed perfectly on the runway through fog. The pilot probably didn’t see the runway until a minute or two before landing. This happens thousands of times a day, and it’s all made possible by technology.

At the airport I checked voicemail with my cell phone, looked through my entire address book on my Palm and returned calls. I found a wireless “hot spot” to connect to the Internet, and I checked e-mail. How cool is that?

I had extra time so I stopped in the airport chapel and what do you know, there was a VCR to play a redeeming message from the local church. A VCR sounds outdated, but compare it to 1950.

The advancements aren’t limited to electronics. There’s nanotechnology, space travel, pictures from Mars, routine heart bypass, organ transplants and knee replacements. Does anybody remember “The Bionic Man?”

I’m telling you, we have so much of what they predicted in the science fiction of yesterday.

Of course, it’s not perfect. I use computers everyday, so I get enough frustrations with the confounded machines. They crash just like the jalopy cars of the early 1900’s.

The science fiction writers never warned us about computer hackers, viruses and spam. We now know that it goes with technology. I’m sure that someday when our homes are completely wired I’ll get spam at my refrigerator and people will try to hack my stove with a Viagra virus.

I’m still waiting on a few things like hover cars, Star Trek transporters and permanent after shave.

Anyway, I recently bought a CompUSA cooling platform to put under my laptop, and I have to poke fun about it. It reduces heat by separating the computer from the table. There’s nothing to plug in. It has no electronics. It’s just aluminum.

It comes with an “Installation and User’s Guide” complete with information on where to contact tech support. It even has a web site to download software and drivers...for a perforated sheet of metal. You gotta laugh.

Technology can’t solve everything. Hatred, bigotry, malicious exploitation and judgmental intolerance are all beyond technological solutions. Solving these human frailties will require at least one more column.

I’ll get right on it. It’ll begin with CTRL-ALT-DELETE.

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Dave Loebig writes and banters out of the Tampa, Fla. area. You can banter with him at RandomDigressions.com.


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