[FoRK] Air cars? Please?
<jbone at place.org> on
Wed Mar 26 17:47:13 PDT 2008
Ah, the perils of futurism...
On Mar 26, 2008, at 1:13 PM, Zee Roe wrote:
> What Will Life Be Like in the Year 2008? (Nov, 1968)
> 40 Years in the Future
> By James R. Berry
> IT'S 8 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008, and you are headed for a
> business appointment 300 mi. away. You slide into your sleek,
> two-passenger air-cushion car, press a sequence of buttons and the
> national traffic computer notes your destination, figures out the
> current traffic situation and signals your car to slide out of the
> garage. Hands free, you sit back and begin to read the morning
> paper-which is flashed on a flat TV screen over the car's dashboard.
> Tapping a button changes the page.
> The car accelerates to 150 mph in the city's suburbs, then hits
> 250 mph in less built-up areas, gliding over the smooth plastic road.
> You whizz past a string of cities, many of them covered by the new
> that keep them evenly climatized year round. Traffic is heavy,
> typically, but there's no need to worry. The traffic computer, which
> feeds and receives signals to and from all cars in transit between
> cities, keeps vehicles at least 50 yds. apart. There hasn't been an
> accident since the system was inaugurated. Suddenly your TV phone
> buzzes. A business associate wants a sketch of a new kind of impeller
> your firm is putting out for sports boats. You reach for your attache
> case and draw the diagram with a pencil-thin infrared flashlight on
> looks like a TV screen lining the back of the case. The diagram is
> relayed to a similar screen in your associate's office, 200 mi.
> away. He
> jabs a button and a fixed copy of the sketch rolls out of the
> device. He
> wishes you good luck at the coming meeting and signs off.
> Ninety minutes after leaving your home, you slide beneath the
> dome of your destination city. Your car decelerates and heads for an
> outer-core office building where you'll meet your colleagues. After
> get out, the vehicle parks itself in a convenient municipal garage to
> await your return. Private cars are banned inside most city cores.
> Moving sidewalks and electrams carry the public from one location to
> With the U.S. population having soared to 350 million, 2008
> transportation is among the most important factors keeping the economy
> running smoothly. Giant transportation hubs called modemixers are
> located anywhere from 15 to 50 mi. outside all major urban centers.
> trains, pushed through bores by compressed air, make the trip between
> modemixer and central city in 10 to 15 minutes.
> A major feature of most modemixers is the launching pad from
> which 200-passenger rockets blast off for other continents. For less
> well-heeled travelers there are SST and hypersonic planes that carry
> to 300 passengers at speeds up to 4,000 mph. Short trips- between
> less than 1,000 mi. apart-are handled by slower jumbo jets.
> Homes in Mi's 80th year are practically self-maintaining.
> Electrostatic precipitators clean the air and climatizers maintain the
> temperature and humidity at optimum levels. Robots are available to do
> housework and other simple chores. New materials for siding and
> interiors are self-cleaning and never peel, chip or crack.
> Dwellings for the most part are assembled from prefabricated
> modules, which can be attached speedily in the configuration that best
> suits the homeowner. Once the foundation is laid, attaching the
> to make up a two- or three-bedroom house is a job that doesn't take
> than a day. Such modular homes easily can be expanded to accommodate a
> growing family. A typical wedding present for the 21st century
> is a fully equipped bedroom, kitchen or living room module.
> Other conveniences ease kitchenwork. The housewife simply
> determines in advance her menus for the week, then slips prepackaged
> meals into the freezer and lets the automatic food utility do the
> At preset times, each meal slides into the microwave oven and is
> or thawed. The meal then is served on disposable plastic plates. These
> plates, as well as knives, forks and spoons of the same material,
> are so
> inexpensive they can be discarded after use.
> The single most important item in 2008 households is the
> computer. These electronic brains govern everything from meal
> preparation and waking up the household to assembling shopping lists
> keeping track of the bank balance. Sensors in kitchen appliances,
> climatizing units, communicators, power supply and other household
> utilities warn the computer when the item is likely to fail. A
> will show up even before any obvious breakdown occurs.
> Computers also handle travel reservations, relay telephone
> messages, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, compute taxes and
> even figure the monthly bills for electricity, water, telephone and
> other utilities. Not every family has its private computer. Many
> families reserve time on a city or regional computer to serve their
> needs. The machine tallies up its own services and submits a bill,
> as it does with other utilities.
> Money has all but disappeared. Employers deposit salary checks
> directly into their employees' accounts. Credit cards are used for
> paying all bills. Each time you buy something, the card's number is
> into the store's computer station. A master computer then deducts the
> charge from your bank balance.
> Computers not only keep track of money, they make spending it
> easier. TV-telephone shopping is common. To shop, you simply press the
> numbered code of a giant shopping center. You press another
> to zero in on the department and the merchandise in which you are
> interested. When you see what you want, you press a number that
> signifies "buy," and the household computer takes over, places the
> order, notifies the store of the home address and subtracts the
> price from your bank balance. Much of the family shopping is done this
> way. Instead of being jostled by crowds, shoppers electronically
> through the merchandise of any number of stores.
> People have more time for leisure activities in the year 2008.
> The average work day is about four hours. But the extra time isn't
> totally free. The pace of technological advance is such that a certain
> amount of a jobholder's spare time is used in keeping up with the new
> developments-on the average, about two hours of home study a day.
> Most of this study is in the form of programmed TV courses,
> which can be rented or borrowed from tape _ * libraries. In fact most
> schooling-from first grade through college-consists of programmed TV
> courses or lectures via closed circuit. Students visit a campus once
> twice a week for personal consultations or for lab work that has to be
> done on site. Progress of each student is followed by computer, which
> assigns end term marks on the basis of tests given throughout the
> Besides school lessons, other educational material is available
> for TV viewing. You simply press a combination of buttons and the
> flash on your home screen. The world's information is available to you
> almost instantaneously.
> TV screens cover an entire wall in most homes and show most
> subjects other than straight text matter in color and three
> In addition to programmed TV and the multiplicity of commercial fare,
> you can see top Broadway shows, hit movies and current nightclub acts
> for a nominal charge. Best-selling books are on TV tape and can be
> borrowed or rented from tape libraries.
> A typical vacation in 2008 is to spend a week at an undersea
> resort, where your hotel room window looks out on a tropical
> reef, a sunken ship or an ancient, excavated city. Available to guests
> are two- and three-person submarines in which you can cruise well-
> underwater trails.
> Another vacation is a stay < on a hotel satellite. The rocket
> ride to the satellite and back, plus the vistas of earth and moon,
> a memorable vacation jaunt.
> While city life in 2008 has changed greatly, the farm has
> altered even more. Farmers are business executives running
> operations as
> automated as factories. TV scanners monitor tractors and other
> computer programmed to plow, harrow and harvest. Wires imbedded in the
> ground send control signals to the machines. Computers also keep track
> of yields-, fertilization, soil composition and other factors
> influencing crops. At the beginning of each year, a print-out tells
> farmer what to plant where, how much to fertilize and how much yield
> can expect.
> Farming isn't confined to land. Mariculturists have turned areas
> of the sea into beds of protein-rich seaweed and algae. This raw
> material is processed into food that looks and tastes like steak and
> other meats. It also is cheap; families can have steak-like meals
> a day without feeling a budget pinch. Areas in bays or close to shore
> have been turned into shrimp, lobster, clam and other shellfish
> like the cattle spreads of yesteryear.
> Medical research has guaranteed that most babies born in the
> 21st century will live long and healthy lives. Heart disease has
> virtually been eliminated by drugs and diet. If hearts or other major
> organs do give trouble, they can be replaced with artificial organs.
> Medical examinations are a matter of sitting in a diagnostic
> chair for a minute or two, then receiving a full health report.
> Ultrasensitive microphones and electronic sensors in the chair's
> headrest, back and armrests pick up heartbeat, pulse, breathing rate,
> galvanic skin response, blood pressure, nerve reflexes and other
> signs. A computer attached to the chair digests these responses,
> compares them to the normal standard and prints out a full medical
> No need to worry about failing memory or intelligence either.
> The intelligence pill is another 21st century commodity. Slow learners
> or people struck with forgetful-ness are given pills which increase
> production of enzymes controlling production of the chemicals known to
> control learning and memory. Everyone is able to use his full mental
> Despite the fact that the year 2008 is only 40 years away-as far
> ahead as 1928 is in the past-it will be a world as strange to us as
> time (1968) would be to the pilgrims. *
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