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The Future Is When?

Decades ago, the world's top thinkers promised us a future of flying cars, robot servants and time travel, and their findings were confirmed by The Jetsons. Boy, were they wrong! Or were they? Join Metro Santa Cruz as we take a look at whether we really have 'tomorrow's technology' today.

By Allie Gottlieb

AS WE STEP INTO 2003 and the future, Metro Santa Cruz is here to start the year off in the spirit of refreshing buck-naked truthfulness by rubbing readers' faces in disappointment. It's time to examine the heartbreak of failed predictions.

First of all, the apocalypse still hasn't come despite certainty on the part of rapture-bound religious communities. Neither has the earthquake that geologists were sure would shake up Parkfield, Calif., in 1988. And no giant asteroid collided with Earth in the year 2000. Sure, these failed prophecies could be construed as positives.

Others, on the other hand, really cannot. Exhaustive research shows that the common person still does not have a life-size humanoid robot helper, a flying car or X-ray vision. And yet, these elusive items do exist.

Two years ago, Japan created Asimo the car salesbot, for example, an improved version of which Honda Motor Co. proudly unveiled on Dec. 11. But that's not going to get dirty dishes washed in our break room anytime soon. NASA scientists in Pasadena are making bionic muscles to attach to vehicles for space exploration. But reports of NASA's progress on this front suspiciously exclude mention of the boi-oi-oi-oi-oing sound that bionic muscles make as they operate so quickly they appear to be in slow motion. This failure thus undermines the authenticity of NASA's so-called "$6 million" project.

But before we all devote our lives to Jesus in a reckless act of exasperation, come with Metro Santa Cruz as we look at some things scientists and Hollywood said would happen that, eerily, did and others that, inexplicably, didn't. In our useful future manual, we'll also update readers on what's foremost on everyone's mind: time machines, implanted microchips, compu-crime scenes, skycars and, of course, robots.

Bring on the Robots: Some experts predict that we're entering the Robotic Age. Does that mean we don't have to pick out our own socks anymore? Not quite. (Traci Vogel)

Kill Your Computer: High-tech detectives can now find evidence you thought you deleted. (Najeeb Hasan)

The Original Frontier: Humankind's confusing relationship with the time machine. (Michael S. Gant)

When Cars Fly: No, really. Your Skycar is just around the corner, if one visionary Davis company has its say. (Allie Gottlieb)

Implanted for Life: Help! There's a chip in my body and I can't get it out. (Corinne Asturias)

Full Circle: When you graduate in 1984, the future is yesterday's news. (Todd Inoue)

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From the January 8-14, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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