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Future Kill

The dashed hopes, weird science and broken promises of products and gadgets we all expected to have by now, in the lofty year 2003. No wonder there's an FU in future.

By Allie Gottlieb

As 2003 pushes people further into the future, it's a good time to take stock, to start the year off in the spirit of refreshing buck-naked truthfulness. 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 the break rooms of Silicon Valley 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 those on the edge devote their lives to Jesus in a reckless act of exasperation, let's examine some things psychics, scientists and Hollywood said would happen that, eerily, did and others that, inexplicably, didn't. This useful future manual will also update readers on what's foremost on everyone's mind: time machines, asteroids, aliens, implanted microchips, compu-crime scenes, robots and what we should all be experiencing in movie theaters by now.

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)

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

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

Man or Asteroidman?: Scientist, Foothill prof and asteroid namesake Andrew Fraknoi speaks the truth about what's out there. (Loren Stein)

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

At the Movies--2053!: Metro film critic Richard von Busack travels 50 years into the future to review the kind of cinema we were supposed to be watching by now.

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)

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From the January 9-15, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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