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Your Flying Car Awaits: Robot Butlers, Lunar Vacations, and Other Dead-Wrong Predictions of the Twentieth Century Paperback – December 8, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Some - like the electric car a century ago - were within reach until derailed by market forces or public inertia. An automated highway system was actually set up in 1997 as a demonstration project and proved it could handle twice as much traffic as the normal chaos. Safer too. Funding was cancelled, however. Too expensive.
Some predictions - the much-vaunted fleet of dirigibles - were vanquished by history or politics. After the fiery crash of the Hindenburg dirigible construction everywhere was abandoned - despite the fact that volatile hydrogen was only used in the Hindenburg because the US banned the sale of much-safer helium to Nazi Germany.
Other pipe dreams we simply haven't been able to achieve - the miracle of cold fusion, for one, a cure for the common cold. The paperless office and the five-day weekend.
Milo touches on dreams like the automated home, the underwater home, the global language, the personal helicopter, synthetic food and much, much more. Those of a certain age will remember and smile at many of these pipedreams - in some cases amazed at how close we've come. Younger readers will be amused at our delusions as they continue to assume technology can cure just about anything, given a little more time.
While Wilson focuses solely on over-optimistic technological prognostications, Milo tackles much broader themes and explores them in far greater depth. The former aims primarily for the funny bone, usually referring to popular movies and TV series, but the latter seriously considers the many reasons that experts anticipated such rapid changes, both positive and negative, and the reasons these expectations were so hard to fulfill. He quotes scientists, historians, politicians, business leaders, and other people whose opinions were once so respected. In addition to technology, he addresses medical, ecological, social, political, domestic, and international predictions, and concludes with a chapter on those that actually came true. Finally, "Flying Car" is a much more substantial book at over 300 unillustrated pages, whereas "Jetpack" has less than 200 pages, only 125 of which have any print on them, the rest being filled with cheesy cartoon clip-art. (It is amusing, though.Read more ›
Apparently, according to Milo, a lot of those ideas would either not work in practice, like using nuclear explosives for mining and civil engineering; or they face harder challenges than we first thought, like a cure for aging; or else they run up against the fact that societies have homeostatic mechanisms which tend to suppress extremes from long term norms, like a lot of the lifestyle experimentation propagandized in the 1960's. Biological human nature plays a role in this conservatism as well. For example, I came of age in the allegedly swinging 1970's, yet I've never met anyone who acknowledged to me that he or she lived in a polyamorous household like the ones Robert Rimmer, Robert Heinlein and F.M. Esfandiary promoted in the 1960's and 1970's, though some of them engage in other kinds of sexual bohemianism.
Milo could have written a better book if he had looked to other countries for glimpses of what some now call the paleo-future. The French live in a version of it, with their pervasive use of nuclear power, bullet trains, universal health coverage and lengthy mandated vacations. And China shows signs of becoming another paleo-future country with its massive new infrastructure, a manned space program (while the U.S. cancels the Space Shuttle with no successor technology to put people in orbit) and efforts to solve problems in artificial intelligence and radical life extension which Western scientists have given up on or object to morally.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found the book to be interesting, thought provoking and humorous. It's worth reading. I enjoyed it as light reading.Published 3 months ago by murbius
This is a great bathroom or bedtime read. It is an varied array of short, quickly read segments. It was published in 2009 so it is interesting to view some of the books segments in... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This was interesting to me because I grew up reading my dad's science fiction books in the sixties. Some of the things we thought we would have by 2001 didn't pan out, but some... Read morePublished 4 months ago by zookeeper