OPINION: Science fiction becomes science fact

The Skycar, a flying car capable of vertical take off developed by SAIT alumnus Paul Moller, president of Moller International, was on display at the Orpheus Theatre Jan. 10. James MacKenzie PHOTO

The number 2011 sounds awfully futuristic, especially with the invention of flying cars – a feat achieved by SAIT alum Paul Moller.
Looking back at the 1950s, when Moller attended SAIT, people thought up some pretty wacky stuff when they peered into their crystal balls.
After all, we certainly aren’t the aluminum-wearing, tin-foil hat donning space-travelers whose clothing adjusts for atmospheric discrepancies as we vacation on Mars for the weekend that they thought we’d be.
But in the dawn of a new decade, we certainly have achieved a heck of a lot of scary science-fiction type advances.
For example, a not-so-simple start of 1902 silent-film – deemed silly and impossible at the time – A Trip To The Moon triggered the imagination of scientists and astronomers around the globe.
And in 1930, Fritz Lang’s  Metropolis brought about the first portrayals of robots. Nowadays we have “Rubot,” robots used to solve Rubik’s Cube, and machine dogs programmed to maintain and adjust balance even after unpredicted shoves. If science-fiction is telling us anything, it’s that we’re coming up to the robot apocalypse.
Honda has been creating our doom since 1986, when ‘Model 0’ was released. Programmed to walk on it’s own, Model 0 began a long series of robot projects that expanded to walking up or down stairs in 1991, turning off switches, opening doors and carrying things in 1993, working wirelessly in 1996, and in 2000 became a more compact version of humanity’s ultimate destruction.
Robocop inspired an entire generation of police-action sci-fi movies, and we’re gaining on those technologies as well, using devices such as GPS-equipped darts to stop high-speed pursuits, ear-mounted video cameras, and license-plate tracking.
Even Star Trek can be seen in modern days, with PADs, the square touch-screen communication devices, now being mass-produced as iPads. Captain Kirk inspired a decade of ‘80s cellphones, and high-tech security such as retina and finger-print scanning. Not to mention a number of James Bond and Dick Tracy devices more than commonplace in today’s society.
Sure, our computers may not be on a mass-rampage, nor do we yet live in space or wear aluminum, but science-fiction and the predictions of our society have not only come true, but continue to inspire new trends, lifestyles, and ways to communicate.
The only question is…what’s next?
–by Bree Gardner

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