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Welcome to the Paleofuture blog, where we explore past visions of the future. From flying cars and jetpacks to utopias and dystopias.

Libertarian Paleo-Future

Reason magazine has a very interesting article by Katherine Mangu-Ward about the paleo-future. The piece can be found in the October, 2007 issue and an excerpt appears below.

If this is the future, someone forgot to stock it properly. Where are the personal service robots, the moon vacations, the self-contained cities rising out of the smog? What happened to all those sci-fi prophecies? In Where’s My Jetpack? (Bloomsbury), Popular Mechanics columnist Daniel Wilson moans that “it’s the twenty-first century, and things are a little disappointing.” Wilson, the author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising, begs “all the scientists, inventors, and tinkerers out there” to “please hurry up” (emphasis in original).

Wilson shouldn’t be so moony. Fanciful futurist visions can obscure all the neat stuff we’ve accumulated, once-wild innovations that are far cooler and more functional than jetpacks. (Microwave ovens, anyone?) They also make it easy to forget that the ultimate responsibility for choosing which technologies fill our lives lies with us, the ordinary consumers, more than any rocket scientists. Take the titular jetpack. It exists—but no one really wants it. It’s a 125-pound monster with a flight time of 30 seconds, powered by expensive fuel. The dream of individual human flight was realized in 1961, and we haven’t been able to find any use for it outside of Bond movies, the first Super Bowl halftime show, and Ovaltine commercials.


See also:
Where's My Jetpack? (2007)
The Jetsons Car We've Been Waiting For?
Yet Another Flying Car Company

Boy's Flying Machine of the 20th Century (1900)

Boy's Flying Machine of the 20th Century (1900)

Closer Than We Think! Poor Man's Yacht (1958)