2018-03-01 / Community

Tech SAVVY: We were promised jet packs


Back in the 1960s when America was leading the world in almost every field of science, the future was so bright, everything was deemed possible. The jet pack was a wonder gizmo at that time, featured on Lost in Space. Then two men flew into Super Bowl I in 1967 wearing jet packs. It won’t be long, we were told. Jet packs are coming for us all.

Fast forward to 2018 and there are no jet packs. You might feel cheated that promises were not fulfilled. But life in 2018 is an unbelievable leap forward from life in the ’60s. Think about how we live today. Here is just a sampling.

Start with your smartphone. You have a device in your pocket which allows talking wirelessly to anyone in the world as its most basic function. You can bank, book flights, watch live video, play games, do research, get maps and directions via satellite (GPS). My entire music library is on my phone representing the possibility of 17 days of continuous playing. All this and more is in the palm of your hand.

Cars today can park themselves, avoid crashes, sense obstacles. Self- driving cars are in prototype. Cadillac, among others, has a smart cruise control allowing you to take your hands off the wheel and let the car drive on the highway.

If you don’t want to take your car, in minutes you can summon a private ride from your phone thanks to Uber and Lyft.

Online shopping has changed us forever. Instead of trudging from store to store looking for an item, you go online, do a search, purchase with your credit card and it arrives in as few as one or two days. You can compare prices quickly without leaving your chair. There are even intelligent agents that electronically shop best prices for you and let you know where and when an item is available.

And if you’re not sufficiently impressed yet, in early February SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket ever built with Elon Musk’s personal roadster as the payload. In a visually stunning event, the booster rockets flew back to Earth for a near simultaneous upright landing back at Cape Canaveral. Musk’s other companies build electric cars (Tesla), build solar power roofs (SolarCity) and construct underground hyperloop transit systems (Boring Company) that one day should enable travel from New York to Washington in less than 30 minutes. I am more than impressed, even without jet packs.

Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That’s the world we live in and while jet packs might not be in our foreseeable future, imagine the magic that awaits us in 10 or 20 years.

Tech Question?

If you have a tech question, email it to capurso@swspotlight.com and John Capurso may answer it in this column.

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