Related Subjects: Living in the Future

Elsewhere on tor.com, people have been talking about the experience of living in the future.

This has always been one of my particular fannish traits; I love living in the future. My daughter suggested to me a few weeks ago how excellent it would be if we could travel in time. I explained that I do it all the time. Very, very slowly, to be fair; but from the perspective of middle age I feel like I’ve travelled a very long way.

My earliest memory of living in the future was when I was about ten years old. My next door neighbour’s dad was a businessman, and he had his own photocopier. We got to use it to photocopy our stories, the newspaper of our club, and so on. Now, this was not new technology even then. But it was new to me and it was awesome. Oh, brave new world that has such gadgets in it.

When I learnt in history classes about underground presses, and the historical difficulty of getting the word out, I related viscerally to that in a way that I never did to most of human experience. When I started doing fanzines I had that same delight, and now we live in a world where anyone can get their message out for nothing. How cool is that?

So one thing I might blog about here from time to time is the moments that remind me that I live in the future now. This is obviously a bit different from Big Proper Science, or even Big Proper Science Fiction, so I hope it’s a handy niche. I had one of those moments yesterday, when I read Simon Bradshaw’s account of visiting the RepRap fab lab.

I had another this morning. I learnt from Hackzine that Hand Andersson had designed a Lego NXT robot that solves Rubik’s Cube. Now, of course there are lots of robots that solve Rubik’s cube. But this one uses no parts other than those which you get, out of the box, with a Lego toy. There are some caveats to that, it turns out; the software was written in a better programming language than Lego supplies, and the Rubik’s Cube has new stickers, all the better to see you with, my dear. And the £180 Lego NXT is an unusually cool toy, and probably only usable by unusually cool children without significant adult help.

But still. We don’t live in the future we thought we’d live in when I was a child; the one where we reach out to the stars. But we live in a future where you can make a children’s toy that manipulates objects and solves a puzzle more complex than most people can handle. Isn’t that neat?

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