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Sunday 7 February 2016

There's Your Hoverboard

So I did a blog a while ago about technologies and changes that I can't understand not currently existing. You can find that right here.

Well, I've been thinking about it - and I have my theories.

Technological advances happen in a concertina fashion. You can see it during and after wars.  Sometimes there's fallow years - or more precisely, I should say, there's fallow years in perceivable, publically shared technology. Telephone technology, for example, or cars.

Fact of the matter is, people find it difficult to accept technology. They find it hard to adapt when the pace of change goes down certain routes. Like once everyone has a mobile phone, most things that involve that phone become a lot easier to accept - but that jump to mobile phones in the first place took a long time and a lot of ridicule. Remember the pictures of the high finance guys from the late eighties with the ridiculous shoulder pads and the phones the size of kettles?

Car technology? Much the same. We've used the same engines for decades. They're obsolete already. Have been for a while. Talk about a new car with an internal combustion engine that has seventy quadrillion miles per gallon? Raised eyebrows but possible. Talk about a car powered by a li-ion battery? Huuuh, not sure about that...

The human appreciation for advancement, and its ability to accept it, is unfortunately directly tied into how things develop. Science requires funds, funds come from governments and businesses, and those things ultimately have to care a great deal what people think.

It's an example I often give - the difference between concept cars and the cars people actually buy. Those of us who care look at concept cars and go Ooooh...then people go out and actually buy cars, and those cars barely change, year after year.

If there's a big change - people can't deal with it. If the company doesn't like taking the big loss to the nose, then the change won't be repeated. That's the nature of risk - see, now it's no longer a scientific advancement, it's a risk.

People don't get on with big change. They need things to be comfortable. Look at GM food. We've been genetically modifying food since we started planting it - but because that process took centuries, it's cool, whereas directly toying with the genetic code of something isn't. Nuclear technology still makes people very uncomfortable, and folks still seem to have difficulties with renewable energy sources.

More than anything, public opinion shapes where our research goes - and 98% of people don't skate, haven't skated and don't take interest in skating.

There's your hoverboard.

Nevermind the fact that most people have a computer in their pocket with a highly sensitive touchscreen control mechanism, hugely high-definition graphics, a processor speed undreamed of thirty years ago, that can also make phone calls and act as its own modem.

We mostly use them to send each other smiling poos anyway.

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