In our weekly trawl for items that provide visions of the future, sometimes you just have to laugh. You would think that new ideas and predictions of what will come our way over the next few years would be based on some practicality.
But no, not really.
Take these three stories that would otherwise have appeared in our Friday Futures column.
First, a start up in Russia is selling robot clones of real people. You can apparently order your favourite person for either ‘professional or personal’ reasons. You can envisage the personal reasons (Robert Downey Junior, Jennifer Lopez – or a mash up of the two) and the imagination needs no encouragement. But professional reasons? That one is a little harder to fathom – maybe you want Michael Jordan to sell your product at a convention or Jackie Chan to promote your self-defence classes – who knows.
What we do know is that humankind is not going to be changed in any meaningful or useful way.
How about the French start up that is shipping a dozen bottles of wine into space. The reason: to see if wine ages faster than it does on earth.
Now, if you are a wine connoisseur, you might think that this is useful and see an opportunity (if wine does age faster in space) to sell ‘space aged burgundy’. Again, who knows – and humankind might just rub along without knowing this too.
The next is a start-up that is building robot swarms to travel to distant planets, mine ice or minerals and bring them back again.
OK, this one you can visualise as being useful. Perhaps. Some dim and distant day.
And that is the other thing about the future. It is further away than you think. Another potential piece for the Friday Futures piece notes that the iconic movie Blade Runner was set in, wait, this exact month. So, as Wired asks, where is my flying car, I want my flying car and I want it now. Mind you, we did get a robot that looks exactly like Rutger Hauer.
It may seem bit like the fun police have arrived to be cynical about some of the stuff that is going to be available in the future. But you have to wonder – should we not spend a little more of that creative, innovative, start-up energy on stuff that might be useful tomorrow?