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Which mildly futuristic devices got omitted in SF settings?

  1. Mar 11, 2014 #1
    MGG1204.jpg

    I'm curious which simple devices in your opinion:
    - do not violate any law of physics; ;)
    - seem easy and inexpensive to fabricate;
    - would be quite practical;
    - would not shock you if were being produced in next few decades;
    - but unfortunately are neglected in SF movies/stories/films/games.

    By "devices" I mean here also software, vehicles or whole systems (like self driving cars brininging pizza. ;) A medical app that would give a questionnaire for symptoms, ask you to use cell phone microphone as stethoscope, make a photo of your throat and at the and in most cases give a correct answer concerning treatment of common cold or in case of any serious problem or unclear diagnosis contact a doctor. Moreover it would notify your boss how long you are unable to work)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2014 #2
    Drones, they are used already and yet they occur quite rarely in military SF. Some military SF also show soldiers with equipment very similar to what they'd have today, though it takes place in a world with spaceships, counter-gravity and what not. Mass deployment exoskeletons/power armor are at most 15 years away, prototypes are already being tested. Not so for spaceships...
     
  4. Mar 17, 2014 #3
    MGG-2006-12-04.gif

    (this time it seems I got the picture)

    Very good point. By occasion - which size of drones would you expect (like small flying drone or maybe a tankette?)
     
  5. Mar 18, 2014 #4

    arildno

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    Hmm..gravity field generating swords such as the one dragging Gandalf to it in his fall from the bridge in Moria?

    Or is that a fail? :smile:

    Or, are wizards characterized by the ability to make their inertial mass less than their gravitational mass??:confused:
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  6. Mar 18, 2014 #5

    Ryan_m_b

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    Most contemporary fiction is missing known technology, let alone science fiction. How many plots in films/TV/literature rely on the character not having a phone? Or internet access? Or a social media account? More often than not a protagonist is always seen physically going to see people or calling on landlines. Sherlock is the only modern TV show I know of that properly integrated modern life into a plot. Most other fiction seems to ignore what's going on now.

    That might seem like an off topic comment but I mention it to highlight that if contemporary fiction doesn't exist to reflect the present why do you think speculative fiction should reflect the future? And of course we don't know what the future is really going to be like.

    But in the spirit of things I will say one thing: widespread smartphone adoption. Already it seems to be the majority in the UK but the ramifications of having characters that carry devices that do more than call is often lost on near-future sci-fi.
     
  7. Mar 18, 2014 #6
    Pretty sure it was a flail...
    :tongue:
     
  8. Mar 18, 2014 #7

    arildno

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    Presumably, it fails on this criterion: "would be quite practical"

    Who would ever want to fall into an abyss anyways, sword or not?
     
  9. Mar 18, 2014 #8
    Him?
    :devil:
     
  10. Mar 18, 2014 #9
    Depends on exact gender - space opera or hard SF? Or SF that tries to be hard, except that it allows a few miraculous technologies like FTL space ships.

    Such consequences? ;)
    settled.png
     
  11. Mar 19, 2014 #10
    Electronic surveillance would screw up many a setting where the hero moves stealthily to accomplish his/her objective. A life-signs monitor in one of those guards, or a motion detector in that corridor and it is all over!
     
  12. Mar 19, 2014 #11
    Ask and ye shall receive*.
    http://phys.org/news/2014-03-pocket-diagnosis.html
    http://phys.org/news/2014-02-google-glass-emerging-health-threats.html#nRlv

    *Or be deceived (much more probable).
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014
  13. Mar 21, 2014 #12

    HallsofIvy

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    How about simply- calculators? I remember several Asimov (and perhaps Heinlein) stories in which the hero (in say AD 4000) whipped out his slide rule to do a calculation! (In fairness to Heinlein, I'm pretty sure the one time he mentions a "slide rule", it is an "electronic slide rule".)

    And, of course, we've all heard about computers that cover entire continents, if not planets.
     
  14. Mar 21, 2014 #13
    To be fair, if calculating/simulating something requires a ridiculous amount of iterations, then a very, very large computer could make sense.

    If anything else in contemporary fiction will be considered zeerust in the future, it is the common lack of advanced medical technology as well as a lack of genetic enhancement and bionic implants.

    Oh, I almost forgot - people being enslaved or being the toiling underclass in a futuristic setting. What is the point of that when there's automation?

    Also mildly futuristic (in technological capability, though not in real world engineering) is space stations big enough to host a permanent human population. Forget looking for oxygen-atmospheres across the light years and futilely hoping Einstein to be wrong, also forget running out of food.
     
  15. Mar 21, 2014 #14

    Ryan_m_b

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    In some stories the existence of an underclass is maintained by automation. The poor being unable to work are kept alive, docile and downtrodden by automated industry owned by the higher classes. A good example is Manna by Marshall Brain (available free here http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm)
     
  16. Mar 21, 2014 #15
    "Electronic surveillance would screw up many a setting where the hero moves stealthily to accomplish his/her objective. A life-signs monitor in one of those guards, or a motion detector in that corridor and it is all over! "

    Such things arent impossible today, but commandos can get around. Getting in a really high security building requires hacking, inner help anyway.

    "Also mildly futuristic (in technological capability, though not in real world engineering) is space stations big enough to host a permanent human population. Forget looking for oxygen-atmospheres across the light years and futilely hoping Einstein to be wrong, also forget running out of food. "

    One guy i know was rather optimistic about orbitallers, that maybe the majority of mankind will live on such things. I'm rather skeptical about that. IMHO just because something dont have ftl, it isnt necessary scales more plausible. (Mohs scale 4 vs 5 according to TV troupe)

    But ontopic, i could come up with one thing, recently our dog ate something that she really shouldnt have.
    Maybe they could develop smart pet collars that warn them by a little shock or some flash, that they shouldnt run across the street in the traffic, and do other kinds of stupid things.
     
  17. Mar 21, 2014 #16
    Piccard should at least have his hair intact? ;)

    Makes good story. Higher classes providing bottom of the society with highest quality bread, circuses and safety net generous by standards of first world society from early XXIst century does not provide expected good vs. evil conflict.

    Sending underclasses to mines looks villainous enough, while sending them to do mcjobs does not sound so malicious.
     
  18. Apr 6, 2014 #17
  19. Apr 6, 2014 #18
    Whats that, "how not to title a popular-science article"?
     
  20. Sep 2, 2015 #19
    I cant remember any SF with electric cigars.
    I wonder about new "smart" things, but i fail to see the meaning of smart clothes, smart tables.
    I read a book where the gang leader had the idea of making cups that keep coffee on pleasant temp level. Suitcases follow their owner would be also good.
     
  21. Sep 4, 2015 #20
    One more idea - self driving car to sleep. With not so bad beds, flat thus aerodynamic. So one go to sleep in one place and the car drives him to another. No money spent on hotel, no time wasted on travel and the car could even usually drive quite slow.
     
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