Sci-fi technology has always captured the imagination. After all, it promises an easier life. Things like freedom from all the mundane tasks put in our way by the real world, freedom to explore the outer reaches of the universe and the innermost chambers of the human soul, or the freedom to sit around slack-jawed in front of a HD computer screen and ogle booby pictures are all things people strive to achieve.
But these fantastic technologies don’t always belong only to the realm of science fiction. No, sometimes, the real world catches up to the movies and makes our wildest dreams come true. Of course, we ignore all that and go right back to bitching about not having flying cars, because that’s just how we do. But if we take a moment, stop, and look around, we’d all be amazed that these eight sci-fi technologies actually exist in real life.
8. Driverless Cars
Sure, they might not fly yet, but we’re just entering a brave new world where your car hauls you around like an automated chauffeur. Yes, thanks to the auto industry, led, weirdly, by that old fashioned car company, Google, the technology now exists for a robot car to do all the work while you sit back and do productive things like text with your friends, play Angry Birds, and masturbate. Sure, the more ambitious of you probably do that already, but not all at the same time. Of course, the tech still hasn’t quite been smoothed out – there’s a reason it’s been lampooned on HBO’s Silicon Valley – and you’d probably end up careening off a bridge as soon as the first glitch hit, but nobody said the freedom to text and jack it on the way to work came without a price.
Go back and watch an old Star Trek episode, or the movie 2001, and you’ll find characters using technology that suspiciously resembles an iPad. It’s so dead-on, especially in 2001, that it’s almost jarring, like you’ll be momentarily confused while you try to work out why there’s an iPad in a movie made before you were born. But there it is, and there is probably no bigger example of real life technology getting its cue from sci-fi than this. I wouldn’t put it past Steve Jobs to have done this in order to try to cosplay 2001 in the most expensive and realistic way possible. Let’s just hope there’s not a room full of forgotten, starving monkeys abandoned because they couldn’t properly throw a bone in the air. Apple employees know what I’m talking about.
6. Virtual Reality
Perhaps the most intriguing sci-fi tech from an, uh, ethical standpoint is virtual reality. After all, who hasn’t imagined the possibilities of Star Trek’s famed holodeck? Sure, you could chill with Sherlock Holmes or talk to Abe Lincoln, but let’s face it, 99% of us would end up behaving like a virtual reality Caligula. Enter the Oculus Rift, which was touted as the future of gaming when it was released. Naturally, all of that was quickly overwhelmed by sad, horny dudes excitedly speculating about its potential as a virtual reality Sodom and Gomorrah. Sure, we tell ourselves that it’s all about experiencing the world in new and amazing ways, or walking with the legends of days past, but the reality behind virtual reality is that the only time we’ll be hanging out with Lincoln and Sherlock Holmes is when they’re double-teaming Marie Antoinette in a VR porn parody called Bill & Ted’s Sexcellent Adventure. And thanks to the Oculus Rift, that time may very well be, uh, at hand.
The tech may still be a little spotty – again, it was parodied in sublime fashion on Silicon Valley – but it’s out there, and pretty soon we may all be talking with our friends and loved ones just like the Emperor and Darth Vader, only with less deep breathing, insane cackling and weird masks. Then again, I won’t judge what you do during hologram phone sex. Of course, for now, we’re content to use hologram technology to bring back to “life” creepy images of our favorite dead celebrities, and while that might work for Tupac, we’ll all be forced to reevaluate things when E! introduces a vomiting hologram of Anna Nicole Smith as the newest Kardashian in order to boost ratings.
4. Face Time and Skype
Everyone takes these for granted, but really, if you think about it, these are pretty goddamn sci-fi. After all, they’re basically real life versions of all those times in Star Trek and the like when Captain Kirk or whoever came face to face on the screen with his nemesis. Sure, Kirk bantering with an angry Klingon probably blows away whatever you can do in real life, but to be fair, Kirk never had to deal with your boss during a Skype session, so who’s really the bigger hero?
3. Military Exoskeleton
Seen in movies like Avatar or, most recently, on Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in The Edge of Tomorrow, the exoskeleton has always been one of those things that seems like it will perpetually belong to a more dangerous, dystopian future involving alien invasions. But that exoskeleton, which makes ordinary soldiers into that most sci-fi of creatures – super soldiers, is actually here, thanks to the Raytheon Sarcos XOS. To be honest, this is both really, really cool and really, really scary. I mean, it’s cool for all the obvious hey that’s badass reasons, but it’s scary because war has gotten so advanced that apparently actual normal human beings just don’t quite cut it anymore. But hey, at least we’ll be ready if ET ever shows up on a flying bicycle.
This is maybe the one sci-fi tech that everyone dreams about. After all, how great would it be to just push a button and get a five star meal or the perfect bottle of wine, or… whatever the hell you want, really? Well, thanks to the 3D printer, that actually doesn’t seem quite so far-fetched. And okay, unless your dream dinner consists of eating bits of plastic, we’re probably not there yet, but the outline of the technology seems to be in place at least. Sure, it might be a while before you can get everything you want, but come on, you can actually 3D print something as complicated as a gun. That’s replication, yo. Just don’t try to replicate your vagina.
Well, what the hell do you think a drone is? Yeah, we’re already living in the age of Terminators. Scoff all you want, tell me I’m full of shit, but don’t tell that to some Yemeni dude currently hauling ass over a sand dune in order to get away from a flying robot death machine. Look, we may be fine now, but one great leap forward in artificial intelligence and we’re hiding in sewers, eating rats and glancing suspiciously at any Austrian bodybuilders stuck in there with us. I know I’m only seconds away from being that dude bellowing “Skynet is real!” but when our only hope as a species is Edward Furlong, I think you can understand my fear. But what the hell, at least Amazon has a new marketing gimmick. I guess that’s all that matters in these ridiculous times.