In Where's My Jetpack? roboticist Daniel H. Wilson takes a hilarious look at the future we imagined for ourselves. You will learn which technologies are already available - and if the technology is not public, you will learn how to build, buy, or steal it. Where's My Jetpack? is an entertaining look at the world that we always wanted.
©2007 Daniel H. Wilson; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"Will produce sly chuckles....surprisingly informative." (The Oregonian)
Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.
This book is not a deep contemplation of the way in which predictions of the future simultaneously over-estimate and under-estimate future capability. This tendency is because predictions of the future tend to overestimate progress in better understood dimensions, while egregiously underestimating progress along new dimensions. The jetpack is a great example of this tendency. It's an almost boringly simple technology compared to all the advances in computing that have happened, yet we don't have jetpacks for largely economic reasons. This phenomenon is an important topic for entrepreneurs and technology leaders and for some reason when I bought the book I was expecting an explanation of this issue.
Instead the book is a rather systematic exploration of the real science behind the top 40 childhood tech. fanatics of the baby boomers. It's meant to be a light fun read; a summer book for the balding or graying geek. It succeeds.
The humor used in this look at our "somewhat disappointing future" really helps to put things into perspective. The outline is easily followed while listening and the reader has a wonderful low and lilting voice. "Fun Facts" are just that - fun. Anyone who has ever wondered about that stuff science fiction is made of should find comfort in this book.
If you ever wondered where the future went this book will tell you where and help you laugh it off.
I first heard about this book on Boing Boing and podcasts a couple years back. It sounded awesome to me. Dammit, where IS my jetpack? If you've been hiding for the last ten years perhaps there's a lot here still to find fresh. But much of these trails have been well mapped.
Worse, there's still futurism here disconnected from the cultural and social world that propels the subject. The zest for the Reasons Why at the beginning break down and pretty soon we're being regaled with stories of the absurd fantastic. So we're building houses on artificial islands in the Gulf? How's the market for that going? What's the environmental impact? Underwater hotels? The rooms exist but they're not doing brisk business.
In the meantime, James Cameron shoots to the bottom of the ocean in a torpedo sub.
Hopefully Wilson is working on a follow-up--rather than a new forward--that cuts a little deeper than this light compendium.
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