The Top 10 Broken Promises of the 21st Century

September 16, 2009

In a few short months, we’ll be living in the year 2010. Just let that sink in for a second. We grew up on sci-fi movies and cartoons foretelling a future filled with amazing technologies everywhere we looked. But so far, this so-called “future” has fallen short in some fundamental areas. We were told there would be jetpacks!

Source: Colin Anderson/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

10. Hoverboards

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Source: Amblin Entertainment

Remember that kid at school who swore up and down that his cousin knew a guy who knew a guy who had an actual working hoverboard? And how he was sure that they’d be out on the streets any day now, if only the government would give up their stockpile of sweetass hoverboards?

Well it seems pretty obvious that kid was full of crap. At least this sort of thing still offers us a glimmer of hope that we’ll have ‘em someday.


9. Moon Bases

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Source: Time Life Pictures./Contributor/Getty Images

We first landed on the moon more than forty years ago. Not long after that, we started bringing up golf clubs, ATVs, and all sorts of other random gear, and the place was starting to become ripe for a human settlement.

Then, for whatever reason, we just got over it and ditched the whole idea. Now the moon just sits there, doing nothing for nobody. Man, what a waste of a space rock.

8. Ray Guns

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Source: Peter Richardson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

After rumors got out that Nikola Tesla had developed a directed energy weapon that found its way into the hands of the military after his death, the fascination with outlandishly badass weapons really ramped up in movies, cartoons, and the American consciousness at large.

When Elmer Fudd traveled to the distant future of the year 2000, his hunting rifle was replaced by a laser-blasting superweapon. Hell, even Predator 2’s version of early 21st century guns are far more elaborate than what we have today. What happened? The majority of modern weapons function and look like they have for the last sixty years.

The only semblance of a bone we’ve been thrown is the rail gun – but it’s not like you can cruise down to the local range and fire off a few rounds with one of those babies, so it might as well be science fiction.

7. Jetpacks

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Source: Andy Ryan/Stone/Getty Images

Like I said earlier, we were told there would be jetpacks. Tonight, while most of us sit in traffic for the billionth time, let’s take a moment to reflect on the fact that if we all had jetpacks, we wouldn’t be at the mercy of every jackass who runs out of fuel in the center lane of the freeway.

Just try not to think about the all the ensuing jetpack carnage that would be unleashed once the masses got their hands on these things. 


6. Definitive Alien Contact

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Source: Gail Shumway/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

For more than half a century, it’s seemed like concrete proof of alien life was just around the corner. If sci-fi films are any indicator, the general assumption seemed to be that we’d basically co-exist with aliens by now, perhaps in some sort of G-rated version of District 9.

But, aside from a bunch of blurry photos, we’ve basically got nothing. And with the popularization of the Internet, and sites like YouTube and Twitter specifically, the ease of getting that proof to a mass audience quickly and without the Men in Black getting to it first is now almost effortless.

C’mon, people of the desolate outreaches of New Mexico, it’s time to bust out the HD camcorder for something you’ll actually want your family and friends to see!

5. Androids

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Let’s start by clarifying a common misconception: this is a robot, and this is an android. Blade Runner was set in the then-distant year of 2019, and I kind of have my doubts about Asimo making that much headway in less than a decade, let alone being common enough to have legions of them running around the city autonomously. Come on, the people demand their Cherry 2000s!


4. Virtual Reality

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Source: Philip Kaake/Photonica/Getty Images

What the hell happened to virtual reality? We got really amped up on the idea toward the end of the '90s, and then apparently everyone got distracted by the Halo franchise or something.

While gaming consoles seem to be making a shift in interest back toward this concept again (largely because Nintendo came out of left field with the surprise success of the Wii), this just isn’t enough – we’re not going to settle for anything less than full sensory, Lawnmower Man-style intensity.

3. The Post Apocalypse

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Source: FPG/Taxi/Getty Images

If there’s one thing we learned from every classic action film from the 1980s, it was that the nuclear apocalypse was right around the corner, be it via the Ruskies, self-aware supercomputers, or random terrorism. By now, we should all be living in fallout-laden post apocalyptic hell on Earth, driving armor plated war machines, carrying shotguns on our backs, and wearing leather pants.

Now that I think about it, if you were in Los Angeles over the past few weeks, it actually was kinda like that.

2. Teleportation

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Source: Paramount Television

The awesomeness that is teleportation is difficult to fully grasp. It would alter society completely. Imagine never having to wait anywhere again because the second something gets boring you can just beam yourself somewhere else that’s more interesting.

Of course, the lack of teleportation technology in the 21st century is probably a massive conspiracy brought on by transportation companies like airlines, auto makers, and OPEC. Well, it’s either that, or nobody has the balls to test out the prototype.


1. Flying Cars

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Source: Frank Whitney/Stone/Getty Images

Seriously – what is the hold up? This and this do not count – just because you put wheels on a janky helicopter does not mean it’s worthy of a title as lofty as a flying car. I’m talking about bitchin’ anti-gravity Camaros, sky freeways, and rooftop parking - not some clapped-out hooptie with wings glued to it.

If the government really wants to save the auto industry, the answer is simple: release the damned flying cars already! We know they’ve got ‘em stashed somewhere.

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