Clinically depressed fans of Star Trek and The Jetsons, take heart: the future you've been dreaming of-ray guns, robot maids, unisex jumpsuits, space vacations-is ready for production. Sort of. That's the premise of this tongue-in-cheek look at all the techno-wonders that 21st century man was promised by sci-fi dreamers of the past. In his introduction, author and robotics expert Wilson (How to Survive a Robot Uprising) sets forth a pledge: "If the technology is possible-even remotely so-this book will lay it out," gamely ignoring "any potentially catastrophic consequences." Happily, this Ph.D. isn't trading in idle speculation; among plenty of jokes and silliness he deals in solid-and fascinating-science. For instance, it turns out that teleportation can work, and in fact already has: exploiting an obscure (and complicated) rule of quantum physics, scientists achieved, under lab conditions, the teleportation of a single photon in 1993. Wilson goes on to explain (or debunk) much-anticipated wonders like robot pets, food pills and cryogenic freezing ("the chance of being reborn in the future as a brain-dead humanoid zombie surely beats having no chance at all"). Though readers of this slim guide may not be inspired to "raise your voice, and demand your personal jetpack," it's got plenty of encouragement and info for frustrated futurists.
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Daniel H. Wilson, Ph.D, has a degree in Robotics from Carnegie-Mellon. He is the author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising. He lives in Portland, Oregon.