Of course, nothing is ever as exciting as we imagine it to be, and manytechnological advances have been impressive. Computers can now beat me at games I have never played, my phone thinks I’m talking to it every time I say “sorry” to someone (I’m British: almost constantly), and I have to recharge my watch every day in order that it can vibrate when I receive an email.
People can offend, harass and abuse each other more efficiently than at any previous time in human history, and you can apply photo filters to make you look like someone who isn’t you. And you can spend many minutes of your time having a machine fail to recognise that the item has been placed in a bagging area that does not automatically bag your purchases.
The future has turned out to be much more about wires than people had hoped. My advice is to start stocking up on portable shoe battery chargers, because those self-lacing shoes are bound to require regular re-charging. Don’t forget to take that charging cable with you everywhere you go. Just one more to go with the lead to charge your watch, the one for your phone, and the one to charge the extra battery you carry around with you because your phone’s energy life is terrible.
A future in which Velcro is considered quaint, and shoelaces downright affected, would still be one in which we put on shoes. Perhaps the gulf between fiction and reality is a price worth paying for a world in which our technological dreams are no more likely to come true than our technological nightmares.
In The Matrix humans exist in pods, receiving their nutrients directly while cocooned within a virtual reality world. At least we aren’t secreting our bodily functions into self-cleaning polymer onesies while learning of the fate of Venice Beach, lesbian prison inmates or the personal lives of thirtysomething New Yorkers from the glorious isolation of our sofas. We’re not quite in the pods yet.
At least self-lacing shoes suggest an ambition towards some sort of movement, if only the movement required to plug your trainers in to charge every night. While the future may be bright, the disappointing present is an ever more tangled pile of cables.