a new frontier

Space. The final, frontier. That was said at the beginning of every episode of Star Trek: Next Generation, where the holodeck could create virtually anything they could imagine and they traveled through space as if it was a trip around the block. Where is the technology to make whatever meal you want, clean your house or drive your car? We keep hearing about the advances in technology that are just around the corner, and we still don’t have robot butlers or cars that can go on autopilot. Technology journalists make it seem like the future is bursting at the seams and will explode onto every walk of life, but so far it hasn’t happened. If the technology is really so close, why aren’t we seeing it? My guess is that the journalists see a prototype or a successful experiment and jump to the conclusion that it’s nearly finished when in fact years of development and refinement remain. It’s exciting to imagine what the future will bring, but I’m not holding my breath to be teleported anytime soon and I expect to be driving my own car for many more years to come.


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  1. I think those kinds of advances will happen, but not necessarily in our lifetime. Other advances that are being made today include the unification of technology and humanity – witness Kevin Warwick.

    Comment by Meredith on April 6, 2006 @ 12:50 pm
  2. Meredith: I agree, they’ll probably happen eventually. I haven’t heard about Kevin Warwick, thanks for the link.

    Comment by dan on April 6, 2006 @ 1:40 pm
  3. In last months Wired Magazine, they had a brief article about Gordon Moore who expressed similar concerns. From the article…

    “Moore voiced concern that corporate R&D is moving away from the kind of fundamental research that wins Nobel Prizes and toward a narrow focus on business goals.”

    Comment by JLow on April 8, 2006 @ 4:39 pm
  4. It seems that’s true, but I wonder why that is.

    Comment by dan on April 8, 2006 @ 11:24 pm
  5. I think that it all comes down to the almightly doller. Most companies just can’t [or don’t want to] afford R & D efforts for technology that they can’t bring to market and be profitable with. In other words, it doesn’t matter how impressive the technology is if there isn’t a reasonable sized consumer base who is able to afford it.

    Sony is a good example. They were doing advanced research in robotics (qrio) and pushing the high end of electronics (qualia), but recently discontinued both product lines because they don’t see the future profitability.

    However, some of the more impressive technology may come from Universities, or other foundations that are fueled by grants and are not responsible to investors for profits.

    Comment by JLow on April 9, 2006 @ 8:44 am
  6. I agree, but I want to know what has changed. Why were companies able to spend time and money on R&D before and now they’re not?

    Comment by dan on April 11, 2006 @ 9:12 am

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