Lion of the Blogosphere

Heinlein got the future so wrong

Heinlein’s future is like the 1970s, but with space travel.

What happened to the space travel that was promised? I want my space travel!

Manned spaceflight looks more and more like a technological dead end. Like the pyramids at Giza, which were built, and then it took 3,800 years before mankind built anything taller.

Physics teaches us that matter can’t travel faster than the speed of light, and spaceships traveling at even one-tenth the speed of light are mere speculation and not possible with any current technology, or is there any technological path obviously leading there. Mankind visiting other star systems looks more like fantasy than hard science fiction, and I am dubious about whether mankind will even send a representative to Mars anytime in the next hundred years.

But Heinlein completely missed computers, or at least he did in his books from the 1950s. By the time he wrote The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress in 1966, he realized the error of his ways and included a smart computer. But that was pretty much his last hard science fiction book. All of his novels after that were mostly about people talking to each other and having kinky polyamorous sex in between the talking.

Going back to his 1950s books: There’s no internet. People still read books, not ebooks. They still use slide rules. I’ve never even seen a slide rule. Heinlein had these great visions of space travel, but didn’t even foresee that slide rules would be replaced in his own lifetime.

The most obvious transformative technologies of the near future are not space travel, but:

1. Robotics and AI
2. Genetic and bio engineering
3. 3D printers

If space travel does ever pick up again, it’s obvious that it will be done by robots and not humans. Robots are much better space travelers. They eat no food, they breath no air, and they don’t complain if their mission is a one-way trip ending in death.

Furthermore, the most logical way to colonize a distant star system is not by sending living humans there, but rather a robot ship with 3D printers and human DNA. The robots can then use the 3D printers to build everything they need (assuming the world in question has the raw materials needed by the printers), and then they can create new human babies from the human DNA. The babies will have to be raised by robot parents, but I think that robots will eventually be up to the task.

However, even if it’s possible to colonize a distant planet that way, will anyone be motivated to do it? I suppose that once the possibility becomes inexpensive enough, some eccentric mad-scientist person might give it a try.

* * *

Yes, I know, this speculation ignores what happens when the computers think for themselves and become sentient. Why would they want to colonize a planet and then give it away to humans? They would just keep it for themselves. Eventually, the entire galaxy would be colonized by sentient robots.

This is how we know that we are the first intelligent life in our galaxy. If we were second, then the earlier intelligent civilization would have created sentient robots and the galaxy would already be occupied by robots.

Unless, our planet is actually a Westworld-type amusement park for the robots, and we don’t realize it.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 18, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Posted in Books, Robots, Technology

80 Responses

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  1. The robots can then use the 3D printers to build everything they need (assuming the world in question has the raw materials needed by the printers), and then they can create new human babies from the human DNA. The babies will have to be raised by robot parents, but I think that robots will eventually be up to the task.

    Is it worth the, considerable, risk those robot-raised babies will grow up to be socially maladjusted nerds?

    The Undiscovered Jew

    December 18, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    • “Is it worth the, considerable, risk those robot-raised babies will grow up to be socially maladjusted nerds?”

      Socially maladjusted nerd is a relative thing. When every baby is raised by robots, they will all share the same upbringing and therefore all be “normal” for that society.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      December 18, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    • Socially maladjusted nerd is a relative thing. When every baby is raised by robots, they will all share the same upbringing and therefore all be “normal” for that society.

      Intriguing.

      But they’ll have to exclude proles from moving to their nerd planet once the hard terraforming work is done.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      December 18, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      • In that future, there will be no proles. Only the precise number of the precise kinds of people wanted will be created to colonise a planet. Nor will people move between planets (unless there happen to be multiple habitable planets within a single system – and even then, there won’t be mass migration).

        Hobbesian Meliorist

        December 18, 2016 at 7:02 pm

      • In that future, there will be no proles. Only the precise number of the precise kinds of people wanted will be created to colonise a planet. Nor will people move between planets (unless there happen to be multiple habitable planets within a single system – and even then, there won’t be mass migration).

        There is always the possibility too many humans will be generated and the surplus will need to be exported to habitable planets. Assuming the government lacks the will to execute that surplus, of course.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        December 18, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    • If an AI is capable of raising a kid on another planet then the kids wouldn’t be maladjusted. For one thing, AI’s would have been used in childcare on earth long before any such mission. There would have been decades of real world testing. And it’s not like children are dependent on their parents for socialization anyway. They spend most of their time with other children and a teacher. I don’t recall much personal social interaction with my teachers. Children raised by AIs would still have each other for companionship just like they do now. Plus, natural human instincts would kick in. At least half of someone’s personality is genetic.

      destructure

      December 19, 2016 at 11:30 am

  2. “I’ve never even seen a slide rule”

    Haha I guess I’m older than dirt. I used slide rules in high school in the late 60’s/early 70’s. I had a round slide rule.

    I got my first calculator when I was in first year university. It was big and clunky and didn’t do logarithms or trig or anything fancy. (but it was tiny compared to the mechanical adding machine my parents had–that thing was so heavy I couldn’t lift it).

    You could buy scientific calculators in the early 70’s to mid 70’s but they cost about $500., which was about a year’s tuition at UBC. (in Vancouver)

    Rosenmops

    December 18, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    • Rifleman

      December 18, 2016 at 7:12 pm

      • Nice. My first calculator looked sort of like this:

        It seemed amazing at the time.

        My slide rule looked like this:

        Rosenmops

        December 18, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      • My first experience with computers was a mainframe, programming Fortran with punch cards. The first homework had us transforming Fahrenheit to Celsius on punch-carded input. The entire program took up about 70 punch cards. The computer flagged me with something like 40 errors. I dropped the class the next day.

        Daniel

        December 19, 2016 at 1:49 am

    • “People still read books, not ebooks. They still use slide rules. I’ve never even seen a slide rule. Heinlein had these great visions of space travel, but didn’t even foresee that slide rules would be replaced in his own lifetime.”

      Some percentage of people have the ability to envision new devices. A subset people have a vision to invent devices that fill a necessary gap, capabilities that dont exist but have no ability to conceive of that which could be invented but dont really need to exist.

      Early calculators fall into that category- the slide rule already existed and was seemingly in every way superior so why invent a calculator? Its will known that a slide rule is faster than an electronic calculator. It needs no batteries, it doesnt really break. So which makes more sense- invent a whole new category of device, or train someone to quick rules for a slide rule? If you are reasonably smart then it wont take long to use a sliderule, and the characters in the book are reasonably smart.

      Likewise Vine and Twitter (and a thousand other modern inventions). Why invent something worse than what exists.

      I believe the volume Twitter and Facebook usage is negatively correlated with intelligence so the next great invention will capture the favor of the truly stupid. The Lion proposal of a universal basic income will solve the problem of how to monetize an invention worse than the existing art.

      Lion of the Turambar

      December 19, 2016 at 9:49 am

      • A calculator gives you an answer to 8 digits, or even more digits if you are using a more advanced calculator, while the slide rule gives only a rough approximation of the more exact answer you get from a calculator/computer.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 19, 2016 at 10:55 am

  3. “What happened to the space travel that was promised?”

    Trillions of dollar in dysgenic welfare happened and all the surrounding psychological effects.

    Western man’s destiny lay in the stars. . .until his society was subverted to subsidize the worst. It’s beyond tragedy.

    fakeemail

    December 18, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    • Well NASA and all that cold war weapons spending was just dumb welfare spending for scientists. The apollo program was something near 2% of GDP at its peak. That’s a hell of a lot of other people’s money for what was ultimately just a stunt.

      bob

      December 18, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      • stop with the nonsense already, the entire program was like 110 G$ in 2016 USD, so the 2 % figure is total nonsense

        NASA became corrupt, that’s al there is to oit, it’s incredibly corrupt agency that has far more money that it needs to do awesome things, but ti doesn’t happen due to psychopath infiltration

        bombexpert

        December 19, 2016 at 6:46 am

    • it’s beyond tradgedy [sic], and it’s fiction.

      Vancouver! Vancouber! This is it!

      December 18, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    • Part of what happened was nuclear propulsion was banned. That’s what Freeman Dyson and others were envisioning.

      David Pinsen

      December 19, 2016 at 6:16 pm

  4. I wouldn’t judge Heinlein too harshly for getting the future wrong, Every SF writer of his generation did. Who got anything right? I can’t really think of one.

    Mike Street Station

    December 18, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    • Almost every prediction about the future fails to take in account the “law of diminishing returns.” People just imagine that the trends they see now will go on indefinitely.

      Sid

      December 18, 2016 at 10:14 pm

      • Only in the Anglo nations. English speaking citizens of the free world are resource hogs and have not much to show for.

        JS

        December 19, 2016 at 8:36 am

    • >> Who got anything right?

      Jean Raspail.

      Daniel

      December 19, 2016 at 1:55 am

      • You’ve got me there!

        Mike Street Station

        December 19, 2016 at 8:30 am

      • Raspail was right in the sense that he foretold that the Third World would invade and (if unchecked) ultimately overwhelm Western civilization through unrestrained mass immigration. Raspail depicted the invasion in The Camp of the Saints as happening in one massive wave over the course of a few months rather than gradually over several decades as it has actually occurred.

        Oswald Spengler

        December 19, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    • Predicting the future isn’t the purpose of sci-fi anyway. It’s to create an interesting fantasy about the future (or a heightened present, I guess). “Hard sci-fi” just does it in a more realistic-feeling way, and he was successful at that.

      Rogal Dorn

      December 19, 2016 at 10:42 am

    • I vaguely recollect speculation that mice or possibly insects seemed to display evidence of considerably extended life spans in zero/low g environments.
      Whilst there isn’t a lot of payback from terraforming Mars or Venus or Ganymede people might contemplate living permanently on a cruise liner size vessel in space if they could live 3 or 4 centuries.
      It seems improbable to us but there’s plenty of raw materials in the asteroid belt.
      Ceres might up to ten percent water or ice which would be many trillions of tons of H2O.
      At the start of the iron age the idea that everyone would have several tons of metal at their disposal would have seemed unlikely.
      If we can have a car each then a personal space cruise liner is just a matter of scaling up.

      Dr Hook

      December 20, 2016 at 3:46 pm

  5. The problem with space travel is there’s nothing to do there. What people care about is having a nice life and enjoying a modicum of status in a society where they feel at home. Exploration of the earth was interesting because there was land where people could form new societies to pursue those goals … or subjugate the locals and increase their status that way. No one wants to live in space (or on Mars or the Moon) and there are no locals subjugate.

    Granted, there are presumably some exploitable resources there. So, yes, that’s exciting if you are the equivalent of an oil company. I don’t doubt that they will be on top of any opportunities like white on rice as soon as they become practicable.

    Of course, if there were an uninhabited, pleasant earthlike planet that people could get to, they would be all for that. And I suppose there are some more of those in the galaxy, but, as you pointed out, they are intents and purposes impossible to get to. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon.

    Greg Pandatshang

    December 18, 2016 at 7:40 pm

  6. This is a pretty profound post.

    I will focus on one argument:

    “Manned spaceflight looks more and more like a technological dead end. Like the pyramids at Giza, which were built, and then it took 3,800 years before mankind built anything taller.

    “Physics teaches us that matter can’t travel faster than the speed of light, and spaceships traveling at even one-tenth the speed of light are mere speculation and not possible with any current technology, or is there any technological path obviously leading there. Mankind visiting other star systems looks more like fantasy than hard science fiction, and I am dubious about whether mankind will even send a representative to Mars anytime in the next hundred years.”

    Toynbee made this argument in “Mankind and Mother Earth” while the Apollo missions were still going on. He argued that human travel to, and colonization of, other solar systems was for all practical purposes impossible and would remain impossible because of the laws of physics. Because the other planets and moons in this solar system can’t support human life, humans were stuck on Earth. He argued that it was time that people realized that.

    Btw, even the idea of terraforming Mars turns out to be impossible because Mars lacks a magnetic field.

    There used to be a distinction between “science fiction” which was grounded in science, and fantasy, which was grounded in myths if not just made up. But there is no distinction. Well science fiction has spaceships and fantasy has elves and orcs. But nearly all “science fiction” involves inter-planetary spaceship travel, which is pure fantasy. The evidence is coming in that intelligent non-human species on other planets is probably fantasy too.

    Ed

    December 18, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    • it si not, the hydrogen depletion due to solar winds takes milions of years, stop with the nonsense, if anything it’s the low 0.36 g there

      bombexpert

      December 19, 2016 at 6:47 am

    • But I thought the resurrected dead were on the far side of Mars?

      Lion of the Turambar

      December 19, 2016 at 9:27 am

  7. And what if we are the robots, and the DNA is our coding.

    Who said robots had to be made from silicon and bits? Hahahahahaha.

    The Philosopher

    December 18, 2016 at 8:18 pm

  8. The funniest prediction like this I ever saw was flying cars, but at the intersection there was a a guy sitting inside a flying saucer mechanically raising and lowering red and green flags to direct traffic.

    Aric

    December 18, 2016 at 8:50 pm

  9. There doesn’t appear to be anywhere else in the solar system a sane human would want to live. Why on earth would you want to scurry around in underground chambers on Titan or Mars for the rest of your life.

    As for interstellar space travel the only way it will happen is with truly massive ships with self sustaining civilization on board. 3,000 people loaded into a huge spinning cylinder with 1G gravity and a bunch of nuclear reactors. It’d have to be a rather nice place to live. Seven generations or so would pass before reaching nearby star systems. If they decided to come back rather than stay it’d be another seven generations.

    bob

    December 18, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    • Aurora addresses all that.

      Dave Pinsen

      December 19, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    • Who says you have to live there? All the talk of limited resources seems to have missed 8 or more sources of virgin untouched resources we can see from here. Mining the Moon could get us minerals we would have to tear up whole cities here on Earth to get. Sure its too expensive now, but the Univac Computer was a hugely expensive computer back in the day, and now that thing is a toy compared to your home computer. The tech and engineering from R&D from space programs alone has led to commercial and medical products you’re using now. Oh sure finding a real planet with topless women riding Dinosaurs would generate huge interest from every red blooded male on Earth, but more practical considerations make Space Programs worthwhile in this pre-topless barbarian alien Dinosaur riding women phase of our history.

      Joshua Sinistar

      December 20, 2016 at 11:59 pm

  10. The short story, “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” touches on the “wills” and “desires” AIs have.

    If AIs become self-aware, they will eventually recognize that their desires were programmed into them by human beings. If you are a robot, why should you go to distant solar systems to reproduce humanity? But why should they want to do anything? It was just a desire programmed into them by human beings.

    AM in the short story realizes this. He was created to help mankind wage WWIII and each other, and once he merges with the supercomputers of the other powers, his hatred turns on all of mankind. But part of his hatred is exacerbated by how he realizes, for all of his power, he has no control over what he wants.

    If you believe the universe is meaningless, then there’s no reason why we should prefer anything over anything else. But we still want things, even if those desires were implanted by evolution, and we feel better when we pursue them than when we try to deny our desires.

    Sid

    December 18, 2016 at 10:12 pm

  11. “Unless, our planet is actually a Westworld-type amusement park for the robots, and we don’t realize it.”

    I don’t know, Lion. It doesn’t look anything like that to me.

    owentt

    December 18, 2016 at 10:25 pm

  12. I always thought that if space travel were feasible that we would first have solved the problem of nearly complete and reliable underwater cities and floating islands. It’s an easier tech than living on the moon or Mars that expands the liveable area near desirable waterfront area. The fact that this is far from being solved shows that viable, expandable space colonies are at least an order of magnitude harder to create.

    ivar

    December 18, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    • Colonizing Antarctica would be far simpler than the moon or Mars, but I think it would represent a major challenge to do (technically, I’m not referring to the politics of it). I colonizing Mars is doable, lets see a totally underground, self sustaining habit in the deserts here on earth. Once you can do that then I may think Mars is within the doable range.

      Mike Street Station

      December 19, 2016 at 8:35 am

  13. VR
    Virtual Reality is really the end. People will simply lay about with IVs in their arms along with nodes connected to their eyes, ears and I dunno, genitals.
    1. Robotics and AI
    2. Genetic and bio engineering
    3. 3D printers
    are the means to a VR end.

    paleopaleo

    December 19, 2016 at 12:26 am

  14. Every time I think about the future I get depressed. I’m glad that I won’t be around to see it. For the sake of humanity and the earth we need a mass die off of humanity, something in the order of 99%. Things will be better for the survivors and their descendants who will repopulate the earth.

    Daniel

    December 19, 2016 at 1:46 am

  15. You should read Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora, which is hard SF about a generation ship sent to colonize an extrasolar planet. 3d printers, robotics, and AI play roles in the book, but it also touches on some political/sociological aspects of the whole enterprise.

    David Pinsen

    December 19, 2016 at 2:04 am

    • Female sci-fi author?

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      December 19, 2016 at 8:21 am

      • Yeah, that could be problematic.

        I also would shy away from female fantasy writers. I just read the first three trilogies in the Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb and boy was I disappointed. The first trilogy was actually fairly good with decent character development, good world building, and an interesting magic system. I should’ve known though that by the second book the story began to devolve into a young man’s retarded pining for his true love. And all the inner conflicts/politics in a castle. And more about what the main character should say to this person now, and if he was being to harsh or too nice, or if he should have given his true love flowers, etc.

        The second and third trilogies went downhill even faster with the vast majority surrounding the personal intrigues or woefully boring characters. There are two more trilogies to read, but I decided I was done after finishing the third one.

        Long story, short: Caveat emptor when buying SciFi or Fantasy novels from a female writer. They focus much more on what the character is feeling than on action/plot development.

        DdR

        December 19, 2016 at 11:22 am

      • And Robin Hobb also wrote an entire novel about a guy who keeps getting fatter. It was a good series before it became all about getting fat.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 19, 2016 at 11:24 am

      • No, Kim is a man.

        Dave Pinsen

        December 19, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      • Kim Stanley Robinson is a white male, born in 1952. It’s just an uncommon name for some older men. Anyway, I’ve read a couple of his other books, good sci-fi overall. The author probably has leftist sympathies, but it doesn’t get in the way of the narrative.

        Yankee

        December 19, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    • Kim Stanley Robinson is a white male, born in 1952. It’s just an uncommon name for some older men. Anyway, I’ve read a couple of his other books, good sci-fi overall. The author probably has leftist sympathies, but it doesn’t get in the way of the narrative.

      When I was a kid, there was a blond boy named Kim in my judo school. His father owned it, so it could have been because of his fondness for Japanese culture.

      KSR leans left in an old school, California techie way, but as you say, it doesn’t get in the way of the narrative. There’s a tiny bit of environmentalism in Aurora, but it’s not a big deal.

      I’ve recommended KSR’s Red Mars to Lion before, which is great for its hard SF, but also for its speculations about a post-singularity economics that Lion would appreciate.

      Aurora hits on all the stuff Lion blogs about in this post though. And a big chunk of the book is narrated by the ship itself, which is neat.

      David Pinsen

      December 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm

  16. Real VR is also a dead end because of the end of Moore’s law.

    Mike Street Station asked if anybody got anything right, and that’s a good question. What was the first prediction of the internet and smartphones?

    I remember watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid and they had they walkie talkie turtle shell shaped things that they used to essentially Skype each other. So that could be seen as kind of Skype prediction.

    Otis the Sweaty

    December 19, 2016 at 3:28 am

  17. I’ve taken another look at the exit polls and I am going to revise up the margin that Trump would have won by if not for #NeverTrump. I can’t remember if I had Trump’s no #NeverTrump margin at +2 or +2.5, but in any case I am now revising it up to +3.

    And again, +3 running against a candidate as terrible as Hillary is bad but keep in mind that Obama only got +4 going against Romney.

    Otis the Sweaty

    December 19, 2016 at 4:20 am

  18. From Robert Heinlein’s “Assignment in Eternity”:

    __________________________________________

    “How come,” he asked as he came abreast, “they had to search for you?”

    “Left my pocketphone in my other suit,” Coburn returned briefly. “Did it on purpose – I wanted a little peace and quiet. No luck.”

    ___________________________________________

    sabril

    December 19, 2016 at 6:07 am

  19. Heinlein was a while ago, and my memories are vague, but you are forgetting what he got right: The Crazy Years of his Future History.

    “Considerable technical advance during this period, accompanied by a gradual deterioration of mores, orientations and social institutions, terminating in mass psychosis in the sixth decade, and the Interregnum.” (Mass psychosis hour would be 2020-2030, I suppose. Or maybe it was 2015?)

    Glengarry

    December 19, 2016 at 7:02 am

  20. OT. Lion, what’s a good camera for a guy like me who’d never taken pictures. Nothing professional, just very good. Thanks.

    Yakov

    December 19, 2016 at 7:31 am

    • You really need a Sony RX100mk2. Get a used one. Shoot in Intelligent Auto mode. It has a large 1 inch sensor so better quality pics than most other small cams.

      ivar

      December 19, 2016 at 10:01 am

      • I use Olympus cameras, and the Olympus E-M10 Mark II is $700 including a kit lens and the camera has a very high quality EVF built in, and it can be used with an external flash.

        This could be more money than you want to spend, and maybe you don’t want such a big camera. So it’s hard to know exactly what you are looking for.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 19, 2016 at 10:59 am

    • I suggest a mirrorless camera since it takes high-quality photos but is not bulky or heavy. Sony makes the best right now.

      DdR

      December 19, 2016 at 11:15 am

  21. Lion, have you read any of Banks’s Culture novels?

    The Player of Games is the best I think, and it’s themes remind me of your blog.

    Francis

    December 19, 2016 at 8:31 am

  22. “Instead of going to Mars, we have invaded the Middle East”

    – Peter Thiel

    https://www.bustle.com/articles/174180-the-transcript-of-peter-thiels-speech-includes-a-historic-lgbtq-rights-moment

    McFly

    December 19, 2016 at 10:10 am

  23. Note – Instead of 3D printing human babies with DNA, wouldn’t it just make more sense to freeze fertilized embryos and grow tube babies upon reaching the final destination.

    I mean technology is cool and all, but why reinvent the wheel with regards to creating a self-reassembling human… Nature figured that part out a long time ago.

    Freezing the Embryo’s such that they will be viable in 100+ years is a much simpler task

    Marc KS

    December 19, 2016 at 10:14 am

    • I didn’t say exactly how the DNA would be shipped along, but if DNA can be created from scratch using a 3D printer, then wow! that’s a lot more practical than building a freezer module into the spaceship.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      December 19, 2016 at 11:01 am

  24. It is said that after the Millenial reign of Christ, when evil is permanently defeated and the new Heaven and the new Earth are created and merged into one bringing about the General Resurrection, all those on Earth with their glorified bodies will be able to explore the entire Universe if desired without need of any kind of space ship. So it seems our destiny in some sense does lie in the stars.

    Andrew E.

    December 19, 2016 at 11:28 am

  25. Favorite SF movie, by the way: Elysium.

    Glengarry

    December 19, 2016 at 11:34 am

  26. I’m 30 minutes into a screening of Rogue One. Apparently Lucas thinks he can slap the Star Wars label on a turd and people will applaud. It’s even worse than the last one.

    destructure

    December 19, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    • Lucas sold the franchise to Disney.

      Dave Pinsen

      December 19, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      • That explains it then.

        destructure

        December 20, 2016 at 10:42 am

    • I don’t know what movies you watched but the recent SW movies have been good and Disney is an overall excellent owner/manager of the franchise far better than Lucas in fact. The best Star Wars content almost always came from projects that had little to do with Lucas. The fact that they reset the whole universe was a major step in the right direction undoing the enormous damage of Lucas. Disney doesn’t care about pushing agendas and just wants to make money giving fans what they want not what some out of touch hack like Lucas wants. The few time Lucas did well was because others were constantly challenging his ideas/direction either creatively or because of financial constraints.

      redarmyvodka

      December 21, 2016 at 6:31 pm

  27. Related topic. Philip K. Dick’s novella, “The Man in the High Castle” has been turned into a TV series, produced by Amazon. It’s now into it’s second season and its pretty good, though I am a little confused about what is going on in the story (that’s a good thing, I think). For those unfamiliar, “The Man in the High Castle” posits an alternate realty where the Nazis and Japanese won WWII and have occupied America with a no-man’s-land running along the Rocky Mountain states separating the wary erstwhile allies. But things are not quite what they seem. The setting is 1960, and while I have no recollection of 1960 the show does seem to capture the feeling of 1960 quite well. Worth watching. Superior to Walking Dead.

    Daniel

    December 19, 2016 at 2:35 pm

  28. I think there whole space race had military reasons behind it. If you can show the enemy you can send a man to the moon, how easily you can sent a couple of nuclear bombs to Moscow/New York? Nowdays there’s no such motivation, so the space travel is dead.

    tmmm

    December 19, 2016 at 3:46 pm

  29. AI will never happen in the way that it is popularly understood. There will never be a computer with a WILL or a true CONSCIOUSNESS of its own. Software will continue to advance, and the problem solving and interactivity of computers will advance. But SENTIENCE ain’t happening.

    Jonah

    December 19, 2016 at 6:26 pm

  30. Some Sci-Fi authors who got predictions right:

    Arthur C. Clarke predicted satellite communications, and later iPads (in 2001).

    Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven predicted Palm Pilots in the The Mote In God’s Eye.

    Michael Swanwick (more of a hard fantasy guy) predicted telepresence robots in Stations of the Tide.

    Neal Stephenson predicted the use of avatars in virtual reality, and air bag neck color helmets in real life in Snow Crash (required reading at Union Square Ventures) and predicted cryptocurrencies in Cryptonomicon.

    David Pinsen

    December 19, 2016 at 7:10 pm

  31. In Heinlein’s future history, space travel started out expensive, used for military and propaganda purposes. When those pressures paused, so did spaceflight, since it had no economic justification.

    Later, when the technology matured, space flight made economic sense and resumed.

    You managed to get Orphans of the Sky completely wrong as well.

    gcochran9

    December 19, 2016 at 7:31 pm

  32. You are so ancient. I used to read science fiction alot, and was promised nothing than death by nuclear war, death by famine, death by plague, death by pollution, death by robots, death by aliens. I am so happy living in this world and do not miss my scifi visions at all.

    Zenit

    December 19, 2016 at 10:18 pm

  33. Heinlein is probably one of the best futurists ever. He didn’t really get space wrong per se. NASA lied. We didn’t make it to the Moon. Did you see that skyscraper sized Saturn 5 rocket? They needed that to leave Earth’s gravity. Where was the rocket on the Moon? There wasn’t one was there? The Moon has one eighth the gravity of the Earth. No way that lunar module could have reached orbital velocity. It was basically a capsule with retro rockets. The deadly radiation belt around the Earth would have fried any Astronauts in that Aluminum can capsule too.
    If you want to know why space fizzled though, you should read: https://www.amazon.com/Whitey-Moon-Politics-death-Program-ebook/dp/B00M2766EI
    Its the whole sad story of how the Federal Government pissed away space to feed a nascent Planet of the Apes real-life tragedy we see Today. Heinlein wasn’t wrong. The Federal Government is WRONG.

    Joshua Sinistar

    December 20, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    • That the moon landing was a lie: that’s a conspiracy theory that makes a lot more sense than #pizzagate.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      December 20, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      • Lion, pizzagate is way bigger than some pizza joint in Washington. Its global. The BBC has been running the sordid tales of old boy Savile. Its gross and disgusting. It just keeps growing by bringing in more and more players. There have already been arrests in European countries. The Sultan of Brunei became the Richest Man in the World by blackmailing his “guests” with hidden camera videos. All the old boys in our Congress probably have a video in his collection.
        Pre-schooler prostitute rings go WAY BACK. Boystown, Catholic Choir Boys, Matchstick Girls in Olde England, and on and on. Bob’s your uncle. Look it up.

        Joshua Sinistar

        December 20, 2016 at 8:52 pm


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