Why There Are No Jetpacks in Our Future

For all you fans who are obsessed with this troubling question, Bill Willingham explains why we’ll never have the jetpack future portrayed on pulp magazine covers:

Here’s the thing: we want more safety now than we did then. We expect it. Hell, we demand it…. The problem with jetpacks and flying cars is that they aren’t already 100% safe to all potential users. They don’t get, and never will get, the time to develop and perfect that we’ve given our airplanes and ground cars. We have our jetpacks and flying cars and we simply aren’t going to use them….

In his Known Space series of novels and stories, the vastly talented and industrious science fiction author Larry Niven created a race of aliens called the Pierson’s Puppeteers. …They are a species of genetic and cultural cowards. More than anything else they are motivated by the desire, by the all-encompassing need, to be safe….

I’m afraid that’s who we’ve chosen to become… We had our chance at a jetpack future but turned them down.

Better find my unbreakable mirror and count my heads….

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]

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3 thoughts on “Why There Are No Jetpacks in Our Future

  1. There’s also the little problem of traffic control. I wouldn’t want to be in charge of traffic control when jetpack and flying car users leave the New Years Eve parties.

  2. The big difference between a car on four wheels and one that flies in the air is that when the Earth-bound vehicle malfunctions, it runs off the road. Maybe it takes two or three other cars with it. When something goes wrong at 5,000 feet, often only something small… well, it’s the same as any other plane, it crashes to the ground in a big ball of flame. Odds are all the occupants will be killed, quite a lot of damage done on the ground, and still more people killed. This isn’t squeamishness. We aren’t becomming a race of Momma’s boys who are afraid of a little manly risk. What sensible person wants 50 plane crashes a day in every major city?

    The flying car will have to wait until somebody invents whatever it was that held the Jetson’s car in the air, even when its stopped or broken down.

    Then all we’ll have to worry about is privacy. No matter how high your apartment, every day at 5 pm the cry will be — “Close the blinds, honey, its rush hour.”

  3. The negative factors include:
    Expense, including maintenance and fuel.
    Safety, including fail-safety.
    Traffic control.

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