Futurama

Our lives are starting to look like we’re on a Stanley Kubrick set, and, for me, it’s about time.


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For those who see fashion as a way to take the pulse of a culture, this spring’s clothing has an interesting beat indeed. Runways feature models looking like they just stepped off a spacecraft, in metallic dresses, clinical whites, even gold-armored leggings.

It’s a welcome shift, because I’ve been waiting for the future to arrive since I was a kid. I’m part of a generation that grew up watching The Jetsons and drinking Tang, which could battle scurvy in astronauts and small suburban girls. Princess Leia and Han Solo shacked up in my dollhouse, using the Millennium Falcon as an interplanetary RV. On trips to Epcot, I saw dioramas that depicted how someday we’d use hydroponics to grow tomatoes, and would coast through our kitchens on conveyor belts.

In the future I envisioned, we’d be at war for limited resources, like oil or clean water, and everyone would wear little earpieces to communicate.

And then I waited. No bubble-topped flying cars, no jet packs. Things felt pretty much the same, ’80s, ’90s, turn of the aughts. But in the past six months, the future has announced itself, unfurling like a billowing, giant roll of shiny silver foil.

photos: courtesy, left to right, of Maxmara, Fendi and Escada.

The place I imagined moving about in as an adult now exists: I buy my hydroponic lettuce at Safeway, flip past news about an oil war. I choose not to lodge a Bluetooth-enabled device in my head, but could. The Jetson family, circa the year 2062, had a robot maid. Today, there’s Roomba, the robotic vacuum, or Scooba, which roves around like a neatnik trilobite, slurping your kitchen floor clean.

Check out this item from The New York Times: “After years of delay, the Food and Drug Administration concluded that milk and meat from cloned farm animals are safe to eat.” And the photo: A flannel-wearing dairy farmer standing with his two cloned heifers. When the heck did that happen? Last I heard, Dolly the Sheep had passed on—suddenly, it’s Green Acres meets Attack of the Clones.

I’d just gotten acclimated to the sight of automatic defibrillators in airports and gyms, when I spotted a commercial for a brand of internal automatic defibrillators. In Charlton, Mass., GTC Biotherapeutics “pharms” 1,400 goats to create drugs, via their milk production, to help humans survive strokes. (Cardiac Chevre, anyone?) And at the University of Hawai‘i’s medical school, students practice on a mannequin that can ooze humanlike excretions, respond verbally, and “die” if the treatment administered isn’t correct.

Kids coast by on wheeled sneakers, but at least you know where they’re going, because they’re probably wearing a GPS. For grownups, a wireless sensor in your Nikes records the time, distance and calories burned during your run, and transmits it to your iPod. You can keep tabs on aging parents living alone with motion sensors, or conduct a searing romance via Web cam. By the way, your refrigerator just called; you’re out of half-and-half.

We can now, in many cases, cure deafness. Think about that. Cure deafness. I’m so glad the future has arrived, even if it means I need to invest in some gold-plated leggings.

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