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Frenchman on hoverboard finally heralds the future Marty McFly promised

Simon Rite
Simon Rite

is a writer based in London for RT, in charge of several projects including the political satire group #ICYMI. Follow him on Twitter @SiWrites

is a writer based in London for RT, in charge of several projects including the political satire group #ICYMI. Follow him on Twitter @SiWrites

Frenchman on hoverboard finally heralds the future Marty McFly promised
I have little sympathy for predictions that technological advances will doom the human race within the decade. But then I saw a Frenchman cross the English Channel on a hoverboard.

My view on when to get worried about the threat technology poses for humanity has always been based on Back to the Future 2, and more specifically Marty McFly’s hoverboard. As long as that hoverboard remains science fiction, then in my mind the future hasn’t arrived.

That hoverboard, way back in the 80s, seemed like the very definition of the glorious future that awaited us, simple, effective and imminent.

Yet, here we are, 30 years on, and still teenagers are having to mug grannies using an old school plank of wood on wheels. It gives me comfort. Let’s face it, all of the things predicted to happen rarely actually happen, and what does happen, you’d never predict in a million years.

For example, you didn’t see Marty McFly become zombified by social media on an iPhone, absolutely no one could have predicted that. So, if they still can’t invent a floating plank, then surely the prediction of a driverless car revolution is pure fantasy.

The reality is the programming for such a thing is so complex it’s really nowhere near being feasible. The worst human driver you know is still a safer bet than the best state-of-the-art artificial intelligence when it comes to driving to the store. If something as simple as skateboards still need wheels, then technology being implanted into our brains, turning us all into human-robot hybrids is mere sci-fi speculation.

Even if Elon Musk has pointed out that the fusing of tech and organic intelligence has already happened you just didn’t notice it. Remember how jittery you get when you can’t find your phone? While we remain in a pre-hoverboard era despite decades of waiting, then surely warnings that we’re all being cyber-spied on are just overly dramatic. Plus, the truth is the majority will happily hand over personal data if it means Uber and Deliveroo arrive quicker.

Sex robots seducing us and cutting the birth rate to zero? No chance, not in our lifetime. Of course it is true that most couples get together online these days, so people may not be getting laid with a robot, but it’s a robot getting them laid.

And then this French inventor Franky Zapata crosses the Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard and declared the beginning of a new era in aviation.

Also on rt.com ‘Pure pleasure’: Frenchman successfully flies across English Channel on hoverboard (VIDEO)

Suddenly anything was possible, the future had finally caught up. This was just the first step: first comes Michael J Fox as a wide-eyed teenager on a futuristic skateboard; next comes Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator. Sure, Zapata needed the support of several helicopters and a floating refuelling platform just to fly his hoverboard (which he says is actually too dangerous for the average person to fly), so it’s not imminent, but it’s coming.

There is one sure fire way to make the future real, and that’s to weaponize it. The Zapata hoverboard finally made it this far thanks to funding from the French military, which reportedly sees it as potentially useful for its special forces. Driverless vehicles, robot-human hybrids, even hoverboards. You can guarantee that whatever the future holds, you’ll see them on the battlefield first.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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