The future is back.

Yesterday I went to visit one of the most advanced robots in the world. On the way there, I was thinking about Back To The Future and how there had been several articles about how we sort of, kind of succeeded or failed on that future, depending on each articles viewpoint.

As I travelled out to meet Asimo, the robot Honda are iteratively updating to create a home assistant, I thought about the card I had tapped onto a reader which automatically opened a gate to allow me to enter the station. It would do the same thing when I got off and charge me a defined amount for the privilege of transporting me across a city at the same time.

I looked out the front because I had sat at the front. This was because there was no driver as the entire system was automated. A display above the exit door told me how many minutes until I arrived at my destination, how many stops until I got there and which way to turn to exit the station when I got off. It told me a bullet train had hit an animal somewhere on the outskirts of Tokyo and there was a delay.

As the train left the next station, the sky went dark so I looked up and realised that the road was now above my head. I looked down and saw the ocean. I looked up again and saw a plane arc overhead and because the turn was so sharp, it seemed to hang in the sky.

I took a video of the train crossing over the sea on my phone and sped it up 8 times. I had used the same phone to have a video conversation with my wife whilst she sat at home in Sheffield, about 6000 miles away. As I got off the train it told me I had to walk 5 minutes and turn left and then I’d be where I wanted to be. This was due to satellites hovering miles out into space, amongst other things. It also told me I had taken 7006 steps that day so far. It told me a thousand other things but they were irrelevant at the time.

Because 5 minutes later I had bought a ticket with the same card I had used to get on the train with and a few minutes later a robot walked past me, entirely on it’s own, waved, and said hello.


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