Sunday, February 19, 2006

3 technologies: Teleportation

Looking back, everything that happened after we perfected teleporting was like the technology itself.

Here one minute, gone the next.

The auto industry, shipping, air travel - all disappeared overnight. Pollution levels dropped like a rock and the air changed (nobody has smelled actual car exhaust for 53 years, except from simulators at some museums, and even then some of the old timers who once owned a car or two complained it ‘smelled fake’).

Some things stayed the same. People still used the word ‘shipped’ even though nobody’s sent anything by sea for close to 70 years. Too slow and risky even in its heyday, nobody gets on a boat now unless it’s to race. Planes - like cars - turned into a purely recreational thing. Bored ex-aviators flip the autopilot and read a magazine as rich eccentrics look out the window for about an hour (some of the more expensive tours have been known to run to about 90 minutes).

Oil companies were the hardest hit. Demand evaporated and suddenly you couldn’t give crude away if it came with the rig that drilled it. The energy crisis remains however, and during the first decade of the newly perfected telepod’s entry into our lives, state-wide blackouts were common, and riots became a global phenomenon.

The biggest winners? Courier companies. The ‘Big Four’ became sponsors of teleportation infrastructure in almost every major city across the globe. Offering federal governments to pick up most of the tab for building telepod stations meant that courier companies took over the role of public transport and 70% of all exports giving them enormous political influence. 1 out of 3 new tax hikes directly benefit the Big Four.

The world’s psyche changed too. Teleporting warped forever our perception of speed - and our patience. People quickly adapted to instant travel, instant delivery, and ‘not fast enough’ took on a whole new level of dissatisfaction. ‘Port rage’ – telepod services interrupted, late delivery of furniture or pizza more than 3 seconds past the advertised time - affects at least 1 in every 8 people in the U.S. And with teleporting eliminating messengers, bad news was taken out on whoever was present: colleagues, bystanders, but more often family.

Tele-theft has made people obsessive about protection. Magnetic shields are now standard in everything from houses to clutch purses, lest valuables be ’ported away by tele-thieves. The average household’s security system is closely patterned after the average prison where inmate ‘port outs’ are occasionally a problem.

Amidst all this, a strange new trend is emerging. Teens, ever eager to rebel, are beginning to walk – yes, walk - to school. Oddly enough, it’s the more developed cities with good telepod infrastructure where the phenomenon is most rampant. Tardiness ( but strangely not truancy) is up to record levels. These teens don’t want to skip class, they just don’t want to arrive on time. Unconfirmed reports tell of groups of teens getting together on weekends to run as far as 500 meters. 13 to 16-year olds are now going deep retro, restoring old mountain bikes and even skateboards.

It is a movement, in every sense of the word.

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