In the Comments section of this news.com story someone wrote: "I have heard that the US government has already mastered this technology and plans to use it for military purposes. They are going to use them in urban combat to tackle soldier fatigue."
There was a television advertisement some years ago now, showing a futuristic hover-craft type vehicle parking in a city street. The idea of something along these lines has been around for some time now and it seems as though technology is moving up to meet the theoretical ideas and with some prototypes.
There is another altogether different type of high-tech device that has also been in the news. This one is more about weaponry than ambulation, and is at present confined to the military.
The new US Navy's LaWS Raygun uses a laser beam, and has shown that it simply vaporises the target. And when fitted to the Navy's "R2-D2" robotic gun turret, it looks every bit like what you'd expect a raygun to look like, if you have ever read science fiction comics.
The question posed for this type of 'Buck Rogers' technology is: can we turn swords into ploughshares? In other words, how might such a system be converted into confined low-power energy 'guns' that could perhaps run a train, a truck, a suburban motor vehicle, using less energy than the current diesel, mains electric or internal combustion energy systems? Perhaps confined like current battery packages.
When today's cars, trains, electricity supply networks, telegraphs and the early telephones were in their infancy, and various methods of their development were being discussed, everyone laughed at some of the solutions and argued about the most efficient systems.
In the 1880s there were technical, financial and philosophical arguments about whether electricity would be best distributed by AC – alternating current – as advocated by Westinghouse and Telsa or DC – direct current – as advocated by Edison. AC won the day, being more efficient for longer distances and a wider range of uses.
When motor cars first roamed the streets, there were all types of engines – there had been 100,000 patents granted along the way to developing a useful, workable automobile system. There were steam engines, wood-fired engines, electric motors – you name it.
In the end, it was partly due to the entrepreneurship of Henry Ford and his cheaper methods of manufacture that helped the internal combustion engine to become the 'norm' – and partly the convenience of petrol as a fuel, being easy to transport, distribute and store. http://inventors.about.com/od/cstartinventions/a/Car_History.htm
But before motor cars, there had been a prediction that London could only grow to a limited size because of the speed at which the horse manure could be cleaned from the streets. If you could have mentioned motor vehicles to those residents who used their legs and their horses, they would have laughed you out of town!
And of course, we all know how Leonardo Da Vinci finely crafted his magnificent drawings, detailed plans and models of various types of machines; and that now we have the craftsmanship and theoretical knowledge to build them and make them work. And centuries after him, Jules Verne described such things as submarines in minute detail in his novels. They were laughed at then, too, as being flights of fancy.
More seriously, Charles Babbage (with the theoretical help of Ada Lovelace) never quite got his 'difference engine' (a computing-calculating machine) to work, and was regarded as a waster; and although we have never quite got one to work to his original specifications either, their ideas have proved to be sound and the principles were used to construct the first 'totes' that enabled fairer betting for the punters in the racing industry, and also in the early 'tills' used in shops everywhere.
These new ideas are creating a whole new world of opportunity. Where today's inventors have an advantage over those of previous generations is that, on the Internet, everyone can become a publisher, and there is a plethora of websites where people can share information and improve the practicality of their inventions.
They can share ideas legally by agreeing to licences such as 'creative commons' where copyright obligations can be modified to suit the needs of those who are collaborating on a project. When published, the whole wide world knows about 'stuff', with 3-dimensional diagrams and videos of the prototypes to add value to the descriptions.
Although, new ideas are not always welcomed. For example, the Luddites thought the machinery of the Industrial Revolution would take away peoples' traditional livelihoods – and in a way they were right.
However, new opportunities open up for new livelihoods, and in every age, where new ideas have come to the fore, Christians have adopted them and put them to good use in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Take for example the printing press and increasing ease of travel around the globe, and the way they have been used to spread the Word of the Lord.
Christians should rejoice, as every new thing creates a new idea for improving our capacity for evangelism. Perhaps your pastor will be able to visit you and your neighbours more often if he uses a hover-board.