The Hyperloop is down and I'm late for work

In a two-part piece of speculative fiction, Crave's Eric Mack envisions a not-too-distant future in which today's most anticipated emerging innovations have gone mainstream.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects, and CNET's "Living off the Grid" series Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack
3 min read
drone hyperloop future
Could this be how we commute in the future? Stephen Shankland/CNET

Editor's note: In this two-part piece of speculative fiction, Crave's Eric Mack envisions life in a world in which a number of emerging technologies and concepts that grabbed attention in 2013 have gone mainstream. Part one begins 10 (if you're an optimist) or maybe 20 years in the future, on the day a major scientific discovery is set to be announced.

It shouldn't be possible, but I'm running late. There's been a "depressurization event" on the Hyperloop line nearest the site of today's big test.

I could literally hear, see, and even feel the collective moans of the masses as the disappointing news came in on their Google Glass, iLens, or equivalent knockoff wearable displays this morning, causing an avalanche of similar visualized-emotion shares via bio-monitoring devices to the usual social-media channels -- Pinterest, Medium, MyTimberlake, and even a few from the senior set still on Facebook.

They all came with similar representations of ire, frustration, and jealousy, particularly from those directly along the malfunctioning southwestern HyperLine.

Maybe we should have stuck to self-driving cars... James Martin/CNET

On a normal day, I'd just pony up the extra cash to book one of Amazon's last-minute passenger drones using my PrimeAir account (air-dropping gifts was so popular after it launched that it was only a matter of time until the cousins started getting droned in for the holidays too), but since last week's direct-engagement hack that attempted to reroute some corporate bigwig to Siberia rather than Seattle, there's been a temporary "piloted planes only" order in effect for my air corridor.

With all my high-speed transport options out of commission for the day, I should be posting my own angry EEG GIF showing my brainwaves mashed up with some vintage footage from an old Dwayne Johnston flick, back before he was elected, before his groundbreaking presidency united the American and Canadian states (largely to allow for American drone fleets to better protect Arctic borders from polar pirates) and led to the annexation of Mexico, back when -- for some reason -- everyone simply called him "The Rock." Instead, I stroll to my car-port for a journey in an old friend of mine that doesn't get nearly enough attention since the Southwest Hyperline started service -- my early model Autonomous Tesla, a vehicle that is at once beautiful, fast, quiet, all-electric, and self-driving.

Sales of the self-drivers are down a bit, given how popular the HyperLines (Elon Musk was never afraid to cannibalize his own successes) and flying bicycle hover lanes have become, but I still consider myself a proud owner of an "Auto T," and find myself suddenly excited for this old-school road trip.

If I weren't in such a rush, with work to do on the way, I would have planned ahead to entertain a few guests or take in some old static TV shows (the kind where the ending was already determined and there was no way to give instant brainwave feedback to the cast) by myself on the windshield. While I love my Auto T, I should still take a moment to pay homage to the Auto-Googles that paved the way for it, even if they never made it out of beta after the company opted to focus more on its weird barge-related ventures.

But back to the mission at hand. I'm likely to be late for the first time in years, and even worse, there's no way I'll be able to do my exclusive interview in person. Since there's no way I'm going to let CNET (yep, still the same name after all these years) lose this scoop, it'll have to be done via avatar.

Read part two: Smart wig on and lightsaber packed, I visit the future