Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Technology wipes out crime!
This short strip from Gang Busters #51, 1956, "The Detective of Tomorrow!" is prescient about advances in fighting crime, or even speeding motorists. Using a humanoid robot as a Photocop is cute for 1956, but in the Twenty-First Century the real Photocop is a camera designed to nab you in the act of speeding or going illegally through a red light.
The story, drawn by Ralph Mayo, is extrapolating based on technology known 55 years go, and is way too optimistic that crime will be eradicated by technology. What we have found is that technology can breed its own kind of criminal. We've also found that much technology is going through a period where society has to decide if its intrusiveness goes over the line from a right to privacy to protecting the public welfare. Like, I hate Photocop. If I'm nailed for speeding, let it be the old fashioned way, by a human cop.
An issue later, in Gang Busters #52, a public service announcement itself extrapolates the future. In this case 1976. Allergy sees himself hawking tickets on rocket ship rides. Tourism in space is still quite a ways off, although people like Sir Richard Branson are working on it. There is something special going on in the panel with the girl: a young woman has made a medical breakthrough, rare to show in the days of stay-at-home moms and few working professional women. She's communicating through what looks like a flat panel computer monitor. Now that's prescient. But then we get to the panel with Tom, who might "invent something for those big electronic machines." Uh, yeah, Tom, they're computers. If you want to work on them you should learn what they're called. He's also being congratulated by a Richard Nixon lookalike.