Interesting question in from a reader:
"Do you think that we'll ever see technology give "Star Trek" stuff such as the ability to "beam" things, "replicators" and "holodecks"?
By the "we'll ever see" part of the question I'm assuming that the reader is setting a limit of a few decades on the question, rather than wondering if the technology will "ever" be possible.
So, will we see such things? In my opinion, no. Why? One word: Lawyers!
First off, beaming. Seriously. While no one can doubt that technology has made miraculous leaps, we still can't fab processors without errors, make LCD panels that never have stuck or frozen pixels, or even make an inkjet cartridge that doesn't clog. Would you really want your body disassembled, atom by atom, digitized (for want of a better word) and faxed to a different spot? Be my guest. You go first!
It's not gonna happen! One word kills it - Liability!
OK, what about replicators? Punch a few buttons into a gizmo and out pops a copy of whatever you want - a cup of tea, a book, a bucket of diamonds, a cat ...
Ummm, do you really think that "the man" would want a device that could make perfect copies of things. Anything. Corporations are heading in the other way at a frantic pace, trying their best to prevent you making copies of things. Also, the last thing any money making entity would want is a "replicator" because the first thing people would do is replicate the replicator and put the inventor out of business. And if the company took offense and sent the lawyers around with a "cease and desist," you'd be fine because you could just beam them all onto the sun - problem solved!
Holodecks ... what about them? Even if the technology existed (and didn't kill us or make us sterile or mutate out DNA is some way), the lawyers would be all over it. Imagine the copyright infringements you could carry out! Not only that, but once you'd stepped into a holodeck, you'd never want to leave. You'd conjure up a castle, an army, a harem and anything else you wanted, and stay there ... forever.
Sorry Star Trek fans, but it ain't gonna happen! Thoughts? Lawyer jokes? Post them in the TalkBack section!