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January 2, 2011


H A P P Y   N E W   Y E A R!!

The New Year traditionally brings with it a flurry of prophesies, predictions and forecasts and I’m not about to mess with tradition. Well, maybe a little. What follows is a trip back to the future (and please excuse the cliche—it happens to be true this time). Read on . . .

In February of 1966 Time magazine printed an essay: “The Futurists: Looking Toward A.D. 2000”. They surveyed physical scientists, economists, sociologists, engineers and others to get a view of the future. Overall, the predictions were optimistic, foreseeing an era of “limitless change”  with man (they always use “man”) “not only in total control of his environment but of his own brain and his own  evolution.” Pretty heady stuff.
A surprising number of their predictions were spot on. By 2000 we would have “instant communications”. Marshall McLuhan predicted many people would work from home “…doing their work via countrywide telecommunications.” He just described the Internet and the world-wide web.
Others were wildly off the mark. McLuhan, again, and others predicted that “…both the wheel and the highway will be obsolete, giving way to hovercraft that ride on air…The new thing will be transport by ballistic rocket, capable of reaching any place on earth in 40 minutes.” Maybe they figured all we needed to do was replace the nuclear warheads of our ICBMs with passengers?
Here’s sampling of other predictions. First, the misses (they’re so much more

            • A permanent lunar base will have been established well before 2000
            • Men will have flown past Venus and landed on Mars
            • Huge fields of kelp will be tended by undersea “farmers”—frogmen who
               will live in submerged bunkhouses (I can imagine it: Every morning they
               saddle up their sea horses and head out, rounding up stray kelp,
               singing, “Oh, give me a home, where the great blue whales roam…”)
            • By changing the information in DNA,  man will  become the only animal  
that can direct his own evolution. (Actually, come to think of it, this one
may not be so far off .  . . )      
            • The kitchen of the future will be entirely automated.  The housewife
               (at least they don’t call her “the little woman”) will prepare the menu, “put
               the necessary food into the proper storage spaces, and feed her pro-
               gram to a small computer.” Mechanical arms will then take out the food,
               cooking and serving it.
            • Finally, and the prize for the worst prediction: By 2000, machines will be
               producing so much that everyone in the US will be independently
               wealthy. It was estimated that only 10% of the population will be
               working. (With the economy and unemployment the way they are, 
               that last figure may not be off, either.)
And now for the  hits (all three of them):
            • Artificial organs will be commonly available and there will be widespread
               transplanting of organs.
            • Control of personality will be widely accepted through the use of drugs.
               (Hello Prozac and all your cousins).
            • Robots will vacuum rugs, cut the grass.

You decide if this next one is a hit or a miss: We will be a pleasure-oriented
society full of “wholesome degeneracy”.  We are indeed pleasure-oriented and
there’s certainly enough degeneracy to go around. I just don’t know that I’d call it “wholesome”.

After I posted this AM, got this great 1954 photo from someone who mysteriously calls himself Multi-Niker. Fits right in with the theme, thanx!

And, last for this week, a drawing (sketch? whatsit?) I did some years ago while sitting thru a boring board meeting of the Seattle Education Association. The year is embedded—see if yo can find it. (Hint: It’s not hard.)


4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2011 6:05 pm

    >I predict that in 2066 I won't need to be typing this into a computer by hand. In fact, I probably will not have hands. My friend Hans will also be gone – look, no Hans! Keep those predictions coming, and the humor too.Multi-niker

  2. January 2, 2011 6:42 pm

    >How about Hans' good friend, Fitz? Hans and Fitz go together like Skittles and cottage cheese. And thanx for sending the great photo-I went back and put it in today's post.

  3. January 2, 2011 7:04 pm

    >A few weeks ago, I saw excerpts from an 80-year old New York Times article in which the paper asked leading thinkers of the day to prophesy what the world might be like in 2011. Their guesses were just as off the mark and surprisingly correct as the 1966 predictions:

  4. January 2, 2011 8:09 pm

    >Just checked out the site—thanx for the info. It was interesting that most of the prognosticators couched their forecasts in general, even vague, terms; very little specificity (and wise of them it was!). Ogburn was the only one who attempted to pin down specifics and, like the 1966 Time essay, had some hits and some misses. Good stuff.

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