2010 Isn't What Many Futurists Of The Past Imagined
by Linton Weeks
October 18, 2010
The late visionary Arthur C. Clarke was a master of predictive fiction. In Clarke’s 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey — which he co-wrote with director Stanley Kubrick — we get a taste of the vast influence that computers will have in our lives over the coming decades.
The 1984 movie sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, was about — among other things — humans making contact with alien life. The year he chose for this breakthrough: 2010.
A two-man "sky taxi" jet pack developed by Textron's Bell Aerosystems.
Jet packs were supposed to be in our future.
Well, here we are. It's 2010 and no word from a Jovian moon yet. But it's only October.
Factories In Space
Glancing back, there are other predictions for 2010. Some have proved true. Others seem as ludicrous now as they did back when.
In 1983, the Science & Technology Agency in Tokyo polled 2,000 experts — university professors, government officials and business thinkers — in more than a dozen fields about 800 technological categories. The Japan Economic Journal reported on the results and what life in 2010 would be like "if all the new technologies and innovations actually materialize as planned."
Japanese seers got some things right. Ordinary households, according to the report, "would enjoy all kinds of information thanks to the development of digital communications networks."
They missed on a few things, too. "The three most pernicious adult diseases — cancer, cerebral apoplexy and heart ailments — would be conquered." We wish.
And the futurologists imagined the skies in 2010 alive with orbiting factories and experimental laboratories "floating around in space, producing new pharmaceuticals, alloys and other substances, taking full advantage of the absence of gravity." They also believed that satellites would generate power from solar rays to be used by earthlings.
Foresight Is 2020
What do you think the world will look like a decade from now?
Will we send avatars to the office so we can play mini-quidditch with friends? Will we be wearing iBands on our wrists that serve as phone, computer, gaming console, personal jukebox and more? Will we be eating deep-fried wine and drinking bacon-on-the-rocks?
Maybe in the future, everyone will be a futurist. What are your predictions about life in 2020? Feel free to predict in the comments section.
That was before the Challenger exploded in 1986, knocking space exploration — and exploitation — on its heels. Predictions are sometimes gang-tackled by actual events.
One key to divining trends or developments is to pay attention to "material that credibly contradicts what we think we know," says Erica Orange, a blogger for the World Future Society and vice president of the futurist consulting group Weiner, Edrich, Brown.