Futurology in the Past

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Yuli Ban
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Futurology in the Past

Post by Yuli Ban »

A relaunch of a more obscure thread, this is about how people in the past viewed and developed the future. Especially in the form of articles of developments we now take for granted (like the birth of the internet or the expectations of smartphones in the years to come circa 2000).

And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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Yuli Ban
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Re: Futurology in the Past

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The Long Boom:  A History of the Future, 1980 – 2020
We're facing 25 years of prosperity, freedom, and a better environment for the whole world. You got a problem with that?
A bad meme – a contagious idea – began spreading through the United States in the 1980s: America is in decline, the world is going to hell, and our children's lives will be worse than our own. The particulars are now familiar: Good jobs are disappearing, working people are falling into poverty, the underclass is swelling, crime is out of control. The post-Cold War world is fragmenting, and conflicts are erupting all over the planet. The environment is imploding – with global warming and ozone depletion, we'll all either die of cancer or live in Waterworld. As for our kids, the collapsing educational system is producing either gun-toting gangsters or burger-flipping dopes who can't read.
By the late 1990s, another meme began to gain ground. Borne of the surging stock market and an economy that won't die down, this one is more positive: America is finally getting its economic act together, the world is not such a dangerous place after all, and our kids just might lead tolerable lives. Yet the good times will come only to a privileged few, no more than a fortunate fifth of our society. The vast majority in the United States and the world face a dire future of increasingly desperate poverty. And the environment? It's a lost cause.
But there's a new, very different meme, a radically optimistic meme: We are watching the beginnings of a global economic boom on a scale never experienced before. We have entered a period of sustained growth that could eventually double the world's economy every dozen years and bring increasing prosperity for – quite literally – billions of people on the planet. We are riding the early waves of a 25-year run of a greatly expanding economy that will do much to solve seemingly intractable problems like poverty and to ease tensions throughout the world. And we'll do it without blowing the lid off the environment.
If this holds true, historians will look back on our era as an extraordinary moment. They will chronicle the 40-year period from 1980 to 2020 as the key years of a remarkable transformation. In the developed countries of the West, new technology will lead to big productivity increases that will cause high economic growth – actually, waves of technology will continue to roll out through the early part of the 21st century. And then the relentless process of globalization, the opening up of national economies and the integration of markets, will drive the growth through much of the rest of the world. An unprecedented alignment of an ascendent Asia, a revitalized America, and a reintegrated greater Europe – including a recovered Russia – together will create an economic juggernaut that pulls along most other regions of the planet. These two metatrends – fundamental technological change and a new ethos of openness – will transform our world into the beginnings of a global civilization, a new civilization of civilizations, that will blossom through the coming century.
Think back to the era following World War II, the 40-year span from 1940 to 1980 that immediately precedes our own. First, the US economy was flooded with an array of new technologies that had been stopped up by the war effort: mainframe computers, atomic energy, rockets, commercial aircraft, automobiles, and television. Second, a new integrated market was devised for half the world – the so-called free world – in part through the creation of institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. With the technology and the enhanced system of international trade in place by the end of the 1940s, the US economy roared through the 1950s, and the world economy joined in through the 1960s, only to flame out in the 1970s with high inflation – partly a sign of growth that came too fast. From 1950 to 1973, the world economy grew at an average 4.9 percent – a rate not matched since, well, right about now. On the backs of that roaring economy and increasing prosperity came social, cultural, and political repercussions. It's no coincidence that the 1960s were called revolutionary. With spreading affluence came great pressure from disenfranchised races and other interest groups for social reform, even overt political revolution.
Strikingly similar – if not still more powerful – forces are in motion today. The end of the military state of readiness in the 1980s, as in the 1940s, unleashed an array of new technologies, not the least of which is the Internet. The end of the Cold War also saw the triumph of a set of ideas long championed by the United States: those of the free-market economy and, to some extent, liberal democracy. This cleared the way for the creation of a truly global economy, one integrated market. Not half the world, the free world. Not one large colonial empire. Everybody on the planet in the same economy. This is historically unprecedented, with unprecedented consequences to follow. In the 1990s, the United States is experiencing a booming economy much like it did in the 1950s. But look ahead to the next decade, our parallel to the 1960s. We may be entering a relentless economic expansion, a truly global economic boom, the long boom.
Sitting here in the late 1990s, it's possible to see how all the pieces could fall into place. It's possible to construct a scenario that could bring us to a truly better world by 2020. It's not a prediction, but a scenario, one that's both positive and plausible. Why plausible? The basic science is now in place for five great waves of technology – personal computers, telecommunications, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and alternative energy – that could rapidly grow the economy without destroying the environment. This scenario doesn't rely on a scientific breakthrough, such as cold fusion, to feed our energy needs. Also, enough unassailable trends – call them predetermined factors – are in motion to plausibly predict their outcome. The rise of Asia, for example, simply can't be stopped. This is not to say that there aren't some huge unknowns, the critical uncertainties, such as how the United States handles its key role as world leader.
Why a positive scenario? During the global standoff of the Cold War, people clung to the original ideological visions of a pure form of communism or capitalism. A positive scenario too often amounted to little more than surviving nuclear war. Today, without the old visions, it's easy enough to see how the world might unravel into chaos. It's much more difficult to see how it could all weave together into something better. But without an expansive vision of the future, people tend to get short-sighted and mean-spirited, looking out only for themselves. A positive scenario can inspire us through what will inevitably be traumatic times ahead.
So suspend your disbelief. Open up to the possibilities. Try to think like one of those future historians, marveling at the changes that took place in the 40-year period that straddled the new millennium. Sit back and read through the future history of the world.
So naïve! So optimistic!
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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Yuli Ban
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Re: Futurology in the Past

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Bill Gates made these 15 predictions in 1999 — and it's scary how accurate he was
 
I'll give you a plain-text list. It's quite intriguing!
  • Price comparison sites
  • Mobile devices
  • Instant payments and financing online, better healthcare through the web
  • Personal assistants and the Internet of Things
  • Online home-monitoring
  • Social media
  • Automated promotional offers
  • Live sports discussion sites
  • Smart advertising
  • Links to sites during live TV
  • Online discussion boards
  • Interest-based online sites
  • Project-management software
  • Online recruiting
  • Business community software
Now for my comments that will determine just how impressive these predictions really are. I ought to preface this by saying that those who were expecting this to be worldshattering or examples of nigh-superhuman prescience would probably be disappointed to know that these sorts of predictions were somewhat commonly made in the '90s, especially during the Dot-Com boom-years.
The only one that really might be an exceptionally amazing call would have to be the Internet of Things and personalized ads. Even in the 2000s, it was not easy trying to pin down a year for when the IoT would become a thing. And the idea behind smart advertisements was more of a dystopian sci-fi concept, one that wouldn't even reach mainstream attention until three years later with Minority Report. Sure, many people believed it would eventually come true, but not for decades. And before pedants enter this thread to point out that the 2020s technically qualify as 'decades in the future', I mean something more like '2080s' and '2090s.' 
 
The predictions that disappoint me have to be the ones on mobile devices and online discussion boards. You can read the article, but they all list Gates' predictions as paragraphs of his statements, so it's easy for me to spoil it all by saying that he was merely predicting the usage of smartphones, not their sheer ubiquity. 
That would've been a much more impressive call, if he said that, within two decades, more than 75% of the American population would possess personal mobile computers
 
Likewise, his prediction on internet forums was a joke at best and pathetic waste of time at worst. Internet forums predate the World Wide Web— you can read Usenet posts dating back to 1981.  By the time he made this prediction, the earliest Usenet posts were old enough to vote.
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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Yuli Ban
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Re: Futurology in the Past

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Image
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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funkervogt
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Re: Futurology in the Past

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Yuli Ban wrote: Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:29 pm Bill Gates made these 15 predictions in 1999 — and it's scary how accurate he was
 
I'll give you a plain-text list. It's quite intriguing!
  • Price comparison sites
  • Mobile devices
  • Instant payments and financing online, better healthcare through the web
  • Personal assistants and the Internet of Things
  • Online home-monitoring
  • Social media
  • Automated promotional offers
  • Live sports discussion sites
  • Smart advertising
  • Links to sites during live TV
  • Online discussion boards
  • Interest-based online sites
  • Project-management software
  • Online recruiting
  • Business community software
Now for my comments that will determine just how impressive these predictions really are. I ought to preface this by saying that those who were expecting this to be worldshattering or examples of nigh-superhuman prescience would probably be disappointed to know that these sorts of predictions were somewhat commonly made in the '90s, especially during the Dot-Com boom-years.
The only one that really might be an exceptionally amazing call would have to be the Internet of Things and personalized ads. Even in the 2000s, it was not easy trying to pin down a year for when the IoT would become a thing. And the idea behind smart advertisements was more of a dystopian sci-fi concept, one that wouldn't even reach mainstream attention until three years later with Minority Report. Sure, many people believed it would eventually come true, but not for decades. And before pedants enter this thread to point out that the 2020s technically qualify as 'decades in the future', I mean something more like '2080s' and '2090s.' 
 
The predictions that disappoint me have to be the ones on mobile devices and online discussion boards. You can read the article, but they all list Gates' predictions as paragraphs of his statements, so it's easy for me to spoil it all by saying that he was merely predicting the usage of smartphones, not their sheer ubiquity. 
That would've been a much more impressive call, if he said that, within two decades, more than 75% of the American population would possess personal mobile computers
 
Likewise, his prediction on internet forums was a joke at best and pathetic waste of time at worst. Internet forums predate the World Wide Web— you can read Usenet posts dating back to 1981.  By the time he made this prediction, the earliest Usenet posts were old enough to vote.
Here are some other predictions Bill Gates made:

2015 TED Talk where he foresaw a pandemic like COVID-19


2015 interview where he criticized the wave of experts who were dismissing the threat of hostile AI.
I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the ... concerned/

The thing Elon Musk said
I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. Increasingly scientists think there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like yeah he’s sure he can control the demon. Didn’t work out.
https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/elon-musk ... telligence
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Yuli Ban
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Re: Futurology in the Past

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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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Yuli Ban
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Re: Futurology in the Past

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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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Yuli Ban
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Re: Futurology in the Past

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British kids in 1966 talking about what the future will be like
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
jordanpm
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Re: Futurology in the Past

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Exactly 50 years ago today the children's magazine 'World of Wonder' started a weekly series attempting to predict life in the future. Success was mixed. Here is a list of the first few weeks with photos of some of the pages. I've plenty more where these came from.

World of Wonder
No 77. 11th September 1971
  • Rooftop roadways
    Self-driving cars
    Heliports in city centres
    • Moving pavements
      Automated, voice operated domestic kitchens
      Holiday islands driven to the best current weather location
      Leisure centres combining multi-sports and cinema
No 78. 18th September 1971
  • 3D Holographic TV in 15 to 20 years
No 79. 25th September 1971
  • Clothing
    • With built-in Transistor radio
      Whiteboard wipe clean material
      Video playing helmet
      Massage helmet
      Built-in hot air heating
      Built-in seating stool
No 80
  • Mobile farms for use in areas where soil would be exhausted by continual use
    Hydroponic farms
No 81
  • Community air source heat pumps
No 82
  • Towing icebergs to provide fresh water
No 83
  • Living on the moon perhaps by year 2000beyond that journeys to others planets become commonplace
No 84
  • Jet packs
No 85
  • Satellite TV
    Local radio
    Video calls
    Print at home newspapers from held on central state run computers.
    Email
No 86
  • Emergency communications using ESP
    Automatic translation using ESP
No 87
  • Radio communication to transatlantic aircraft using mid ocean manned relay towers
No 88
  • Hydrofoil cargo ships so fast that perishables don’t need refrigeration
    Unloading high value cargo containers with helicopters
No 89
  • In car navigation using roadside radio beacons
No 90
  • Towing icebergs to provide fresh water (again)
No 91
  • Various pre-fab and dome houses but most current houses still in use


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Last edited by jordanpm on Sat Sep 11, 2021 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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