Cosmos’s 2025 Predictions

Cosmos’s 2025 Predictions

 

I have been thinking about the future of the world recently.  I read a lot of articles on Open Culture summing up the predictions of the future written by various SF writers.  Hence this blog posting.  I’ve included those comments below with my own comments afterwards.


Making American Sports Great Again

Reflections on the Passing of the Years

In  1945 when the Far East Asia Review was launched in Hong Kong they commissioned a study to predict how Asia would look like in 50 years in 1985.  In 1985 they reprinted that article. I wished I had saved it. But I recall the basic conclusionTon 1985 the most important countries in Asia would be

top five countries in Asia in 1985 according to FEER in 1945

Burma,

the Philippines,

India,

Indonesia

Malaysia.

If any one reading this has access to the original article, I’d greatly appreciate receiving a copy.  Send me a FB message or leave a comment on the blog….

UN list of top economies in Asia in 1950

Japan

Philippines

Taiwan

South Korea

Indonesia

China

Pakistan

India

Bangladesh

Burma

Comment:  this is an anachronist entry  Bangladesh did not exist when the original report was written.

the source is an historical look back at the rankings of economies in 1950 according to UN Statistics from 1950,  but edited with today’s spelling etc added in.

Curiously Singapore is not listed although one could just as easily make a case it should have been included if Bangladesh was included.   Hong Kong is also not listed separately.

South Korea was highly ranked but according to conventional wisdom at the time South Korea was considered a hopeless basket case heavily subsidized by the U.S.

1950 rankings

The World’s Top 10 Largest Economies in 2019
  • United States. Despite facing challenges at the domestic level along with a rapidly transforming global landscape, the U.S. economy is still the largest in the world with a nominal GDP forecast to exceed USD 21 trillion in 2019. …
  • China. …
  • Japan. …
  • Germany. …
  • United Kingdom. …
  • India. …
  • France. …
  • Italy.

top economies in Asia in 2019

u tube top ten asian economies in 2019

China

Japan

India

South Korea

Russia

Taiwan

Indonesia

 

 

Thailand

Hong Kong

Malaysia

Singapore

 

Philippines

Bangladesh

 

Vietnam

 

China would not be economic power house it is now and would not be communist country. Korea would be unified as would Vietnam.  Japan would not be the second largest economy in the region.  There would be no US troops in Korea, or Japan. The Korea war and the Vietnam war would not have occurred.

They missed the growth of the internet; the rise of consumer electronics and automobiles as major export products and they missed the rise of the East Asia tigers.

They felt that Asia would be a marginal factor in the world economy except for India, the Philippines and Burma.

They did for see the independence of India, but thought that Pakistan would be part of an unified India.  They missed completely the Chinese revolution and the rise of Taiwan.

They also foresaw the decolonization of Asia.

Most missed the rapid immigration of Asians to the US, and Canada.

The editors concluded that they got about 20 percent of it accurate.   they asked the original writers left to comment on what they were thinking, and how they got it so wrong.

With that sobering statistic in mind let’s turn to my predictions first, then look at the CIA predictions and finish with looking at what famous SF writers had to say.

But before I get to their comments,  I’d like to offer my own predictions for the year 2025.

Here there are my predictions for 2025.

And I hope to revisit this in 2025 to see how accurate I was.

I would like to see other predictions. Send them to me and I will revise this list accordingly.  let’s have an interactive conversation.  what do you think?  agree, disagree? have other predictions?  Send them to me, please and share them with my readers…

Korea is reunified, US troops return home except for marine security guards.

Climate Change is Out of Control but US finally gets serious

40 percent of energy produced worldwide is produced with renewables.  And that figure is rapidly increasing as both markets and governments finally begin to convert to a green energy economy. The West Coast is almost 100 percent there, and Kansas of all places is also close due to wind power.  Appalachia is lagging behind but King Coal is no longer King in Appalachia or Wyoming.  Cost of coal mining has just become too much.

Japan becomes the fifth economic power in the world down from number 2

China becomes the world’s largest economy, with India number 2 and the U.S. number 3.  Germany is number 4 and the UK is number 5.

the rest of the top ten are Brazil, South Africa, Russia, Mexico, and Italy.

  As an independent country California is number 4.  the West Coast Federation is number 3.  Texas is number 8. 

The EU after Brexit is disbanded.  A new European community called the European community emerges as a common market but with no central authority and no common currency.  The UK reluctantly re-joins the European community as does Canada.

Democrats sweep the 2020 elections – with a woman President and an Hispanic VP.  The house and Senate are under Democratic control, and half the States as well, the democrats are reelected in 2024 but loose the Senate. .

Trump leaves office but only after considerable pressure as he and his supporters refuse to concede the election until December.

The corrosive impact of Trumpism continues unabated. Trump and the Republicans vow to resist the incoming Democrats who they accuse of being dangerous socialists.  40 percent of the public believe that to the true, 60 percent are ready for the Democrats to restore democratic norms and reverse the worst Trumpian policies.  Trump becomes head of Fox News and remains influential in Republican circles.

A new epidemic of super bugs breaks out killing millions of people around the world

There is a nuclear terrorist incident in the U.S and in Europe

ISIS continues to cause global problems

right wing nationalist terror attacks are also common

bombings become common in the US.  Why that has not occurred is beyond me. Coordinated attacks on shopping malls and churches become increasingly common with gun men mowing down survivors and first responders.

gun violence continues but at much reduced rate as finally some gun laws are enacted including banning people on the no fly list from buying guns and universal background checks coupled with a week off cooling off period, and a yearly limit of ten guns per person.   California and other West Coast states now require a license to buy a gun.  The license is run by the hunting and fishing license division not the DMV.  the requirement to buy a gun include a clean record, no domestic violence history, passing a gun law test, demonstrating that one can fire the gun, and a simple statement as to why one wants to buy a gun.  and one has to buy personal liability insurance that covers you in case your gun is used in commission of a crime.  one can only be turned down if one fails the background check.  the essay is more to understand why people are buying guns but will only play a role in a denial if some one threatens to kill someone in the essay.

The national security state continues to grow in power and strength

There are 20 new states.    DC, PR, VI, Guam, and to appease Republicans, Illinois is split into Chicago, (with its suburbs) and Southern Illinois, New York split into NYC (with all the suburban areas) and New York State, and California is split into six new States,  Jefferson (NE California, eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington), Northwestern California, Sacramento Valley, San Francisco, Monterrey and the Central Coast, Los Angeles, San Diego which includes TJ, and the Inland Empire, the Indian nations receive state hood as well.

There are Four new regional governments that emerge.

One is the West Coast Alliance, and the Other is the East Coast Alliance.  Both came about in resistance to Trump and to solidify democratic votes. They are federations and the leaders are demanding a constitutional convention.  These two federations also contain Canadian provinces and Mexican provinces.

Texas declares itself to be a new federation and like the other three will stay in the US pending a constitutional convention.

The Southeast Alliance revives the old confederacy.

Civil war was narrowly avoided in the U.S. after the 2020 election, and the emergence of the four regional governments.

Resolving this conflict is the biggest issue in the 2022 midterms and the 2024 elections.

The constitutional convention is set for July 2025.

Mandatory public service has been established and all young people serve three years. In return they receive 4 years of free tuition.

Most US Troops have been returned and are stationed along the Southern Border where the troops serve as adjunct border patrol agents and first responders for natural disasters.

Marijuana is legal in all states. Cocaine is legal in 25 states.  Other drugs remain illegal.

Prostitution is legal in 25 states; trafficking is illegal everywhere .

Abortion is illegal is 30 states after the Supreme Court abolished Roe V Wade

Homosexuality is illegal in 30 states after the Supreme Court reverse earlier court cases.

Same sex marriage is illegal again in 30 states after the Supreme Court reverses earlier court cases.

Finally, there is a new sexual revolution that for the first time reveals that close to half of sexually active adults are now bisexual and oral sex is the number one sexual position. Demands to recognize plural marriages grow, as the west coast and east coast alliances recognize plural group marriages.

 A New norm has appeared called the California consensus.  It requires affirmative of sexual activity before commencing, woman take the lead in initiating sexual activity and either party can terminate consent by saying Stop at any point.  As a result of this change sexual harassment and sexual complaints become very rare.

The Pope ends celibacy for priests, and nuns and gets married.  He also allows nuns to be ordained as priests, cardinals and bishops.

Buddhist orders also end celibacy rules.

a new implant connecting people to the internet becomes the latest rage

driverless vehicles become common – DUI becomes very rare,  alcohol and drug uses increase 

contraceptive implants become widespread

First lunar colony launched

first contact with another civilization rocks the world

CIA  Predictions mostly On the Money

Now let’s look at the CIA predictions, shall we? As part of their global trends the CIA has been putting out assessments every couple of years.

 And they constantly go back and revisit them to see what they have gotten right and what they have gotten wrong.  I sat in on a panel discussion once with people from the agency where they discussed these global trend analyses. Fascinating stuff. The CIA has also hired thriller writers to participate in these threat analyses and many of the most famous thriller writers have been CIA consultants but they are forbidden from discussing their role with the CIA.  If the CIA is listening in, contact me I’d love to participate!

Overall I think they get most of it right.  I think though that they are downplaying the risks of climate change which threatens the entire world political economy and should have been addressed in much more detail.  Otherwise it seems that they spot on.

Executive Summary

Introduction: A Transformed World More Change than Continuity

Alternative Futures 1 3 3

Chapter 1: The Globalizing Economy Back to the Future

Growing Middle Class

State Capitalism: A Post-Democratic Marketplace Rising in the East?

Bumpy Ride in Correcting Current Global Imbalances

Multiple Financial Nodes

Diverging Development Models, but for How Long?

Chapter 2: The Demographics of Discord Populations Growing, Declining, and Diversifying—at the Same Time

The Pensioner Boom: Challenges of Aging Populations Persistent Youth Bulges

Changing Places: Migration, Urbanization, and Ethnic Shifts Demographic Portraits:

Russia, China, India, and Iran

Chapter 3: The New Players Rising Heavyweights: China and India

Other Key Players Up-and-Coming Powers

Global Scenario I: A World Without the West

Chapter 4: Scarcity in the Midst of Plenty?

The Dawning of a Post-Petroleum Age?

The Geopolitics of Energy Water, Food, and Climate Change

Global Scenario II: October Surprise

Chapter 5: Growing Potential for Conflict A Shrinking Arc of Instability by 2025?

Growing Risk of a Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East

New Conflicts Over Resources?

Terrorism: Good and Bad News

Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq: Local Trajectories and Outside Interests

Global Scenario III: BRICs’ Bust-Up

Chapter 6: Will the International System Be Up to the Challenges?

Multipolarity without Multilateralism How Many International Systems?

A World of Networks

Global Scenario IV: Politics is Not Always Local

Chapter 7: Power-sharing in a Multipolar World

Demand for US Leadership Likely to Remain Strong,

Capacities Will Shrink

New Relationships and Recalibrated Old Partnerships

Less Financial Margin of Error

More Limited Military Superiority

Surprises and Unintended Consequences

Leadership Will Be Key

Executive Summary The international system—as constructed following the Second World War—will be almost unrecognizable by 2025 owing to the rise of emerging powers, a globalizing economy, an historic transfer of relative wealth and economic power from West to East, and the growing influence of nonstate actors.

By 2025, the international system will be a global multipolar one with gaps in national power2 continuing to narrow between developed and developing countries. Concurrent with the shift in power among nation-states, the relative power of various nonstate actors—including businesses, tribes, religious organizations, and criminal networks—is increasing. The players are changing, but so too are the scope and breadth of transnational issues important for continued global prosperity.

Aging populations in the developed world; growing energy, food, and water constraints; and worries about climate change will limit and diminish what will still be an historically unprecedented age of prosperity.

Comment:  my biggest critique is the downplaying of Climate Change.  I believe that Climate change will by 2025 be one of the key driving factors in world politics due to the extreme weather patterns that emerge throughout the world.  Two to three Katrina like storms per year becomes the new norm and the Siberian express  in the shorter but much more intense and colder winters become the norm as well.

Historically, emerging multipolar systems have been more unstable than bipolar or unipolar ones. Despite the recent financial volatility—which could end up accelerating many ongoing trends—we do not believe that we are headed toward a complete breakdown of the international system, as occurred in 1914-1918 when an earlier phase of globalization came to a halt.

However, the next 20 years of transition to a new system are fraught with risks. Strategic rivalries are most likely to revolve around trade, investments, and technological innovation and acquisition, but we cannot rule out a 19th century-like scenario of arms races, territorial expansion, and military rivalries. This is a story with no clear outcome, as illustrated by a series of vignettes we use to map out divergent futures.

Although the United States is likely to remain the single most powerful actor, the United States’ relative strength—even in the military realm—will decline and US leverage will become more constrained. At the same time, the extent to which other actors—both state and nonstate—will be willing or able to shoulder increased burdens is unclear. Policymakers and publics will have to cope with a growing demand for multilateral cooperation when the international system will be stressed by the incomplete transition from the old to a still-forming new order.

Comment:  The U.S. will clearly be number 2 or 3 economically by then.  and number 5 in population. Still the most advance military in the world but with a much reduced global foot print. Instead of stationing troops overseas for extended deployments, most  troops will rotate as a unit for a six month deployment overseas during a three year military service.  Many troops will opt for a second tour  including an a second overseas deployment so that they can go through graduate school on the government dime. end comment

Economic Growth Fueling Rise of Emerging Players In terms of size, speed, and directional flow, the transfer of global wealth and economic power now under way—roughly from West to East—is without precedent in modern history. This shift derives from two sources. First, increases in oil and commodity prices have generated windfall profits for the Gulf states and Russia. Second, lower costs combined with government policies have shifted the locus of manufacturing and some service industries to Asia.

Growth projections for Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRICs) indicate they will collectively match the original G-7’s share of global GDP by 2040-2050. China is poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country. If current trends persist, by 2025 China will have the world’s second largest economy and will be a leading 2 National power scores, computed by the International Futures computer model, are the product of an index combining the weighted factors of GDP, defense spending, population, and technology. vii military power. It also could be the largest importer of natural resources and the biggest polluter. India probably will continue to enjoy relatively rapid economic growth and will strive for a multipolar world in which New Delhi is one of the poles.

China and India must decide the extent to which they are willing and capable of playing increasing global roles and how each will relate to the other. Russia has the potential to be richer, more powerful, and more self-assured in 2025 if it invests in human capital, expands and diversifies its economy, and integrates with global markets.

On the other hand, Russia could experience a significant decline if it fails to take these steps and oil and gas prices remain in the $50-70 per barrel range. No other countries are projected to rise to the level of China, India, or Russia, and none is likely to match their individual global clout.

We expect, however, to see the political and economic power of other countries—such as Indonesia, Iran, and Turkey—increase. For the most part, China, India, and Russia are not following the Western liberal model for self-development but instead are using a different model, “state capitalism.”

my prediction top 20 countries economically in 2025

China
India
US
Germany
Japan
UK
France
Italy
Unified Korea
Brazil
Russia
Mexico
South Africa
Saudi Arabia
Vietnam
Thailand
Indonesia
Nigeria
Canada
Australia

State capitalism is a loose term used to describe a system of economic management that gives a prominent role to the state.

Comment:  Glad that the writers recognized the obvious, many countries are following a different economic model as the old Washington consensus neo-economic models fall out of favor.  They got this right I think… I never accepted that there are universal economic laws that govern all countries regardless of history and culture.   I also believed that East Asian Capitalism is different from Anglo American capitalism, and European capitalism, and some what similar to Russian Capitalism.

the basis of East Asian capitalism is a sort of fascist system where corporations and governments work hand in hand to achieve economic and political goals designed to further the economic and political wealth of the country with the government being the senior partner.

So many American writers looking at East Asia write utter nonsense about the so called economic freedom of the societies.  The reality is anything but ….  the big companies dominate the economy, work with the government, and smaller companies and foreign invested companies are screwed over all the time.

End comment

Other rising powers—South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore—also used state capitalism to develop their economies. However, the impact of Russia, and particularly China, following this path is potentially much greater owing to their size and approach to “democratization.” We remain optimistic about the long-term prospects for greater democratization, even though advances are likely to be slow and globalization is subjecting many recently democratized countries to increasing social and economic pressures with the potential to undermine liberal institutions.

Many other countries will fall further behind economically. Sub-Saharan Africa will remain the region most vulnerable to economic disruption, population stresses, civil conflict, and political instability. Despite increased global demand for commodities for which Sub-Saharan Africa will be a major supplier, local populations are unlikely to experience significant economic gain. Windfall profits arising from sustained increases in commodity prices might further entrench corrupt or otherwise ill-equipped governments in several regions, diminishing the prospects for democratic and market-based reforms.

Although many of Latin America’s major countries will have become middle income powers by 2025, others, particularly those such as Venezuela and Bolivia that have embraced populist policies for a protracted period, will lag behind—and some, such as Haiti, will have become even poorer and less governable.

Overall, Latin America will continue to lag behind Asia and other fast-growing areas in terms of economic competitiveness. Asia, Africa, and Latin America will account for virtually all population growth over the next 20 years; less than 3 percent of the growth will occur in the West. Europe and Japan will continue to far outdistance the emerging powers of China and India in per capita wealth, but they will struggle to maintain robust growth rates because the size of their working-age populations will decrease. The US will be a partial exception to the aging of populations in the developed world because it will experience higher birth rates and more immigration.

The number of migrants seeking to move from disadvantaged to relatively privileged countries is likely to increase. viii the number of countries with youthful age structures in the current “arc of instability” is projected to decline by as much as 40 percent. Three of every four youth-bulge countries that remain will be located in Sub-Saharan Africa; nearly all of the remainder will be located in the core of the Middle East, scattered through southern and central Asia, and in the Pacific Islands.

New Transnational Agenda Resource issues will gain prominence on the international agenda. Unprecedented global economic growth—positive in so many other regards—will continue to put pressure on a number of highly strategic resources, including energy, food, and water, and demand is projected to outstrip easily available supplies over the next decade or so. For example, non-OPEC liquid hydrocarbon production—crude oil, natural gas liquids, and unconventional such as tar sands— will not grow commensurate with demand. Oil and gas production of many traditional energy producers already is declining.

Comment:  They are missing the rapid growth of renewable energy everywhere and leapfrogging  of technology in many countries as for example countries by pass land lines and go to 5 G (7 G by 2025). End Comment

Elsewhere—in China, India, and Mexico—production has flattened. Countries capable of significantly expanding production will dwindle; oil and gas production will be concentrated in unstable areas. As a result of this and other factors, the world will be in the midst of a fundamental energy transition away from oil toward natural gas, coal and other alternatives.

comment: at least they acknowledge the transition is happening. End comment

The World Bank estimates that demand for food will rise by 50 percent by 2030, as a result of growing world population, rising affluence, and the shift to Western dietary preferences by a larger middle class. Lack of access to stable supplies of water is reaching critical proportions, particularly for agricultural purposes, and the problem will worsen because of rapid urbanization worldwide and the roughly 1.2 billion persons to be added over the next 20 years.

Comment:  world population is slowing and our predictions are way out of date. End comment

Today, experts consider 21 countries, with a combined population of about 600 million, to be either cropland or freshwater scarce. Owing to continuing population growth, 36 countries, with about 1.4 billion people, are projected to fall into this category by 2025. Climate change is expected to exacerbate resource scarcities. Although the impact of climate change will vary by region, a number of regions will begin to suffer harmful effects, particularly water scarcity and loss of agricultural production. Regional differences in agricultural production are likely to become more pronounced over time with declines disproportionately concentrated in developing countries, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agricultural losses are expected to mount with substantial impacts forecast by most economists by late this century.

For many developing countries, decreased agricultural output will be devastating because agriculture accounts for a large share of their economies and many of their citizens live close to subsistence levels. New technologies could again provide solutions, such as viable alternatives to fossil fuels or means to overcome food and water constraints. However, all current technologies are inadequate for replacing the traditional energy architecture on the scale needed, and new energy technologies probably will not be commercially viable and widespread by 2025. The pace of technological innovation will be key. Even with a favorable policy and funding environment for biofuels, clean coal, or hydrogen, the transition to new fuels will be slow. Major technologies historically have had an “adoption lag.”

Comment:  insect based food especially protein powders will become part of daily food consumption. End comment

In the energy sector, a recent study found that it takes an average of 25 years for a new production technology to become widely adopted. ix Despite what are seen as long odds now, we cannot rule out the possibility of an energy transition by 2025 that would avoid the costs of an energy infrastructure overhaul.

Comment: oh it is really and happening baby. End comment

The greatest possibility for a relatively quick and inexpensive transition during the period comes from better renewable generation sources (photovoltaic and wind) and improvements in battery technology. With many of these technologies, the infrastructure cost hurdle for individual projects would be lower, enabling many small economic actors to develop their own energy transformation projects that directly serve their interests—e.g., stationary fuel cells powering homes and offices, recharging plug-in hybrid autos, and selling energy back to the grid. Also, energy conversion schemes—such as plans to generate hydrogen for automotive fuel cells from electricity in the homeowner’s garage—could avoid the need to develop complex hydrogen transportation infrastructure.

Comment: and the holly grail hydrogen fusion plants.   they also downplay geothermal and tidal power which I think will emerge as key elements in world energy production. End comment

Prospects for Terrorism, Conflict, and Proliferation Terrorism, proliferation, and conflict will remain key concerns even as resource issues move up on the international agenda.

Terrorism is unlikely to disappear by 2025, but its appeal could diminish if economic growth continues and youth unemployment is mitigated in the Middle East. Economic opportunities for youth and greater political pluralism probably would dissuade some from joining terrorists’ ranks, but others—motivated by a variety of factors, such as a desire for revenge or to become “martyrs”—will continue to turn to violence to pursue their objectives. In the absence of employment opportunities and legal means for political expression, conditions will be ripe for disaffection, growing radicalism, and possible recruitment of youths into terrorist groups.

Terrorist groups in 2025 will likely be a combination of descendants of long established groups—that inherit organizational structures, command and control processes, and training procedures necessary to conduct sophisticated attacks—and newly emergent collections of the angry and disenfranchised that become self-radicalized. For those terrorist groups that are active in 2025, the diffusion of technologies and scientific knowledge will place some of the world’s most dangerous capabilities within their reach.

One of our greatest concerns continues to be that terrorist or other malevolent groups might acquire and employ biological agents, or less likely, a nuclear device, to create mass casualties. Although Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons is not inevitable, other countries’ worries about a nuclear-armed Iran could lead states in the region to develop new security arrangements with external powers, acquire additional weapons, and consider pursuing their own nuclear ambitions. It is not clear that the type of stable deterrent relationship that existed between the great powers for most of the Cold War would emerge naturally in the Middle East with a nuclear-weapons capable Iran. Episodes of low-intensity conflict taking place under a nuclear umbrella could lead to an unintended escalation and broader conflict if clear red lines between those states involved are not well established.

We believe ideological conflicts akin to the Cold War are unlikely to take root in a world in which most states will be preoccupied with the pragmatic challenges of globalization and shifting global power alignments. The force of ideology is likely to be strongest in the Muslim world—particularly the Arab core. In those countries that are likely to struggle with youth bulges and weak economic underpinnings—such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Yemen—the radical Salafi trend of Islam is likely to gain traction. x

Comment: Why no mention of right wing white nationalism terrorism?  I think that the 2025 world will feature terrorism threats from both Islamic groups as well as white nationalist groups.  About equal in terms of impact.  I also foresee the development of white nationalist enclaves and cities in the mountain states and in the deep south.  End comment

Types of conflict we have not seen for a while—such as over resources—could reemerge. Perceptions of energy scarcity will drive countries to take actions to assure their future access to energy supplies. In the worst case, this could result in interstate conflicts if government leaders deem assured access to energy resources, for example, to be essential for maintaining domestic stability and the survival of their regimes. However, even actions short of war will have important geopolitical consequences.

Maritime security concerns are providing a rationale for naval buildups and modernization efforts, such as China’s and India’s development of blue-water naval capabilities. The buildup of regional naval capabilities could lead to increased tensions, rivalries, and counterbalancing moves but it also will create opportunities for multinational cooperation in protecting critical sea lanes. With water becoming scarcer in Asia and the Middle East, cooperation to manage changing water resources is likely to become more difficult within and between states.

The risk of nuclear weapon use over the next 20 years, although remaining very low, is likely to be greater than it is today as a result of several converging trends. The spread of nuclear technologies and expertise is generating concerns about the potential emergence of new nuclear weapon states and the acquisition of nuclear materials by terrorist groups. Ongoing low-intensity clashes between India and Pakistan continue to raise the specter that such events could escalate to a broader conflict between those nuclear powers.

The possibility of a future disruptive regime change or collapse occurring in a nuclear weapon state such as North Korea also continues to raise questions regarding the ability of weak states to control and secure their nuclear arsenals. If nuclear weapons are used in the next 15-20 years, the international system will be shocked as it experiences immediate humanitarian, economic, and political-military repercussions. A future use of nuclear weapons probably would bring about significant geopolitical changes as some states would seek to establish or reinforce security alliances with existing nuclear powers and others would push for global nuclear disarmament.

comment:  North Korea and South Korea will unify as a nuclear power much to the annoyance of the U.S., Japan, Russia and China.

the Saudis  and the Iranians will both become nuclear powers as perhaps Brazil and South Africa

and there is a 90 percent certainty that there will be a nuclear terrorist incident somewhere in the U.S. and in Europe before 2025. end comment

A More Complex International System

(Comment: a  bit Mr. Obvious to me. End comment)

The trend toward greater diffusion of authority and power that has been occurring for a couple decades is likely to accelerate because of the emergence of new global players, the worsening institutional deficit, potential expansion of regional blocs, and enhanced strength of nonstate actors and networks. The multiplicity of actors on the international scene could add strength— in terms of filling gaps left by aging post-World War II institutions—or further fragment the international system and incapacitate international cooperation. The diversity in type of actor raises the likelihood of fragmentation occurring over the next two decades, particularly given the wide array of transnational challenges facing the international community.

The rising BRIC powers are unlikely to challenge the international system as did Germany and Japan in the 19th and 20th centuries, but because of their growing geopolitical and economic clout, they will have a high degree of freedom to customize their political and economic policies rather than fully adopting Western norms. They also are likely to want to preserve their policy freedom to maneuver, allowing others to carry the primary burden for dealing with such issues as terrorism, climate change, proliferation, and energy security. xi Existing multilateral institutions—which are large and cumbersome and were designed for a different geopolitical order—will have difficulty adapting quickly to undertake new missions, accommodate changing memberships, and augment their resources.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—concentrating on specific issues—increasingly will be a part of the landscape, but NGO networks are likely to be limited in their ability to effect change in the absence of concerted efforts by multilateral institutions or governments. Efforts at greater inclusiveness—to reflect the emergence of the newer powers—may make it harder for international organizations to tackle transnational challenges. Respect for the dissenting views of member nations will continue to shape the agenda of organizations and limit the kinds of solutions that can be attempted.

Greater Asian regionalism—possible by 2025—would have global implications, sparking or reinforcing a trend toward three trade and financial clusters that could become quasi-blocs: North America, Europe, and East Asia. Establishment of such quasi-blocs would have implications for the ability to achieve future global World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements. Regional clusters could compete in setting trans-regional product standards for information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, intellectual property rights, and other aspects of the “new economy.”

On the other hand, an absence of regional cooperation in Asia could help spur competition among China, India, and Japan over resources such as energy. Intrinsic to the growing complexity of the overlapping roles of states, institutions, and nonstate actors is the proliferation of political identities, which is leading to establishment of new networks and rediscovered communities. No one political identity is likely to be dominant in most societies by 2025.

Comment:  they are missing the unification of Korea. End comment

Religion-based networks may be quintessential issue networks and overall may play a more powerful role on many transnational issues such as the environment and inequalities than secular groupings.

The United States: Less Dominant Power By 2025 the US will find itself as one of a number of important actors on the world stage, albeit still the most powerful one

duh

Even in the military realm, where the US will continue to possess considerable advantages in 2025, advances by others in science and technology, expanded adoption of irregular warfare tactics by both state and nonstate actors, proliferation of long-range precision weapons, and growing use of cyber warfare attacks increasingly will constrict US freedom of action.

A more constrained US role has implications for others and the likelihood of new agenda issues being tackled effectively. Despite the recent rise in anti-Americanism, the US probably will continue to be seen as a much-needed regional balancer in the Middle East and Asia. The US will continue to be expected to play a significant role in using its military power to counter global terrorism.

On newer security issues like climate change, US leadership will be widely perceived as critical to leveraging competing and divisive views to find solutions. At the same time, the multiplicity of influential actors and distrust of vast power means less room for the US to call the shots without the support of strong partnerships. Developments in the rest of the world, including internal developments in a number of key states—particularly China and Russia—are also likely to be crucial determinants of US policy. xii 2025—

What Kind of Future? The above trends suggest major discontinuities, shocks, and surprises, which we highlight throughout the text. Examples include nuclear weapons use or a pandemic. In some cases, the surprise element is only a matter of timing: an energy transition, for example is inevitable; the only questions are when and how abruptly or smoothly such a transition occurs.

An energy transition from one type of fuel (fossil fuels) to another (alternative) is an event that historically has only happened once a century at most with momentous consequences. The transition from wood to coal helped trigger industrialization. In this case, a transition—particularly an abrupt one—out of fossil fuels would have major repercussions for energy producers in the Middle East and Eurasia, potentially causing permanent decline of some states as global and regional powers. Other discontinuities are less predictable. They are likely to result from an interaction of several trends and depend on the quality of leadership.

We put uncertainties such as whether China or Russia becomes a democracy in this category. China’s growing middle class increases the chances but does not make such a development inevitable. Political pluralism seems less likely in Russia in the absence of economic diversification.

Pressure from below may force the issue, or a leader might begin or enhance the democratization process to sustain the economy or spur economic growth. A sustained plunge in the price of oil and gas would alter the outlook and increase prospects for greater political and economic liberalization in Russia. If either country were to democratize, it would represent another wave of democratization with wide significance for many other developing states. Also uncertain are the outcomes of demographic challenges facing Europe, Japan, and even Russia. In none of these cases does demography have to spell destiny with less regional and global power an inevitable outcome.

Technology, the role of immigration, public health improvements, and laws encouraging greater female participation in the economy are some of the measures that could change the trajectory of current trends pointing toward less economic growth, increased social tensions, and possible decline.

Whether global institutions adapt and revive—another key uncertainty—also is a function of leadership. Current trends suggest a dispersion of power and authority will create a global governance deficit. Reversing those trend lines would require strong leadership in the international community by a number of powers, including the emerging ones. Some uncertainties would have greater consequences—should they occur—than would others.

In this work, we emphasize the overall potential for greater conflict—some forms of which could threaten globalization. We put WMD terrorism and a Middle East nuclear arms race in this category. The key uncertainties and possible impacts are discussed in the text and summarized in the textbox on page vii. In the four fictionalized scenarios, we have highlighted new challenges that could emerge as a result of the ongoing global transformation. They present new situations, dilemmas, or predicaments that represent departures from recent developments. As a set, they do not cover all possible futures.

None of these is inevitable or even necessarily likely; but, as with many other uncertainties, the scenarios are potential game-changers. •

For the rest see their web site

https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/94769/2008_11_global_trends_2025.pdf

Nostradamus predictions for 2019

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Nostradamus’ prophecies foresee that 2019 is going to be a year of justice, and earthquakes and hurricanes will be possible in many states of America (Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, but also Texas), especially in the Earth months of the year (January, April, July, and October).

The year lacks financial prosperity, but this only encourages us to design strategies that could improve things. Like stated in the 2019 horoscopes , it is indicated to work harder, it is necessary to adopt new strategies, to avoid taking risks and to be well informed, but also to attract prosperity using the right remedies.

Socially, we will more open, we will socialize more and we will extend our circle of friends very carefully though because the flower of outside love can bring a third person in, who can destabilize the couple.

The stock market is going to be more profitable in the summer and especially in the fall months and 2019 is going to be a year of new discoveries health-wise, a year that encourages us to be more careful about any possible issues related to heart and circulatory system, stomach, pancreas and this is why it is recommended to take into consideration a balanced diet and relaxing activities, but also to avoid sleeping in the west sector (especially the pregnant women and the elders) and stress.

Over the last decade, the global economic crisis had a strong impact in Europe, but also in certain regions of the US. European Union helped many countries to deal with the economic difficulties and to set the foundation of the so-called “bank union” in order to make the banking sector more secure and reliable.

Over the course of three years, Nostradamus has written over 900 of quatrains and centuries in which he foretold the future. In these works, Nostradamus presages the future of the world, 70% of them being fulfilled to date.

He predicted Napoleon’s reign, the World War II, the rise of Hitler, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the moon landing. In one of the quatrains, Nostradamus talks about the “sky on fire”, “the new city”, “huge lightning” and “two brothers torn apart by chaos”.

Many scientists who have analyzed this quatrain concluded that it talks about the 9/11/01 attacks.

Nostradamus Predicted the Notre Dame Fire

The dreadful Notre Dame Fire in Paris on Monday 15th April at 5.50pm local time, was predicted by Nostradamus. A quatrain written 500 years ago by the French astrologer anticipated it.

“The head of Aries, Jupiter and Saturn,
God eternal, what changes can be expected?
Following a long century, evil will return
France and Italy, what emotions will you undergo?”

Given that Nostradamus was writing in the mid 1500’s, his use of the word ’emotions’ is bizarre, not only because as we saw earlier, Macron used it – but also because UNESCO used it too. This are the words from Twitter:

“Notre-Dame is engulfed with flames. Emotion of the whole nation. Thoughts are with Catholics and all the French. Like all citizens, I am sad to see this part of us burn.”

“Deep emotion in the face of this dramatic fire at the cathedral.”

Also, Macron declared:

“We will rebuild Notre-Dame because that’s what the French people want,” said Macron, who was visibly moved. “That’s what our history deserves, because that is our destiny.”

 April 15 is a black day, a day that marks many sad and unfortunate events. Things that have happened on April 15:

  • The Titanic sank – 1912
  • Lincoln died – 1865
  • Boston marathon bombings 2013
  • Notre Dame burned – 2019

Comment:  Kim Il Sung and Hitler were both born on April 15.   The US Foreign Service evaluation system has a April 15th deadline as well.  Coincidence?  I think not….End Comment

Here are Nostradamus predictions for 2019:

  1. 1. According to Nostradamus’s quatrains, in 2019, some European countries will deal with floods of extraordinary magnitude. Among others, the countries that will suffer the most damage are Hungary, Italy, the Czech Republic, but also Great Britain.
  2. Globally, both the European countries and the US will deal with issues regarding not only the dilemma of managing the immigration but also with the increased number of terrorist attacks.
  3. According to Nostradamus’s prophecies, the increased religious extremism in the Middle East and in different countries and regions of the world will lead to disorder and wars, which will force many people to leave their country and to try and find refuge in Europe.

“From a place though to bring famine
From here will come relief.
The eye of the sea like a greedy dog,
For the one shall give oil and the other wheat.”

 

Here, the text doesn’t refer to organic famine, but to a spiritual famine, considering the migration of so many Christians to other religions and sects, out of the desire to know the religious truth.

It is about the spiritual hunger. The sea of people will decide to embrace Christianity.

  1. Nostradamus predicts that the climate changes will continue to affect the planet, and the political leaders will come to an agreement regarding the reduction of air pollutant emissions.

“We shall see the water rising, and the earth falling under it” portended the prophet for 2019.

  1. 5. The climate changes are common, and the hurricanes that will occur in different regions of America will shape the dreary landscape described by Nostradamus. There will be many category 1 hurricanes, which will hit the US during 2019, bringing winds of 40 mph.

The Americans living in Florida, Texas and New Orleans must be prepared to face the bad weather. As Andrew Como, the Governor of New York, also declared:

“Extreme weather is a reality. We face storms of an unseen severity”. The global warming will cause many armed conflicts. Through a strategic move, China will become the new world leader.

  1. World War III will involve two superpowers and will last 27 years. It is believed that World War III will start after the death of the last Pope (the one that will follow after the death of Pope Benedict XVI), who will be assassinated by the antichrist.

“Mount Aventine will be seen to burn at night:
The sky very suddenly dark in Flanders:
When the monarch will chase his nephew,
Then Church people will commit scandals.”

 

Here it could be a reference to Saint Aventine, who is considered the protector of those who suffer from mental illnesses, but also Aventine, one of the Seven Hills of Rome.

 

Also, a (total) Sun eclipse will occur on July 23 of 2019, which is possible to mark the beginning of the disaster that will envelop the Catholic Church, but also all others Christian churches.

Comment:  mark you calendars!!!! End comment

The assassination of the leader of the Catholic Church will bring chaos all over the world, and this event will take place in the following period.

  1. The people from the USA must get ready for the “Big Earthquake”. With a length of more than 500 miles, the subduction area covers the entire distance between California, US and Vancouver Island, Canada.
    Here, two tectonic plates meet, and one slides beneath the other (subduction) slowly but surely. If only an area from Cascadia slips, the magnitude of the earthquake will be between 8.0 and 8.6 degrees on the Richter scale.
    If the entire cleft splits open, we will witness an earthquake of 8.7 to 9.2 degrees, “The Big Earthquake”. In that region, 225,000 square miles will be unrecognizable. From Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital of Oregon), to Olympia (the capital of Washington). Over 7.000.000 people live in that area.
    They will be affected by the greatest natural disaster in the history of UnitedStates.
  2. The prophet also predicted that people will be able to speak to animals. He claimed that the animals will be closer and more loyal to people than their fellow men.

“The pigs will become brothers to man”, wrote the prophet for 2019. Some think this means that the humans will stop scarifying animals. Others believe this means that the technology will allow us to talk to animals.

  1. Medicine will advance a lot. New discoveries will help extend people’s lives. Those who read Nostradamus prophecies claim he predicted that people will get to live up to 200 years.

Also, “After a new engine will appear, the world will be as in the days before Babel.” Many believe that the engine he refers to is the Internet and that the technology will eventually create a new global language. Others say it is about the social networks that continue to develop every day.

Nostradamus – Bio, Facts

As e medic fascinated by occultism, Nostradamus risked provoking the wrath of the Catholic Church when he predicted the future for the next twenty centuries. Was he a true visionary or maybe his legendary accuracy is just a myth amplified by time?

The short and lively individual, with a long and thick beard, was a freak of nature at the Renaissance Court of king Henry the Second of France. Being known as the son of converted Jews, passionate by astrology and other occult sciences, Nostradamus was invited to Paris in 1556 mostly as a source of entertainment.

But his prophecies about the king will bring him international fame. One of these seemed to be true, but absurd nonetheless, suggesting that a “blind man” will soon become king. Another one, cryptic and interpretable in its nature: “The young lion will defeat the older one on the battlefield, in a single fight.

It will pierce his eyes in the golden cage, two wounds in one, and then he will suddenly pass away.”

On June 1st, 1559 when the king was taking part in a tournament, by accident, the lance of his friend, who was his adversary, pierced the royal golden helmet and continued into his eye. The horrified culprit, Count of Montgomery, was younger than the sovereign.

A splinter from the broken weapon caused a secondary injury, and the king suffered greatly for ten days straight, after which he passed away.

The words of Nostradamus were duly remembered. Because of their strong opposition against magicians and wizards, the leaders of the Romano-Catholic Church would have preferred to burn this dangerously exact prophet alive.

The peasants, on the belief that the prediction was actually a curse, burned him in effigy. Only due to the now widowed queen, Caterina de Medici, did he manage to avoid execution.

Secluded in shadow

Being on the brink of civil war, France represented an ideal environment for the dark and cryptic prophecies of Nostradamus, published in 1555 – the first 100 out of the almost 2000 which he will release until 1557.

These Belts were immediately successful and so represented the grounds for the author’s acceptance in Court.

Recognizing that he intentionally went for a “cryptic way of expression”, Nostradamus wrote in an obscure language, originating from his contemporary French, but full of Italian, Greek, Hebrew and Latin phrases and words.

Each prediction was made of four verses, a quatrain, but none resembled a poem. The visionary claimed this style defended him from the punishment of the powerful, who weren’t exactly delighted by his words.

Some of the more skeptical observants agree on the fact that the vague style is consciously adopted so as to develop open for interpretation pieces of writing. As a result, there probably are almost 400 different interpretations of the Belts, each of them trying to reveal the secrets of the prophecies dating to 3797.

Nostradamus becomes a royal councilor

On the grounds of the internal disturbances, many people in France, like queen Ekaterina, didn’t feel the need to have history confirm the words of the medic. His prediction regarding the death of her husband was sufficient.

Without any shadow of doubt, she stands behind his promotion as leading medic of her son, Carol IX.

According to a well-known tale, Nostradamus once called for an angel, named Anael, and asked him to use a magic mirror and reveal to him the fate of the queen’s children. The mirror had showed the three sons as rulers, but only temporary, while her disgraced son in law, Henric de Navarra, was bound to rule for 23 years. Scared, the queen demanded the finalization of that unpleasant show.

Actually, Nostradamus probably visited her in Court only to create the horoscope for her and the children. It’s highly likely that Nostradamus was capable enough to envelop his unpleasant visions in ambiguous phrases, given the fact that monarchs – no matter how kind initially presented themselves to clairvoyants – were renowned for punishing the messengers because of their message.

Predicting a bloody century

For many interprets of Nostradamus’ Belts, the text is full of prophecies regarding extremely violent contemporary events – from the rising of Hitler to power, to the assassination of both John F. Kennedy and his little brother, Robert.

In Germany people strongly believed in the sayings regarding the Third Reich. Actually, both in England and in Germany, they falsified a series of quatrains, thus making them more favorable to their cause, and threw them from an airplane as means propaganda.

On the other hand, one of his authentic quatrains was considered by many to be the foreteller of the war: “A live fire and death hidden in globes will be horribly unleashed. By nightfall, the enemy forces will obliterate the entire city.”

The interest manifested towards the renaissance prophet was reborn following the dramatic events in Iran, when the Shah was banished by the followers of the ayatollah Khomeini, who had been previously exiled in France.

According to a translation, Nostradamus wrote: “Rain, famish, and war will not cease in Persia. A belief too strong will betray the monarch. What began in France will finish there, a secret sign will be put away.

“An accurate prediction or an altered interpretation? Could it provide credibility to another prophecy meant to come true in the future, one of the few with a precise date?”

He announced his own death

One of the biggest poets of France, Pierre de Ronsard, wrote about his contemporary: “Like an antique oracle, for many years he predicted a large part of our destiny.” Obviously, the prophet dwelled in the respect of the royal family and an increasing fame, up until his death, in 1566.

Inevitable, many remained extremely skeptical regarding his work, or worse, they thought he was a simple intelligent con man who took advantage of the credulous.

Per some researchers, Nostradamus even predicted his own death: “Beside the bench and bed I will be found dead.” After which, one evening he announced he will not survive the following night, he died because of his gout and was found cold the next morning in the bedroom, beside his working table.

 SF Writers Predict the Future – with Mixed Accuracy

 And let’s look at the predictions made by SF writers over the years.  Open Culture recently collected a number of such predictions.

Jules Verne Accurately Predicts What the 20th Century Will Look Like in His Lost Novel, Paris in the Twentieth Century (1863)

in Sci Fi | January 25th, 2016 Leave a Comment

Science fiction, they say, doesn’t really deal with the future; it uses the setting of the future as a way to deal with the present. That would explain all the standard preposterous tropes you regularly see in the genre’s less gracefully aging novels and films: jetpacks, flying cars, holo-phones, that sort of thing. So when you look into sci-fi’s back pages and do come across the occasional accurate or even semi-accurate prediction of the future — that is, an accurate prediction of our present — it really jumps out at you. Many such predictions have jumped out at readers from the pages of Jules Verne’s lost second novel, Paris in the Twentieth Century.

Originally written in 1863 but not published until found at the bottom of a vault in 1994, the book’s scorecard of seemingly bang-on elements of the then-future include the explosion of suburban living and shopping and large-scale higher education; career women; synthesizer-driven electronic music and a recording industry to sell it; ever more advanced forms of ever cruder entertainment; cities of elevator-equipped, automatically surveilled skyscrapers electrically illuminated all night long; gas-powered cars, the roads they drive on, and the stations where they fill up; subways, magnetically-propelled trains, and other forms of rapid transit; fax machines as well as a very basic internet-like communication system; the electric chair; and weapons of war too dangerous to use.

You may sense that the young Verne did not see the future, which takes its form in the novel of Paris in 1960, as a utopia. In fact, he went a little too far in using the setting and its story of an artistic soul adrift in a culturally dead, progress-worshiping technocracy to express his own anxieties about the 19th century and its rise of conglomeration, automation, and mechanization — or so thought his publisher, who believed the book’s bleak predictions, even if accurate, would fail to win over the common reader. “My dear Verne,” he wrote in his rejection letter to the author, “even if you were a prophet, no one today would believe this prophecy… they simply would not be interested in it.”

But over 150 years later, the predictions of Paris in the Twentieth Century do interest us, or at least those of us who wonder whether we’ve handed too much of our humanity over to the realms of technology, finance, and entertainment. Even if Richard Bernstein, reviewing the novel in The New York Times when it finally saw publication, found its satire “weak, innocent and adolescent in light of what actually happened in the 20th century,” it has given us more than ever to talk about today. To get in on the conversation, have a listen to the episode of the Futility Closet podcast on the book just above. Do you think Verne accurately foresaw our current condition — or does his dystopia still lie in wait?

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Mark Twain Predicts the Internet in 1898: Read His Sci-Fi Crime Story, “From The ‘London Times’ in 1904”

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Mark Twain Predicts the Internet in 1898: Read His Sci-Fi Crime Story, “From The ‘London Times’ in 1904”

in Literature, Sci Fi | November 11th, 2014

Most people know that Mark Twain wrote about Jim and Huckleberry Finn navigating down the Mississippi. Less well known is that he occasionally dabbled in the burgeoning genre of science fiction. His 1898 short story “The Great Dark” is about a ship that sails across a drop of water on a microscope slide. His novel Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is one of the first to explore time travel. And, in a short story called “From The ‘London Times’ in 1904,” Twain predicted the internet. In 1898. Read it here.

Set five years into the future, the story starts off as a crime mystery. Clayton, a quick-tempered army officer, is accused of murdering Szczepanik, the inventor of a new and promising device called the Telelectroscope. The tale’s unnamed narrator describes it like this:

As soon as the Paris contract released the telelectroscope, it was delivered to public use, and was soon connected with the telephonic systems of the whole world. The improved ‘limitless-distance’ telephone was presently introduced and the daily doings of the globe made visible to everybody, and audibly discussable too, by witnesses separated by any number of leagues.

That sounds a lot like social media. Mark Twain dreamed up Twitter and Youtube during the Grover Cleveland administration.

Facing the hangman’s noose, Clayton asks for, and receives, a telelectroscope for his cell. As the narrator describes Clayton’s telelectroscopic revelry, it sounds uncannily like a bored cubicle dweller surfing the web at work.

…day by day, and night by night, he called up one corner of the globe after another, and looked upon its life, and studied its strange sights, and spoke with its people, and realized that by grace of this marvelous instrument he was almost as free as the birds of the air, although a prisoner under locks and bars. He seldom spoke, and I never interrupted him when he was absorbed in this amusement. I sat in his parlor and read, and smoked, and the nights were very quiet and reposefully sociable, and I found them pleasant. Now and then I would hear him say ‘Give me Yedo;’ next, ‘Give me Hong-Kong;’ next, ‘Give me Melbourne.’ And I smoked on, and read in comfort, while he wandered about the remote underworld, where the sun was shining in the sky, and the people were at their daily work.

The story itself is an admittedly minor work by the master of American fiction. In its last third, the story abruptly turns into a surprisingly sour satire about the sad state of our legal system. As Clayton is getting marched to the gallows, the narrator spots the guy Clayton supposedly murdered on the telelectroscope screen, standing in a crowd for the coronation of the new “Czar” of China. Even though no crime took place, Clayton is still sentenced to hang.

“From The ‘London Times’ in 1904” contains two long-running themes in Twain’s work and life. One is the absurdity of the courts – see, for example “The Facts in the Great Landslide Case.”

And the other is a fascination with technology. In spite of his folksy image, he was, as they say now, an early adopter. He was the first in his neighborhood to get a telephone. He may or may not have been the first major author to use a typewriter to write a novel. He lost his shirt investing in a Victorian-era start up hawking an exceedingly complex printing press called the Paige Compositor. And he allowed himself to be filmed by Thomas Edison in 1909, a year before his death.

One wonders what he would have thought of his telelectroscope in action.

Note: The character Szczepanik mentioned above was clearly named after a Polish inventor, Jan Szczepanik, who talked about creating a “telectroscope,” in the late 19th century.  However, if you read a report in The New York Times in 1898, it becomes apparent that Szczepanik’s “telectroscope” wasn’t as visionary as what Twain had in mind.

Aldous Huxley Predicts in 1950 What the World Will Look Like in the Year 2000

 

I’ve been thinking lately about how and why utopian fiction shades into dystopian. Though we sometimes imagine the two modes as inversions of each other, perhaps they lie instead on a continuum, one along which all societies slide, from functional to dysfunctional. The central problem seems to be this: Utopian thought relies on putting the complications of human behavior on the shelf to make a maximally efficient social order—or of finding some convenient way to dispense with those complications. But it is precisely with this latter move that the trouble begins. How to make the mass of people compliant and pacific? Mass media and consumerism? Forced collectivization? Drugs?

Readers of dystopian fiction will recognize these as some of the design flaws in Aldous Huxley’s utopian/dystopian society of Brave New World, a novel that asks us to wrestle with the philosophical problem of whether we can create a fully functional society without robbing people of their agency and independence. Doesn’t every utopia, after all, imagine a world of strict hierarchies and controls? The original—Thomas More’s Utopia—gave us a patriarchal slave society (as did Plato’s Republic). Huxley’s Brave New World similarly situates humanity in a caste system, subordinated to technology and subdued with medication.

While Huxley’s utopia has eradicated the nuclear family and natural human reproduction—thus solving a population crisis—it is still a society ruled by the ideas of founding fathers: Henry Ford, H.G. Wells, Freud, Pavlov, Shakespeare, Thomas Robert Malthus. If you wanted to know, in the early 20th century, what the future would be like, you’d typically ask a famous man of ideas. Redbook magazine did just that in 1950, writes Matt Novak at Paleofuture; they “asked four experts—curiously all men, given that Redbook was and is a magazine aimed at women—about what the world may look like fifty years hence.”

One of those men was Huxley, and in his answers, he draws on at least two of Brave New World’s intellectual founders, Ford and Malthus, in predictions about population growth and the nature of work. In addition to the ever-present threats of war, Huxley first turns to the Malthusian problems of overpopulation and scarce resources.

During the next fifty years mankind will face three great problems: the problem of avoiding war; the problem of feeding and clothing a population of two and a quarter billions which, by 2000 A.D., will have grown to upward of three billions, and the problem of supplying these billions without ruining the planet’s irreplaceable resources.

As Novak points out, Huxley’s estimation is “less than half of the 6.1 billion that would prove to be a reality by 2000.” In order to address the problem of feeding, housing, and clothing all of those people, Huxley must make an “unhappily… large assumption—that the nations can agree to live in peace. In this event mankind will be free to devote all its energy and skill to the solution of its other major problems.”

“Huxley’s predictions for food production in the year 2000,” writes Novak, “are largely a call for the conservation of resources. He correctly points out that meat production can be far less efficient than using agricultural lands for crops.” Huxley recommends sustainable farming methods and the development of “new types of synthetic building materials and new sources for paper” in order to curb the destruction of the world’s forests. What he doesn’t account for is the degree to which the overwhelming greed of a powerful few would drive the exploitation of finite resources and hold back efforts at sustainable design, agriculture, and energy—a situation that some might consider an act of war.

But Huxley’s utopian predictions depend upon putting aside these complications. Like many mid-century futurists, he imagined a world of increased leisure and greater human fulfillment, but he “sees that potential for better working conditions and increased standards of living as obtainable only through a sustained peace.” When it comes to work, Huxley’s forecasts are partly Fordist: Advances in technology are one thing, but “work is work,” he writes, “and what matters to the worker is neither the product nor the technical process, but the pay, the hours, the attitude of the boss, the physical environment.”

To most office and factory workers in 2000 the application of nuclear fission to industry will mean very little. What they will care about is what their fathers and mothers care about today—improvement in the conditions of labor. Given peace, it should be possible, within the next fifty years, to improve working conditions very considerably. Better equipped, workers will produce more and therefore earn more.

Unfortunately, Novak points out, “perhaps Huxley’s most inaccurate prediction is his assumption that an increase in productivity will mean an increase in wages for the average worker.” Despite rising profits and efficiency, this has proven untrue. In a Freudian turn, Huxley also predicts the decentralization of industry into “small country communities, where life is cheaper, pleasanter and more genuinely human than in those breeding-grounds of mass neurosis…. Decentralization may help to check that march toward the asylum, which is a threat to our civilization hardly less grave than that of erosion and A-bomb.”

While technological improvements in materials may not fundamentally change the concerns of workers, improvements in robotics and computerization may abolish many of their jobs, leaving increasing numbers of people without any means of subsistence. So we’re told again and again. But this was not yet the pressing concern in 2000 that it is for futurists just a few years later. Perhaps one of Huxley’s most prescient statements takes head-on the issue facing our current society—an aging population in which “there will be more elderly people in the world than at any previous time. In many countries the citizens of sixty-five and over will outnumber the boys and girls of fifteen and under.”

Pensions and a pointless leisure offer no solution to the problems of an aging population. In 2000 the younger readers of this article, who will then be in their seventies, will probably be inhabiting a world in which the old are provided with opportunities for using their experience and remaining strength in ways satisfactory to themselves, and valuable to the community.

Given the decrease in wages, rising inequality, and loss of home values and retirement plans, more and more of the people Huxley imagined are instead working well into their seventies. But while Huxley failed to foresee the profoundly destructive force of unchecked greed—and had to assume a perhaps unobtainable world peace—he did accurately identify many of the most pressing problems of the 21st century. Eight years after the Redbook essay, Huxley was called on again to predict the future in a television interview with Mike Wallace. You can watch it in full at the top of the post.

Wallace begins in a McCarthyite vein, asking Huxley to name “the enemies of freedom in the United States.” Huxley instead discusses “impersonal forces,” returning to the problem of overpopulation and other concerns he addressed in Brave New World, such as the threat of an overly bureaucratic, technocratic society too heavily dependent on technology. Four years after this interview, Huxley published his final book, the philosophical novel Island, in which, writes Velma Lush, the evils he had warned us about, “over-population, coercive politics, militarism, mechanization, the destruction of the environment and the worship of science will find their opposites in the gentle and doomed Utopia of Pala.”

The utopia of IslandHuxley’s wife Laura told Alan Watts—is “possible and actual… Island is really visionary common sense.” But it is also a society, Huxley tragically recognized, made fragile by its unwillingness to control human behavior and prepare for war.

In 1964, Arthur C. Clarke Predicts the Internet, 3D Printers and Trained Monkey Servants

“If by some miracle some prophet could describe the future exactly as it was going to take place, his predictions would sound so absurd, so far-fetched that everyone would laugh him to scorn.”

That was Sir Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction author best known for 2001: A Space Odyssey, describing the inherent folly of predicting the future in a 1964 BBC documentary. Of course, he then goes on to do exactly that – with remarkable, unnerving accuracy. Part one of the documentary is above. Part two is below.

The piece opens with a generic narration that describes a diorama of future society at the GM pavilion at the 1964 World Fair. Perhaps because it was a more innocent time or maybe because it was sponsored by an automaker, this vision of the future is touchingly oblivious to anything related to climate change. Machines with laser guns will clear jungles in hours flat and people will live in domed communities on the ice caps. (Ice caps in the future. Hilarious.)

Then the reedy, bespectacled author appears and starts to describe how he thinks the world in fifty years (i.e. 2014) will look. And this is where the movie starts to feel uncanny. He talks about how the advancement of transistors and satellites will radically alter our understanding of physical space.

These things will make possible a world in which we can be in instant contact wherever we may be. Where we can contact our friends anywhere on earth, even if we don’t know their actual physical location. It will be possible in that age, possibly 50 years from now, for a man to conduct his business from Tahiti or Bali just as well as he could from London.

For the record, I’m writing this post in a coffee shop in Los Angeles, hundreds of miles from the massive Open Culture headquarters in Palo Alto, but I could just as easily be writing this on a beach in Sri Lanka or a hotel room in Dubrovnik. Clarke sounds here less like some pie-in-the-sky futurist than an aspirational lifestyle guru like Tim Ferris.

Clarke then describes how medicine might change. “One day, we might have brain surgeons in Edinburgh operating on patients in New Zealand.” The long-distance virtual surgery first was pioneered back in 2001 and it continues to improve as internet speeds increase.

And he predicts that at some point science will invent a “replicating device” that would create an exact copy of anything. That sounds an awful lot like a 3D printer. Clarke warns that this invention might cause massive societal disruption. “Confronted by such a device, our present society would probably sink into a kind of gluttonous barbarism. Since everyone would want unlimited quantities of everything.” In other words, 3D printers might turn the world into Black Friday at Walmart.

Some of his other ideas are just weird. Clarke proposes to tame and train armies of chimpanzees to cook, clean and do society’s grunt work. “We can certainly solve our servant problem with the help of the monkey kingdom. “ Planet of the Apes wouldn’t come out for another four years so Clarke could be forgiven for not realizing that that is one terrible idea. On the other hand, it’s hard to see how hiring monkeys could possibly make the customer service at Time Warner Cable any worse than it already is.

Sci-Fi Writer Robert Heinlein Imagines the Year 2000 in 1949, and Gets it Mostly Wrong

in History, Sci Fi | September 19th, 2013

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Two giants of 20th century science fiction: Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov (see them together above, with L. Sprague de Camp in-between). Like every young sci-fi geek, I read them both assiduously, got lost in their dizzying universes that stretched across novels and significant teenage milestones. Even as an awkward kid, I could clearly identify an essential difference in tone between their forecasts of the future. Heinlein, the Navy man forcibly retired from service by tuberculosis, had the darker vision, in which the brute force of mass militarism continued to thrive and heroic men of action carried the day. Asimov, the practicing scientist—whose “Norby” series of kids books might be the cutest introduction to sci-fi ever written by an American—favored a future that, if still quite dangerous, was managed by robots and their creators, the technocrats.

As we can plainly see, we are no less a bellicose species than when these two authors wrote of the future, but Asimov seems to have had it right. The technocrats came out on top; too many battles are fought not by massed battalions but by deadly flying robots making (so we’re told) “surgical” strikes. A few weeks ago, we brought you a series of technocratic predictions of the year 2014 from Asimov, many of them surprisingly accurate. Today, we have a list of predictions from Heinlein, this time of the year 2000, and written in 1949 and published in 1952 in Galaxymagazine. How does his predictive ability stack up against his contemporary? Well, I’d say that 2 (stripped of some exaggeration), 8, and 11 either hit the mark or come pretty damn close. 19 is self-evidently true, and 15 is arguably not terribly far away, though it may not have seemed so in 2000. 4 is painfully ironic. The rest? Eh, not so much. Take a look and try to imagine yourself in Heinlein’s shoes in 1949. Not an easy task? Try to imagine what the world will look like in 2063. Which version of IOS will you be running then?

  1. Interplanetary travel is waiting at your front door — C.O.D. It’s yours when you pay for it.
  2. Contraception and control of disease is revising relations between the sexes to an extent that will change our entire social and economic structure.
  3. The most important military fact of this century is that there is no way to repel an attack from outer space.
  4. It is utterly impossible that the United States will start a “preventive war.” We will fight when attacked, either directly or in a territory we have guaranteed to defend.
  5. In fifteen years the housing shortage will be solved by a “breakthrough” into new technologies which will make every house now standing as obsolete as privies.
  6. We’ll all be getting a little hungry by and by.
  7. The cult of the phony in art will disappear. So-called “modern art” will be discussed only by psychiatrists.
  8. Freud will be classed as a pre-scientific, intuitive pioneer and psychoanalysis will be replaced by a growing, changing “operational psychology” based on measurement and prediction.
  9. Cancer, the common cold, and tooth decay will all be conquered; the revolutionary new problem in medical research will be to accomplish “regeneration,” i.e., to enable a man to grow a new leg, rather than fit him with an artificial limb.
  10. By the end of this century mankind will have explored this solar system, and the first ship intended to reach the nearest star will be a-building.
  11. Your personal telephone will be small enough to carry in your handbag. Your house telephone will record messages, answer simple inquiries, and transmit vision.
  12. Intelligent life will be found on Mars.
  13. A thousand miles an hour at a cent a mile will be commonplace; short hauls will be made in evacuated subways at extreme speed.
  14. A major objective of applied physics will be to control gravity.
  15. We will not achieve a “World State” in the predictable future. Nevertheless, Communism will vanish from this planet.
  16. Increasing mobility will disenfranchise a majority of the population. About 1990 a constitutional amendment will do away with state lines while retaining the semblance.
  17. All aircraft will be controlled by a giant radar net run on a continent-wide basis by a multiple electronic “brain.”
  18. Fish and yeast will become our principal sources of proteins. Beef will be a luxury; lamb and mutton will disappear.
  19. Mankind will not destroy itself, nor will “Civilization” be destroyed.

Here are things we won’t get soon, if ever:

— Travel through time

— Travel faster than the speed of light

— “Radio” transmission of matter.

— Manlike robots with manlike reactions

— Laboratory creation of life

— Real understanding of what “thought” is and how it is related to matter.

— Scientific proof of personal survival after death.

— Nor a permanent end to war.

Curiously, neither Heinlein nor Asimov foresaw that most terribly banal and ubiquitous phenomenon of reality TV, but really, what kind of monster could have imagined such a thing?

via Lists of Note/i09

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Walter Cronkite Imagines the Home of the 21st Century … Back in 1967

in Design, TechnologyTelevision | February 8th, 2013

Living room, 2001:

In 1967, executives at CBS television made a bold move and changed the network’s long-running documentary series, The 20th Century, from a program looking back at the past to one looking ahead to the future. The 21st Century, as it was renamed, was hosted by Walter Cronkite and ran for three seasons. In one of the early episodes, “At Home, 2001,” which aired on March 12, 1967, Cronkite cites a government report predicting that by the year 2000, technology will have lowered the average American work week to 30 hours, with a one-month vacation. What will people do with all that free time? In the scene above, Cronkite makes a fairly accurate prediction of today’s state-of-the-art home entertainment systems. Although the knobs and dials look a bit archaic, the basic principle is there. But whatever happened to that 30-hour work week?

Home office, 2001:

“Now this is where a man might spend most of his time in the 21st century,” says Cronkite as he walks into the home office of the future, above. “This equipment will allow him to carry on normal business activities without ever going to an office away from home.” In envisioning the office of the future as a masculine domain, Cronkite makes the same mistake as Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke of imagining technological change without social change. (Remember the moon shuttle stewardess in 2001: A Space Odyssey?) But he otherwise offers a fairly prescient vision of some of the home computing, Internet and telecommunications advances that have indeed come to pass.

Kitchen, 2001:

Cronkite’s powers of prediction fail him when he reaches the Rube Goldbergian “kitchen of 2001,” which mistakes gratuitous automation for convenience. As one YouTube commentator said of the clip above, the only thing that resembles the kitchen of today is the microwave oven–and microwaves already existed in 1967.

But “At Home, 2001,” is much more thought-provoking than a few “gee whiz” predictions about the gadgets of the future. Cronkite interviews the architect Philip Johnson and other leading designers of his day for a deeper discussion about the tension that exists between our deep-seated, basically agrarian expectations for a home and the realities of urban congestion and suburban sprawl. You can watch the complete 25-minute program at A/V Geeks. And to read more about it, see Matt Novak’s piece at PaleoFuture. “Can we find a compromise between our increasingly urban way of living and the pride and privacy of the individual home?” asks Cronkite at the end of the program. “It will take decisions that go beyond technology, decisions about the quality of the life we want to lead, to answer the question ‘How will we live in the 21st century?'”

The Internet Imagined in 1969

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The gender stereotypes might be backward-looking (we’ll make up for it later in the day), but the technological vision is on the mark, right down to email, e-commerce and online banking. Of course, these weren’t the only people imagining an electronic, connected world during the 1960s.

In 1964, the futurist Arthur C. Clarke peered into the future and saw our connectedness coming. By 2000, he predicted, “We could be in instant contact with each other, wherever we may be,” and “it will be possible in that age … for a man to conduct his business from Tahiti or Bali just as well as he could from London.”

And then Marshall McLuhan understood the trend too. He saw electronic media turning our world into a social one, a world where services like Facebook and Twitter would make complete sense. You can watch the prescient Marshall McLuhan right here.  H/T Sasa

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Arthur C. Clarke Predicts the Future in 1964 … And Kind of Nails It

The Internet Imagined in 1969

Sci-Fi Author J.G. Ballard Predicts the Rise of Social Media (1977)

in Literature, Technology | March 25th, 2016 4 Comments

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Say you were a fan of Steven Spielberg’s moving coming-of-age drama Empire of the Sun, set in a Japanese internment camp during World War II and starring a young Christian Bale. Say you read the autobiographical novel on which that film is based, written by one J.G. Ballard. Say you enjoyed it so much, you decided to read more of the author’s work, like, say, 1973’s Crash, a novel about people who develop a sexual fetish around wounds sustained in staged automobile accidents. Or you pick up its predecessor, The Atrocity Exhibition, a book William S. Burroughs described as stirring “sexual depths untouched by the hardest-core illustrated porn.” Or perhaps you stumble upon Concrete Island, a warped take on Defoe that strands a wealthy architect and his Jaguar on a highway intersection.

You may experience some dissonance. Who was this Ballard? A realist chronicler of 20th century horrors; perverse explorer of—in Burroughs’ words—“the nonsexual roots of sexuality”; sci-fi satirist of the bleak post-industrial wastelands of modernity? He was all of these, and more. Ballard was a brilliant futurist and his dystopian novels and short stories anticipated the 80s cyberpunk of William Gibson, exploring with a twisted sense of humor what Jean Lyotard famously dubbed in 1979 The Postmodern Condition: a state of ideological, scientific, personal, and social disintegration under the reign of a technocratic, hypercapitalist, “computerized society.” Ballard had his own term for it: “media landscape,” and his dark visions of the future often correspond to the virtual world we inhabit today.

In addition to his fictional creations, Ballard made several disturbingly accurate predictions in interviews he gave over the decades (collected in a book titled Extreme Metaphors). In 1987—with the film adaptation of Empire of the Sun just on the horizon and “his most extreme work Crash re-released in the USA to warmer reaction,” he gave an interview to I-D magazine in which he predicted the internet as “invisible streams of data pulsing down lines to produce an invisible loom of world commerce and information.” This may not seem especially prescient (see, for example, E.M. Forster’s 1909 “The Machine Stops” for a chilling futuristic scenario much further ahead of its time). But Ballard went on to describe in detail the rise of the Youtube celebrity:

Every home will be transformed into its own TV studio. We’ll all be simultaneously actor, director and screenwriter in our own soap opera. People will start screening themselves. They will become their own TV programmes.

The themes of celebrity obsession and technologically constructed realities resonate in almost all of Ballard’s work and thought, and ten years earlier, in an essay for Vogue, he described in detail the spread of social media and its totalizing effects on our lives. In the technological future, he wrote, “each of us will be both star and supporting player.”

Every one of our actions during the day, across the entire spectrum of domestic life, will be instantly recorded on video-tape. In the evening we will sit back to scan the rushes, selected by a computer trained to pick out only our best profiles, our wittiest dialogue, our most affecting expressions filmed through the kindest filters, and then stitch these together into a heightened re-enactment of the day. Regardless of our place in the family pecking order, each of us within the privacy of our own rooms will be the star in a continually unfolding domestic saga, with parents, husbands, wives and children demoted to an appropriate supporting role.

Though Ballard thought in terms of film and television—and though we ourselves play the role of the selecting computer in his scenario—this description almost perfectly captures the behavior of the average user of Facebook, Instagram, etc. (See Ballard in the interview clip above discuss further “the possibilities of genuinely interactive virtual reality” and his theory of the 50s as the “blueprint” of modern technological culture and the “suburbanization” of reality.) In addition to the Vogueessay, Ballard wrote a 1977 short story called “The Intensive Care Unit,” in which—writes the site Ballardian—“ordinances are in place to prevent people from meeting in person. All interaction is mediated through personal cameras and TV screens.”

So what did Ballard, who died in 2009, think of the post-internet world he lived to see and experience? He discussed the subject in 2003 in an interview with radical publisher V. Vale (who re-issued The Atrocity Exhibition). “Now everybody can document themselves in a way that was inconceivable 30, 40, 50 years ago,” Ballard notes, “I think this reflects a tremendous hunger among people for ‘reality’—for ordinary reality. It’s very difficult to find the ‘real,’ because the environment is totally manufactured.” Like Jean Baudrillard, another prescient theorist of postmodernity, Ballard saw this loss of the “real” coming many decades ago. As he told I-D in 1987, “in the media landscape it’s almost impossible to separate fact from fiction.”

In 1968, Stanley Kubrick Makes Predictions for 2001: Humanity Will Conquer Old Age, Watch 3D TV & Learn German in 20 Minutes

in Film, Sci Fi | March 25th, 2014

Image by Moody Man, via Flickr Commons

  1. Revolution was in the air and the future seemed bright. That year, Stanley Kubrickreleased his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey– a big-budget, experimental rumination on the evolution of mankind. The film was a huge box office hit when it came out; its mind-bending metaphysics resonated with the culture’s newfound interest in chemically altered states and in spirituality.

In the September issue from that year, Playboy magazine published a lengthy interview with Kubrick. Even at a time when public figures were supposed to sound like intellectuals (boy, times have changed), Kubrick comes across as insanely well read. During the course of the interview, he quotes from the likes of media critic Marshall McLuhanWinston Churchill, and 19th Century poet Matthew Arnold along with a handful of prominent academics.

Kubrick is characteristically cagey about offering any explanations of his enigmatic movie but he does readily expound on philosophical questions about God, the meaning of life (or lack thereof) and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. But perhaps the most interesting part of the 17-page interview is his vision of what 2001 might look like. It’s fascinating to see what he got right, what might be right a bit further into the future, and what’s completely wrong. Check them out below:

“Within ten years, in fact, I believe that freezing of the dead will be a major industry in the United States and throughout the world; I would recommend it as a field of investment for imaginative speculators.”

“Perhaps the greatest breakthrough we may have made by 2001 is the possibility that man may be able to eliminate old age.”

“I’m sure we’ll have sophisticated 3-D holographic television and films, and it’s possible that completely new forms of entertainment and education will be devised.”

“You might have a machine that taps the brain and ushers you into a vivid dream experience in which you are the protagonist in a romance or an adventure. On a more serious level, a similar machine could directly program you with knowledge: in this way, you might, for example, easily be able to learn fluent German in 20 minutes.”

“I believe by 2001 we will have devised chemicals with no adverse physical, mental or genetic results that can give wings to the mind and enlarge perception beyond its present evolutionary capacities…there should be fascinating drugs available by 2001; what use we make of them will be the crucial question.”

“The so-called sexual revolution, mid-wifed by the pill, will be extended. Through drugs, or perhaps via the sharpening or even mechanical amplification of latent ESP functions, it may be possible for each partner to simultaneously experience the sensations of the other; or we may eventually emerge into polymorphous sexual beings, with male and female components blurring, merging and interchanging. The potentialities for exploring new areas of sexual experience are virtually boundless.”

“Looking into the distant future, I suppose it’s not inconceivable that a semisentient robot-computer subculture could evolve that might one day decide it no longer needed man.”

For such a famously pessimistic filmmaker, Kubrick’s vision of the future is remarkably groovy – lots of sex, drugs and holographic television. He wasn’t, of course, the only one out there who thought about the future.

Pioneering Sci-Fi Author William Gibson Predicts in 1997 How the Internet Will Change Our World

in Books, LiteratureSci FiTechnology | February 5th, 2019

“What’s the one thing that all great works of science fiction have in common?” asks a 1997 episode of The Net, the BBC’s television series about the possibilities of this much-talked-about new thing called the internet. “They all tried to see into the future, and they all got it wrong. Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: all, to some extent or other, wrong. And there’s another name to add to this list: William Gibson.” But then on strolls Gibson himself, fresh off the writing of Idoru, a novel involving a human who wants to marry a digitally generated Japanese pop star, to grant the interview above.

In it Gibson admits that computers hadn’t gone quite the way he’d imagined thirteen years earlier in his debut novel Neuromancer — but in which he also offers prescient advice about how we should regard new technology even today. “The thing that Neuromancer predicts as being actually like the internet isn’t actually like the internet at all!” Gibson says in a more recent interview with Wired. “I didn’t get it right but I said there was going to be something.” Back in the mid-1980s, as he tells the BBC, “there was effectively no internet to extrapolate from. The cyberspace I made up isn’t being used in Neuromancer the way we’re using the internet today.”

Gibson had envisioned a corporate-dominated network infested with “cybernetic car thieves skulking through it attempting to steal tidbits of information.” By the mid-1990s, though, the internet had become a place where “a really talented and determined fifteen-year-old” could create something more compelling than “a multinational entertainment conglomerate might come up with.” He tells the BBC that “what the internet has become is as much a surprise to me as the collapse of the Soviet Union was,” but at that point he had begun to perceive the shape of things to come. “I can’t see why it won’t become completely ubiquitous,” he says, envisioning its evolution “into something like television to the extent that it penetrates every level of society.”

At the same time, “it doesn’t matter how fast your modem is if you’re being shelled by ethnic separatists” — still very much a concern in certain parts of the world — and even the most promising technologies don’t merit our uncritical embrace. “I think we should respect the power of technology and try to fear it in a rational way,” he says. “The only appropriate response” is to give in to neither technophobia nor technophilia, but “to teach ourselves to be absolutely ambivalent about them and imagine their most inadvertent side effects,” the side effects “that tend to get us” — not to mention the ones that make the best plot elements. Seeing as how we now live in a world where marriage to synthetic Japanese idols has become a possibility, among other developments seemingly pulled from the pages of Gibson’s novels, we would do well to heed even these decades-old words of advice about his main subject.

Philip K. Dick Makes Off-the-Wall Predictions for the Future: Mars Colonies, Alien Viruses & More (1981)

in Sci Fi | March 17th, 2015 

Philip K. Dick died in 1982, but readers — more readers than ever, in all probability — still thrill to his daring, unconventional imagination, and how tightly he could weave the inventions of that imagination into mundane reality. (Sometimes they wonder, as in his meeting with God, to what extent he himself could tell the two apart.) And like many strong-visioned writers of what roughly fell into the category of science fiction, Dick got consulted now and again as something of a futurist.

In 1980, David Wallechinsky, Amy Wallace, and Irving Wallace (the Book of Lists people) rounded up visions of the future from all manner of sages past and present, prescient and incompetent, in order to create The Book of Predictions. Dick’s contributions, republished in the September 2003 issue of fanzine PKD Otaku, go like this.

  • 1983: The Soviet Union will develop an operational particle-beam accelerator, making missile attack against that country impossible. At the same time the U.S.S.R. will deploy this weapon as a satellite killer. The U.S. will turn, then, to nerve gas.
  • 1984:The U.S. will perfect a system by which hydrogen, stored in metal hydrides, will serve as a fuel source, eliminating a need for oil.
  • 1985:By or before this date there will be a titanic nuclear accident either in the U.S.S.R. or in the U.S., resulting in shutting down all nuclear power plants.
  • 1986:Such satellites as HEAO-2 will uncover vast, unsuspected high energy phenomenon in the universe, indicating that there is sufficient mass to collapse the universe back when it has reached its expansion limit.
  • 1989:The U.S. and the Soviet Union will agree to set up one vast metacomputer as a central source for information available to the entire world; this will be essential due to the huge amount of information coming into existence.
  • 1993:An artificial life form will be created in a lab, probably in the U.S.S.R., thus reducing our interest in locating life forms on other planets.
  • 1995:Computer use by ordinary citizens (already available in 1980) will transform the public from passive viewers of TV into mentally alert, highly trained, information-processing experts.
  • 1997:The first closed-dome colonies will be successfully established on Luna and Mars. Through DNA modification, quasi-mutant humans will be created who can survive under non-Terran conditions, i.e., alien environments.
  • 1998:The Soviet Union will test a propulsion drive that moves a starship at the velocity of light; a pilot ship will set out for Proxima Centaurus, soon to be followed by an American ship.
  • 2000:An alien virus, brought back by an interplanetary ship, will decimate the population of Earth, but leave the colonies on Luna and Mars intact.
  • 2012:Using tachyons (particles that move backward in time) as a carrier, the Soviet Union will attempt to alter the past with scientific information.

Cherry-pickers among us will fixate on Dick’s near-hits: the development of DNA modification, a 1985 nuclear accident in the U.S.S.R. (Chernobyl happened in 1986), and computer use by ordinary citizens (though our status as “mentally alert, highly trained, information-processing experts” admittedly remains questionable). Others might prefer to highlight the most improbable, such as the eliminated need for oil, the creation of artificial life, and not just the 21st-century existence but eventual time-traveling capabilities of the Soviet Union.

Still, even in his fiction, Dick does have his moments of prophecy, especially for those who share his paranoia that we’ve unwittingly let ourselves slip into surveillance-state conditions. But I’ve always found him best, especially in the what-if-Japan-won-the-war story The Man in the High Castle, as a teller of alternate histories, whether of the past, present, or future. These predictions, stretching from just after the writer’s death to just before our time, strike me as nothing so much as the premises for the best novel Philip K. Dick never wrote.

In 1964, Isaac Asimov Predicts What the World Will Look Like Today: Self-Driving Cars, Video Calls, Fake Meats & More

in History, Sci FiTechnology |

Painting of Asimov on his throne by Rowena Morill, via Wikimedia Commons

Isaac Asimov’s readers have long found something prophetic in his work, but where did Asimov himself look when he wanted to catch a glimpse of the future? In 1964 he found one at the New York World’s Fair, the vast exhibition dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe” that history now remembers as the most elaborate expression of the industrial and technological optimism of Space Age America. Despite the fanciful nature of some of the products on display, visitors first saw things there — computers, for instance — that would become essential in a matter of decades.

“What is to come, through the fair’s eyes at least, is wonderful,” Asimov writes in a piece on his experience at the fair for the New York Times. But it all makes him wonder: “What will life be like, say, in 2014 A.D., 50 years from now? What will the World’s Fair of 2014 be like?” His speculations begin with the notion that “men will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better,” which they certainly have, though not so much through the use of “electroluminescent panels” that will make “ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button.” Still, all the other screens near-constantly in use seem to provide all the glow we need for the moment.

 

“Gadgetry will continue to relieve mankind of tedious jobs,” Asimov predicts, and so it has, though our kitchens have yet to evolve to the point of preparing “‘automeals,’ heating water and converting it to coffee; toasting bread; frying, poaching or scrambling eggs, grilling bacon, and so on.” He hits closer to the mark when declaring that “robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.” He notes that IBM’s exhibit at the World’s Fair had nothing about robots to show, but plenty about computers, “which are shown in all their amazing complexity, notably in the task of translating Russian into English. If machines are that smart today, what may not be in the works 50 years hence? It will be such computers, much miniaturized, that will serve as the ‘brains’ of robots.”

“The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords,” Asimov writes, and in the case of our all-important mobile phones, that has turned out to be at least half-true. But we still lack the “long-lived batteries running on radioisotopes” produced by “fission-power plants which, by 2014, will be supplying well over half the power needs of humanity.” The real decade of the 2010s turned out to be more attached to the old ways, not least by cords and cables, than Asimov imagined. Even the United States of America hasn’t quite mastered the art of designing highways so that “long buses move on special central lanes” along them, let alone forms of ground travel that “take to the air a foot or two off the ground.”

But one advance in transportation Asimov describes will sound familiar to those of us living in the 2010s: “Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with ‘Robot-brains,’ vehicles that can be set for particular destinations and that will then proceed there without interference by the slow reflexes of a human driver.” Indeed, we hear about few reportedly imminent technologies these days as much as we hear about self-driving cars and their potential to get us where we’re going while we do other things, such as engage in communications that “will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone,” on a screen used “not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books.”

Conversations with the moon colonies, Asimov needlessly warns us, “will be a trifle uncomfortable” because of the 2.5-second delay. But immediately thereafter comes the much more realistic prediction that “as for television, wall screens will have replaced the ordinary set.” Still, “all is not rosy” in the world of 2014, whose population will have swelled to 6,500,000,000 — or 7,298,453,033, as it happened. This has many implications for development, housing, and even agriculture, though the “mock-turkey” and “pseudosteak” eaten today has more to do with lifestyle than necessity. (“It won’t be bad at all,” Asimov adds, “if you can dig up those premium prices.”)

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, “the world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders.” Asimov foresees the need for a change in education to accommodate that, one hinted at even in General Electric’s exhibit in 1964, which “consists of a school of the future in which such present realities as closed-circuit TV and programmed tapes aid the teaching process.” His envisioned high-school curriculum would have students master “the fundamentals of computer technology” and get them “trained to perfection in the use of the computer language.”

But even with all these developments, “mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity.” The “serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences” of that will make psychiatry an important medical specialty, and “the lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.” Though Asimov may have been surprised by what we’ve come up with in the quarter-century since his death, as well as what we haven’t come up with, he would surely have understood the sorts of anxieties that now beset us in the future-turned-present in which we live. But even given all the ways in which his predictions in 1964 have proven more or less correct, he did miss one big thing: there was no World’s Fair in 2014.

Isaac Asimov Laments the “Cult of Ignorance” in the United States: A Short, Scathing Essay from 1980

in Education, PoliticsSci Fi |

 

In 1980, scientist and writer Isaac Asimov argued in an essay that “there is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been.” That year, the Republican Party stood at the dawn of the Reagan Revolution, which initiated a decades-long conservative groundswell that many pundits say may finally come to an end in November. GOP strategist Steve Schmidt (who has been regretful about choosing Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate in 2008) recently pointed to what he called “intellectual rot” as a primary culprit, and a cult-like devotion to irrationality among a certain segment of the electorate.

It’s a familiar contention. There have been critiques of American anti-intellectualism since the country’s founding, though whether or not that phenomenon has intensified, as Susan Jacoby alleged in The Age of American Unreason, may be a subject of debate. Not all of the unreason is partisan, as the anti-vaccination movement has shown. But “the strain of anti-intellectualism” writes Asimov, “has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

Asimov’s primary examples happen to come from the political world. However, he doesn’t name contemporary names but reaches back to take a swipe at Eisenhower (“who invented a version of the English language that was all his own”) and George Wallace. Particularly interesting is Asimov’s take on the “slogan on the part of the obscurantists: ‘Don’t trust the experts!’” This language, along with charges of “elitism,” Asimov wryly notes, is so often used by people who are themselves experts and elites, “feeling guilty about having gone to school.” So many of the American political class’s wounds are self-inflicted, he suggests, but that’s because they are beholden to a largely ignorant electorate:

To be sure, the average American can sign his name more or less legibly, and can make out the sports headlines—but how many nonelitist Americans can, without undue difficulty, read as many as a thousand consecutive words of small print, some of which may be trisyllabic?

Asimov’s examples are less than convincing: road signs “steadily being replaced by little pictures to make them internationally legible” has more to do with linguistic diversity than illiteracy, and accusing television commercials of speaking their messages out loud instead of using printed text on the screen seems to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the medium. Jacoby in her book-length study of the problem looks at educational policy in the United States, and the resistance to national standards that virtually ensures widespread pockets of ignorance all over the country. Asimov’s very short, pithy essay has neither the space nor the inclination to conduct such analysis.

Instead he is concerned with attitudes. Not only are many Americans badly educated, he writes, but the broad ignorance of the population in matters of “science… mathematics… economics… foreign languages…” has as much to do with Americans’ unwillingness to read as their inability.

There are 200 million Americans who have inhabited schoolrooms at some time in their lives and who will admit that they know how to read… but most decent periodicals believe they are doing amazingly well if they have circulation of half a million. It may be that only 1 per cent—or less—of Americans make a stab at exercising their right to know. And if they try to do anything on that basis they are quite likely to be accused of being elitists.

One might in some respects charge Asimov himself of elitism when he concludes, “We can all be members of the intellectual elite.” Such a blithely optimistic statement ignores the ways in which economic elites actively manipulate education policy to suit their interests, cripple education funding, and oppose efforts at free or low cost higher education. Many efforts at spreading knowledge—like the Chatauquas of the early 20th century, the educational radio programs of the 40s and 50s, and the public television revolution of the 70s and 80s—have been ad hoc and nearly always imperiled by funding crises and the designs of profiteers.

Nonetheless, the widespread (though hardly universal) availability of free resources on the internet has made self-education a reality for many people, and certainly for most Americans. But perhaps not even Isaac Asimov could have foreseen the bitter polarization and disinformation campaigns that technology has also enabled. Needless to say, “A Cult of Ignorance” was not one of Asimov’s most popular pieces of writing. First published on January 21, 1980 in Newsweek, the short essay has never been reprinted in any of Asimov’s collections. You can read the essay as a PDF here.https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/WhctKJVRFzVKqkngRtWbJzqZxKpxVsbtcWmzMSWwmcFPFFbvtX

asimov’s predictions

In 1964, Arthur C. Clarke Predicts the Internet, 3D Printers and Trained Monkey Servants

“If by some miracle some prophet could describe the future exactly as it was going to take place, his predictions would sound so absurd, so far-fetched that everyone would laugh him to scorn.”

That was Sir Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction author best known for 2001: A Space Odyssey, describing the inherent folly of predicting the future in a 1964 BBC documentary. Of course, he then goes on to do exactly that – with remarkable, unnerving accuracy. Part one of the documentary is above. Part two is below.

The piece opens with a generic narration that describes a diorama of future society at the GM pavilion at the 1964 World Fair. Perhaps because it was a more innocent time or maybe because it was sponsored by an automaker, this vision of the future is touchingly oblivious to anything related to climate change. Machines with laser guns will clear jungles in hours flat and people will live in domed communities on the ice caps. (Ice caps in the future. Hilarious.)

Then the reedy, bespectacled author appears and starts to describe how he thinks the world in fifty years (i.e. 2014) will look. And this is where the movie starts to feel uncanny. He talks about how the advancement of transistors and satellites will radically alter our understanding of physical space.

These things will make possible a world in which we can be in instant contact wherever we may be. Where we can contact our friends anywhere on earth, even if we don’t know their actual physical location. It will be possible in that age, possibly 50 years from now, for a man to conduct his business from Tahiti or Bali just as well as he could from London.

For the record, I’m writing this post in a coffee shop in Los Angeles, hundreds of miles from the massive Open Culture headquarters in Palo Alto, but I could just as easily be writing this on a beach in Sri Lanka or a hotel room in Dubrovnik. Clarke sounds here less like some pie-in-the-sky futurist than an aspirational lifestyle guru like Tim Ferris.

Clarke then describes how medicine might change. “One day, we might have brain surgeons in Edinburgh operating on patients in New Zealand.” The long-distance virtual surgery first was pioneered back in 2001 and it continues to improve as internet speeds increase.

And he predicts that at some point science will invent a “replicating device” that would create an exact copy of anything. That sounds an awful lot like a 3D printer. Clarke warns that this invention might cause massive societal disruption. “Confronted by such a device, our present society would probably sink into a kind of gluttonous barbarism. Since everyone would want unlimited quantities of everything.” In other words, 3D printers might turn the world into Black Friday at Walmart.

Some of his other ideas are just weird. Clarke proposes to tame and train armies of chimpanzees to cook, clean and do society’s grunt work. “We can certainly solve our servant problem with the help of the monkey kingdom. “ Planet of the Apes wouldn’t come out for another four years so Clarke could be forgiven for not realizing that that is one terrible idea. On the other hand, it’s hard to see how hiring monkeys could possibly make the customer service at Time Warner Cable any worse than it already is.

Related Content:

Arthur C. Clarke Narrates Film on Mandelbrot’s Fractals; David Gilmour Provides the Soundtrack

Isaac Asimov Predicts in 1964 What the World Will Look Like Today — in 2014

Free Science Fiction Classics on the Web: Huxley, Orwell, Asimov, Gaiman & Beyond

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.

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this is the end of my forecasting.    Would love to hear other’s predictions.  and again  if someone can find the FFER review article that would be awesome.

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