Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The future...again

Every now and then, we get it wrong.

Futurists, I mean.  In fact, it really wouldn’t surprise me if futurists, for all the parturient posturing, were wrong about the future more often than correct.  Sure, there are legends of the field but I would posit they are exceptions and not the rule.  Popular Science magazine recently posted an article that revisited a few of its predictions from 1925.  The title of the piece is 8 Absurd Predictions About the Future That Sorta Came True.”  The original article was written by a man named A.M. Low (not sure if that’s a pseudonym) and here are a few of the vintage predictions:

-Men will be bald and will wear a hat “almost continuously.”  While it doesn’t appear that Low offered much in the way of a rationale for this aspect of the future, shaving one’s head partially or totally in today’s world is not an uncommon occurrence.  I can see the appeal.  It’s low maintenance and not without a certain chic appeal.

-We will eat our meals out of tubes.  "His breakfast may come from the communal kitchen by tubes,” said Low of this future man.  Please pardon the sexism, but the writing is indicative of that 1920s mentality.  Anyway, as gross as the prediction may sound, Popular Science is correct in pointing out that it partially came to pass.  Consider Yoplait’s Go-Gurt and Skippy’s Squeeze.  While they weren’t exactly big sellers, the attempt was made.  Low may have foreseen this accurately.  It just did not catch on as he anticipated.

-Low envisioned a business world where workers would meet by television.  Indeed, it’s called video conferencing and we have only begun to work with its applications through platforms such as Skype.  Why more people in the workforce don’t utilize this tool is beyond me.

-In the future, we will all have flying cars.  "There will be a wonderful Pegasus vehicle, an aerocar, that can fly as well as ply the roads."  Ok, now I’m peeved.  Where’s my flying car?  Yes, yes, I know that prototypes exist, but we’re a long way from proving anything.

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