Predictions For 2011 — From 1931

Back in 1931, The New York Times asked a bunch of luminaries to predict what the world would be like in 2011. Here are a few of the highlights.

The sociologist William Ogburn was off in a few big ways: He predicted the end of poverty and said the U.S. population would be 160 million (it's nearly twice that). Nevertheless, a lot of what he wrote rings true today:

Labor displacement will proceed even to automatic factories. The magic of remote control will be commonplace. Humanity’s most versatile servant will be the electron tube.... the heterogeneity of material culture will mean specialists and languages that only specialists can understand. ...

Inevitable technological progress and abundant natural resources yield a higher standard of living. Poverty will be eliminated and hunger as a driving force of revolution will not be a danger. Inequality of income and problems of social justice will remain. ...

The role of government is bound to grow. Technicians and special interest groups will leave only a shell of democracy. The family cannot be destroyed but will be less stable in the early years of married life, divorce being greater than now. The lives of women will be more like those of men, spent more outside the home.

 

Continue reading on NPR.

Just for fun, please post your own predictions for the future. Let's make it an full century, so for 2111.

Tags: predictions, society, technolgoy, the future

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My Predictions

 

Technology is one of the driving forces of socio-economic change, and technological innovation increases exponentially. For that reason, everything will be "smart" and quantifiable and catalogable. We'll be able to monitor our home, our cars, our family, and basically everything remotely. We will be able to know everything about anything we choose. For example, parents will be emailed automatically if their child starts to run a fever at school.

 

Many diseases will be cured, including many neurological and genetic diseases.

 

Surgery will become safer and less invasive, or even less necessary.

 

People will be genetically designing their children.

 

Because it is the desire of the individual to always set himself above others through ownership and artifice, we will find new ways to widen the gap betweeen the haves and have-nots. Social inequality will remain and likely get worse (especially because of technology).

 

Vacationing at resorts that orbits the earth will become commonplace for the very wealthy.

 

Our food will get less natural and be more industrialized and processed. Soylent Green anyone?

 

We will no longer have carbon-based energy sources, but industry will still control the power. In other words, few people will be off-grid or independently sustainable.

 

We will no longer have shared public resources, such as public water. Everything will be owned by corporations (thanks conservatives).

 

We will have only a fraction of the biodiversity we have today.

 

Chinese will replace English as the lingua franca.

 

Russia will be broken up into smaller countries.

Western democracy will be replaced with a corporate state.

The rich will be richer, while the poor.... well, no one will really care.

We'll have figured out new and more efficient ways to annihilate ourselves.

Regional conflicts over water will dominate world affairs.

The worlds population will be lower than it currently is, due to war and environmental change.
By 2111 the world will be consumed by war.

A weaponized zombie plague will be released as a terror weapon and immediately grow beyond all control.

Nations will be temporarily united to deal with the zombie plague.

Some religious zealot will inevitably be freely and fairly elected to high leadership on the wings of empty promises and claims of guidance from god to end the zombie plague.

Some bible passage will convince the freely elected leader that god intends him to cull the planet in atomic fire and he will be our species' extinction event.

Beetles will inherit the Earth.

Alternative Scenario:

A weaponized zombie plague will be released as a terror weapon and immediately grow beyond all control.

Nations will be temporarily united to deal with the zombie plague.

Zombies will evolve some form of sentience and negotiate reasonable terms of peace with humanity.

 

There will be a great deal of initial strain in Human/Zombie relations sparking the formation of the Zombie Human Union (ZHU) and other Zombie rights groups. The rally call will be, "Zombies are people too!"

 

In an odd turn of events homosexuals will be the most outspoken opponents of Zombie rights.

 

Against popular opinion, the mayor of San Francisco will authorize the first Zombie/Human weddings but subsequent laws will end the practice outright.

 

The first homosexual President will speak openly and strongly in favor of Zombie rights but will ultimately do nothing to push the issue forward.

 

Zombies will inevitably take over academia and science as their undying minds constantly take in more information and make them ideal for performing long term experiments. This will start the Zombie Enlightenment.

In the year 2111 it would have been a little more than half a century after a third world war.

A brilliant but otherwise drunk of a man will have invented the first interstellar warp drive, renovated an old abandoned missile silo, and converted a nuclear missile into the first warp ship.

This brilliant but otherwise drunk of a man's first warp test in space would have been noticed by some elfish looking aliens, thereby initiating earths first contact with extraterrestrial intelligent life ushering in a new age where man boldly goes where no man has gone before.

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