20 Predictions of the Future (part 2)

Sea City

Tech-11

(source)

In 1984, future predictions took a short break from space cities and focused on an equally dangerous location for a city: the ocean. Floating atop the surf, a farming city populated by humans and tended to by robots was predicted to be built in the 2000’s. The article appeared in a book entitled, The Future World of Agriculture, and was titled the “Sea City of the Future”. An excerpt from the article reads: “Robots tend crops that grow on floating platforms around a sea city of the future. Water from the ocean would evaporate, rise to the base of the platforms (leaving the salt behind), and feed the crops.” Today, this green-friendly sea city does not exist. One possible problem with such a design is what do do in case of huge rogue waves or hurricanes. Weather is quite a nasty and destructive thing out at sea, and perhaps building a city in a place where such devastating forces (hurricanes, tidal waves, tsunamis) exist might not be the best idea.

Classroom Airship

Tech-12

(source)

The most enjoyable part of school was always the field trip. So, how about one long, enduring field trip around the world! The Kid’s Whole Future Catalog of 1982 predicted that school would no longer take place in the boring four-walled classroom, but in a soaring airship on a journey around the world. The ship was predicted to have theaters, living pods, media centers and classrooms inside of it for academic use. A quote from the article on the classroom airship reads: “Classes will never be boring on an airship traveling around the world! Imagine gliding over the Amazon River in South America or retracing Ulysses’ journeys through the Greek Islands. Picture what it would be like to hover over the Great Pyramids in Egypt or follow a herd of elephants across the African plains. The University Blimp will turn geography lessons into exciting real-life adventures.” No documented proof of any attempt to build such a craft exists, probably due to the safety risks of flying students of varying ages around the world in a blimp. Unfortunately for our eager students, there is no classroom airship here in the future, and books are still the closest most young adults will come to retracing the steps of our great world ancestors.

Time Travel

Tech-13

(source)

Time travel is yet another great human fantasy that has never come to fruition. Commercial time travel was no doubt predicted many times over in a variety of media, however our spotlight prediction comes straight from the pages of a 1982 book entitled Fact or Fantasy: World of Tomorrow. The book predicts that “time tourists” could enter the time machine, which would then somehow show them the events of a chosen era without allowing them to actually get out and live in it. The book is careful to point out that actually walking around through the past might give people the power to alter the events of the future. Science has not yet devised a way to make this possible, and from what we can currently surmise, the past is gone and cannot be revisited. Traveling to the future, however, is a different story altogether.

Hoverboards

Tech-14

(source)

Remember those cool flying skateboards from Back to the Future II? In 1989, many children watching the making of the movie heard director Robert Zemeckis say, with a straight face, that the boards were actually quite real, and that the only reason why they’re not being publicly sold is because of pressure from parents groups. The boards were reported to float on the Earth’s magnetic waves, allowing the user to operate it much like a standard skateboard. Suddenly, the demand for hoverboards went through the roof, and children (and adults) everywhere wanted one of those cool floating extreme sport devices of the future. Since the movie, several companies have tried to innovate on hovercraft technology to produce such boards, but none have seen light outside of the laboratories. As of 2009, we still have to ride around on our boring wheeled devices.

Skin Color Changing

Tech-15

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In a 1972 film documentary entitled “Future Shock”, it was predicted that as we discovered more about our own genetic make-up, we could opt to change our skin color to any pigment we desired. The segment featured a genetic engineer speaking on the feasibility of the process, describing it as altering certain genetic code in order to get the job done. The film then showed people walking around with cyan blue and purple skin questioning how far people will take the luxury of skin-color modification, and if a new definition of beauty would emerge because of it. Today, there is no consumer available way to alter your skin color, and most home cooked methods have yielded disastrous outcomes. The technology is still being researched however, the most bleeding-edge findings coming from Harvard University studies.

Magic Beam Highway

Tech-16

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The Magic Beam Highway was a purported transportation advancement that the government was said to be researching. As printed in the October 1961 edition of Closer Than We Think,” the highway was to consist of strips in the pavement that would emit electrical impulses that told the car how to perfectly drive on autopilot. The driver would then punch in his destination, kick back and read the paper while the car’s computer interacted with the road to drive him or her there. Furthermore, these “electrical impulses” would allow for super-high-tech functions such as acceleration, breaking and object detection in order to avoid accidents. Washington was reportedly working on a 100 mile test strip and hoped to have the technology implemented on public roadways by 1975. Over 30 years since, the closest thing we have to this technology is a GPS and cruise control, which is clearly far less exciting than the magic beam highway. There appears to be no word on what happened to the idea and, sadly, the magic beams never came to America’s highways.

Pill Foods

Tech-17

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As seen on “The Jestsons” and published in a New York Times Magazine interview with author Michael Pollan, a prevailing idea in 1960’s future prediction circles was that of the pill-food. Essentially, all of the body’s nutrients and none of its toxins would be packed into a pill that could be taken in place of an actual meal. A quote from the article claims that, “…all signs pointed to a single outcome: the meal in a pill, washed down, perhaps, with next-generation Tang.” Wouldn’t this make thanksgiving dinner quite boring for the families of the future? Perhaps, thankfully, the pill food was never invented on any large scale, and the closest we have ever come to such a technology is the supplement pill. Currently, there are many meal replacement bars in the marketplace, but these are not typically nutritious and you have to eat them – they usually taste like rotten candy bars.

Headphone TV

Tech-18

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A 1960’s column in the Chicago Tribune, made an interesting prediction regarding the future of television. Rather than sit down and stare out our television sets, we would simply place headphone like devices on our heads and allow television to be broadcast into our neurons, allowing us to see the show without a screen. Electronics trailblazer Hugo Gerensback was quoted as saying, “Brain tissue conducts electricity. What could be more logical than the development of a super-receptor whose impulses would create images directly in the mind, like dreams.” This inter-neural boob tube was actually never developed, probably because the technology is still so far off that serious attempts have never been undertaken. Such technology might also carry with it a great risk to personal health. After all, who would want to be the first person to strap one of these untested devices on and let someone try and beam “Family Guy” directly into their brain?

The Roofed City

Tech-19

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Dating all the way back to 1949, the roofed city was a prediction made by Professor Archibold Low. The concept represented mankind’s first attempt at controlling the weather. The idea was, in essence, to erect a massive roof over all of New York City in order to try and control the weather. It isn’t hard to see the impracticality of this idea, as the roof would have to cover hundreds of square miles of city and would not be able to do much except block rain and snow. All the snow that would ultimately fall on the roof might get awful heavy too, no? Needless to say, there were many practical problems with the roofed city, and we still do not have anything like this today.

The Folding Automobile

Tech-20

(source)

The San Antonio Light published an article in November of 1939 predicting that in the future, cars would be run off solar energy and would be able to be folded up into portable packages. According to the paper, the car’s engine would be able to be detached and carried to any local repair shop for service. The engine-less car could then be folded up and stored under the bed or in a closet until the repair is complete. The paper cites recent advances in metallurgy as reason to believe that future cars will be made of super light weight yet equally strong (if not stronger) materials. The folding car has never since been attempted and they still weigh far too much to be carried off the road by mere men. We do, however, have fully functional solar powered cars, impractical for widespread use as they might presently be.

(Source: manolith.com)

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