My World: A Personal Blog About Everything

Sunday, August 24, 2008

40 years ago today

I read an article in the paper this morning talking about a pair of articles in Mechanix Illustrated written 40 years ago (November 1968).   One article reflects on 40 years earlier (1928) and the other predicts what it will be like 40 years later (2008) .   Here are links to the original articles: 40 years ago: What will 2008 be like: The point of this blog entry is to look at the perspective from 1968, see what they predicted correctly and what they predicted wrong, some things are funny and some surprisingly accurate. Hopefully this is at least a bit interesting :) The first article "40 years ago" compares 1968 to 1928.   "40 years ago was a world without television, computers, radar, automatic transmission, lasers, nuclear power, jet engines, quasars, antibiotics, nylon, artificial kydneys, molecular biology, color movies, transistors, power steering, contact lenses, without frozen dinners, aerosol spray, cans, tubeless tires, plastic jugs, bikinis, blue eye shadow, rotary mowers, presliced bakery bread, credit cards, plastic bags."   Hmmm 1968 sounds a lot like today!   I think almost everything on that list hasn't been made obsolute (so to speak), we still have contact lenses, transistors, nuclear power, automatic transmission, plastic bags,etc... and we still have color television.   But today is NOTHING like 1968 right? Well, we have HDTV instead of color TV, digital movies instead of film, smoother driving cars, we have MP3 players, cell phones, and the Internet, we have cures/treatments for alot more diseases and people are living longer.   But we still have plastic jugs, plastic bags, .... and bikinis.   Whereas people's way of life seems to have been revolutionized from 1928 to 1968, it seems like from 1968 to 2008 the focus has been on drastically improving those new concepts that were introduced up until the 1960's.   The second article is "What will life be like in the year 2008", comparing a future vision of 2008 to 1968.   There's a lot of stuff in this article so I'll try to paraphrase some   of it to give you an idea.   We have 'commuting 300 miles to work', 'hands-free cars', '250mph cars', 'real time traffic computers', 'dome cities', 'moving sidewalks', 'self maintaining homes via robots', 'modular housing - eg. add kitchen module to your house', 'automated food preparation', '4 hour work day', 'programmed tv courses/lectures', 'on demand tv viewing', 'heart diseases will be eliminated'. Wow they realllly got this wrong...'dome cities' haha, but look at this quote: "The single most important item is the computer,[they] govern everything from meal preparation, ..., to shopping lists, and keeping track of bank reservations, relay phone messages, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, computer taxes, and other utilities.".   "Money has all but disappeared. Emplyers deposit salary checks directly into their employee's accounts".   This is surprisingly accurate for someone from 40 years ago, they got the computer thing right and the everyday life thing completely wrong. When we think about the future, we always think of some futuristic world of "dome cities" and self driving super cars.   It's funny how many futurists always assume the infrastructure of today will be drastically different, and the new innovative computer-related technologies will come out of no where.   But we see the opposite, infrastructure stays the same (roads, sewers, trains, planes, power) [or at least similar - obviously not exactly the same].     Technology doesn't just come out of nowhere or because it sounds cool, it supports the functions we've always had and makes them easier.   The phone has gone from an operator manually connecting you to a person, to automatic switching, to corless phones, to car phones, to cell phones.   Movie watching has taken a similar flow, full of small steps, in the end showing a drastic change.   Why?   I think it's because people are people, we like to think, we like to be creative, we don't want robots to run our lives, we want to run our lives, so help us run our lives and makes decisions and don't run them for us. 40 years from now, in 2048, I have no idea what the world will be like, but I'm sure it will be great. What do you think the future will be like 40 years from now in the year 2048?

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