Friday, January 1, 2010

The Future Soon

Something about ringing in a new decade brings the prognosticators out of the woodwork.  "Here's what life will be like ten years from now!", they say.  If they're really ambitious, they might project twenty, thirty, or even fifty years ahead.  (Futurism has gone in an interesting direction lately, with predictions split cleanly between post-apocalyptic and singular.)

But given the unbelievable rate of change over the last century, looking a hundred years into the future feels like a fool's errand.  That's part of why it's so interesting that we can peek into the minds of the futurists of 1900 through this article.  To those who rightfully have their doubts about its authenticity, here's a scan of the original; it's also available via microfiche.

There's a lot of eerily prescient predictions there, plus a lot that get a concept right but miss the implications.  There are also a few that are way off due to the public rejection of eugenics.

The one that really stood out to me, and made the article ring false to some, is predicting the average life expectancy increasing from thirty-five to fifty years.  Near as we can tell, it was already fifty by then.  Regardless, it still boggles my mind that at the end of the average lifespan two centuries ago, a person today hasn't entered "middle age" yet.  The increase in how much a person can do within their lifespan is staggering to consider.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.