Visiting New York’s 1964 World Fair, Isaac Asimov imagines what it would be like 50 years hence.
Here are some of his predictions:
One thought that occurs to me is that men will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better.
Large solar-power stations will also be in operation in a number of desert and semi-desert areas — Arizona, the Negev, Kazakhstan.
Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with “Robot-brains”*vehicles that can be set for particular destinations and that will then proceed there without interference by the slow reflexes of a human driver.
Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books.
Probably in my lifetime…and I can’t wait
Electroluminescent panels will be in common use. Ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button.
Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare “automeals,” heating water and converting it to coffee; toasting bread; frying, poaching or scrambling eggs, grilling bacon, and so on. Breakfasts will be “ordered” the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning.
The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long- lived batteries running on radioisotopes.
There will be increasing emphasis on transportation that makes the least possible contact with the surface. There will be aircraft, of course, but even ground travel will increasingly take to the air*a foot or two off the ground.
For short-range travel, moving sidewalks (with benches on either side, standing room in the center) will be making their appearance in downtown sections.
Processed yeast and algae products will be available in a variety of flavors. The 2014 fair will feature an Algae Bar at which “mock-turkey” and “pseudosteak” will be served.
Asimov predicted the internet…yet he thought boredom would be mankind’s greatest disease!
Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014.
The most errant Asimov predictions involve human colonization (by 2014, he foresaw Moon colonies and underwater housing settlements) and unchecked population growth (still a concern, but who could have guessed that economically-developed countries would stop having babies?).
Sidebar: it seems that we humans consistently underestimate the power of exponential growth, but once we’re convinced of it, we then — with the same consistency — overestimate how long it will last.
His original article is here.