Some crystal balls sparkle, some ... bounce
I bet your own Tomorrow Land
looks a lot like you.
My fourth-grade teacher stood in front of the class in Schaumberg, Ill., and gave a writing assignment: Predict the future. What would the world be like when we were grown-ups?
It was really, really cold in Illinois. So I made my prediction: In the future, your clothing would "take your temperature" and automatically warm up when you got cold. Your mittens would be tiny ovens, baking your fingers back to life. Your shoes would prevent frostbite.
Well, I'm more than grown and I'm still cold, even though I had the sense to move to Portland as an adult. So far I haven't heard a word about auto-warming clothing. But maybe other people's predictions will be closer to the mark.
Last week I took a look at predictions that had been made for the year 2000. Some futurists were uncannily on target. Others were way off. So I figured we'd collect a whole new batch of predictions for the next century. A lot of readers complied. One hundred years from now, maybe somebody will dig out this old column and be amazed at how right and how wrong they were.
First of all, just to get it out of the way, I did hear from the predictors of doom. Or, more specifically, of "war, famine, earthquakes, pestilence, worldwide destruction and a world ruler worse than Hitler," wrote Mary J. Dean of Tillamook. Mary notes that all are predicted in the Bible, which has been "100 percent accurate."
Others were more optimistic. Gerald Reed of Portland predicts "a small, dime-sized computer will be placed in any willing head to enable people to translate most languages." Not only that, but "all sounds ever made are still in existence and are traveling through space. A means will be found to catch up with sound waves of long ago, record them and return them to Earth." Gerald credits his high school science teacher ("Mr. English, Waller High, 1942, Chicago, Ill.") with the last idea.
Bryan Thogerson of Gresham is only 15 years old. So he may be around to monitor the progress of his predictions. "Due to extensive overpopulation," he writes, "the popular means of transportation will be maglev bullet trains." (Maglev trains use electromagnetic technology to make trains hover above the rails, which eliminates friction.) "People will have put a base on Mars. Massive cities will be built on the moon to help fix the population crisis. There will be a steady stream of people and supplies going between the moon and the Earth. The press will finally forget Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Instead of watching television, people will watch their home hologram systems. Also, computers will be smaller, more efficient and will operate directly off people's brainwaves." Still, some things will not change: "It will still be next to impossible to reach Tech Support."
Larry Glazner of Portland thinks computers and robots will take over 80 percent of industry in the next 10 years. "They will drive our cars, plow, water, fertilize, reap and can our food. They will mow our lawns, vacuum our floors and wash our dishes." He sees a future for artists and performers: "There will be a huge demand for movies, computer games and any other form of entertainment because without the necessity of work, life can get dull."
Larry also predicts "genetic control. At first it will be wonderful. Diseases will be cured and maybe eliminated. ... You will have a choice of raising your own children or ordering them from a catalog. Those from the catalog will have double (the) IQ, no genetic flaws and (be) responsive to your wishes. ... After awhile, who wants the only kid ... still in fourth grade because he can't keep up with the more intelligent kids?"
Larry predicts people will live for 1,000 years. "Problems with endangered species will be dealt with genetically. ... Eventually this will put a tremendous amount of control (in the hands of) those who make breeding decisions, and that's where the trouble will be." Larry predicts world domination by a zealot. "A camera in every home, a bug in every flower pot, on every tree in the park and rock on the beach. Where would you meet to even discuss opposition? You will be watched from satellites." If you disagree with the world power, Larry predicts, "you will be found, you will 'disappear' and those who know you will get a plausible explanation. Maybe even a videotape ... really made in a studio."
I don't know about Larry's scenario, but I feel pretty comfortable predicting Larry could become a screenwriter in the future.
David Dedrickson sees the year 2100 like this: "School will be a year-round operation with children (taking) subjects by learning level instead of specific grade. Vote-by-mail will be replaced by vote-by-e-mail. A person of color will be elected president of the U.S. And a woman will be elected president also. China will become the dominant world superpower. ... There will be a baby born in space, perhaps even conceived in space."
Finally, an end to the paper chase. David predicts "paper will be obsolete. Books will be audio, magazines and newspapers will be online. Currency will be hand-held computers transferring bank balances. ... Trees will be used for a new and exciting thing. I have no clue as to what that might be."