Predictions from 1987


Twenty-five years ago, L. Ron Hubbard (yes, the founder of Scientology, who was also a science fiction writer), asked prominent sci-fi writers to predict what 2012 would look like. (You can read their predictions in “the time capsule.”) The responders included Isaac Asimov, Gregory Benford, Orson Scott Card, Gene Wolfe, and other prominent writers of the time.

In a nutshell, these writers got the broad strokes of now right: burgeoning population, economic decline, the rise of other countries, changes in technology, etc. But, they got the fine details wrong—or were a bit off-base concerning them. Our population is not quite 8 billion yet; we’re a just squick over 7 billion. HIV/AIDS is not the leading cause of death in the world. (According to WHO, HIV/AIDS is the sixth overall.) Japan and the Soviet Union aren’t the economic powerhouses ruling the world. (That’s, China, btw. And none of the predictors saw the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union coming.) Our economy didn’t slump in a “gentle yet relentless decline” but in a series of burst bubbles. (Although, taken overall, that might be seen as relentless.) You get the picture.

The other thing that struck me about these predictions from 1987--was that they were mired in 1987. AIDs was new. The Cold War was still on. Japan’s economy was booming—and moving in on ours. Actually, that’s not surprising because, even if we’re writing about the future, we’re really writing about now. We’re just projecting our fears and desires of today on tomorrow.

What are your predictions for 2037?

4 comments:

Linda Jackson said...

I don't have any predictions, but I like what you said: "...even if we’re writing about the future, we’re really writing about now. We’re just projecting our fears and desires of today on tomorrow."

Stephsco said...

Interesting points.Plus, we're still waiting on our hoverboards and jetpacks...

Kody Wynters said...

Interesting predictions :) On a slightly different note, I remember watching "Back to the Future" and seeing how there were hoverboards in the beginning of the 21st century. If only those boards existed today XD

Though we have come a long way since 1987. I heard that every 5 years, technology doubles. Though I'm not sure if this is completely true or not. Predictions for 2037? Um, cellphones will have a transparent or holographic screen :) That'd be pretty cool.

Like Linda, I also like "we're just projecting our fears and desires of today on tomorrow."

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