Let's go to the World's Fair - in 2014

Isaac Asimov is unarguably one of the great science fiction writers of all time - and an incredibly prolific author, period! In 1964, he wrote an article for The NY Times about the World's Fair, of 2014. This was based on things he'd seen at the 1964/65 World's Fair and extrapolated into the future.

The article is fascinating! Some of the things he foresees are:

  • Subterranean living - with the surface of the planet being used for large-scale agriculture (think of our factory farms!)

  • Robots - still relatively crude - but used for housework (roomba anyone?) and powered by tiny computers embedded in them (microchips!)

  • Kitchen gadgets that can be pre-programmed the night before to have breakfast ready when you get up. (okay - at least we've got the coffee part down!)

  • Semi-prepared frozen meals that only need to be heated up. (Didn't they have TV dinners in 1964? heheheh...)

  • Automatic cars for long-distance driving (can't happen soon enough for me!)

  • Moving sidewalks (go to any large airport - they've got 'em!)

  • Sight/sound communications (care to Skype?)

  • Moon settlement

  • And, then - the dystopian side of things...
    • Overpopulation
    • Food shortages
    • Humans as machine-tenders
    • the disease of boredom
    Interestingly, even though I only came across this article a couple of weeks ago, I had similar many similar gadgets and evolved transportation, etc. in my book, XVI. I wonder if things like the media, education, and the evolution of human thought cause us to come to similar conclusions about how things will be? What is it that brings us to almost identical images of how things will be? I don't know - but I will be noodling this around & continue writing the speculations thereof.

    I'd love to know what you think will be in our futures!


    Anonymous said...

    Transhumanism involving nanotechnology and biotechnology.

    I think it's inevitable. Not necessarily right around the corner but it's going to happen.

    Anonymous said...

    I think (fear) you are right. It has the potential for great good, or great evil. I wonder which it will be & if we (personally) will somehow know.

    Anonymous said...

    True but what modern technology doesn't fit that criteria?

    Anonymous said...

    Exactly! :)

    Angie said...

    Interesting post, Julia. This is why science fiction writers get invited to help think tanks come up with stuff. Too bad the moon settlement thing didn't pan out.

    I kind of like the Woody Allen vision of the future where everything we thought was bad for us is really not. Chocolate cream pie as health food. But I think even THE SLEEPER's new world turned out to be dystopian, didn't it? It's been a while since I watched it.

    Jeff Hirsch said...

    Yeah, I agree, think the big changes will move away from computer technology and move towards advances in medicine, genetics, etc which are really ripe for some serious ethical dilemmas.

    I'm holding out my hopes for jetpacks though...

    Melody said...

    Wow, that's weird!
    But cool. I love seeing how we really are living in the 'future' that past generations fictionalized.

    Riv Re said...

    That's actually kind of creepy!
    Maybe the ideas for robots ad hi-tech stuff was starting to manifest in IA's time, and they continued until they bloomed in our times.

    Julia said...

    Ha! Angie - just the mention of Woody Allen makes one think of a very strange future!

    Jeff - I'm in total agreement! I want a jetpack! And, yeah... tons of great ideas for ethical dilemmas (once again thinking The Adoration of Jenna Fox)

    Melody & Riv Re - I'm always amazed how past generations "saw" the future & then it got made! That's why I love writing speculative fiction, too!

    Jemi Fraser said...

    It's so interesting how much science fiction has come true and is coming true. I love the old Star Trek reruns for this -- laptops, cell phones... :)

    Anonymous said...

    I think there is more that hasn't come true than has... The old TV shows saying that by 2000 we will have flying cars... *looks around*

    Julia said...

    I had a Little Golden Book when I was a kid that had all kinds of flying cars in it. I wanted one so bad! Anyway - I'm guessing it's more of a matter of the skyway logistics than not having the technology. I liked (and agree with) IA's idea of vehicles that hover a foot or so above the ground. The current highways could be used as routes & there would be little wear/tear on them if the vehicles never actually touched them while they were moving. It would be very cool! Altho' I'm still with Jeff on the jetpack! :)