Isaac Asimov Predicted In 1964 What The World Would Look Like In 2014, and He Wasn't Far Off
In 1964, in honor of New York City's hosting of The World's Fair, sci-fi author and Boston University biochemistry professor Isaac Asimov wrote his predictions for 2014 in The New York Times. He based all his predictions on the assumption that the world would survive the nuclear threats of the Cold War — and his predictions came pretty close to the truth:
"Gadgetry will continue to relieve mankind of tedious jobs. 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."
"Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence."
"The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long- lived batteries running on radioisotopes."
"Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone."
"You will be able to reach someone at the moon colonies, concerning which General Motors puts on a display of impressive vehicles (in model form) with large soft tires* intended to negotiate the uneven terrain that may exist on our natural satellite."
"By 2014, only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works."
Some of the predictions are pretty crazy though, even for 2014:
"Suburban houses underground, with easily controlled temperature, free from the vicissitudes of weather, with air cleaned and light controlled, should be fairly common."
"There is every likelihood that highways at least in the more advanced sections of the world* will have passed their peak in 2014; there will be increasing emphasis on transportation that makes the least possible contact with the surface."
"Compressed air tubes will carry goods and materials over local stretches, and the switching devices that will place specific shipments in specific destinations will be one of the city's marvels."
But worst of all, Asimov wasn't that far off the mark in predicting a society with growing inequality and, for the rich world, an obsession with work masking a growing anxiety only remedied by Xanax:
"Not all the world's population will enjoy the gadgety world of the future to the full. A larger portion than today will be deprived and although they may be better off, materially, than today, they will be further behind when compared with the advanced portions of the world. They will have moved backward, relatively."
"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."
"Indeed, the most somber speculation I can make about A.D. 2014 is that in a society of enforced leisure, the most glorious single word in the vocabulary will have become work!"
2014 has only just begun — the world still has a little time to catch up to Asimov's predictions. Soon enough, we might just be able to hop into our flying cars after enjoying that automated breakfast meal.
Image: Andrew Kitzmiller/Flickr