Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

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Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Broomstick »

Isaac Asimov wrote this piece back in 1964 about what the world would look like in 50 years. As usual for these things there were some hits and misses.
The New York World's Fair of 1964 is dedicated to "Peace Through Understanding." Its glimpses of the world of tomorrow rule out thermonuclear warfare. And why not? If a thermonuclear war takes place, the future will not be worth discussing. So let the missiles slumber eternally on their pads and let us observe what may come in the nonatomized world of the future.
Hit: no thermonuclear war (so far).
What is to come, through the fair's eyes at least, is wonderful. The direction in which man is traveling is viewed with buoyant hope, nowhere more so than at the General Electric pavilion. There the audience whirls through four scenes, each populated by cheerful, lifelike dummies that move and talk with a facility that, inside of a minute and a half, convinces you they are alive.

The scenes, set in or about 1900, 1920, 1940 and 1960, show the advances of electrical appliances and the changes they are bringing to living. I enjoyed it hugely and only regretted that they had not carried the scenes into the future. What will life be like, say, in 2014 A.D., 50 years from now? What will the World's Fair of 2014 be like?

I don't know, but I can guess.

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. By 2014, 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.
Miss: We don't have that. We do have LED's in various colors but they haven't fully penetrated the market by any means. As it happens, people seem to favor more or less white light rather than various colors.
Windows need be no more than an archaic touch, and even when present will be polarized to block out the harsh sunlight. The degree of opacity of the glass may even be made to alter automatically in accordance with the intensity of the light falling upon it.
Miss: Of course, you have to realize Asimov was an admitted agoraphobic. He didn't like being outside. Windows are not an "archaic touch" and indeed they are more high tech than ever. We do have polarized windows, and windows that darken automatically but they're pretty pricey and not common.
There is an underground house at the fair which is a sign of the future. if its windows are not polarized, they can nevertheless alter the "scenery" by changes in lighting. Suburban houses underground, with easily controlled temperature, free from the vicissitudes of weather, with air cleaned and light controlled, should be fairly common. At the New York World's Fair of 2014, General Motors' "Futurama" may well display vistas of underground cities complete with light- forced vegetable gardens. The surface, G.M. will argue, will be given over to large-scale agriculture, grazing and parklands, with less space wasted on actual human occupancy.
Hit and Miss: It turns out most people don't want to be underground. We do have much improved interior environment controls these days, including furnaces/air conditioners that maintain our buildings with a set range, along with filters, humidifiers, de-humidifiers, and so forth. We also have "light-forced vegetable gardens" indoors in the form of hydroponics and greenhouses. Still plenty of above-ground space used for human occupancy, though.
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. Breakfasts will be "ordered" the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning. Complete lunches and dinners, with the food semiprepared, will be stored in the freezer until ready for processing. I suspect, though, that even in 2014 it will still be advisable to have a small corner in the kitchen unit where the more individual meals can be prepared by hand, especially when company is coming.
Hit: Admittedly I'm being a bit generous here, but I think he got some broad points correct here. We DO have gadgets that prepare meals and can be programmed in advanced: crockpots, ricecookers, bread machines, coffee makers, etc. Back in the 1960's, at least in the US, the standard for coffee was a percolator parked on a stove, not a machine you could fill with coffee bits and set to start up 10 minutes before your alarm clock goes off. The whole meals stored in a freezer thing was just starting in the form of TV dinners, which you cooked in a regular oven because microwaves were not at all common kitchen appliances. So he got that right, in that "cooking" might consist of heating up something prepared. He also got right that hand preparation still happens, though he didn't foresee the whole cooking as a hobby thing so people are quite enthused about.
Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.
Hit: He's right, at least as consumer products. Industrial robots are pretty sophisticated but in this context I think he meant household servants, not industrial assembly lines.
The I.B.M. exhibit at the present fair has no robots but it is dedicated to computers, which are shown in all their amazing complexity, notably in the task of translating Russian into English. If machines are that smart today, what may not be in the works 50 years hence? It will be such computers, much miniaturized, that will serve as the "brains" of robots. In fact, the I.B.M. building at the 2014 World's Fair may have, as one of its prime exhibits, a robot housemaid*large, clumsy, slow- moving but capable of general picking-up, arranging, cleaning and manipulation of various appliances. It will undoubtedly amuse the fairgoers to scatter debris over the floor in order to see the robot lumberingly remove it and classify it into "throw away" and "set aside." (Robots for gardening work will also have made their appearance.)

General Electric at the 2014 World's Fair will be showing 3-D movies of its "Robot of the Future," neat and streamlined, its cleaning appliances built in and performing all tasks briskly. (There will be a three-hour wait in line to see the film, for some things never change.)
Hit and Miss: It's questionable just how good computers translate languages, although he clearly did not foresee Google translate and similar widely available apps. Miss in that we don't have anything like his robot housemaid. Right about the continuing hyping of "robots of the future", and the long lines for movies. We do have 3D movies now, but not everyone is happy with that technology, it seems it doesn't work well or at all for 15-20% of the population.
The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long- lived batteries running on radioisotopes. The isotopes will not be expensive for they will be by- products of the fission-power plants which, by 2014, will be supplying well over half the power needs of humanity. But once the isotype batteries are used up they will be disposed of only through authorized agents of the manufacturer.
Hit and Miss: Miss on the cordless appliances being ubiquitous. Hit on the long-lived batteries. Miss on the whole radioisotope thing.
And experimental fusion-power plant or two will already exist in 2014. (Even today, a small but genuine fusion explosion is demonstrated at frequent intervals in the G.E. exhibit at the 1964 fair.)
Hit: The key word here is experimental. We indeed have people experimenting with fusion power. They still haven't achieved it as a practical power source.
Large solar-power stations will also be in operation in a number of desert and semi-desert areas -- Arizona, the Negev, Kazakhstan.
Hit: We do have solar power stations installed and running these days.
In the more crowded, but cloudy and smoggy areas, solar power will be less practical. An exhibit at the 2014 fair will show models of power stations in space, collecting sunlight by means of huge parabolic focusing devices and radiating the energy thus collected down to earth.
Miss: As far as I know, no one is currently floating serious plans for collecting solar power in space and beaming it down to Earth.
The world of 50 years hence will have shrunk further. At the 1964 fair, the G.M. exhibit depicts, among other things, "road-building factories" in the tropics and, closer to home, crowded highways along which long buses move on special central lanes. 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. There will be aircraft, of course, but even ground travel will increasingly take to the air*a foot or two off the ground. Visitors to the 1964 fair can travel there in an "aquafoil," which lifts itself on four stilts and skims over the water with a minimum of friction. This is surely a stop-gap. By 2014 the four stilts will have been replaced by four jets of compressed air so that the vehicle will make no contact with either liquid or solid surfaces.
Miss: No road-building factories, although there's plenty of big machines and such involved these days, fewer gangs of men with pickaxes. Highways so no sign of having hit their "peak". We do have "carpool" and "bus lanes" in the busiest urban centers but no one seems particularly enthused about them. No hovercraft in general use although we do have some "aquafoil" ferries in some locations.
Jets of compressed air will also lift land vehicles off the highways, which, among other things, will minimize paving problems. Smooth earth or level lawns will do as well as pavements. Bridges will also be of less importance, since cars will be capable of crossing water on their jets, though local ordinances will discourage the practice.
Miss: No such hovercraft (outside of very rare exceptions). This is the "flying car" thing in different clothing. Did not prove practical or affordable.
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. I suspect one of the major attractions of the 2014 fair will be rides on small roboticized cars which will maneuver in crowds at the two-foot level, neatly and automatically avoiding each other.
Hit: Not quite there yet but it's coming. Worst fault here is he missed it by a few years.
For short-range travel, moving sidewalks (with benches on either side, standing room in the center) will be making their appearance in downtown sections. They will be raised above the traffic. Traffic will continue (on several levels in some places) only because all parking will be off-street and because at least 80 per cent of truck deliveries will be to certain fixed centers at the city's rim.
Miss: We only seem to have moving sidewalks at airports, and no benches on them. And truck deliveries have only increased, if anything.
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.
Miss: This whole "pneumatic tube" thing was quite the craze for a good part of the 20th Century. I never understood it, even though I remember when it was still a gee-whiz technology. They sucked. Sure, great, when it worked perfectly but the damn things kept breaking down, stuff got stuck in the tubes, even as I kid I thought "these suck. And not because that's how they move things around."
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. Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica (shown in chill splendor as part of the '64 General Motors exhibit).
Hit: Skype/chat, e-readers, the internet. And yes, the satellites were sent up and we direct dial just about everything, including Antarctica. And ships at sea. And airplanes in flight.
For that matter, 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.
Miss: No moon colonies. Sorry. I was disappointed, too.
Any number of simultaneous conversations between earth and moon can be handled by modulated laser beams, which are easy to manipulate in space. On earth, however, laser beams will have to be led through plastic pipes, to avoid material and atmospheric interference. Engineers will still be playing with that problem in 2014.
Miss: That's not how we do it.
Conversations with the moon will be a trifle uncomfortable, but the way, in that 2.5 seconds must elapse between statement and answer (it takes light that long to make the round trip). Similar conversations with Mars will experience a 3.5-minute delay even when Mars is at its closest.
Miss: Still no moon colonies.
However, by 2014, only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works and in the 2014 Futurama will show a model of an elaborate Martian colony.
Hit: Unmanned ships on Mars, yup, and a Mars colony is still set in the future.
As for television, wall screens will have replaced the ordinary set; but transparent cubes will be making their appearance in which three-dimensional viewing will be possible. In fact, one popular exhibit at the 2014 World's Fair will be such a 3-D TV, built life-size, in which ballet performances will be seen. The cube will slowly revolve for viewing from all angles.
Hit and miss: Modern flatscreens would qualify as "wall screens". We do have 3D TV's now (I happen to own one. It's not perfect.) Not using viewing cubes, though.
One can go on indefinitely in this happy extrapolation, but all is not rosy.

As I stood in line waiting to get into the General Electric exhibit at the 1964 fair, I found myself staring at Equitable Life's grim sign blinking out the population of the United States, with the number (over 191,000,000) increasing by 1 every 11 seconds. During the interval which I spent inside the G.E. pavilion, the American population had increased by nearly 300 and the world's population by 6,000.

In 2014, there is every likelihood that the world population will be 6,500,000,000 and the population of the United States will be 350,000,000. Boston-to-Washington, the most crowded area of its size on the earth, will have become a single city with a population of over 40,000,000.
Hit: Projected population pretty close to actual.
Population pressure will force increasing penetration of desert and polar areas. Most surprising and, in some ways, heartening, 2014 will see a good beginning made in the colonization of the continental shelves. Underwater housing will have its attractions to those who like water sports, and will undoubtedly encourage the more efficient exploitation of ocean resources, both food and mineral. General Motors shows, in its 1964 exhibit, the model of an underwater hotel of what might be called mouth-watering luxury. The 2014 World's Fair will have exhibits showing cities in the deep sea with bathyscaphe liners carrying men and supplies across and into the abyss.
Miss: No colonizing of the ocean's continental shelves. People not only want to be above ground, they also want to be above water. Of course, with rising ocean levels some sea-side cities might become continental shelf colonies, but not as a planned or desired thing.

Exploitation of ocean resources are efficient in that we're pulling more and more out of the ocean but that's only short term, long term we're doing it at such a rate we'll run out of fish and other stuff.
Ordinary agriculture will keep up with great difficulty and there will be "farms" turning to the more efficient micro-organisms. 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. It won't be bad at all (if you can dig up those premium prices), but there will be considerable psychological resistance to such an innovation.
Miss: Thanks to reckless input ordinary agriculture is sort of keeping up. The whole "processed yeast and algae" food meme never happened and yes, there is considerable resistance. We do have "mock turkey" and Quorn, but the former is usually soybean and the latter a fungus.
Although technology will still keep up with population through 2014, it will be only through a supreme effort and with but partial success. 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.
Hit.
Nor can technology continue to match population growth if that remains unchecked. Consider Manhattan of 1964, which has a population density of 80,000 per square mile at night and of over 100,000 per square mile during the working day. If the whole earth, including the Sahara, the Himalayan Mountain peaks, Greenland, Antarctica and every square mile of the ocean bottom, to the deepest abyss, were as packed as Manhattan at noon, surely you would agree that no way to support such a population (let alone make it comfortable) was conceivable. In fact, support would fail long before the World-Manhattan was reached.

Well, the earth's population is now about 3,000,000,000 and is doubling every 40 years. If this rate of doubling goes unchecked, then a World-Manhattan is coming in just 500 years. All earth will be a single choked Manhattan by A.D. 2450 and society will collapse long before that!

There are only two general ways of preventing this: (1) raise the death rate; (2) lower the birth rate. Undoubtedly, the world of A>D. 2014 will have agreed on the latter method. Indeed, the increasing use of mechanical devices to replace failing hearts and kidneys, and repair stiffening arteries and breaking nerves will have cut the death rate still further and have lifted the life expectancy in some parts of the world to age 85.

There will, therefore, be a worldwide propaganda drive in favor of birth control by rational and humane methods and, by 2014, it will undoubtedly have taken serious effect. The rate of increase of population will have slackened*but, I suspect, not sufficiently.

One of the more serious exhibits at the 2014 World's Fair, accordingly, will be a series of lectures, movies and documentary material at the World Population Control Center (adults only; special showings for teen-agers).
Hit and miss: Mostly hit as far as facts, but miss regarding anything organized on a global scale. Funny, it just didn't occur to anyone back in 1964 that simply educating women and a higher income for families would tend to drive down the birthrate.
The situation will have been made the more serious by the advances of automation. The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders. Schools will have to be oriented in this direction. Part of the General Electric exhibit today consists of a school of the future in which such present realities as closed-circuit TV and programmed tapes aid the teaching process. It is not only the techniques of teaching that will advance, however, but also the subject matter that will change. All the high-school students will be taught the fundamentals of computer technology will become proficient in binary arithmetic and will be trained to perfection in the use of the computer languages that will have developed out of those like the contemporary "Fortran" (from "formula translation").
Hit: allowing for the fact that personal computers weren't invented yet, the whole use of video in learning, computers, and so forth did happen. The "binary arithmetic" was a miss but that's largely because he didn't foresee the more advanced computer languages and the easier to use interfaces. We don't need binary arithmetic, we taught the computers languages easier for humans to use.

Gods, I remember Fortran... it was user hostile.
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 lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.

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!
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Ahriman238 »

I'd give him the last one. Psychiatry has become far more important, we always hear about the shrinking attention span of the next generation and, most importantly, large numbers of people have 'enforced leisure' by virtue of there not being enough jobs to go around. 'Work' as in 'gainful employment' is indeed a glorious word that people strive and compete futilely for.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Zixinus »

Miss: That's not how we do it.
I'd argue for a small, if somewhat accidental hit. While not used to talking to the moon, he is sort-of right about one thing: we do have lasers transmitting information in plastic tubes. At least, that's my understanding of what fiber-optic cables do.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by salm »

On the other hand there is free space optical communication which uses a laser to transfer data over long distances (several kilometers) where fibre is impractical.

They use one at a company i sometimes work for because the compnies servers are at an office that has a relatively slow internet connection. The other office which is pretty far away but is in line of sight, however needs access to these servers so they do it via laser.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Darth Holbytlan »

Broomstick wrote:
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. Breakfasts will be "ordered" the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning. Complete lunches and dinners, with the food semiprepared, will be stored in the freezer until ready for processing. I suspect, though, that even in 2014 it will still be advisable to have a small corner in the kitchen unit where the more individual meals can be prepared by hand, especially when company is coming.
Hit: Admittedly I'm being a bit generous here, but I think he got some broad points correct here. We DO have gadgets that prepare meals and can be programmed in advanced: crockpots, ricecookers, bread machines, coffee makers, etc. Back in the 1960's, at least in the US, the standard for coffee was a percolator parked on a stove, not a machine you could fill with coffee bits and set to start up 10 minutes before your alarm clock goes off. The whole meals stored in a freezer thing was just starting in the form of TV dinners, which you cooked in a regular oven because microwaves were not at all common kitchen appliances. So he got that right, in that "cooking" might consist of heating up something prepared. He also got right that hand preparation still happens, though he didn't foresee the whole cooking as a hobby thing so people are quite enthused about.
I think you are being too generous to Asimov. His prediction is that the workload of meal preparation will be greatly reduced by automation in the kitchen. But our actual kitchens are barely more automated now than then—the few new automation devices reduce effort in a few corner cases and the one device that is a significant increase in automation, the breadmaker, is a niche product. So I'd consider this a hit on the semiprepared meals aspect and a miss on the automation.
The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long- lived batteries running on radioisotopes. The isotopes will not be expensive for they will be by- products of the fission-power plants which, by 2014, will be supplying well over half the power needs of humanity. But once the isotype batteries are used up they will be disposed of only through authorized agents of the manufacturer.
Hit and Miss: Miss on the cordless appliances being ubiquitous. Hit on the long-lived batteries. Miss on the whole radioisotope thing.
I'd characterize this a bit differently. Our battery technology has gotten better in the last 50 years, but has not improved nearly as much as was being predicted by most anyone at the time. And we do have many ubiquitous battery-powered appliances (phones and computers, which also act as a myriad other devices), but because the battery technology isn't as good as expected, many other appliances are still corded. So a hit and miss on both appliances and long-lived batteries.
And experimental fusion-power plant or two will already exist in 2014. (Even today, a small but genuine fusion explosion is demonstrated at frequent intervals in the G.E. exhibit at the 1964 fair.)
Hit: The key word here is experimental. We indeed have people experimenting with fusion power. They still haven't achieved it as a practical power source.
I think the key word here is "power". I read this as a prediction that the technology of fusion power would be worked out and we would be in a phase of commercializing it—the experimental fusion-power plants would be actually providing power on a small scale. In fact, we are not anywhere close to that and have no good reason to expect that to change any time some. So I would say this is a miss.
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. I suspect one of the major attractions of the 2014 fair will be rides on small roboticized cars which will maneuver in crowds at the two-foot level, neatly and automatically avoiding each other.
Hit: Not quite there yet but it's coming. Worst fault here is he missed it by a few years.
If anything, Asimov underestimated the progress we've made on this front: There are street-legal (in some jurisdictions) automated cars driving well in real traffic today—they are still technically experimental, but only just.
Any number of simultaneous conversations between earth and moon can be handled by modulated laser beams, which are easy to manipulate in space. On earth, however, laser beams will have to be led through plastic pipes, to avoid material and atmospheric interference. Engineers will still be playing with that problem in 2014.
Miss: That's not how we do it.
Agreed. Asimov pretty clearly sees the biggest issue with laser communication as interference blocking the path of straight-line beams: Hence he thinks it will be easy to use in outer space, but hard on the ground—and still an engineering challenge. He wasn't anticipating the key innovation of fiber optics that made laser communication viable (and even common, like in audio equipment).
Conversations with the moon will be a trifle uncomfortable, but the way, in that 2.5 seconds must elapse between statement and answer (it takes light that long to make the round trip). Similar conversations with Mars will experience a 3.5-minute delay even when Mars is at its closest.
Miss: Still no moon colonies.
Even without Moon colonies, we still communicate with both the Moon and Mars, and do experience those delays. I don't think this counts as a prediction at all—expect a prediction that we wouldn't be violating special relativity in the next 50 years, which is hardly a surprise.
...There will, therefore, be a worldwide propaganda drive in favor of birth control by rational and humane methods and, by 2014, it will undoubtedly have taken serious effect. The rate of increase of population will have slackened*but, I suspect, not sufficiently.

One of the more serious exhibits at the 2014 World's Fair, accordingly, will be a series of lectures, movies and documentary material at the World Population Control Center (adults only; special showings for teen-agers).
Hit and miss: Mostly hit as far as facts, but miss regarding anything organized on a global scale. Funny, it just didn't occur to anyone back in 1964 that simply educating women and a higher income for families would tend to drive down the birthrate.
The "worldwide" aspect isn't there, but the fact that the most populous country in the world, China, did do this and more makes the "miss" pretty narrow.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by phongn »

Zixinus wrote:I'd argue for a small, if somewhat accidental hit. While not used to talking to the moon, he is sort-of right about one thing: we do have lasers transmitting information in plastic tubes. At least, that's my understanding of what fiber-optic cables do.
Asimov is referring to optical waveguides, which AT&T Bell Labs was hard at work on and trying to figure out how to deploy (they have to be completely straight!) Fibre optics work on the principle of total internal reflection, and pretty much came totally out of left field.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by TimothyC »

Broomstick wrote:
In the more crowded, but cloudy and smoggy areas, solar power will be less practical. An exhibit at the 2014 fair will show models of power stations in space, collecting sunlight by means of huge parabolic focusing devices and radiating the energy thus collected down to earth.
Miss: As far as I know, no one is currently floating serious plans for collecting solar power in space and beaming it down to Earth.
Well, JAXA is talking about it.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Vehrec »

His biggest miss-that there would be a world's fair in 2014.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Pelranius »

TimothyC wrote:
Broomstick wrote:
In the more crowded, but cloudy and smoggy areas, solar power will be less practical. An exhibit at the 2014 fair will show models of power stations in space, collecting sunlight by means of huge parabolic focusing devices and radiating the energy thus collected down to earth.
Miss: As far as I know, no one is currently floating serious plans for collecting solar power in space and beaming it down to Earth.
Well, JAXA is talking about it.
Assuming that succeeds, it'll be interesting to see if they can scale it up in an economic manner.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by LadyTevar »

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. It won't be bad at all (if you can dig up those premium prices), but there will be considerable psychological resistance to such an innovation.
I'd consider the "Considerable Resistance" to faux-meat a HIT, myself. Quorn? *shudder*
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Starglider »

'3D cube displays' is a hit; volumetric displays have been generally available for at least a decade, and are reasonably common in industrial & medical visualisation applications. These are generally the 'spinning 2D display in a sphere' style; solid state cubical displays do exist but the resolution is low so they're mostly used for art installations.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Zaune »

Darth Holbytlan wrote:I think you are being too generous to Asimov. His prediction is that the workload of meal preparation will be greatly reduced by automation in the kitchen. But our actual kitchens are barely more automated now than then—the few new automation devices reduce effort in a few corner cases and the one device that is a significant increase in automation, the breadmaker, is a niche product. So I'd consider this a hit on the semiprepared meals aspect and a miss on the automation.
Arguably, it's still a partial hit; it's just that the automation and resulting labour savings happen before the food reaches the kitchen. I'm not talking about ready-meals so much, but think about it: When was the last time you made your own chips in a shallow fryer, or spaghetti bolognaise with sauce that didn't come at least partly from a jar or tin?
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Broomstick »

LadyTevar wrote:
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. It won't be bad at all (if you can dig up those premium prices), but there will be considerable psychological resistance to such an innovation.
I'd consider the "Considerable Resistance" to faux-meat a HIT, myself. Quorn? *shudder*
Have you ever had Quorn? It's not too bad, I'd rate it better than Chicken McNuggets. Of course the key to a lot of food is proper preparation. I think I'd prefer it mixed in with something like a stir fry or taco stuffing or something rather than the main feature of an entre, but then more and more I'm eating my meat or meat equivalent like that anyhow.

I eat seaweed, that is, algae, too, but not processed into mock-meat. Nori on my sushi and kombu in my dashi and so on and so forth.

The closest we've come to what he's talking about is tofurkey, but like I said, that is neither yeast nor algae (nor fish nor fowl)
Zaune wrote:
Darth Holbytlan wrote:I think you are being too generous to Asimov. His prediction is that the workload of meal preparation will be greatly reduced by automation in the kitchen. But our actual kitchens are barely more automated now than then—the few new automation devices reduce effort in a few corner cases and the one device that is a significant increase in automation, the breadmaker, is a niche product. So I'd consider this a hit on the semiprepared meals aspect and a miss on the automation.
Arguably, it's still a partial hit; it's just that the automation and resulting labour savings happen before the food reaches the kitchen. I'm not talking about ready-meals so much, but think about it: When was the last time you made your own chips in a shallow fryer, or spaghetti bolognaise with sauce that didn't come at least partly from a jar or tin?
I'm not sure you grasp how much cooking has changed since 1964. The first consumer microwaves were not available until 1967, several years after this, was written. Any sort of rewarming had to be done on a stove. Frozen meals were available, but you needed an oven. If you wanted popcorn you got a pot, put oil in the bottom, the popcorn in, lid on top, and stood there shaking the pot and trying not to burn anything.

Food processors weren't commonly available in homes until the 1970's. Prior to that, if you wanted something chopped, sliced, grated, etc. you did it by hand. You certainly didn't have bags of pre-shredded cheese and the like available in the grocery store.

Kitchen automation consisted of blenders and coffee makers. OK, we had electric mixers, too. That was it.

Yes, a lot of the automation occurs prior to reaching the kitchen. The various forms of frozen food, dehydrated food, pre-prepped food are huge. I don't think you're realizing how much automation has arrived in the kitchen since 1964. The 1964 kitchen didn't have a microwave or dishwasher. Since I remember what life, and cooking, was like before all that (and I still don't have a dishwasher) I have to argue that yes, there is considerably more automation than before. You may not see it because you're so used to it. Instead of five minutes to microwave a meal or leftovers you would have spent 20-30 minutes with an oven or pot. Don't know when electric kettles were introduced in the UK but the alternative was 15-20 minutes with a stovetop kettle. You didn't load the dishwasher then wander off to do something else, you spent 30-60 minutes washing and drying everything for the typical family. Chopping stuff for dinner took more time, and posed more risk to your fingers, than using a food processor (which I also still don't have). Dinner prep was at least 30-60 minutes and so was clean up. Compare that to “nuking” a prepackaged meal for 5 minutes, eating, then tossing the container. Or opening a bag of salad pre-mix, adding bottled dressing, and sitting down to eat over a half an hour of cutting up the raw ingredients.

Then there are the self-heating meals you can get at our local truckstops. Pull tab. Wait a couple minutes. Hot food.

Now, we don't always take advantage of this streamlining but it really is easier to get food on the table quickly these days. Often easier and quicker to clean up, too. It's not just the gadgets in the kitchen, it's the stream of products funneling into them, and there's considerable feedback generating things like K-cups. These days people don't need to spend nearly as much time in their kitchen as they used to, though many continue to want to putter around making their own food.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Zaune »

Couldn't tell you about electric kettles but I know my family didn't have a dishwasher until the late 90s and a food processor was uncommon enough that my mother was really, really pleased to get one as a Christmas present. We first bought a coffee machine, albeit one of those fancy ones that does steamed milk and four different strengths, around 2005.

Admittedly my family wasn't especially wealthy, for all that my mother and stepfather desperately wanted to pretend they were middle-class, but I think part of it might be cultural. In this country the kitchen of 1964 was doing quite well if it had hot running water, so this stuff didn't really catch on and become fashionable the way it did Stateside.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Eternal_Freedom »

Zaune wrote:I think part of it might be cultural. In this country the kitchen of 1964 was doing quite well if it had hot running water, so this stuff didn't really catch on and become fashionable the way it did Stateside.
This is certainly true. I remember my grandmother telling me about the "prefab" houses you Americans sent to Britain after WW2, and how they were really amazing because they came with a fridge, something almost unknown outside of the wealthy families.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Broomstick »

Zaune wrote:Admittedly my family wasn't especially wealthy, for all that my mother and stepfather desperately wanted to pretend they were middle-class, but I think part of it might be cultural. In this country the kitchen of 1964 was doing quite well if it had hot running water, so this stuff didn't really catch on and become fashionable the way it did Stateside.
These things are by no means universal over here, either. I don't have a dishwasher, in-sink garbage disposal or a bunch of other stuff. Microwaves, though, are pretty ubiquitous.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Zaune »

Microwaves are pretty ubiquitous here as well, but I don't know how long they took to reach that stage; I'd have been... five, I think, when we first got one which puts it in the early 90s. I can just barely remember food processors being kind of trendy, with a bunch of adverts for them on television; looking back, I think they were being marketed at people who were too pretentious to use tinned tomatoes but too lazy to chop up fresh ones by hand.

And I genuinely thought in-sink garbage disposals only existed in cartoons until Bill Bryson wrote a newspaper column that was collected in Notes From A Big Country detailing all the fun he'd had stress-testing the one in his kitchen. (If you're wondering, the chopsticks made the most satisfying noise and the coffee grounds got the most visually impressive results.)
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Broomstick »

I think the in-sink units have about 40% penetration over here.

You can't install them everywhere. One reason my place doesn't have one is that they often don't play well with old septic systems, which is what we have. No matter - it winds up as garden compost.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Simon_Jester »

Broomstick wrote:... In fact, the I.B.M. building at the 2014 World's Fair may have, as one of its prime exhibits, a robot housemaid*large, clumsy, slow- moving but capable of general picking-up, arranging, cleaning and manipulation of various appliances. It will undoubtedly amuse the fairgoers to scatter debris over the floor in order to see the robot lumberingly remove it and classify it into "throw away" and "set aside." (Robots for gardening work will also have made their appearance.)

General Electric at the 2014 World's Fair will be showing 3-D movies of its "Robot of the Future," neat and streamlined, its cleaning appliances built in and performing all tasks briskly. (There will be a three-hour wait in line to see the film, for some things never change.)
Hit and Miss: It's questionable just how good computers translate languages, although he clearly did not foresee Google translate and similar widely available apps. Miss in that we don't have anything like his robot housemaid.
What Asimov probably did not foresee was that building robots to walk around a room without tripping over things or knocking things over is itself a hard task. Therefore, a human-sized robot would be actively dangerous in a household, because of the risk that it would ignorantly trip over an electric cord and start a fire or something. Therefore, no 'robot housemaids' large enough to use human-sized tools to clean up a home.

Something like a Vroomba, on the other hand, is too small to cause damage by bumping into things- so it can function effectively.

More generally, a lot of people in the 1950s and '60s had this problem. They did not realize that the things which are easy for humans (talking, walking) are easy because we evolved for them, not because they are intrinsically easy. By contrast, many things that are difficult for us because we didn't evolve for them (beating a master chess player) are actually relatively simple from a computational point of view. Thus, computers were programmed to do a lot of 'hard' things long before they will master 'easy' things like walking around a cluttered room without tripping over anything.
The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long- lived batteries running on radioisotopes. The isotopes will not be expensive for they will be by- products of the fission-power plants which, by 2014, will be supplying well over half the power needs of humanity. But once the isotype batteries are used up they will be disposed of only through authorized agents of the manufacturer.
Hit and Miss: Miss on the cordless appliances being ubiquitous. Hit on the long-lived batteries. Miss on the whole radioisotope thing.
I'm not sure how carefully Asimov thought this through. Even in 1964 it was quite well known that radioactive materials were dangerous and long-term poisonous, and that's the fundamental problem with nuclear batteries.
Large solar-power stations will also be in operation in a number of desert and semi-desert areas -- Arizona, the Negev, Kazakhstan.
Hit: We do have solar power stations installed and running these days.
Although not on the scale he's thinking of, not in as many places as I suspect he imagined.
In the more crowded, but cloudy and smoggy areas, solar power will be less practical. An exhibit at the 2014 fair will show models of power stations in space, collecting sunlight by means of huge parabolic focusing devices and radiating the energy thus collected down to earth.
Miss: As far as I know, no one is currently floating serious plans for collecting solar power in space and beaming it down to Earth.
Quite a number of corporations and governments are poking at the idea, but it's still 10-20 away from actually happening even if they go full-bore on it starting now.
Jets of compressed air will also lift land vehicles off the highways, which, among other things, will minimize paving problems. Smooth earth or level lawns will do as well as pavements. Bridges will also be of less importance, since cars will be capable of crossing water on their jets, though local ordinances will discourage the practice.
Miss: No such hovercraft (outside of very rare exceptions). This is the "flying car" thing in different clothing. Did not prove practical or affordable.
Also, suicidally unsafe. Driving hovercraft is hard; they skid under conditions where a wheeled vehicle never would.
For short-range travel, moving sidewalks (with benches on either side, standing room in the center) will be making their appearance in downtown sections. They will be raised above the traffic. Traffic will continue (on several levels in some places) only because all parking will be off-street and because at least 80 per cent of truck deliveries will be to certain fixed centers at the city's rim.
Miss: We only seem to have moving sidewalks at airports, and no benches on them. And truck deliveries have only increased, if anything.
The problem with a moving sidewalk is that it's exponentially more expensive and temperamental, for minimal gain in actual convenience because walking along a level slab of pavement is so easy almost everyone can do it.

Climbing stairs is inconvenient enough that escalators are a popular alternative; walking a block isn't.
Any number of simultaneous conversations between earth and moon can be handled by modulated laser beams, which are easy to manipulate in space. On earth, however, laser beams will have to be led through plastic pipes, to avoid material and atmospheric interference. Engineers will still be playing with that problem in 2014.
Miss: That's not how we do it.
...It kind of is; that's called a "fiber-optic cable," allowing for Asimov being vague.
Conversations with the moon will be a trifle uncomfortable, but the way, in that 2.5 seconds must elapse between statement and answer (it takes light that long to make the round trip). Similar conversations with Mars will experience a 3.5-minute delay even when Mars is at its closest.
Miss: Still no moon colonies.
Not because of technical impossibility, though- I'd say this prediction is less wrong than the one about pneumatic tubes, for example.
In 2014, there is every likelihood that the world population will be 6,500,000,000 and the population of the United States will be 350,000,000. Boston-to-Washington, the most crowded area of its size on the earth, will have become a single city with a population of over 40,000,000.
Hit: Projected population pretty close to actual.
The Boston-Washington corridor has a population in excess of fifty million, but isn't really "a single city," though it has some of the characteristics of one. This is not entirely a surprise; twenty years earlier, Asimov committed the interesting blooper of assuming that a planet with a population of forty billion would need to be totally covered in city.
Miss: No colonizing of the ocean's continental shelves. People not only want to be above ground, they also want to be above water. Of course, with rising ocean levels some sea-side cities might become continental shelf colonies, but not as a planned or desired thing.
I think one of the big overall changes that prevented many mid-century predictions from coming true was this:

People do not like to live under conditions where a technological breakdown is life-threatening in and of itself.

That explains why we don't all travel in personal helicopters as portrayed in Clarke, why we don't live in underwater cities, why there are no hundred mile an hour pedestrian slidewalks (as portrayed in The Roads Must Roll by Heinlein). All these things are perfectly possible in theory, but are not safe; there would be predictable deaths from helicopter crashes, people tripping and falling off the slidewalk, and apartment buildings being flooded with hundreds of deaths because someone bozo blew out a wall with his illegal meth lab.
Exploitation of ocean resources are efficient in that we're pulling more and more out of the ocean but that's only short term, long term we're doing it at such a rate we'll run out of fish and other stuff.
Indeed. I don't think many people were seriously concerned that we'd run out of fish in the mid-century. I'm not entirely sure there was enough knowledge about how fisheries worked to predict that in the first place.
Well, the earth's population is now about 3,000,000,000 and is doubling every 40 years. If this rate of doubling goes unchecked, then a World-Manhattan is coming in just 500 years. All earth will be a single choked Manhattan by A.D. 2450 and society will collapse long before that!

There are only two general ways of preventing this: (1) raise the death rate; (2) lower the birth rate. Undoubtedly, the world of A.D. 2014 will have agreed on the latter method. Indeed, the increasing use of mechanical devices to replace failing hearts and kidneys, and repair stiffening arteries and breaking nerves will have cut the death rate still further and have lifted the life expectancy in some parts of the world to age 85.

There will, therefore, be a worldwide propaganda drive in favor of birth control by rational and humane methods and, by 2014, it will undoubtedly have taken serious effect. The rate of increase of population will have slackened*but, I suspect, not sufficiently.

One of the more serious exhibits at the 2014 World's Fair, accordingly, will be a series of lectures, movies and documentary material at the World Population Control Center (adults only; special showings for teen-agers).
Hit and miss: Mostly hit as far as facts, but miss regarding anything organized on a global scale. Funny, it just didn't occur to anyone back in 1964 that simply educating women and a higher income for families would tend to drive down the birthrate.
It hadn't happened yet. (Male) writers assumed it was part of human nature to have several children during your life if you could get away with it, and arguably this is part of male nature. Female nature? Not so much, we're finding out; some women still do, but most don't.

On the other hand, part of this is that we've created a social expectation that women work outside the home, such that a large number of women do not have time and leisure to reproduce, even if they want to, until their prime childbearing years are behind them. That should give us pause, I think; it suggests that our way of life is badly out of tune with a basic fact about our biology.

Darth Holbytlan wrote:I think you are being too generous to Asimov. His prediction is that the workload of meal preparation will be greatly reduced by automation in the kitchen. But our actual kitchens are barely more automated now than then—the few new automation devices reduce effort in a few corner cases and the one device that is a significant increase in automation, the breadmaker, is a niche product. So I'd consider this a hit on the semiprepared meals aspect and a miss on the automation.
I think you're underestimating how significant it is to simply put non-automated appliances on a timer, something that was far more difficult in 1960 than it is today. As Broomstick notes, simple tasks like making coffee in the morning go very differently when you can put them on a timer; likewise when you can preprogram a microwave oven to give you a defined burst of heating for food that it will automatically get right without a human watching to make sure you don't burn it.

Basically, this means you no longer need a human being (i.e. a housewife) constantly monitoring the kitchen in order to get edible food out of it.
I'd characterize this a bit differently. Our battery technology has gotten better in the last 50 years, but has not improved nearly as much as was being predicted by most anyone at the time. And we do have many ubiquitous battery-powered appliances (phones and computers, which also act as a myriad other devices), but because the battery technology isn't as good as expected, many other appliances are still corded. So a hit and miss on both appliances and long-lived batteries.
Also, there is very little advantage to a battery for any appliance that you expect to plunk down on a tabletop and use in the same location for years at a time. There are good reasons why your washing machine should be powered by plugging into a wall outlet, and why this is preferable to having to change its battery.
Any number of simultaneous conversations between earth and moon can be handled by modulated laser beams, which are easy to manipulate in space. On earth, however, laser beams will have to be led through plastic pipes, to avoid material and atmospheric interference. Engineers will still be playing with that problem in 2014.
Miss: That's not how we do it.
Agreed. Asimov pretty clearly sees the biggest issue with laser communication as interference blocking the path of straight-line beams: Hence he thinks it will be easy to use in outer space, but hard on the ground—and still an engineering challenge. He wasn't anticipating the key innovation of fiber optics that made laser communication viable (and even common, like in audio equipment).
Laser beams "led through plastic [or glass] pipes" are how we use them on the ground; I think fiber-optics are very much in there.

Zaune wrote:Admittedly my family wasn't especially wealthy, for all that my mother and stepfather desperately wanted to pretend they were middle-class, but I think part of it might be cultural. In this country the kitchen of 1964 was doing quite well if it had hot running water, so this stuff didn't really catch on and become fashionable the way it did Stateside.
The US was already experiencing the rise of domestic appliances in the 1950s and '60s as part of its overall economic boom; the same period was a time of relative malaise for the UK.
Zaune wrote:Microwaves are pretty ubiquitous here as well, but I don't know how long they took to reach that stage; I'd have been... five, I think, when we first got one which puts it in the early 90s.
"Ubiquitous" in this context... well, it should mean "everywhere," as in everyone has one, but in this context no one's using it that way. We don't have a microwave in our apartment, but that's not because we can't; it's because there's no good place to put it because our kitchen is cluttered and cramped, and there wasn't one built into the wall. If we didn't need the extra space for dishes, we could get ahold of a microwave easily enough.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Darth Holbytlan »

Broomstick wrote:
Zaune wrote:Arguably, it's still a partial hit; it's just that the automation and resulting labour savings happen before the food reaches the kitchen. I'm not talking about ready-meals so much, but think about it: When was the last time you made your own chips in a shallow fryer, or spaghetti bolognaise with sauce that didn't come at least partly from a jar or tin?
I'm not sure you grasp how much cooking has changed since 1964.
A lot of this comes down to how Asimov's predictions are interpreted. I read it as him predicting not just labor saving devices, but a complete replacement of the kitchen experience with a push-button-get-food one: "Breakfasts will be "ordered" the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning." And with all of the individual components of the meal made automatically: "[brew] coffee; toasting bread; frying, poaching or scrambling eggs, grilling bacon, and so on." That's a big prediction, and one that isn't anywhere close to reality.

There's no doubt that food manufacture has become incredibly automated, but I'm counting that as a separate prediction (and a hit), with his mention of "semiprepared" meals.
The first consumer microwaves were not available until 1967, several years after this, was written.
Per Wikipedia, that is not correct. Consumer microwaves were available since 1955, and had been patented 10 years prior to that. 1967 is just when the first popular model was introduced.

Also, Asimov is describing what he would see in a 2014 World's Fair kitchen and comparing to the 1964 World's Fair kitchen. He's not talking about what the everyday kitchen will look like, but the state-of-the art. Most kitchens may not have had dishwashers, food processors, or the like, but the World's Fair kitchen probably did.
Simon_Jester wrote:I think you're underestimating how significant it is to simply put non-automated appliances on a timer, something that was far more difficult in 1960 than it is today. As Broomstick notes, simple tasks like making coffee in the morning go very differently when you can put them on a timer; likewise when you can preprogram a microwave oven to give you a defined burst of heating for food that it will automatically get right without a human watching to make sure you don't burn it.

Basically, this means you no longer need a human being (i.e. a housewife) constantly monitoring the kitchen in order to get edible food out of it.
That is a big enhancement, actually, but as I point out above, I don't think it is what Asimov is talking about.

EDIT: To be fair, though, Asimov did mention using a timer in his automated breakfast machine, so he is touching on adding timers to other cooking appliances.
Darth Holbytlan wrote:Agreed. Asimov pretty clearly sees the biggest issue with laser communication as interference blocking the path of straight-line beams: Hence he thinks it will be easy to use in outer space, but hard on the ground—and still an engineering challenge. He wasn't anticipating the key innovation of fiber optics that made laser communication viable (and even common, like in audio equipment).
Laser beams "led through plastic [or glass] pipes" are how we use them on the ground; I think fiber-optics are very much in there.
No, this is a clear miss. Plastic and glass pipes sound similar—they're both pipes, after all—but the idea behind them is completely different. Fiber optics converted a difficult technical challenge that "[e]ngineers will still be playing with...in 2014" to one that is pretty much solved. Not that Asimov could have been expected to get this one right: The first working fiber optic cable was tested a year after this was written, and the first patent applied for a year after that.

Asimov gets full credit for recognizing that laser communication would require protection to be useful on the ground, but the difference between his (reasonable) expectations of how we would get around the problem and reality are too great.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

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Broomstick wrote:Isaac Asimov wrote this piece back in 1964 about what the world would look like in 50 years. As usual for these things there were some hits and misses.
Any number of simultaneous conversations between earth and moon can be handled by modulated laser beams, which are easy to manipulate in space. On earth, however, laser beams will have to be led through plastic pipes, to avoid material and atmospheric interference. Engineers will still be playing with that problem in 2014.
Miss: That's not how we do it.
This one is a partial hit, but only just. NASA launched a laser telecommunications experiment aboard LADEE at the end of last year, and proved you could send back hundreds of megabits of data from Lunar orbit.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Broomstick »

Darth Holbytlan wrote:
The first consumer microwaves were not available until 1967, several years after this, was written.
Per Wikipedia, that is not correct. Consumer microwaves were available since 1955, and had been patented 10 years prior to that. 1967 is just when the first popular model was introduced.
No, the late 1960's is when they became affordable for the middle class. Appliances that cost thousands and thousands of 1960's dollars apiece are not going to be at all common. Re-read your article, "consumer" microwaves" in the late 1950's cost the equivalent of $17-26k in today's money. That's "available" in the sense you can get a 100 inch 3D TV these days for a "mere" $120k. It's a toy for the rich, or equipment for a commercial kitchen, not a product for the average middle class home.
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bilateralrope
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by bilateralrope »

LadyTevar wrote:
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. It won't be bad at all (if you can dig up those premium prices), but there will be considerable psychological resistance to such an innovation.
I'd consider the "Considerable Resistance" to faux-meat a HIT, myself. Quorn? *shudder*
What I've found is that the vegetarian stuff pretending to be meat is horrible. In some cases it made me wonder if the people creating it had even tried the meat they claimed it was imitating.

But the stuff that isn't pretending to be meat, that's usually much better.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Darth Holbytlan »

Broomstick wrote:
Per Wikipedia, that is not correct. Consumer microwaves were available since 1955, and had been patented 10 years prior to that. 1967 is just when the first popular model was introduced.
No, the late 1960's is when they became affordable for the middle class. Appliances that cost thousands and thousands of 1960's dollars apiece are not going to be at all common. Re-read your article, "consumer" microwaves" in the late 1950's cost the equivalent of $17-26k in today's money. That's "available" in the sense you can get a 100 inch 3D TV these days for a "mere" $120k. It's a toy for the rich, or equipment for a commercial kitchen, not a product for the average middle class home.
I was talking about the Raytheon/Tappan one which at 1955 price listed was $11K ($1295 nominal), but I was accidentally comparing the 1955 nominal price to the 1967 real one for the Amana—$3465 ($495 nominal)—so I'm still off there. $11K is pretty pricey for a "consumer" microwave.
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Re: Predicting the Future - 1964 looks at 2014 (Asimov)

Post by Pelranius »

Starglider wrote:'3D cube displays' is a hit; volumetric displays have been generally available for at least a decade, and are reasonably common in industrial & medical visualisation applications. These are generally the 'spinning 2D display in a sphere' style; solid state cubical displays do exist but the resolution is low so they're mostly used for art installations.
I assume that the main barrier would be cost (can't attest to quality, since I've never seen one in person)?
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