Sunday, January 01, 2006

Predicting The Future

Anyone have predictions for 2006? Is there going to be another New Orleans type disaster? What will happen in Iraq? The world? If you don't feel up to guessing, don't fret. As they say, nobody can predict the future.

One of the first gifts my wife got me a quarter century ago was the People's Almanac (remember them?) Presents the Book of Predictions. I didn't read it then, figuring it would be more interesting to check back years later to see how truly psychic our futurists were back then.

After 25 years, I can report that among the hundreds of predictions offered by authors, lecturers, seers and visionaries--few came close. No atomic bombs exploded, we did not colonize the moon, the big one has yet to hit San Francisco, and the USSR is not the most dominant world power as so many had predicted.

Here are a few specific predictions from notable minds of 1980:
--By 2000, Johnny Carson will be chairman of the board of NBC.
--A mining station will be operating on the moon in 2005.
--Every kind of cancer will be totally curable in early stages, and successfully treatable throughout by 2002.
--Factory production of foodstuffs improves world nutrition by 2005. Even the poor can be fed cheaply now.

Okay, but here are some predictions made in that 1980 book that raised my eyebrows. Although a great number of futurists predicted the advent of ice ages across the globe, predictor Dr. Stephen Schneider had this to say in the book:

"Beyond 2000--the burning of coal, oil and natural gas for energy production produces carbon dioxide which will continue to build up in the global atmosphere. Present theory suggests that this will warm the earth's climate . . . Noticeable warming is due, if the theory is correct, around 2000." This was long before the term "global warming" came into vogue.

Then there is Joseph Martino who served as a forecasting editor for The Futurist magazine. Back when personal computers were in their infancy, the internet was unheard of, and when other technological devices of today were just pipedreams, he forecast that these technological advances would be commonplace by today:
--TV games (pre-Nintendo, less than 10 percent of U.S. households had such games, a number Martino said would reach 90 percent by 2000)
--Point of Electronic Funds Transfer from a buyer's bank to store's account (the debit card had not even been effectively introduced and only became prevalent in the 90s. Martino saw it gaining in popularity through the end of the last century.)
--Electronic Library Services (long before the phrases internet or world wide web were coined, he predicted that by 2001, 90 percent of schools would be using such services)
--Electronic Mail (as he called it, or e-mail as we know it now, would be used for 90 percent of correspondence in the U.S. by 2005)
--Pre-recorded video disc (what we now know as a DVD. Martino thought 90 percent of households would be using these by 2006).

So let's hear it for Joseph Martino, prognosticator extraordinaire. And, by the way, a writer of science fiction and fantasy.


Blogger Peter said...

What about Buck Rogers Dave, half the stuff they dreamt up for the Sat. arvo serial has come to pass, I wonder who's leading and who's following?

4:34 AM  
Blogger poopie said...

Hmm..I hope that predictions are correct. My personal tarot card reader says I've got something wonderful on the way!!

8:24 AM  
Blogger schnoodlepooh said...

I predict that in Seattle it will rain tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and the day after that ... etc. etc. etc.

9:32 AM  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

When you get reincarnated, like Martino did, predictions is easy.

For instance, I predict that I will visit this site tomorrow, too.

(I got the old ESP gift, you know.)

11:29 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

That's pretty interesting...I think if I died and came back 20 years later, that I would be flabergasted at the advances in the computer industry. What is it going to be like in 20 years, I can't even guess. Thanks for the interesting info.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

That's interesting, Dave. Actually, I believe we're already having a couple of natural disasters. Texas and Oklahoma is burning up and California is washing away.

9:26 AM  
Blogger bornfool said...

Mr. Martino did a pretty remarkable job. Cool idea to save the almanac and look back at them looking ahead.

11:22 AM  
Blogger WordWhiz said...

I predicted the CD player would never catch on. People, I theorized, would NEVER be willing to replace their entire stero system just to play music on a different format!

Check out some of Charlie's predictions for 2006:

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:43 AM  

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