Observing the opinion mongers of the MSM or from the right and left sides of the blogosphere, there is no shortage of people who will tell you exactly how the future will unfold. Whether foaming through your TV screens or hammering at their keyboards like a finger stabbing a chest, they are in your face challenging you to defy their ability to foresee events.
I vaguely remember attending the Century 21 Exposition in 1962 when I was five years old. It is interesting to watch the old film feature from “The World of the Future” exposition and see how people of the time thought technology would evolve and what they thought was likely to remain more or less unchanged.
According to the futurists toiling at the Bell Systems Pavilion, the communication devices of tomorrow were to be pretty much the same as the older ones only bigger…and for some reason built to withstand severe aerodynamic forces. No real mention of a phone as small as a credit card with the data storage capacity of a 60’s era mainframe. Too far fetched I guess. And can you imagine waiting only twenty seconds for a call connection? I think they severely underestimated the attention spans of our post modern culture. They also seemed to miss the mark a bit regarding the young women of the future being arroused by animated models of DNA strands rather than the more time honored vices.
When viewed against the backdrop of a romantic technologically advanced utopia of monorails and jet-packs, the rickshaws and girlie shows featured in the film seem an hilarious anachronism but it is easy to forget that while the personal jet-craft never materialized, you can still catch a bicycle powered rickshaw to a sporting event downtown and hit any number of strip clubs after the game.
There is often nothing that looks more rediculous than a view of the future in hindsight. I have my opinions and I express them freely here, but it’s important to remember that the world and the people who inhabit it are immense in complexity and that events rarely transpire the way we think they will. We can use history and experience to help guide us but in the end we are all for the most part just guessing, hoping that we get it right.