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The World Fair of 2014 According To Asimov (From 1964)

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the where-is-my-bender-bot dept.

Technology 352

Esther Schindler writes "If you ever needed evidence that Isaac Asimov was a genius at extrapolating future technology from limited data, you'll enjoy this 1964 article in which he predicts what we'll see at the 2014 world's fair. For instance: "Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence. 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.)" It's really fun (and sometimes sigh-inducing) to see where he was accurate and where he wasn't. And, of course, the whole notion that we'd have a world's fair is among the inaccurate predictions."

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352 comments

One thing is for certain... (5, Funny)

bmo (77928) | about 8 months ago | (#44682243)

In the 47 years I have spent on this rock, I have yet to see a futurist reliably predict the future.

Where the fuck is my flying car?

--
BMO

Re:One thing is for certain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682269)

You're a Space Nutter, aren't you? The dog-whistle "this rock" gave you away.

Re:One thing is for certain... (1, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#44682287)

You're a Space Nutter, aren't you? The dog-whistle "this rock" gave you away.

Technically, if that is a dog whistle, it means you are also a Space Nutter (whatever that is), since you were able to hear it as well. One space nutter to another.

Re:One thing is for certain... (2)

lkernan (561783) | about 8 months ago | (#44682431)

Technically, if that is a dog whistle, it means you are also a Space Nutter (whatever that is), since you were able to hear it as well.

Maybe he just has a lot of space between his ears.

Re:One thing is for certain... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682473)

I hope not, I'd have you loons trying to colonize it.

Re:One thing is for certain... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#44682459)

Arguably the most important trait for a futurist is to write well (or other method of self-promotion). Accurate prediction not required.

Re:One thing is for certain... (2)

bmo (77928) | about 8 months ago | (#44682493)

Which is why people like Ray Kurzweil can still get away with the nonsense they write.

The singularity is bunk.

--
BMO - I'm turning into my maternal grandfather.

Re:One thing is for certain... (5, Funny)

arth1 (260657) | about 8 months ago | (#44682873)

Which is why people like Ray Kurzweil can still get away with the nonsense they write.

I was going to say St, John and the revelation, but okay.

My predictions for 50 years from now:
- No human has returned to the moon.
- NovartoGlaxoSmithKline announcing the first pharmceutical cure for religion causes widespread riots in Pakistan and Alabama.
- In Europe and Canada, the banning of driver controlled cars on public roads go into effect.
- Texas becomes the last industrialized country to abolish paper money.
- The Sino-American war winds down. With neither side wiling to risk their mainland, it was fought in Korea, which is now in ruins, and Japan, which has become a Chinese protectorate.
- Coca-Cola reintroduces Cola with Coca extract.
- I am dead.

Re:One thing is for certain... (2)

bmo (77928) | about 8 months ago | (#44682527)

RE: Your Sig.

I'm looking for examples of beautiful open source code in every language. If you know of any, please let me know.

A programmer version of Diogenes, looking for "one honest man" finding none?

http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=181 [harkavagrant.com]

--
BMO

Re:One thing is for certain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682519)

In 50 years, I predict that most futurists of today will have gotten much of what they are predicting wrong. Also, there will be strife and unrest in the Middle East.

Re:One thing is for certain... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682531)

Where the fuck is my flying car?

I blame the jews.

Re:One thing is for certain... (1, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 8 months ago | (#44682543)

Someone needs to petition Elon Musk to create a Tesla Air series car.

Re:One thing is for certain... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682795)

It will fly through a series of tubes.

Re: One thing is for certain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682545)

Predicting the future is the same as voting- it should be done early and often.

Predicitng the future is hard (5, Funny)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 8 months ago | (#44682547)

June 26, 2005

Ten things I learned about the future at the Wired NextFest

This past Saturday, I attended the Wired NextFest at Chicago's Navy Pier. The event promised visitors that they could "experience the future," and I just couldn't pass up that opportunity. I wish I had, though, because after spending a few hours at the NextFest I'm sad to report that the future isn't what it used to be. Maybe I was expecting to relive my first visit to Epcot Center as a child, or maybe I'm just jaded in my old age. Whatever the cause, my trip to the future was not very inspirational.

Here are the things I learned about the future, in no particular order.

1. The people of the future are a scantily clad people. They delight in showing off their naked, tattooed flesh.

2. In the future, an airport security checkpoint will work exactly the same as it does now, except that the scanning technology will be different. For instance, at the GE-manufactured checkpoint that I saw, the machine supposedly sniffs you for bomb residue.

Interestingly enough, there was a long line of people waiting to go through that checkpoint and be checked for bomb residue, which is something that just baffled me. I mean, don't people dread going through the checkpoint at airport security? Why voluntarily stand in line in order to pass through a security scanner if you don't have to? It's not like the machine did anything other than flash a little green light saying you were free of bomb residue. Truly, the long line of people who just couldn't wait to go through that security checkpoint was probably the most bizarre thing that I saw at the entire event.

3. The elderly Japanese people of the future will be so desperately lonely for companionship that they'll purchase creepy android replicas of the sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick. Why the Japanese, and why Phillip K. Dick? It's a long story, and I'm not sure I fully understood it all when the android's makers explained it to me.

I think the PKD robot would've been a lot cooler and significantly less creepy if they'd have glued his hair on, instead of leaving the wires in the top of his head exposed. But hey, PKD was an odd guy, and maybe he would've wanted it that way.

4. The senior citizens of the future won't roll around in wheelchairs - not even cool robotic wheelchairs like those invented by Dean Kamen. Instead, they'll have robotic exoskeletons that will make them much stronger and faster than the non-elderly. So in addition to being the largest voting block in future elections, they'll also have superhuman strength and speed.

5. In the future, most robots will look pretty much like robots have looked since the 1970's. About the only difference is that robot antennaein the 70's were spiral shaped and had a tiny ball on the tip. The current thinking is that future robots will have straight antennae with no ball, and maybe a plastic coating instead of just bare wire.

6. Apple's market share doesn't change much in the future. Out of all the computers I saw at the NextFest, only one was a Mac. Sorry Steve, but the people of the future are still using Windows. At least you can gloat that they're all still running Windows 2000. From what I saw, Windows XP never really catches on in the future, and Longhorn is nowhere to be seen at all. I did see a flying car though, so maybe it was running the embedded version of Longhorn.

7. On the weekends, the people of the future will take to the water in dolphin-shaped craft that don't look nearly as much fun to drive as a Seadoo of today. Hey, the future isn't always better than the present - sometimes we have to settle for less. The good news is that the robotic dolphin is too small to accommodate a human who's equipped with an exoskeleton, which means that if you're being pursued by a senior citizen then you can use the dolphin to escape.

8. Dolphin watercraft aren't the only form of future transportation that's a bit cramped. The electrically powered cars of the future will be quite small. In fact, when I first saw the tiny Daimler-Chrysler two-seaters on exhibit, I asked the exhibitor if the cars were perhaps meant to be attached to the side of a larger SUV, in case you run out of gas.

9. Future entertainment will follow the trends that were established with the rise of disco. First, they replaced the live band with a DJ. Next, they'll replace the DJ with a large, floor-mounted robotic arm. Also, the robo-DJs will have numbers instead of names; I asked the exhibitor lady about this. Honestly, it's not even as cool as it sounds. It's also not one of those "you had to be there" things, because I was there and ... meh. Vinyl aficionados can rejoice, though, because vinyl records are still around.

10. In a future 9/11-style scenario, where the top of a high-rise building is on fire, a Moller Aircar, according to their promotional video, will rescue the building's inhabitants one at a time. I guess future high-rises will house only a handful of highly productive office workers, because you can't save many people in a two-seater aircar. Or, maybe only the CEO was saved, and the rest of the employees were safe at their desks in Bangladesh.

Re:One thing is for certain... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682557)

Robocop was the closest prediction for me.

Re:One thing is for certain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682615)

In the 47 years I have spent on this rock, I have yet to see a futurist reliably predict the future.

Where the fuck is my flying car?

--
BMO

Wait 47 years and it still surprises you that fortune tellers can't tell the future? "Futurist" is a BS word.

Re:One thing is for certain... (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 8 months ago | (#44682625)

http://www.terrafugia.com/aircraft/transitionR [terrafugia.com]
Its not quite something you can buy today but you can put down a deposit and they have already passed all the regulatory hurdles and are soon to start production.
And yes it IS a car that flies. (although if you want to fly in it, you need to find a runway)

Re:One thing is for certain... (5, Informative)

Jiro (131519) | about 8 months ago | (#44682651)

Search for AT&T's "you will" commercials from 20 years ago. They predicted the future to an astonishing degree. Except, of course, that the companies that brought you all those things weren't AT&T.

I have your flying car (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682707)

But I'm a mad scientist so you'll have to do "certain things" with me in order to get your flying car. Once you see this car, you will question your true nature and realize that you did not actually know yourself as much as you thought you did.

Re:One thing is for certain... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682737)

Science and technolgy are driven by demand and the economy. We could have flying cars, robots in every house, total control of devices around us though small muscle or eye movements etc. The technology is there but not at a price that people are willing to pay for it yet. Having a $5 broom and a $1 dustpan and using them for 2 minutes to sweep up your floor is still a perfectly acceptable way for most people to clean up a mess. I still use a manual can opener. It works every time and takes up very little space compared to something mounted under your cabinet or a battery operated one that may or may not be charged up. .

Re:One thing is for certain... (2)

meerling (1487879) | about 8 months ago | (#44682821)

SciFi writers have made many accurate predictions based on extrapolations of technological development.
They've also made many errors, but then again, they usually aren't trying to predict what will be, just write stories about what could be.
As to getting the dates right, nobody seems to get that past the 3 year mark, unless it's already got marketing pushing for a release date, but that's not really a prediction either.

Re:One thing is for certain... (5, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 8 months ago | (#44682923)

He did mention flying cars, but he got a lot of stuff right, too! Here's a tally.

Yes:

Photosensitive windows that block out extreme light levels (well, usually sunglasses)
Automatically prepared meals (sort of, in microwave dinners; there's no standard for automated scanning of cooking times yet)
Machine language translation (this is still a big thing; Microsoft had a pretty big demo just a year or two ago—but, of course, the game's all about Chinese now)
Large solar arrays
Heavy dependence on nuclear (although not as much as he hoped)
Automated driving (definitely show-off material, if not on the market much)
Video calls (still not as popular as futurists want them to be)
Satellite networking
Mostly-automated road construction
Still no manned missions to Mars
Optical networking (although he thought it'd be through pipes and not glass fibres)
Bus rapid transit (special lanes on highways)
Earth's population over 6.5 billion
US population around 350 million (actually 319)
Less developed areas will have slipped further behind the well-developed ones (although he didn't realise that some of them would actually fall backward)
Life expectancies around 85 in some countries (82.59 in Japan)
Slowing population growth (it peaked in the 60s)
Creative industries amongst the most valued ("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.")

No:

Windows will be archaic replaced with ubiquitous light panels (apparently scenery had no appeal in 1964)
Cities will move underground so that the surface can be parks and farms.
Automatically prepared meals (he gave the example of ordering bacon, eggs, and coffee prepared in the usual manner)
Clumsy robot housekeepers (long live the Roomba—although the general spirit of the robot obsession is going strong in Japan, a land apparently unravaged by the Terminator franchise)
3D movies (on holographic cube TVs)
Radioisotope batteries in consumer electronics
FLYING CARS (well, actually hovering ones—but seriously, why?)
Outdoor moving sidewalks in cities
Heavy use of compressed air tubes for postal mail (these remain only used in special settings like moving samples around hospitals, although my supermarket has one for money, weirdly)
No parking on the street (well, except on big mainstreets, but that was common even in his day)
MOON COLONIES
Line-of-sight laser communications would be preferable to cable conduits (?!)
Boston and Washington DC will have merged into a giant city with 40 million inhabitants
Higher population in deserts and the Arctic due to population explosion (high-rises were apparently unanticipated)
Underwater housing
Attempts to sell yeast and algae as food sources (we have real tubesteak now, thank you very much)
Widespread birth control efforts (only in China, I think?)
All high school students will be able to program
Automation of all automatable jobs (going so far as to eliminate classroom teaching, apparently)
Psychiatry the most important medical specialty (due to boredom caused by automation—apparently we'll all be unemployed in about four months)

And I'm not really sure how to classify this one:

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!

So on the whole, about 50-50, mostly small things. There are some items in there that I thought were rather unexpectedly good (no manned Mars visits), but for the most part it seems we'll have to file this batch of Asimov's predictions as over-optimistic, with most other futurist forecasts.

As someone who didn't grow up being promised flying cars, I have to wonder why (other than "because they're cool" and/or "Marty McFly had one") people expected them so much. Surely someone like Asimov would have realised that the potential benefits of such a complicated technology were tiny compared to the engineering challenges. Was the impact of the automobile on cities really so horrific that people were willing to let their future visions revolve so heavily around a method for ending traffic jams?

Re:One thing is for certain... (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 8 months ago | (#44682941)

...by "birth control efforts" I meant "birth rate control policies," i.e. China's One-child policy [wikipedia.org], not merely the existence of, distribution of, and education regarding contraceptives.

Re:One thing is for certain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44683007)

In the 47 years I have spent on this rock, I have yet to see a futurist reliably predict the future.

Somewhere between 1983 and 1985 I saw my first "mobile" phone when we hired one for site use. It had a traditional dial and handset placed on a battery about the size of three housebricks. I said to my colleague, "In the future these will be miniaturised and absolutely everybody will carry one around with them all the time. If you don't have one you'll be the kind of outcast that doesn't have a TV now." He looked at me as though I was from Mars. Not my only good call, btw, maybe I ought to have been a professional futurist, just for your sakes. :) I should have bought Motorola shares (and later sold them for Nokia -> Apple -> Samsung), for sure.

Now it's one thing to make a call like that 10-15 years into the future with a relatively predictable piece of tech like that. I'm actually super impressed that Asimov was so damned accurate 50 years ago. You don't ask for much, do you?

Flying cars [wikipedia.org] have existed for some time now. But you have to live in a place with a runway leading into your garage.

So he was off by a year? Next one is in 2015. (5, Informative)

forevermore (582201) | about 8 months ago | (#44682247)

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world_expositions [wikipedia.org] there was one in 2012, and there is one planned for 2015, so he was only off by a year. It's not like they were an annual occurrence in his time, either.

Re:So he was off by a year? Next one is in 2015. (4, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | about 8 months ago | (#44682439)

Yeah, and I hear IBM's planning to introduce their "Crushinator" maid robot at it! Two tons of hot robot maid! Ooh yeah!

Re: So he was off by a year? Next one is in 2015. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682521)

He should be more surprised to learn that IBM abandoned the consumer segment completely and now only deals with *yawn* enterprise.....

Re: So he was off by a year? Next one is in 2015. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682709)

International Business Machines never really had a consumer division, then or now, except for a short stint in the 80's where they made PCs that were subsequently cloned and outsold by everyone else.

"the whole notion that we'd have a world's fair" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682253)

Of course we have world's fairs. They are called Expos. The Shanghai one was in 2010 and the Aichi one was in 2005. You must be American to be so unaware of what is happening in the world.

Re:"the whole notion that we'd have a world's fair (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682513)

The Americunts don't come because they are so deluded that they are #1. Fall of the US = Victory for the world.

Re:"the whole notion that we'd have a world's fair (1)

eagle8635 (674636) | about 8 months ago | (#44682581)

I was lucky enough to attend the Aichi World Expo in 2005. The "robots" were pretty good, but not really autonomous. Software is were the work needs to happen; and IBM it working on that in a sense. So, well done Asimov. Kinda.

and yet (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#44682279)

classify it into 'throw away' and 'set aside.'

This is the hardest part. We have robots that are quite agile, but classifying objects into 'throw away' and 'set aside' is still extremely difficult.

Why even classify? (5, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 months ago | (#44682315)

This is the hardest part. We have robots that are quite agile, but classifying objects into 'throw away' and 'set aside' is still extremely difficult.

I think there are plenty of other harder parts because I don't care if a robot can do that. Just a simple robot that could dust every item on a shelf would be fantastic. Heck, even if it could just lift any arbitrary item and clean only the shelf it would be fantastic.

The ability to lift and replace arbitrary items on a crowded shelf would seem to be pretty hard all by itself, without any need of classifying them...

Re:Why even classify? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682751)

It's like you've never used a regular expression: “all items” includes the dust :)

What? The robot doesn't have that degree of spatial recognition and manipulative prowess? Okay... so now we're talking shitty hardware? ;P

Re:and yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682421)

Not true. It can be quite easy. From hoarderbot's source code:

def bin_or_save(item):
        return SET_ASIDE

Re:and yet (2)

znanue (2782675) | about 8 months ago | (#44682903)

Not true. It can be quite easy. From hoarderbot's source code:

def bin_or_save(item): return SET_ASIDE

sigh, python coders!

Re:and yet (5, Informative)

loufoque (1400831) | about 8 months ago | (#44682429)

We have machines that can sort trash on a conveyor belt with air jets at amazing speeds.

Re:and yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682495)

Only after it's first been classified as trash, by someone, somewhere. That is the original poster's point I think.

Re:and yet (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682451)

We do have robots that can recognise objects based on different criteria, including 3D spacial modelling and tactile properties, so classifying them is just a matter of creating a large enough database of household objects, which will be done eventually once the tech becomes commercially viable and desirable (for some strange reason people don't like the thought of autonomous machines rummaging through their belongings when they are not looking)

Re:and yet (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682549)

classifying objects into 'throw away' and 'set aside' is still extremely difficult.

Robots aren't the only ones to have a problem with that. My aunt is always telling us how my uncle gets it wrong all the time, and according to my girlfriend I've learned a lot from him too.

Simple object separating algorithm... (1)

gwolf (26339) | about 8 months ago | (#44682759)


IF object.contains?(Carbon); THEN
    object.throw_away();
ELSE
    object.set_aside();
FI

Re:and yet (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about 8 months ago | (#44682995)

One of the conciets of the pulp science fiction age was that house work was going to be more automobile than 'real' brain work. House work was done by robots, but navigation was still done by hand. By the 1960's it was clear that all the math stuff was easily automated, in 2014 Wolfram can basically solve any college level math problem you give it, but housework is still done by hand. Furthermore, there are a lot of manufacturing jobs available, they just don't pay enough to keep them in the developed world.

Which leads to an interesting piece of economics that the writers of the time, most all versed in economics, seemed to miss. That we will pay for things, like cable, but not for things like a autonomous vacuum cleaner or lawn mower. That as long as people are willing to work cheaper than a machine, we will pay the people.

Did he ever revisit these predictions? (5, Interesting)

Derec01 (1668942) | about 8 months ago | (#44682309)

Considering Asimov did not die until the early nineties, did he ever update or evaluate the progress towards his earlier predictions? I feel he would have revised his belief that, for instance, mankind would be increasingly interested in living in hermetically sealed, controlled bubbles.

Re:Did he ever revisit these predictions? (4, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#44682353)

oh? the windows on my building at work don't open. my windows at home are open maybe 2 months total out of the year.

Re:Did he ever revisit these predictions? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44683037)

Lucky you, I never open my windows especially after eating a bean burrito at taco hell. I smite my friends with the stench of digested bean burritos.

Re:Did he ever revisit these predictions? (1)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about 8 months ago | (#44682735)

Sadly, he was slowly dying of cancer since the early 80's.
he lost interest in his writing, and more in staying alive.
I met him in late '79.
he was doing his last university circuit. windows wasn't on the horizon

Re:Did he ever revisit these predictions? (5, Informative)

Moridineas (213502) | about 8 months ago | (#44682969)

Isaac Asimov did not have cancer. He died of AIDS complications. He was a very early casualty and was infected by a tainted blood transfusion. He and his family kept the truth a secret for many years due to the early stigma of aids.

Re:Did he ever revisit these predictions? (2)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 8 months ago | (#44682959)

Asimov was on a TV show where the host asked him about his earlier prediction that the world would only have five computers. Asimov asked that the question be cut, where the confused newscaster pointed out it was a live show. So Asimov walked out of the interview.

Wonder why the dislike of sunlight (3, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 months ago | (#44682337)

The oddest part of the whole thing to me, was the thought that so many people would want to get rid of sunlight to the greatest extent possible.

The opposite has been true, luxury houses all have huge windows. People love natural light indoors, and a lot of money is spent trying to replicate it with artificial lighting...

I wonder if that was a prevailing opinion at the time, or if it was just something Asimov preferred.

Re:Wonder why the dislike of sunlight (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682357)

The oddest part of the whole thing to me, was the thought that so many people would want to get rid of sunlight to the greatest extent possible.

The opposite has been true, luxury houses all have huge windows. People love natural light indoors, and a lot of money is spent trying to replicate it with artificial lighting...

I wonder if that was a prevailing opinion at the time, or if it was just something Asimov preferred.

If you look at Asimov's works of fiction, you will see several (e.g. The Caves of Steel - the Elijah Bailey series) where humans can't tolerate sunlight and open spaces, and you will also see some where people live on a planet with 7 suns and the entire world goes crazy because they can't stand the darkness when all of them set (or have eclipses) all at once.

Re:Wonder why the dislike of sunlight (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#44682359)

most people don't live in luxury houses. and we sure as hell don't work in them. we bask most the working day and night under artificial light.

Re:Wonder why the dislike of sunlight (5, Informative)

bws111 (1216812) | about 8 months ago | (#44682393)

In 1964, most windows were still glazed with a single pane. They let lots of heat in during the summer and out during the winter. In addition, the sun coming in through the windows tended to fade carpets and furniture. Today, with double and triple glazing, and low e coatings, we get the light without the problems.

Re:Wonder why the dislike of sunlight (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682829)

In 2013, in Australia, at least, double glazing is still rare. http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/ABS@.nsf/2f762f95845417aeca25706c00834efa/66EB261521F6DE96CA25750E00108C0D?opendocument

Re:Wonder why the dislike of sunlight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682935)

LCD tech was just being discovered. It was thought a main use would be for controlling the opacity of windows with the flick of a switch.

Asimov (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682341)

This is one of the reasons I like to read Asimov's work. It's not (completely) wild imagination - there's actually some thought into whether things are reasonable.

My favorite Asimov invention that actually came to be is "Psychohistory": The kinds of big data analysis that we can do today are pretty much exactly what he's talking about. I worked on a project recently about predicting the behavior of Indian terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-taiba and the Mujahadeen based on the last 20 years of the actions they've done and the things that have happened in their environment. There were some things we were able to predict about future behavior with accuracy as good as 90%."

Re:Asimov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682563)

Anything specific?

Pocket Computers (3, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | about 8 months ago | (#44682369)

Asimov predicted 'pocket compiters (I think it was in one of the early foundation books) and when pocket calculators came out in the 70's they were using red LEDs and the 'good doctor' said "look I even got the colors right.
(but 40 years later pocket compiters are using multicolored displays, so much for his predictions.)

Like many SF authors he was obsessed with humanoid style robots, but that hasn't happened even though other robots are around in quantity.

The first law of Robotics doesn't seem to be around either (just the opposite when you think of drones)

Re:Pocket Computers (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 8 months ago | (#44682407)

Well, there are humanoid robots, but they kind of suck at being humanoid. Robots build for a purpose aren't humanoid. The human form is an animal form. A humanoid form would work fine if you were making a robot out of meat.

Re:Pocket Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682471)

Like many SF authors he was obsessed with humanoid style robots, but that hasn't happened

It happened, man! After they defeated us they managed to brainwash most people and now live in disguise. I don't have much time but now that you've read this you know too much. If you don't want them to screw with your brain again you must find %#$`#{`&NO CARRIER

Re:Pocket Computers (4, Interesting)

dcollins (135727) | about 8 months ago | (#44682603)

I recently wrote a series of blogs analyzing Asimov's use of technology (esp. hyperspace and calculating jumps) in the original Foundation trilogy. The best it gets in the 3rd book is to have a room-sized computer that can project a picture of the galaxy and locate your position in space in only a half-hour ("the Lens"). Probably the two most jarring elements when re-reading these books is how all communication is still done on paper (stacks of paperwork, paper capsules for secure messaging, paper star charts for navigation), and that most everyone is smoking everywhere all the time. Follow-up would be the absence of women in any leadership or technical roles. This being set 50,000 years in the future.

http://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2013/07/scifi-saturday-asimov-on-hyperspace-pt-4.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Pocket Computers (1)

eclectro (227083) | about 8 months ago | (#44682647)

(just the opposite when you think of drones)

It's hard to call remote controlled aircraft aka drones "robots", which are autonomous machines capable of making decisions without human intervention.

But that's also the reason why the self-driving robot cars seem to be coming true, with vehicles similar to Google's driverless car. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Pocket Computers (1)

cas2000 (148703) | about 8 months ago | (#44682933)

the american obsession with humanoid robots is a harkening back to the good old days when you could own slaves - i.e. it's entirely due to the fact that they are slave substitutes who won't murder you in your sleep for mis-treating them.

in fact, due to Asimov's 3 laws, they *can't* murder you in your sleep.

Asimov didn't live long enough (2)

veektor (545483) | about 8 months ago | (#44682371)

Too bad Asimov didn't live long enough to revist his predictions. I'm sure he would have had something interesting to day about the hazards of prediction. Here's hoping that my prediction is as good as the best of his, although we can never know.

Amazing Asimov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682387)

Not only did he get his technology predictions far more accurate than other futurists, he also figured out which companies would survive (GE and IBM)

Fair good, olympics bad (2)

johnwerneken (74428) | about 8 months ago | (#44682395)

Is fun watching folks compete to be best, I have seen it at the Olympic level, but it is useless. And considering the expense, outrageous.

Fairs were a good custom in many ways, particularly World's Fairs. I miss them, and could do entirely without the Oily Pimpics.

True Sage (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682399)

Several misses for each hit. A few from TFA:

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.

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.

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. 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.

  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.

  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.

Re:True Sage (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 8 months ago | (#44682655)

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.

Not a total miss. If you haven't seen these, they you haven't been in the right office buildings. Okay, so they're mostly backed by either fluorescent lights or LEDs, and the panels themselves don't glow, per se, but the basic idea is valid. It also reminds me of the LED panels that are sometimes used in newer TV setups.

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.

Yeah, that's a miss. It never made it out of military use to the civilian world, and it already existed in the military world at the time of this prediction.

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.

s/downtown/airport/. And non-moving elevated sidewalks (pedestrian bridges) are actually becoming pretty common these days. So not entirely a miss. The real miss is the assumption that anyone would still care about the downtown anymore.

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.

The last part... only in Venice.... That said, AFAIK, most parking in major cities is off-street, statistically.

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.

That's a miss. Turns out trucks are cheaper than redundant infrastructure.

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.

Let's call that one half right. 3D TV is starting to become available in households, though the viewing angle is limited, and it still requires you to wear glasses. Flat panels have largely replaced CRTs, though only a small percentage of them are actually mounted on walls.

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.

Have you looked at birth rates in developed nations? He pretty much nailed this one, notwithstanding the lack of a formal propaganda drive....

Re:True Sage (1)

kenj0418 (230916) | about 8 months ago | (#44682727)

There will, therefore, be a worldwide propaganda drive in favor of birth control ...

Have you looked at birth rates in developed nations? He pretty much nailed this one, notwithstanding the lack of a formal propaganda drive....

Wait, I thought that's what reality TV was.

Re:True Sage (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 8 months ago | (#44682733)

He underestimated the 2014 population as 6.5 billion, but overestimated how much people would care about it.

Re:True Sage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682657)

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.

Can you imagine that in the 1960's people wore suits in their office with no air conditioning? I can't even imagine wearing a shirt and tie all day in the summer with no air conditioning.

These days the environment suits me fine enough, though I do hope that someone finishes that laser gun that shoots down mosquitoes.

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.

You win this point. Nobody's going to hang giant flat panels all over their walls and ceilings. After all, just the one's enough to light up the room.

Propaganda (1)

tpstigers (1075021) | about 8 months ago | (#44682409)

It reads more like a commercial for the 1964 fair than a series of predictions for a future one.

Re:Propaganda (1)

Scott Tracy (317419) | about 8 months ago | (#44682443)

Seriously...as I was reading I kept thinking "No, nope, wrong." In fact he didn't do any better than an episode of The Jetsons.

Then Again (1)

b4upoo (166390) | about 8 months ago | (#44682441)

I would say our cruise missiles and drones are wonderful examples of just how well robots can work right now. And those Google cars driving about are neat as well. Then we have a very sleek drone that sort of looks like a flying saucer that lands itself on an aircraft carrier better than human pilots can. The Navy is also working on large ships which are robotic that can carry and deploy drones in large numbers. Sometimes robots are around us and we just don't think of what they really are.

Re:Then Again (0)

Tim Baird (2823913) | about 8 months ago | (#44682477)

Cruise missiles and drones are wonderful? You, my friend are brain dead.

Re:Then Again (1)

fnj (64210) | about 8 months ago | (#44682805)

Misconstrue what you want. You know damn well the wording was that they were "wonderful examples" of what technology is capable of. You think they are not?

Moon colonies... (5, Insightful)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 8 months ago | (#44682445)

The saddest part is that he doesn't feel the need to mention the moon colonies except to discuss improved communication with them. Humanities future in space was so obvious that it didn't even need to be stated.

Re:Moon colonies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682535)

Well, to be fair, at the time the US did have the world fooled into thinking that it cared about anything except winning a vague war against the rest of the world. Looking back, I cannot but regret that the USA had a space program. Perhaps other countries wouldn't have waited as long to start ours.

Re:Moon colonies... (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 8 months ago | (#44682639)

It was interesting that in the same prediction he was still hedging his bets on whether fiber optic communication would be common. Laser tunnels are strung everywhere and are ubiquitous. So common we don't even use all of them.

Personally (3, Funny)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 8 months ago | (#44682511)

I'm still waiting for the orgasmatron to come into production.

Re:Personally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682719)

Pssst! What you call the orgasmatron is what the rest of us call "The Internet". Don't tell anybody but there is pr0n everywhere on the Internet.

Good News, Everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682571)

"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. "

How True (1)

waddleman (1230926) | about 8 months ago | (#44682587)

The thing that disturbed me the most about his article was the last sentence:

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!

Lumbering cleaner robot? (3, Interesting)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 8 months ago | (#44682695)

Google: Wikipedia Jetsons [wikipedia.org]

Jetsons ran from 63-64. Asimov's predictions were from 64. So did Asimov get a kick out of Rosie? Heh. There's not enough information available to know this, but that's the first thing I thought of.

Sadly... (4, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 8 months ago | (#44682703)

The missiles Asimov mentions in his opening paragraph are what stopped his vision on electricity from coming anywhere near reality: "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."

Instead, we're still just as dependent on coal, oil and gas as ever.

Inaccurate? (3, Informative)

AJWM (19027) | about 8 months ago | (#44682747)

And, of course, the whole notion that we'd have a world's fair is among the inaccurate predictions.

It's only off by one year. Expo 2015 will be in Milan, Italy. There was one last year (2012) in Yeosu, S. Korea. The World's Fairs started using the term Expo with the 1967 Montreal World's Fair, Expo '67.

It's generally a good idea to know what you're talking about before you accuse someone else of inaccuracy.

9 years too late and in the wrong country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44682763)

Aichi's World Fair, Expo 2005. Robots and green spaces were the theme of 2005's world fair. Trash cans were emptied and replaced by robots.

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