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Isaac Asimov's 50-Year-Old Prediction For 2014 Is Viral and Wrong

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the so-just-like-everything-else-on-the-internet dept.

The Media 385

Daniel_Stuckey writes "The media is currently praising Isaac Asimov's vision for 2014, which he articulated in a New York Times opinion piece in 1964. The sci-fi writer imagined visiting the 2014 World Fair, and the global culture and economy the exhibits might reflect. NPR called his many predictions, which range from cordless smart telephones, to robots running our leisure society, to machine-cooked 'automeals,' 'right on.' Business Insider called the forecast 'spot on.' The Huffington Post called the projections 'eerily accurate.' The only thing is, they're not. Taken as a whole, Asimov's vision for 2014 is wildly off. It's more that 'Genius predicted the future 50 years ago' makes for a great article hook. Asimov does hit a couple pretty close to home: He got pretty close to guessing the world population (6.5 billion); he anticipated automated cars ('vehicles with 'robot brains'"); and he seems to have described the current smartphone/tablet craze ('sight-sound' telephones that 'can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books.') But he also thought we'd have a colony on the moon, be living under a global population control regime, eating at multi-flavored algae bars, and letting machines prepare us personalized meals. Most divergent of all, he believed that increasing automatization of labor would spawn not inequality or joblessness, but spiritual malaise."

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385 comments

Link to Asimov's actual article (5, Informative)

fv (95460) | about 4 months ago | (#45860129)

The summary links to four different commentaries but not Asimov's original article [nytimes.com] . I'd rather get it from the source.

Re:Link to Asimov's actual article (3, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 4 months ago | (#45860309)

On reading the original I think it is amazingly accurate.

Thanks for the link.

Re:Link to Asimov's actual article (3, Informative)

cruff (171569) | about 4 months ago | (#45860425)

On reading the original I think it is amazingly accurate.

To me, it didn't seem that accurate in terms of the number of correct predictions. The overall flavor of his predictions seems reasonable, however. After all, he predicted flying cars of a type, and they are still not here. I want my flying car!

Re:Link to Asimov's actual article (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 months ago | (#45860457)

The science and technology are amazingly accurate, the social and cultural changes are not even close; and really the social and cultural issues are far more important. A guaranteed income, mass joblessness, and and strict population controls would all have much, much larger effects on the world we live in than video conferencing and drones on Mars.

Re:Link to Asimov's actual article (1)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | about 4 months ago | (#45860449)

Asimov did predict that alpha particles would have the potential to disrupt computer memory back in 1952.....

I beg to differ (4, Insightful)

vikingpower (768921) | about 4 months ago | (#45860147)

Most divergent of all, he believed that increasing automatization of labor would spawn not inequality or joblessness, but spiritual malaise.

How is this different from what we have now, I insist and ask ?

Re:I beg to differ (5, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 4 months ago | (#45860171)

There is a lot less influence from religion and a far greater part of social contact is indirectly, through devices.
Our current spiritual "average" situation may wel look like malaise to somebody living in 1964.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 4 months ago | (#45860329)

On the other hand, the global population control regime is only slightly less efficient than he predicted.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

plover (150551) | about 4 months ago | (#45860433)

If we accept the premise that we are in a period of "spiritual malaise" (not that I necessarily know how to measure such a thing, or even that I agree we're in such a period), I still wouldn't agree that "automatization of labor" is the cause. A cell phone or a tablet is not a labor saving device as much as it is a communications and information delivery device, and I don't see that a Facebook relationship enhances or detracts from spirituality. Maybe you can't follow your favorite deity on Twitter, but you can sure find and associate with millions of his or her followers quite easily.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 4 months ago | (#45860597)

Pastors often have their congregation "turn off" all their electronics in order to better hear God. It's a common theme in churches. So the constant filling of our time with noise does contribute to our "spiritual malaise", at least according to many in spiritual jobs.

Re:I beg to differ (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#45860657)

Keep in mind Asimov was an avowed atheist, and his description of "spiritual malaise" referred more to human nature, and less to going to church.

Re:I beg to differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860553)

I would say we have a large scale malaise. Religion is fading, other than where people want to cultivate it for purposes of war. Even basic respect for nature seems to be gone, with materialism and pursuit of the almighty dollar (or yaun, ruble, BitCoin, Euro, or whatever currency.)

When meeting people for lunch, this is something I have started to see. Spirituality just isn't there. Usually they care more if you are driving a BMW better than a 3 series than anything cultural, spiritual, or even religious. Materialism is now the biggest religion and spiritual path.

Of course, mindless materialism can't last. It ends up becoming a petri dish for fascism. The last time we had a global culture similar to this was pre-World War 1, and "The Guns of August" is a good detailing of what can happen... and in the age of the Internet, going from a sleepy materialistic philosophy to armies clashing all around the globe wouldn't be happening in a month, it could happen within days, especially if something happens and a skirmish happens due to disputed islands.

Re:I beg to differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860639)

When meeting people for lunch, this is something I have started to see. Spirituality just isn't there. Usually they care more if you are driving a BMW better than a 3 series than anything cultural, spiritual, or even religious. Materialism is now the biggest religion and spiritual path.

This isn't new or recent at all, it's just that you only recently took notice of it.

Re:I beg to differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860615)

I don't think you are looking at this the right way. There was a time when you would work with your hands and actually see something concrete as a result. Think of a fine piece of furniture made by hand vs by the press of a button. Automation has eliminated many of these professions.

Re:I beg to differ (2)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 4 months ago | (#45860373)

Most divergent of all, he believed that increasing automatization of labor would spawn not inequality or joblessness, but spiritual malaise.

How is this different from what we have now, I insist and ask ?

It wasn't caused by automation.

Re:I beg to differ (3, Interesting)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 4 months ago | (#45860561)

Wasn't it? Brooding over existential issues is a pastime largely confined to the better off (it's hard to worry about the meaning of life when you're more worried about getting enough food to eat). It could be argued that by increasing affluence enough that large segments of the population are secure enough to be having these sorts of issues, automation did cause the malaise.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 4 months ago | (#45860719)

Wasn't it? Brooding over existential issues is a pastime largely confined to the better off (it's hard to worry about the meaning of life when you're more worried about getting enough food to eat). It could be argued that by increasing affluence enough that large segments of the population are secure enough to be having these sorts of issues, automation did cause the malaise.

I would have gone with disenfranchisement and economic woes that the rich are insulated from, and the expanding gap between the ultra-wealthy and everyone else.

Re:I beg to differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860521)

He failed to predict that automation would just put people out of work. 50 years ago the world was under much greater influence from Democratic Socialist parties and philosophers and people thought of unions as permanent fixtures of our lives. The assumption was that when automation started making physical labor unnecessary that we as a society would work some way of spreading the wealth out. We have, to a limited degree. Medicare, Medicaid, and the set of programs that get called "Welfare" wouldn't be possible at their current levels without automation and the profits from greater efficiency, but it's hardly a check in the pocket of every one who would have had a factory job in the past.

However, the pervasive dissatisfaction of those who are employed in menial fluorescent-lit automation related jobs (just about all of us here), as well as the manifest negative effects of depending on a chain of government programs has on people's overall wellbeing, I think "automation will cause malaise" is pretty accurate, even if his underlying economic assumptions were off.

Re:I beg to differ (3, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 months ago | (#45860523)

Asimov thought we'd automate everything and everyone would basically have access to everything they really desired. He thought everyone living like kings and never having to work would make everyone a bit depressed and dissatisfied with their lives.

Re:I beg to differ (2)

TimFenn (924261) | about 4 months ago | (#45860547)

Most divergent of all, he believed that increasing automatization of labor would spawn not inequality or joblessness, but spiritual malaise.

How is this different from what we have now, I insist and ask ?

The 60s were different in that they were one of the few times when there wasn't increasing inequality/joblesness - people married young and could hold on to a job for 50 years - which is the outlier, not the historical norm. Just look at the 19th century by comparison. For a bit more discussion, see here [nytimes.com] .

Re:I beg to differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860563)

Indeed. See Juliet Schor's "The Overworked American". Automation has not produced inequality. That's just good old fashioned exploitation by people in power. Automation could have given us the chance for more leisure time, but what wasn't foreseen is that most people cannot handle free time. We panic without constant sense of purpose and a tightly defined sense of meaning in our lives. So instead of having more free time we've developed senseless workaholism, obsessive "productivity" and existential anxiety. We literally soothe ourselves by making sure that we're "stressed out", which we accomplish primarily by spending far too many hours at work.

And your predictions? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860149)

Seeing your gripe at Asimov's article I am very curious... What are your predictions for 2064?
Do you think you can hit as many home runs as Asimov?

Re:And your predictions? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#45860189)

If I make enough predictions, I'll get some right.

Re:And your predictions? (3, Interesting)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about 4 months ago | (#45860417)

Bullshit. Make 30 non-trivial predictions, let's see if you get even 10 right.

Asimov was a smart dude, and he did a lot better at predicting 50 years away than most "technologists"/"futurists" would today.

Re:And your predictions? (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 4 months ago | (#45860697)

Make a high enough volume of predictions and you're guaranteed to get an equal or greater number right. Nobody said anything about success *percentage* :)

Re:And your predictions? (5, Funny)

Sperbels (1008585) | about 4 months ago | (#45860733)

Asimov was a smart dude, and he did a lot better at predicting 50 years away than most "technologists"/"futurists" would today.

Well, it's rather simple to see the future when you're the founder of psychohistory. Duh.

Re:And your predictions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860571)

somethin tells me -- no. face it, youradope

Re:And your predictions? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860229)

Once someone invents a sexbot, all progress will grind to a halt. As a matter of fact, I think that's why intelligent species never progress to interstellar travel. Once they have the sexbot, they never leave the house.

Re:And your predictions? (2)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#45860351)

Once someone invents a sexbot, all progress will grind to a halt. As a matter of fact, I think that's why intelligent species never progress to interstellar travel. Once they have the sexbot, they never leave the house.

Nah, that's a brief stumbling block. Eventually most species figure out that you can put a sexbot on a space ship, and interstellar travel is appealing again. That's also why we don't see aliens all over the place - they just have great technology to insure a little privacy when it's most needed.
 

Re:And your predictions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860467)

or they find it is more fun to fly to a backwater planet and pick up a few rednecks to anally probe...

Re:And your predictions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860355)

Once someone invents a sexbot, all progress will grind to a halt. As a matter of fact, I think that's why intelligent species never progress to interstellar travel. Once they have the sexbot, they never leave the house.

how good is she? i mean, progress would have to go through a winding down of sorts, as the quality of sexbots goes from "what the heck lets give it a try" to "oh my i am never bothering with a real woman again". I mean, most men have no problem keeping themselves "Entertained" with no sexbot at all, so it would take a seriously good sexbot to really disrupt the landscape.

Or were you referring to some sort of sexbot for women? Come to think of it that would pretty much ruin everything.

Re:And your predictions? (3, Insightful)

doti (966971) | about 4 months ago | (#45860367)

You overestimate sex.

Once you can get it freely and any time you want, it eventually decays into just another thing you do for pleasure, or even just to satisfy another nature's urge.

Re:And your predictions? (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 4 months ago | (#45860675)

Nah, it'll be drouds. Why filter your pleasure through the limited bandwidth and range of your physical senses?

Re:And your predictions? (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 4 months ago | (#45860233)

It's easy to win on predictions - just make sure your predictions are obvious. Throw in a "robot controlled car" or two to make people think and so you don't get 100% and you're golden. Hence

- People will continue to be stupid.
- There will be wars still.
- Computers will become cheaper, more powerful, more "invisible" and thus more ubiquitous.
- We'll send more stuff out of the atmosphere, and it won't just be the US doing so.
- We'll make advances in personal medicine in (pick any particular area here, say, genetics, or mental health).
- etc. etc. etc.

Read Asimov's predictions: the more specific you are, the less accurate you will be. Multi-flavoured algae is a sci-fi staple, one up from a magic meal-pill. Automated cars? We could have had them back in the 40's, it depends on your definition of automated (hint: When was the first autopilot invented? - go looking for the answer on the BBC TV show "QI"). Video phones? People have been predicting them since before TV existed. World population? Just extrapolate the curve and you won't go far wrong. The rest is all stuff that could easily have happened, we just didn't happen to go in those directions.

The problem with predicting the future isn't in being right. It's in being USEFUL in being right. None of the above predictions are helpful to anyone, even if you could GUARANTEE they would be correct. Which, even Asimov, who had a pretty good grasp of what the future could be, couldn't be better than about 20%.

Re:And your predictions? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#45860525)

Multi-flavoured algae is a sci-fi staple, one up from a magic meal-pill.

Well, to be honest, algae and yeast food was Asimov's pet peeve of sorts. And I still think that it's not such a bad idea. [wikipedia.org]

Automated cars? We could have had them back in the 40's, it depends on your definition of automated (hint: When was the first autopilot invented? - go looking for the answer on the BBC TV show "QI")

QI? Is that the show where they seriously claimed that Earth had two moons? BTW, have you noticed how simple an autopilot is, compared to self-driving cars? The need for situational awareness for an airplane autopilot is ridiculously low compared to driving.

Re:And your predictions? (5, Funny)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 4 months ago | (#45860239)

Seeing your gripe at Asimov's article I am very curious... What are your predictions for 2064?

The Year of Linux on the Desktop?

Re:And your predictions? (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 4 months ago | (#45860627)

Seeing your gripe at Asimov's article I am very curious... What are your predictions for 2064?

The Year of Linux on the Desktop?

Microsoft will release a crappy OS, but after the patch it will be slightly less crappy.

Re:And your predictions? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#45860707)

Seeing your gripe at Asimov's article I am very curious... What are your predictions for 2064?

The Year of Linux on the Desktop?

Certainly. But since the invention of seamless human-computer interface brain implants will have relegated desktop computers into the area of retro-computing by 2057, it will still mean that it will only be for geeks.

Re:And your predictions? (2)

fyec (3404475) | about 4 months ago | (#45860363)

I think you missed the point of the post. The OP was not griping about how inaccurate Asimov was. The griping is about NPR, Huffington Post, and Business Insider and their lauding of how right Asimov was, when he mostly wasn't.
Asimov was brilliant and certainly did better in these predictions than many could have done, but he got more wrong than right. A headline like "Genius predicted a few things but was mostly wrong" just does not make good copy.

Re:And your predictions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860365)

Yes. I bet I can get 100%.

There will be rainy days.
There will be sunny days.
There will be cold days.
There will be warm days.
There will be snowy days.

Mark your calendar with this in 50 years to see how correct I am.

Commentbait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860155)

Most divergent of all, he believed that increasing automatization of labor would spawn not inequality or joblessness, but spiritual malaise.

That's outrageous! I'm so incensed I'm going to post a comment citing at least two examples and/or authoritative opinions which contradict your assertion!

Biggest oops (5, Funny)

blogan (84463) | about 4 months ago | (#45860157)

He keeps thinking there will be a 2014 World's Fair.

Re:Biggest oops (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860567)

After having seen a documentary on the Chicago' Columbian Exposition a while back, I wondered why we don't have World's Fairs anymore.

Turns out, we still do [wikipedia.org] . The most recent one was in 2012 in South Korea, the next one will be in 2015 in Milan. (They're called "Expo"s now, rather than "World's Fairs".) The US hasn't had one since the boondoggle that was the 1984 New Orleans World's Fair, though.

3 out of 8 (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860161)

not exactly eerie and shows why i say the huff post site is nothing more then hollywood garbage spin site run by chicks and there boyfriends ....

you'd not be passing mant tests with that score now would ya

Re:3 out of 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860461)

3 out of 8? Is that your average spelling or grammar test score? Your IQ ranking? Or your chances of finding employment?

Spiritual Malaise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860169)

Is caused by no hope of ever getting a job..

Sounds a lot like our permanent unemployed to me...

Only Art (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860185)

At one point in predicting the robotic future in one essay in his magazine, Asimov said that if there was no work, all that people would have left to do was develop entertainment. Reminds me of Robert Noyse believing that the only use for a computer in the home was for recipes in the kitchen. Of course, Ben Franklin could think of no real use for electricity either.

Re:Only Art (4, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | about 4 months ago | (#45860349)

Don't be so dismissive of recipes.

The 2nd thing that the printing press was used for was recipes.

This post is incredibly biased. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860199)

>Most divergent of all, he believed that increasing automatization of labor would spawn not inequality or joblessness, but spiritual malaise.

Lol what? Automatization is to blame? What sort retard actually believes this? SURELY it's not god-awful policies, allowing corporations and banks to get out of control, or any of that sort of "serious" business. It's OBVIOUSLY improvements of our working conditions and the ability to produce more.

Re:This post is incredibly biased. (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 4 months ago | (#45860375)

The same sort that would make up the word automatization instead of just saying automation.

Re:This post is incredibly biased. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860663)

Yeah, people are sad because banks made money. That's what happened. It's not because we've learned that poor people can't control their envy but also can't be bothered to put any effort into fixing things and so sit around uselessly waiting for mommy gov't to buy them a higher def big screen TV as a reward for going through the trouble of being born. It's the fault of the productive...

...letting machines prepare us personalized meals. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860201)

hmmm, almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

Re:...letting machines prepare us personalized mea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860519)

I beg to differ. I have a Breville that automatically produces a concoction that is almost entirely like tea. Which is good for me, because if left to my own with naught but a stove and a kettle, I could burn water.

Future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860213)

I think Asimov also wrote " My job isn't to predict the future but prevent it"

Re:Future? (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 4 months ago | (#45860511)

I think that's more commonly attributed to Ray Bradbury. I don't actually consider Bradbury a science-fiction writer, but mine is apparently a minority view.

Not bad (4, Insightful)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 4 months ago | (#45860247)

From one of TFAs:

... 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.

But what he failed to grasp was that the mindset of people in general changes. So if we're all bored, all we'll do is invent shit like facebook, and call it 'an integrated part of our society'. But he knew that 'passing time' isn't just some thing to do. This guy was a genius to conclude that robots would be doing a lot of the labor that men used to do, and since the people would be so great in numbers, they'd get bored to such an extent that would cause them mental repercussions. This is beyond what anyone would have been able to experience up to the 60's, in my opinion.

Borderline Communist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860257)

If you read a lot of his stories, they are about communist societies. No money, but everyone has a job and is given what is needed to survive, especially on his stories that take place on Earth (Caves of Steel an example). That being said, a lot of them are about how a society like that can't exist forever and personal freedoms cause issues eventually. It all ends with his foundation series where a central government completely breaks down and the humans suddenly evolve into a super communist intergalactic collective. Maybe he only though it would work with some super natural element.

I think he wanted to see a unified human government that worked for the people without corruption, but he wasn't sure how that could possibly work in the long run.

Re:Borderline Communist (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 4 months ago | (#45860595)

...they are about communist societies. No money, but everyone has a job and is given what is needed to survive...

So, just like the Star Trek universe then?

His Smartphone prediction was incredible but... (3, Funny)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 4 months ago | (#45860271)

he failed to predict they would have rounded corners, which everyone knows is the true genius of the smartphone.

Re:His Smartphone prediction was incredible but... (1, Funny)

OzPeter (195038) | about 4 months ago | (#45860405)

he failed to predict they would have rounded corners, which everyone knows is the true genius of the smartphone.

He actually wanted to say they had rounded corners - but his lawyers advised him against that. It was something to do about a time travel machine, a patent application and being sued or some such.

Re:His Smartphone prediction was incredible but... (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 4 months ago | (#45860413)

Yeah, that loser Asimov probably thought they would have buttons. What a stooge.

Re:His Smartphone prediction was incredible but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860555)

he failed to predict they would have rounded corners, which everyone knows is the true genius of the smartphone.

Actually it is. In due time, the typical user would be prone to injure themselves badly on square corners. Now everybody take out a circle of paper...

"Spiritual malaise"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860321)

I think he got the spiritual malaise aspect right on, if you ask me. The dull, repetitive jobs of the new service economy created by automation and offshoring offer little fulfillment or meaning, let alone pay. Is it any wonder that people are more interested in the antics of TV celebrities and us versus them politics than the advancement of humanity?

More hits than misses (1)

ScienceMan (636648) | about 4 months ago | (#45860323)

Considering the trends when he was writing, and which of these were easy projections compared to tough predictions, I'd say the Good Doctor got much more right than wrong in this article. You were expecting may be 100% You've been reading too much Buzzfeed...

The tech boom is micro, not macro (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 4 months ago | (#45860331)

It seems like most sci-fi predictions were based on the big ticket items when the real marvels are in nano technology. Of course, most writers/theorists probably didn't foresee a surge in the "ownership society" attitude of citizenry.

I wouldn't say he was wrong (2)

pesho (843750) | about 4 months ago | (#45860347)

To me it seems he was too optimistic. He got the technology part pretty well. What he underestimated was the dickishness of the average human:

  • 1. Global governance: why not, we badly needed. The only problem is that people on any given spot of the world think the guys across the border are out to get them.
  • 2. Base on the moon. No problem from technical standpoint, but then again who is going to spend money on that when a war makes for a better photo-op and comes handy during elections.
  • 3. Distributing fairly the productivity gains from automation. Yeah right! You are fired, go flip burgers. Oh and by the way you have to know that flipping burgers is not a carrier, so we are going to pay you less than it would cost us to put a robot there. You see we are doing you good here by providing a stimulus for you to achieve your dreams.

Re:I wouldn't say he was wrong (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 4 months ago | (#45860397)

Even the areas where he was kind of right also touched on things that aren't really all that different between then and now. On the one hand, his idea of automated meals didn't quite pan out but they already had TV dinners back then anyways.

Plus there is still this annoying air gap between the freezer and the stove and ZERO inter-device integration.

Even if I wanted a TV dinner warm and ready when I step into the house, there would still be that air gap and integration problem.

Actually... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860391)

The current result of automated labor is spiritual malaise... Because that's an inexorable product of it having brought radical inequality and joblessness since our culture bases one's personal value upon one's wealth.

We do have algae in our beverages [nakedjuice.com] , China did undertake a massive population control regime, and I'm not sure what you'd called TV dinners if not "machine-created meals". Granted, they aren't personalized and prepared on the spot as he might perhaps have envisioned, but I'm more than willing to grant him a correct prediction there because we've heard of robotic burger joints lately. [singularityhub.com]

As for the colony on the moon, that is easily within our capability, but the political will is not there. And that's merely a matter of the caprice of our lawmakers. Besides, Mars One is well underway, and we are eyeballing asteroid mining. Give it only a few more eyeblinks in the grand timeline of things and it's quite likely that we'll be there.

I'm willing to grant him a margin of error the same as I'm willing to grant a margin of error to all calculations, observations and predictions.

It's a bit asinine anyway as Asimov never claimed to have clairvoyance anyway. These "predictions" were just whimsical entertainment in the first goddamn place, so I have no idea why people are intensely interested in the rightness or wrongness of it all.

All that diveregent? Really? (4, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#45860407)

I have yet to see how inequality and joblessness don't cause "spiritual malaise" as a consequence. At least they certainly have "serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences", even if not along the same pathway. Ask your psychiatrist.

pfft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860451)

I might be impressed if it was done in 1364.

Too late to burn him as a false prophet? (1)

gewalker (57809) | about 4 months ago | (#45860469)

Deu 18:20-22

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.'
And if you say in your heart, 'How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?'--
when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

Being dead has not prevent exhuming the body and "punishing it" in the past. And to be honest, I don't recall anywhere the Bible calls for burning false prophets in the general case (though there are examples of putting them to death)

Of course Asimov never claimed to be a prophet, just a prognosticator. Jean Dixon on the other hand ...

Re:Too late to burn him as a false prophet? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 4 months ago | (#45860687)

He never claimed to speak in the name of God. He just made good predictions about where technology would take us.

Jack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860475)

Daniel Ducky is an idiot. you cannot possibly hope to get all the predictions right be it asimov or nostradamus. and some of his interpretations or lack there of, seem to hint that he is either completely brainwashed by popular propaganda, has mind of 8 year old or both

"eating at multi-flavored algae bars" (5, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | about 4 months ago | (#45860483)

I eat at Taco Bell semi-regularly.

Re:"eating at multi-flavored algae bars" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860751)

bah. I bet you don't even know what to do with the three shells.
savage.

Predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860505)

Most divergent of all, he believed that increasing automatization of labor would spawn not inequality or joblessness, but spiritual malaise.

I think the thing about good science fiction isn't what the author actually believes will happen but what he wants to happen. If he published a more pessimistic view then the more desirable idea wouldn't have had a chance to propagate to begin with.

yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45860557)

Is it really that astounding that an adult of reasonable intelligence predicted with some accuracy technological and social advances that might occur 50 years hence?

I predict the future (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#45860603)

In the future we will have more of the things we want, and less of the annoyances we don't want... due to technology. I'm a visionary! Oh wait, that's common sense.

Why so negative? (4, Insightful)

OblongPlatypus (233746) | about 4 months ago | (#45860661)

Sure, "spot on" is obviously stretching it, but considering the time scale I think he did really well - I doubt anyone today would be able to predict 2064 equally well. Some good examples from the original article:

State of robotics: "Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence."

State of space exploration: "By 2014, only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works."

Smartphones: "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."

Fiberoptics for data transmission: "Laser beams will have to be led through plastic pipes, to avoid material and atmospheric interference."

Flatscreens: "As for television, wall screens will have replaced the ordinary set."

Slightly too optimistic on the proliferation of programming skills, but remarkable considering the state of computers in 1964: "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""

Spiritual Malaise is the definition of Depression (2)

kahili (75864) | about 4 months ago | (#45860711)

Third world countries don't have Depression or Diabetes in remotely the numbers that we do because they are busy fighting Malaria and Tuberculosis and sometimes starvation. In fact that's the least divergent prediction.

Spritual Malaise is exactly where we are (4, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 4 months ago | (#45860731)

If "spiritual malaise" doesn't describe 21st century America, then I don't know what does.

Spiritual Malaise? (1)

Camel Pilot (78781) | about 4 months ago | (#45860747)

What exactly is spiritual malaise? Not a very precise term. To a fundamentalist Theist it might mean not accepting [insert humanlike god] as your personal Lord and Savior to another it might mean not accepting a human invented god to another it might mean not being materialistic.

Spiritual Malaise is a humpty dumpty phrase.

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