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Things should be much better next year than the 1980s

by on31 December 2018

Issac Asimov’s predictions for 2019

In 1983, American writer Isaac Asimov wrote that by 2019, “It is quite likely that society, then, will have entered a phase that may be more or less permanently improved over the situation as it now exists”.

Writing for Insight magazine, Asimov said that if the Russians and Americans had not stopped being twats and blown up the world computerisation will undoubtedly continue onward inevitably.

“Computers have already made themselves essential to the governments of the industrial nations, and world industry: and it is now beginning to make itself comfortable in the home”, he said.

He predicted that the mobile computerised object, or robot, which was “already flooding into the industry” and will, in the course of the next generation, penetrate the home.

Asimov warned that there would be resistance to the march of the computers, but barring a successful Luddite revolution, which was unlikely, the march will continue.

He thought that society would become so complex that it would be impossible to do without computers and those parts of the world that fall behind in this respect will suffer so obviously as a result that their ruling bodies will clamour for computerisation as they now clamour for weapons.

“It is not that computerisation is going to mean fewer jobs as a whole, for technological advance has always, in the past, created more jobs than it has destroyed, and there is no reason to think that won’t be true now, too”, he said.

The jobs created will not be the same as the jobs that have been destroyed, and in similar cases, in the past, the change has never been so radical.

Jobs that will go are the routine clerical and assembly line jobs that are simple enough.

“The jobs that will appear will, inevitably, involve the design, the manufacture, the installation, the maintenance and repair of computers and robots, and an understanding of whole new industries that these “intelligent” machines will make possible”, he wrote.

This means that a vast change like education must take place, and entire populations must be made “computer-literate” and must be taught to deal with a “high-tech” world.

Mass public education had to be introduced in industrialising nations in the 19th century, but the change this time will be much quicker.

By the year 2019, however, we should find that the transition is about over.

“Those who can be retrained and re-educated will have been: those who can’t be will have been put to work at something useful, or where ruling groups are less wise, will have been supported by some sort of grudging welfare arrangement”, he said.

The transition generation will be dying out, and there will be a new generation growing up who will have been educated into the new world.

However, he warned that governments would be unable to hide from themselves the fact that no problem can be solved as long as those problems continue to be intensified by the addition of greater numbers more rapidly than they can be dealt with.

Efforts to prevent this from happening by encouraging a lower birthrate will become steadily more strenuous, and it is to be hoped that by 2019, the world as a whole will be striving toward a population plateau.

“The consequences of human irresponsibility regarding waste and pollution will become more apparent and unbearable with time and again, attempts to deal with this will become more strenuous. It is to be hoped that by 2019, advances in technology will place tools in our hands that will help accelerate the process whereby the deterioration of the environment will be reversed.”

He also believed that there would be increasing co-operation among nations and among groups within societies, not out of any sudden growth of idealism or decency but out of a cold-blooded realisation that anything less than that will mean destruction for all.

“By 2019, then, it may well be that the nations will be getting along well enough to allow the planet to live under the faint semblance of a world government by co-operation, even though no one may admit its existence”, Asimov said.

Some of his predictions fall a bit flat. He thought that by By 2019, we would be back on the moon in force.

“There will be on it not Americans only, but an international force of some size; and not to collect moon rocks only, but to establish a mining station that will process moon soil and take it to places in space where it can be smelted into metals, ceramics. glass and concrete — construction materials for the large structures that will be put in orbit about the Earth”, he wrote.

He predicted that a prototype of a solar power station, outfitted to collect solar energy, convert it to microwaves and beam it to Earth could have been developed.

“It would be the first of a girdle of such devices fitted about Earth’s equatorial plane. It would the beginning of the time when a major part of Earth’s energy will come from the sun under conditions that will make it not the property of any one nation, but of the globe generally”, Asimov wrote.

“By 2019, the first space settlement should be on the drawing boards; and may perhaps be under actual construction. It would be the first of many in which human beings could live by the tens of thousands, and in which they could build small societies of all kinds, lending humanity a further twist of variety”, Asimov wrote

As Hari Seldon did not predict the Mule, Asimov failed to detect the rise of Steve Jobs and the overall lowering of world standards.  That sort of future was the sort of thing that Black Mirror would think about. Asimov's predictions of a Luddite rebellion does appear to be happening in the US where intelligent people are hunted for sport by gun touting red-hatted flat-earthers who believe the earth was created 6000 years ago. These Luddites worship a giant orange ego which started life as a reality TV show star andd spews out lies across an interconnected mobile network to brainwash its followers.  No Sci-fi writer could have predicted that sort of future.

You can read the full predictions here

Last modified on 31 December 2018
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