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The World Fair of 2014 According To Asimov (From 1964) 352

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the where-is-my-bender-bot dept.
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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The World Fair of 2014 According To Asimov (From 1964)

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  • by bmo (77928) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:11PM (#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

    • Arguably the most important trait for a futurist is to write well (or other method of self-promotion). Accurate prediction not required.
      • by bmo (77928)

        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.

        • by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @12:32AM (#44682873) Homepage Journal

          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.

          • by xenobyte (446878)

            My predictions for 50 years from now:
            - No human has returned to the moon.

            Wrong. I'm fairly certain that in 50 years there would be a small colony of people living on the moon. Humans will also have visited Mars.

            - NovartoGlaxoSmithKline announcing the first pharmceutical cure for religion causes widespread riots in Pakistan and Alabama.

            Fun! - But I doubt that religion can be cured pharmaceutically. It isn't a medical condition and the general stupidity usually behind it cannot be cured, although less inbreeding will help.

            - In Europe and Canada, the banning of driver controlled cars on public roads go into effect.

            It think this will happen sooner.

            - Texas becomes the last industrialized country to abolish paper money.

            ...and this will happen after having used their own Lone Star Dollars for two decades.

            - 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.

            Not that unlikely. I think North Korea would have helped creating

            • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:49AM (#44684637)

              Wrong. I'm fairly certain that in 50 years there would be a small colony of people living on the moon. Humans will also have visited Mars.

              I'm fairly certain that in 50 years Presidents will still be promising a small colony of people living on the moon and a Mars mission in 50 years.

            • - NovartoGlaxoSmithKline announcing the first pharmceutical cure for religion causes widespread riots in Pakistan and Alabama.

              Fun! - But I doubt that religion can be cured pharmaceutically. It isn't a medical condition...

              You missed the news. A while back - 6 months to 2 years - there was a news article finding a link between religious belief and the (chemical or genetic, I forget which) makeup of the body. That implies religious belief is subject to encouragement or discouragement by biochemical means.
              My

            • by geekoid (135745)

              There is specific brain chemistry that happens to facilitate religious beliefs, so I would say it is possible.

              ALL you decisions, beliefs, thoughts are all just chemical reactions.

              "- I am dead.

              So am I.

              --"
              Not me.

            • by booch (4157)

              Wrong. I'm fairly certain that in 50 years there would be a small colony of people living on the moon.

              Do you realize that nobody has even set foot on the moon in the past 40 years? Or even left low earth orbit.

          • by MistrX (1566617)

            No one mentioned 3D copying? I mean, I predict that 3D scanning and printing will be a normal thing in 50 years.
            Everyone copies! Everyone replicates!
            The economy would look a bit different. We either have copyright laws that strangle society or we abolish copyright laws to the fullest.

          • by gatkinso (15975)

            >> Japan, which has become a Chinese protectorate.

            Is that before or after Japan nukes the living shit out of China?

      • by bmo (77928)

        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: (Score:2, Funny)

      by binarylarry (1338699)

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It will fly through a series of tubes.

    • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:11PM (#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

    • by jonwil (467024)

      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)

    • by Jiro (131519) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:33PM (#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.

    • by meerling (1487879)
      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.
    • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @12:45AM (#44682923) Homepage Journal

      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

    • "Where the fuck is my flying car?"

      It's here. We have just gone way beyond flying cars and you missed it.
      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1qCA_om_CTY/UYgoajU-iAI/AAAAAAAAHtE/lTI2XEPveQw/s1600/coolcar.jpg [blogspot.com]

      I will say, however, that Asimov pretty much described the Google car.

    • by Jeremi (14640)

      Where the fuck is my flying car?

      Wisconsin? [dailymail.co.uk]

  • by forevermore (582201) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:11PM (#44682247) Homepage
    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.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:15PM (#44682279) Journal

    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? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:21PM (#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...

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      no, not hard at all. one little RFID in everything and problem is solved.

    • Re:and yet (Score:5, Informative)

      by loufoque (1400831) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:46PM (#44682429)

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


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

    • Re:and yet (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:05AM (#44682995) Homepage Journal
      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.

    • Re:and yet (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Miamicanes (730264) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:51AM (#44683171)

      I'll be happy with an arm on a ceiling-mounted gantry that retracts into a niche above the bath-shower alcove and keeps the toilet nice and sparkly clean, including the unspeakably nasty region BEHIND the toilet.

      Somebody tell me again why it's impossible to buy a house in America with master bathroom that's built like a big waterproof shower with floor drain, so you can just hose it down with soapy water to clean it? Oh, right... because our building codes force you to use P traps and dry-venting for every single drain in the house, instead of allowing drum traps for floor drains (building a floor drain with a drum trap is cheap and easy; P-traps intrude into the ceiling envelope of the floor below, and dry-venting a floor drain that's in the middle of the room in a code-compliant manner is hard due to the horizontal distance it has to run before going vertical).

      • by lxs (131946)

        I'll be happy when people stop being too lazy and/or proud to keep their own houses clean.
        An unspeakably nasty region behind the toilet doesn't appear overnight.

      • by LoRdTAW (99712)

        Agreed. I have always wanted a bathroom with central drain and the ability to quickly wash down the bathroom. Behind the toilet always gets grimey as well as the area just under and behind the seat hinge. It could also allow for a smaller bathroom with a shower head hanging from the ceiling. Just stand and shower right in the middle, no need for a stall. Hell wouldn't it be even better if you could sit on the bowl and shower at the same time? That would save some time in the morning. Bonus if the bathroom c

        • by judoguy (534886)

          Agreed. I have always wanted a bathroom with central drain and the ability to quickly wash down the bathroom.

          Ever live as part of a family? All you'd have to do is move all the towels and electric razors and hair driers and all the other stuff real bathrooms have then hose everything down, wait for it to dry sufficiently, and then replace everything.

          Voila! Labor savings!

  • by Derec01 (1668942) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:20PM (#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.

    • by rubycodez (864176) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:29PM (#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.

    • 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
      • by Moridineas (213502) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @12:58AM (#44682969) Journal

        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.

      • by Tran (721196)

        Yeah, I think that was the "Our future in the Cosmos" series of presentations. I saw him present that at NASA Langley Research Center.
        Stood in line to meet him and get his autograph on a scrap piece of paper. Then I recognized the man sitting behind him, talking to him on occasion - and got his autograph right next to Isaac Asimov's. That man was no other than Mr Kelly Freas (Frank Kelly Freas). He was astonished that anyone recognized him, and I kept it to myself I had just seen him recently at a Sci-Con,

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      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.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:26PM (#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.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      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.

    • by bws111 (1216812) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:36PM (#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.

  • Asimov (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:27PM (#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%."

    • by gsslay (807818)

      Asimov was a genius. Not a brilliant writer, but a genius all the same. He was best at short stories, where he could get an idea across quickly. But I find his novels by-the-numbers and tedious. Too many wooden discussions going on that repeat themselves in order to hammer a point home. And he never managed to write a female character that wasn't a two dimensional cypher.

      But it doesn't surprise me that this essay is remarkably accurate.

  • Pocket Computers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rossdee (243626) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:32PM (#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)

    • by Shavano (2541114)
      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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dcollins (135727) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:25PM (#44682603) Homepage

      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]

    • by cas2000 (148703)

      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.

      • by kamapuaa (555446)

        Isn't humanoid robots an international thing? If anything, maybe Japanese.

      • by xenobyte (446878)

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

        Actually they can. Turns out Asimov made a classic mistake when he created the three laws, a mistake he actually used later when it came to the robots on Solaria. The laws are immutable except through generalization which apparently is only possible for telepathic robots, but the definitions behind them aren't. You can modify the definitions of 'human' and emphasize the check of this, which makes such a robot clearly state when someone appears to be human but fails on a single important parameter: "You're n

    • by Jonner (189691)

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

      There isn't yet artificial intelligence anywhere close to the level for which the laws of robotics would make sense. However, even if there ever is such AI, it is naive in the extreme to think there could be universal agreement on how such AIs should be constrained. I doubt even Asimov thought that was realistic. I think his interest in the laws was for thought experiments and plot devices more than anything else. Notice that he doesn't mention them in this essay.

  • 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.
  • 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 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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

    • by dgatwood (11270)

      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

      • by kenj0418 (230916)

        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.

      • He underestimated the 2014 population as 6.5 billion, but overestimated how much people would care about it.
        • by iluvcapra (782887)

          Relatedly:

          (Robots for gardening work will also have made their appearance.)

          Isaac Asimov, Manhattanite that he was, clearly never paid a Mexican to cut his lawn for $7 an hour.

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

  • Moon colonies... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joe_frisch (1366229) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:49PM (#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.

    • 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.

    • by Jeremi (14640)

      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.

      It's not all that sad. People living in space will be about as happy and healthy as dolphins living on mountaintops. There might be a 3-day window of enjoyment of the novelty; after the spacesickness subsides and before the ennui sets in; after that, just an ever-growing sense of "I wish I was back on Earth so I could go outside and see a tree now and then".

      • To the contrary, once permanent colonies are established, people will adapt. Just look at the extreme environments that people inhabit on earth, from Sahara to the Arctic.

        It's past time for humans to be out there, exploring and exploiting the resources of the solar system.

  • Personally (Score:3, Funny)

    by Mister Liberty (769145) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:02PM (#44682511)

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

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:48PM (#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... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nemyst (1383049) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:51PM (#44682703) Homepage
    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.
    • by pne (93383)

      once the isotype batteries are used up they will be disposed of only through authorized agents of the manufacturer.

      And you know that if the radioisotope batteries had come to pass, that sentence might be true for first-world countries with a stable political infrastructure and a wide network of agents, but in some countries, people would be taking them apart on the street and harvesting still-usable components... and quite possibly doing so not only to their own used batteries but also to some sent to them by "authorized agents of the manufacturer".

      Just look at what's happening with electronics, with people "cooking" ci

  • Inaccurate? (Score:4, Informative)

    by AJWM (19027) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @12:01AM (#44682747) Homepage

    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.

  • by fwc (168330) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:46AM (#44683153)

    There's a jules verne short story called "in the year 2889" which is a very interesting read as well.. . I'd say in many ways he was describing 2013, not 2889...

    Definitely worth the 5-10 minutes to read.

  • Like this one from Popular Mechanics in 1954:

    http://blogs.osafoundation.org/mitch/Picfrom1954PopulareMechanics.jpg [osafoundation.org]

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