Thoughts From a Time Gone by.

When looking at the thoughts of people from the 1930s, about what the future would be like, many themes seemed to stand out. One was that of robots and mechanization or automation. People believed that life would be much more productive in the future as well as fast-paced with many processes not needing humans anymore.  The future was to bring about drastic changes in the realm of technology. While pondering this train of thought, some concerns also seemed to arise. This is seen in the post “Will humanity annihilate itself.” With the advancements that was supposedly going to happen, there were people who worried about its implications. When people play with fire they are bound to get burned. They were afraid of robots or machines turning against their creators and they were afraid of the theoretical aftermath of radioactive mishaps.  All these things were reasonable concerns and some have panned out. For example, look at the mishap at Fukushima in Japan after the earthquake. Nuclear energy can have serious effects on our planet. Also the burning of fossil fuels at an exponential rate, as well as all the other pollutants entering the atmosphere and contributing to Global Warming. The fears that people had about the future are proving to be real concerns. We may well lead to our own annihilation.

On a more positive note, they seemed to believe that communication would make the world smaller. This thought was also very accurate in sense. They talked of the “Super Highway of Tomorrow,” as well as, “The real picturephone,” and the ” Radio-newspaper receiver for home use.” All of these are found in our world today, and without them I dare say we would be lost. Through the internet and various programs such as Skype and Oovoo the picture phone is as real as can be. You can both see and hear the person you are conversing with. This has formed much closer bonds with societies and countries. Imagine today it is possible to hold a meeting with clients in China instantaneously, as if they were in the same room as you. Our transport networks today span for thousand s of miles connecting various places. The super highways that were thought about in the 30’s are seen nearly everywhere today, making traveling to various places easy and direct.

It seems that the purpose of the future was to break barriers and reach further than was thought possible. The future, due to the rapid rate of innovation that occurred in the 30’s and beyond, should have been transformed into an extra terrestrial place. It should have been different. It was to be a place that people of the 30s would have discoverd and been awestruck by. It was the culture of invention and discovery during that time period that lead to the genesis all these thoughts.

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Past Expectations in the Present World.

The first futuristic invention that caught my eye was the “push button farm of the year 2000.” In 1958 it was believed that farms could be operated by the push of a button in a mere 42 years. It was a very interesting assumption and too a large extent I believe that it did become a reality in some sort. This was a foresight of mechanization. Today farms are basically fully automated. There are devices that can milk cows automatically and machines that can harvest crops with practically no man power needed. They may just need guidance by a human. In these persons’ thoughts, there was a foreshadowing of the mechanization that was to take place in society. It was even thought that one day humans would be able to control the weather. Though this has not blossomed into total control we can manipulate the weather in a way through seeding the atmosphere. These is a process whereby silver iodide is added to atmosphere in order to affect a cloud’s development to make it rain. This is only successful to the extent that there is some water vapor in the atmosphere already. Even this small advancement shows that the assumptions of what our present time would have been like were not that far off.

The second assumption that caught my eye was “Marriage 100 years from now;” with the ‘now’ referring to 1933. In essence it seemed people believed that in the future everything would be down to a science. People’s personalities and lives would be analyzed and through this analysis, they would receive the perfect match and perfect partner. They would get married to ‘Mr. Right.’ This to me is very funny as this assumption has come to pass today. The description, to me, basically describes all modern dating sites, especially the most popular ones of ‘E-Harmony’ and ‘Match.com’. On these sites you have to answer, hopefully truthfully, questions about yourself and livelihood and what you expect from your partner. After this you get personally tailored matches just for you based on the analysis of the profile you put forward. It essentially finds you the perfect match. The expansion of the internet is responsible for the emergence of dating sites as a way to take the stress out of dating. It made finding a love life simpler since you already knew how much you have in common. Many times people end up marrying people they meet on these sites and hence it fits the past assumption of future marriage pretty well.

Some questions to ponder.

Based on dream machines:

If a person can drive a car with just basic understanding of its operations why was the early computer considered to be too complex for the layman? The layman does not know the specific engineering of a car and why it is built the way it is, yet they still have the capacity to use one. Why then was it thought that computers were out of reach for the layman?

Just like how scientists are held in high esteem, did the computer programmers or creators feel like they had earned that type of position? Not everyone can use the Hadron Collider in Switzerland so, with this train of thought, should everyone have been allowed to use a computer?

Nelson feared that at worst the computer would lock us in and at best, it would further individualistic traditions and create the highest ideals. It is evident by looking at today’s society that both has happened. If his theory was taken seriously when first published would the popular or preferred uses of the computer be different? Would it be solely educational and not seen as a novelty?