In August of 1964, just more than 50 years ago, author Isaac Asimov wrote a piece in The New York Times, pegged to that summer’s World Fair.
In the essay, Asimov imagines what the World Fair would be like in 2014—his future, already our past.
“Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare ‘automeals,’ heating water and converting it to coffee.””
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“Complete lunches and dinners, with the food semiprepared, will be stored in the freezer until ready for processing.”
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“The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course.”
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“Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with ‘Robot-brains.’”“Vehicles that can be set for particular destinations and that will then proceed there without interference by the slow reflexes of a human driver.”
“There will be increasing emphasis on transportation that makes the least possible contact with the surface.”
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“By 2014, only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works and in the 2014 Futurama will show a model of an elaborate Martian colony.”
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“For short-range travel, moving sidewalks (with benches on either side, standing room in the center) will be making their appearance in downtown sections.”
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“In 2014, there is every likelihood that the world population will be 6,500,000,000 and the population of the United States will be 350,000,000.”
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“Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth.”
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“Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone.”“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.”
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“Part of the General Electric exhibit today consists of a school of the future in which such present realities as closed-circuit TV and programmed tapes aid the teaching process.”
“Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.”
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“The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders.”
“Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom.”
“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.”
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“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!”
It’s worth noting that, while quite impressive, Asimov didn’t get everything right. 2014 will most surely come and go without “jets of compressed air [that] will lift land vehicles off the highways.” He also predicted that the entire East Coast from Boston to Washington would merge into one large mega city, which seems unlikely at this point in time. But perhaps the most telling (and disheartening) is Asimov’s inaccurate notion that we’d even have a World’s Fair in 2014. But still, pretty good!
Fabio Evagelista is a Brazilian writer.
Crossed Paths is the first book of the Myra-Hati trilogy, an epic adventure in a post-apocalyptic world, for the lovers of sci-fi / fantasy genre. This is the author’s first work published in America.
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