Friday, March 23, 2007

Predictions of the Future

Freeman Dyson once said - 'Insight requires Imagination'.

The future is too important not to be imagined now... and for those imaginations to be turned into Insight...


Here are Sir Arthur C. Clarke's predictions for 2001 to 2100.

2001 Jan. 1 The next millennium and century begin.

- Cassini spaceprobe (launched October 1997; arrives Saturn July
2000) begins exploration of the planet's moons and rings.

- Galileo probe (launched October 1989) continues surveying Jupiter
and its moons. Life beneath the ice-covered oceans of Europa
appears increasingly likely.

2002 The first commercial device producing clean, safe power by
low-temperature nuclear reactions goes on the market, heralding
the end of the Fossil-Fuel Age. Economic and geopolitical
earthquakes follow, and, for their discovery of so-called "Cold
Fusion" in 1989, Pons and Fleischmann receive the Nobel Prize for

2003 The motor industry is given five years to replace all fuel-burning
engines by the new energy device.

- NASA's robot Mars Surveyor (carrying Lander and Rover) is

2004 The first (publicly admitted) human clone.

2005 The first sample launched back to Earth by Mars Surveyor.

- The Dalai Lama returns to Tibet.

2006 The world's last coal mine closed in India.

2007 NASA's Next Generation Space Telescope (successor to the Hubble)

- President Chandrika Kumaratunga gets the Nobel Prize for
restoring peace to Sri Lanka.

2008 On what would have been his 80th birthday, July 26, the film
director Stanley Kubrick, who made 2001: A Space Odyssey,
posthumously receives a special Oscar for Lifetime Achievement.

2009 A city in North Korea is devastated by the accidental explosion
of an A-bomb. After a brief debate in the U.N., all nuclear
weapons are destroyed.

2010 The first Quantum Generators (tapping space energy) are
developed. Available in portable and household units from a few
kilowatts upward, they can produce electricity indefinitely.
Central power stations close down; the age of pylons ends as grid
systems are dismantled.

- In spite of protests against "Big Brother" government, electronic
monitoring virtually removes professional criminals from society.

2011 Largest living animal filmed: a 75-meter octopus in the Mariana
Trench. By a curious coincidence, later that same year even
larger marine creatures are discovered when the first robot
probes drill through the ice of Europa, and an entire new biota
is revealed.

2012 Aerospace-planes enter service. The history of space travel has
repeated that of aeronautics, although more slowly, because the
technical problems are so much greater. From Yuri Gagarin to
commercial space flight has taken twice as long as from the
Wright Brothers to the DC-3.

2013 On a flight sponsored by Bandar Seri Begawan, a Brunei prince
becomes the first member of a royal family to fly in space.

2014 Construction of Hilton Orbiter Hotel begins, by assembling and
converting the giant Shuttle tanks which had previously been
allowed to fall back to Earth.

2015 An inevitable byproduct of the Quantum Generator is complete
control of matter at the atomic level. Thus the old dream of
alchemy is realized on a commercial scale, often with surprising
results. Within a few years, since they are more useful, lead and
copper cost twice as much as gold.

2016 All existing currencies are abolished. The megawatt-hour becomes
the unit of exchange.

2017 December 16. On his 100th birthday, Sir Arthur Clarke is one of
the first guests in the Hilton Orbiter.

- China holds the first nationwide popular elections to its

2019 A major meteor impact occurs on the North Polar icecap. There is
no loss of human life, but the resulting tsunamis cause
considerable damage along the coasts of Greenland and Canada. The
long-discussed Project Spaceguard, to identify and deflect any
potentially dangerous comets or asteroids, is finally activated

2020 Artificial Intelligence (AI) reaches the human level. From now
onward there are two intelligent species on Planet Earth, one
evolving far more rapidly than biology would ever permit.
Interstellar probes carrying AIs are launched toward the nearer

2021 The first humans land on Mars, and have some unpleasant

2023 Dinosaur facsimiles are cloned from computer-generated DNA.
Disney's Triassic Zoo opens in Florida. Despite some unfortunate
initial accidents, mini-raptors start replacing guard dogs.

2024 Infra-red signals are detected coming from the center of the
Milky Way Galaxy. They are obviously the product of a
technologically advanced civilization, but all attempts to
decipher them fail.

2025 Neurological research finally leads to an understanding of all
the senses, and direct inputs become possible, bypassing eyes,
ears, skin, etc. The inevitable result is the metal "Braincap" of
which the 20th century's Walkman was a primitive precursor.
Anyone wearing this helmet, fitting tightly over the skull, can
enter a whole universe of experience real or imaginary - and even
merge in real-time with other minds. Apart from its use for
entertainment and vicarious adventure, the Braincap is a boon to
doctors, who can now experience their patients symptoms (suitably
attenuated). It also revolutionizes the legal profession;
deliberate lying is impossible. As the Braincap can only function
properly on a completely bald head, wig-making becomes a major

2026 Singapore becomes the world's first country to enforce Truth in

2036 China overtakes the U.S. in gross national product to become the
world's largest economy.

2040 The "Universal Replicator," based on nano-technology, is
perfected: any object, however complex, can be created - given
the necessary raw material and the appropriate information
matrix. Diamonds or gourmet meals can, literally, be made from
dirt. As a result, agriculture and industry are phased out,
ending that recent invention in human history - work! There is an
explosion in arts, entertainment and education. Hunter-gathering
societies are deliberately recreated; huge areas of the planet,
no longer needed for food production, are allowed to revert to
their original state. Young people can now discharge their
aggressive instincts by using cross-bows to stalk big game, which
is robotic and frequently dangerous.

2045 The totally self-contained, recycling, mobile home (envisaged
almost a century earlier by Buckminster Fuller) is perfected. Any
additional carbon needed for food synthesis is obtained by
extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

2047 Hong Kong celebrates its 50th year as an SAR by completely
eliminating border controls and barriers between itself and the
rest of China.

2050 "Escape from Utopia." Bored by life in this peaceful and
unexciting era, millions decided to use cryonic suspension to
emigrate into the future in search of adventure. Vast
"hibernacula" are established in the Antarctic and in the regions
of perpetual night at the lunar poles.

2051 Ground is broken on the moon for self-sustaining, robotized
colonies, where the elderly will survive longer, thanks to the
low lunar gravity.

2057 October 4. Centennial of Sputnik 1. The dawn of the space age is
celebrated by humans not only on Earth, but on the Moon, Mars,
Europa, Ganymede and Titan - and in orbit round Venus, Neptune
and Pluto.

2061 The return of Halley's Comet; first landing on nucleus by humans.
The sensational discovery of both dormant and active lifeforms
vindicates Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's century-old hypothesis that
life is omnipresent throughout space.

2090 Large-scale burning of fossil fuels is resumed to replace the
carbon dioxide "mined" from the air and postpone the next Ice Age
by promoting global warming.

2095 The development of a true "space drive" - a propulsion system
reacting against the structure of space time - makes the rocket
obsolete and permits velocities close to that of light. The first
human explorers set off to nearby star systems that robot probes
have already found promising.

2100 History begins...

Copyright Arthur C. Clarke 1999


Zoe said...

Hiya Kingsley! I have had this post on my wall for a week now and have been reading it, pondering and imagining everytime I look up to my insightfully, quote covered, wall!
Yet I still don't know how to respond!
I'm both in awe and scepticism that humans can go through this type of change/ progression.
Although full circle does seem to be our bad habit!
Love to here your thoughts on this!

Much love and thinking of you,

Kingsley said...

Hi Zoe :-))

This topic is still a double-edged one for me: technology is often seen as our panacea, a cure for all - yet my main dispute is that if humanity does not accelerate its own spiritual growth and evolution then we will not have the inner capacity to use our technologies properly, and will most likely fall victims to the darker side of technologies, as they accelerate beyond our capacity to manage them (the Singularity?).

Many of Clarke's forecasts were optimistic, especially concerning alternative fuels - when today China is expanding its coal mining and opening more mines...

Our civilisation has grown more technically competent, yet has their been diminishing wars? No - so technology needs to usher in a whole/holistic evolution of our species, otherwise it may become our jailer...

Stay Well Zoe!