The Future is Now
Have you ever tried to predict the future? What will the Earth look like in a hundred of years? What would your great-grand-children wear and eat? What kind of entertainment will they attend? What if they spend weekends on other planets while studying or visiting museums online? What professions will appear and which of the existing ones will vanish? People have always been concerned about their future. Nowadays, there is the entire fast-developing science which predicts possible variants of the future and builds science- and exploration-based theories on the course of history. This study is called “futurology.” Numerous writers and scientists are known as futurists due to their outstanding works, which became a background for this article. Present story reveals their personalities, thoughts, and intentions in the context of futurology. Here you could find information on the most surprising predictions which have finally become today’s reality.
Speaking about future predictions among the writers, the most outstanding of them include the ideas of Jules Verne, Herbert George Wells, Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, and Sir Arthur Clarke. Their works are utopias or dystopias, science fiction adventure novels and short stories. To make real the craziest and the most improbable ideas of the science-fiction visionaries, the society needs researchers and scientists. One of the most extraordinary scientists, whose work and ideas were out of his time, was Nikola Tesla. Nowadays there are scientists, such as Michio Kaku and Stephen Hawking, who devote their research to the topic of future and speak much on this question, as the publicity becomes more and more concerned and interested in the future.
One of the most famous futurists-pioneers is Jules Verne. His lived and wrote in the end of the 19th century, when nobody could think of the Internet, electrical submarines, visual wireless transmission such as Skype, and many other inventions, which he predicted. He forecast how the life would look like in the 2000s and what problems the humanity may face. Verne wrote about metropolises, overpopulation, urban sprawl, traffic jams, and undergrounds systems, though in his time it was complicated to foresee the state of events which people of today are facing and fighting (Chandler, 2011),
It is obvious that the idea of invention comes first, and the bravest are those who create these ideas despite their seeming improbability. The genius of Herbert Wells came up with numerous imaginative inventions, and some of them eventually become real. According to the list of his novels given in the Telegraph, these predictions include nuclear weapons, moon landing, genetic engineering, lasers, and the World War II (Moore, 2009).
His ideas about invisibility, time travel, and inter-planetary warfare have not come true yet. Nevertheless, some of them partly realized. For instance, there are different up-to-date developments of military costumes, which are invisible for infra-red lights used in the night-vision devices. In his interview with J. Stalin, where Wells actually acted as an interviewer, a lot of his futuristic political ideas are revealed, such as socialism and individualism. From this interview, the readers may recognize the manners of a prophet in Wells’ voice, who was sure that antagonistic system was close to its end (Wells, 2014).
Proceeding with the writers-predictors, it is logical to redirect attention to Isaac Asimov. “We have to worry about the future all,” – he said, – “because the things are changing so fast” (Moyers, 2008). The writer always claimed that he was absolutely not interested in economics or arts, but in science. His predictions have come as a result of his scientific approach. He had PhD in Chemistry, but, according to him, he knew too much about Chemistry to get excited about it. Asimov is a self-trained astronomer, thus, no one ever had questions on the scientific aspect of his books. In his interview for PBS with Bill Moyers (2008), he told about his own vision of the universe. Nowadays, his ideas are included in the scientific theories about the universe extension and the possibility of other universes existing beyond this one.
Another question raised in the context of futurology is education. Asimov was sure that the computers takeover would lead to the computerization of many processes. He believed that people would not have to do monotonous and boring jobs and instead would have more time for creativity and self-education. These ideas have started to come true nowadays with new opportunities in the sphere of education. Asimov predicted distant or online learning, which would be available for everyone who had a computer, connected to all the libraries in the world.
Today, a person can educate themself sitting at home and doing it in their own speed, with their own self-constructed curriculum. Asimov called it one-to-one relationship between information source and information consumers. In addition, he mentioned that learning would be personalized with the help of tutors. People would enjoy the process of learning from the childhood, if it were not forced. Nowadays, there are a lot of resources on the Internet, where people may create their own classrooms and study whenever they want to and as much as possible without being forced by somebody.
Everybody has a possibility to become a professional after completing courses on Coursera or FutureLearn. Irrespective of one’s location, a person may educate themself all the time. People expect that some things will appear suddenly, but immediate development is impossible. Everything changes step by step. Asimov spoke about this possibility as if it were real, but the interviewer Bill Moyers was really astonished, as he did not tend to believe in such a revolution in learning. Now the world could be seen not from a position of revolution, but a permanent evolution. Of course, Asimov predicted much more than that: he mentioned wireless devices, robots, 3-dimentional films, communication via services that would use visual picture in addition to the audial perception, etc, which eventually have proven to become reality.
The mentioned writers are a great source for scientific ideas that can be brought to reality by the scientists. One of these brave scientists, who worked for the future and was ahead of his time, was a Serbian-American inventor, physicist, engineer, and futurist, Nikola Tesla. He was a great dreamer and an excellent scientist. The combination of such features created a genius. Tesla wanted to illuminate the entire world and he knew how to do it. In his interview from 1899, he said, “There is enough electricity to become a second sun. Light would appear around the equator, as a ring around Saturn. Mankind is not ready for the great and good” (2015). Tesla was interested in the pure sources of energy. His ideas appeared to be wild in those times, but now they seem different. He also predicted the today’s studies on the nature of black holes: “Its light can occur in such density that fits into a sphere smaller than an apple, a heavier than our Solar System.” In his laboratory, he performed a lot of experiments, but his main idea was wireless communication. He did not finish his
Are there contemporary scientists with such extreme ideas? Dr. Michio Kaku is one of them. In his interview, he tells the story of the beginning of his scientific searches. Once he asked his mother whether he could build an atomic machine, and his mother thought for a while and then replied: “Sure” (2014). His first invention was a powerful magnet in his garage. Soon, he went to the university and started developing his ideas on the “theories of everything.”
His predictions have been formed as a result of great research and cooperation with other scientists and are always based on the laws of physics. He claims that in the future, computers in the way we know them will disappear. According to Kaku, they will be everywhere and nowhere at the same time, hidden from the sight as electricity or running water. All the information can be stored on microchips, while people may have permanent access to the Internet via optical lenses (Kaku, 2014). The brand new computers will be controlled with the help of human mind. As a result, people will be able to upload memories, feelings, sensations, and dreams. Not long ago, uploading photos or videos sounded as impossible as uploading dreams, thus, there is a chance that such a prediction may come true. The scientist raises the question of digitization of different spheres, as it happened to music industry and media and could happen to medicine, education, and transportation.
Robots will become common attributes of everyday life. They may replace people from such professions as lawyers, cooks, or medicals. Nevertheless, Kaku is sure that this will not happen soon. In case of such economic shift, people will be finally able to exercise creativity, imagination, or other features of human way of thinking. Kaku is also sure that in the future, gen engineering will reach the point where scientists will be able to grow any part of body, so that a diseased organ may be replaced. He hopes that new technologies will eliminate possible health problems (Michio Kaku Videos, 2014).
In his interview, Kaku adds that parents will have a possibility to design their own offspring. It means that people could prevent their children from numerous diseases with the help of gene therapy, curing the dysfunctional or damaged parts of the body. The same technology can be used to extend the life span of human kind, preventing cells of getting old too fast.
One of the most optimistic predictions of Michio Kaku is that there will be fewer wars. He explains that the Internet frees peoples’ minds from living like slaves. As a result, those countries where there is still a dictatorship will change soon. He calls the dictators who fear the Internet the losers. These world authorities may observe the situation in North Korea or some African countries, where there is lack of information. Nowadays, people live in the conditions of informational era takeover; therefore, it is a natural course of history that more and more countries prefer democracy.
Another futurist of the contemporary era is Sir Arthur C. Clarke, known for his work on Space Odyssey with Stanley Kubrick. As he said in his interview with José Cordeiro: “My definition of fantasy is something which we would like to happen but it can’t in the real world, and science fiction is something which we would like to happen and it probably will.” This statement is likely to be truthful, as well as the ideas of Asimov, Verne, Wells, etc. Everything that human’s mind can imagine is already possible to create. Speaking about space journeys, Clarke said that it would cost nothing to go into space. When he was asked, what would happen next in his mind, the answer was “Just a few years after everybody stops laughing!” (Clarke, 2007).
To continue the space topic, one of the greatest and the most famous scientists of today, Stephan Hawking (2010), in his interview for Time answered the question whether the humanity would survive long enough to make space journeys in another way. He is sure that the humanity has a chance to survive only if it is able to reach the stars. The reason is that the Earth is not going to exist forever and there are no other habitable planets in the Solar system. Therefore, people must invent a way to reach other galaxies.
To conclude, most the above mentioned predictions on the future of humanity by such writers as Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, and Herbert Wells became reality. In is complicated to state whether they had influence on science in terms of their works, but it is obvious that their imagination took roots in the laws of physics and nature. The most extreme things, such as time travel or entire invisibility, may come true in future. They may be realized not in the way they have been predicted, but in an altered way which would be closer to science. The speed of the world changes made people believe in unbelievable theories. Nowadays, ideas of such scientists as Michio Kaku and Stephen Hawking do not seem strange to the publicity, as compared to the prejudice for Tesla. The world changes every day, and each single day, humanity brings new inventions, theories, and studies, which are to change this world more and more. Maybe, once the humanity will leave this planet to establish colonies only because the NASA’s Kepler mission will discover or has already discovered habitable planets. Computerization of many processes and even professions leaves the society space to be creative, imagine, and invent.