Trevor Stinson

talk to me on twitter / subscribe via email or rss

Isaac Asimov's vision of 2014 from the 1964 World's Fair

The most interesting part of this is not what Asimov gets right, nor the places where he is humorously optimistic. Rather, the best parts are where he is correct about our shortcomings. For example, he did not think that 50 years would mean really good robots:

Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence. […] 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.

General Electric at the 2014 World’s Fair will be showing 3-D movies of its “Robot of the Future,” neat and streamlined, its cleaning appliances built in and performing all tasks briskly. (There will be a three-hour wait in line to see the film, for some things never change.)

He also wasn’t too far off regarding the state of our agricultural ambitions (see Beyond Meat for what I mean by ambitions):

Ordinary agriculture will keep up with great difficulty and there will be “farms” turning to the more efficient micro-organisms. Processed yeast and algae products will be available in a variety of flavors. The 2014 fair will feature an Algae Bar at which “mock-turkey” and “pseudosteak” will be served. It won’t be bad at all (if you can dig up those premium prices), but there will be considerable psychological resistance to such an innovation.