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Why did this vision of the future never came to be?

  1. Oct 6, 2014 #1
    I was looking up space age stuff and stumbled upon some guys blog; He put up a bunch of old science magazine covers from the '50s, 60s. For one, I wonder if people at that time actually believed our century, the 21st century, would really be like what they drew and dreamt of, and why it never came to be:
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  3. Oct 6, 2014 #2


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    Don't forget the flying cars!

  4. Oct 6, 2014 #3
    Those ideas are still in the cards. Just give humanity another 200 years :)
  5. Oct 6, 2014 #4


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    Most of those ideas either already do exist (solar power, jetpacks, tv watches) or are just bad ideas (bubble house, flying car). Then there are those that are too expensive for their value (space stations). The only one that is really impossible today is the robots.
  6. Oct 6, 2014 #5
  7. Oct 6, 2014 #6


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    A good portion of my friends are interested in bubble houses.


    Mostly for camping though. Some people have trouble pooping when a squirrel might be watching.

    As for flying cars? I think people need to learn 2 dimensional driving before they progress to the 3rd.

    Now flying boats, on the other hand......


  8. Oct 6, 2014 #7
  9. Oct 7, 2014 #8


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    It's very easy to look at visions of the future from over 50 or 60 years ago and see how far apart they are from the reality of the present situation. But then this leads to the question of whether any predictions from writers/futurists have ever been truly accurate. Consider for example the Internet -- I recall reading an essay by the late Martin Gardner that HG Wells had anticipated the birth of the Internet through his book World Brain, but apart from that, I don't recall any predictions about the ubiquity of the Internet. Nor have I seen any prediction of the wide-spread ubiquity of social media.

    Also consider this. Would any futurist from the late 19th century or the turn of the 20th century in the US or Europe would have predicted what life would have been like in the 1950s or 1960s?
  10. Oct 7, 2014 #9
    I used to buy stacks of these old Popular Science type magazines and a large part of what they did was to report on small companies and individual inventors who seemed to be on the verge of breakthrough technologies that would revolutionize the future. Sometime in major ways, sometimes in minor ones. Looking through them decades after they were published, I often got the impression they should have called their magazine, "Interesting Ideas That Are Never Gong Anywhere," because 95% of them never did. It was as if an invention being written up in one of these magazines was actually the kiss of doom for it, rather than the first stirring of future success.
  11. Oct 7, 2014 #10


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    Where's the toilet? :confused:

    If you gotta go outside when you gotta go, the squirrels will be able to see you anyway!
  12. Oct 7, 2014 #11

    Vanadium 50

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    Like the one that cleans my carpet? OK, she doesn't look like Rosie, but the carpet has never been cleaner.
  13. Oct 7, 2014 #12


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    Well, the Roomba doesn't wisecrack like Rosie yet either. There's a pretty big gap there between true androids and the industrial robots we have now or the Roomba.
  14. Oct 7, 2014 #13


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    Not sure exactly to what level I agree or disagree with CGP Grey on this one, but he has been been right on the mark before. Whatever the case, here's his take on the robot/automation topic.

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
  15. Oct 8, 2014 #14


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    With regards to a lot of the space colonisation enthusiasm there was in the past I think there are two major points:

    1) It wasn't as easy as expected to develop key technologies like cheap access to space

    2) People really don't care that much and that isn't a bad thing

    I find the second point most interesting. If you read old articles or science fiction (and to a lesser extent modern versions) regarding man's future in space it usually reads with huge ideological overtones, almost to the extent of space being a manifest destiny. In reality there is no practical reason for space colonisation, especially given the expense and so people sensibly focus their interests elsewhere. Another key factor is that the world we live in now is far more advanced than a lot of those old middle-America in spaaaace dreams. We might not have rockets and jetpacks but we have computers, phones, a world of different ways to communicate and for the most part a staggering amount of development on social issues.
  16. Oct 8, 2014 #15


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    As long as people have been claiming automation will take our jobs, and leave many people without work, others have pointed out that it has never happened before, and then those first people have said "it'll be different this time!" Who knows, maybe it will, but I'm not losing sleep over it. (then again, I'm an engineer...). But the narrator certainly overstates the current impact and ease of implementation of automation.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2014
  17. Oct 8, 2014 #16

    Doug Huffman

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    As honored as is Karl Popper for his Logic of Scientific Discovery epistemology of science, his masterwork is The Open Society and Its Enemies in which he develops The Poverty of Historicism from its roots in Platonism and the Hegelian and Marxist dialectic. In a word, historical prophesy is impossible for human freewill.

    Lee Smolin picked up the ball of non-determinism and ran with it with his argument that nature is capable of novelty.

    I would appreciate being informed of sources inexpensive for the three volumes of postscripts to Logic of Scientific Discovery. Thank you.
  18. Oct 9, 2014 #17
    Some of these are currently possible, like solar power. Some of these ideas are still in concept, like the 7th picture looks like the hyperloop that Elon Musk was talking about. Some are just bad ideas, not really needed, like the TV on your watch, you can watch TV on your phone or tablet, why would you want a smaller picture?

    Flying cars would be a terrible idea, the fatality rate for accidents would be horrible. Maybe if there was some kind of self driving/flying thing going on, but humans in general couldn't deal with it.
  19. Oct 11, 2014 #18
    I'd add one more argument - SF writers think about what is awesome. While sometimes big part of progress goes exactly in the opposite direction. Let's think about aircrafts. Concorde? Rather not safe and clearly too expensive and noisy. Instead of luxurious planes we generally have cheap airlines for masses. It's practical, but do you think you could have written a fascinating story about flying in future in insane good price but being in a crowded plane charged a long list of hidden fees? ;)
  20. Oct 11, 2014 #19


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    Just think of it as art. I do. :w
  21. Oct 11, 2014 #20


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    I think a lot of things seem cool when you think about them (e.g. TV watch) but then you realize when you actually use them that they aren't so cool (e.g. TV watch...who wants to watch TV on that tiny thing? Cheaper to just blind yourself with your fingers.).
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