Asimov’s Predictions Vs. Reality Today

January 17, 2014 11:00 AM

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Isaac Asimov, an author and professor of biochemistry at Boston U., wrote of the 1964 World’s Fair — which looked ahead to a world without thermonuclear war — and guessed what the world would be like 50 years later in the future in 2014.

Unmanned Trip To Mars

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“… by 2014, only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars…”

Asimov was on the mark. Mars rover Curiosity landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012. It was a thrilling event to watch and everyone was dying to know who that mohawk guy was.

Solar Power

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“Large solar-power stations will also be in operation in a number of desert and semi-desert areas…”

The photo above — taken on May 8, 2013 — is of the solar plant in Hami, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. There are currently 55 operational solar thermal power stations around the world with another 27 under construction. The largest is the Solar Energy Generating Systems, located in the Mojave Desert in California. The US is at the forefront of solar power development, followed by Spain and China.

Seeing the Person You Call

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“Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone.”

Whether you’re on your desktop, laptop, tablet or phone, video messaging is now commonplace in 2014 thanks to services like Skype or FaceTime.

3D

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“… the 2014 World’s Fair will be showing 3-D movies…”

3D movies have been around for decades, but the technology has taken a huge leap forward in recent years and the popularity has skyrocketed thanks to the success of movies like Avatar, released late in 2009. 3D TVs are also available for the home with several channels actively broadcasting in 3D.

Robots!

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(Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

“Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.”

This is where Asimov went wrong; robots are everywhere. From something as simple as the Roomba, which will vacuum your floor, to Russia’s SAR-401 advanced anthropomorphic robot, pictured above.

And if you haven’t seen the work they are doing at Boston Dynamics, have a look and be ready to freak out. All hail our robot overlords!

An Overpopulated Planet

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“In 2014, there is every likelihood that the world population will be 6,500,000,000…”

Asimov was only off the mark by a few hundred million here, which isn’t too shabby. According to the United States Census Bureau, the world’s population is currently at 7.137 billion as of January 17, 2013.

Work, Work, Work

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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!”

Work, jobs, unemployment: however you want to phrase it, it is always on the tip of everyone’s tongue. We’re either complaining or applauding, usually loudly and sometimes incoherently.

As of September 2013, the employment rate is at 7.2%, the lowest it’s been since December 2008 and down from 10% in 2009. In the last 50 years, the highest unemployment has reached was 10.8% in 1982. The lowest? 3.8% in April 2000.

- E.J. Judge, CBS Local

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