I love Robert Heinlein. He was an arrogant bastard with some seriously frakked views on gender and sexuality, but I love his work. I grok him.
Well, when I found this list (on Lists of Note)
that he wrote in 1949, I was super excited. Futurist lists like this
are some of my favorite things ever. If the list is even partially
correct, it makes me hopeful that the predictions we’ve made in the last
few years might see fruition within my lifetime.
Anyways, on to the list!
let's have a few free-swinging predictions about the future. Some will
be wrong - but cautious predictions are sure to be wrong.
1. Interplanetary travel is waiting at your front door -- C.O.D. It's yours when you pay for it.
that’s definitely true, but not in the sense I think he meant. We’re
still trying to figure out how to get our current space program paid
for, which ABSOLUTELY drives me nuts. But that’s a topic for another
blog post. Oh, wait.
Contraception and control of disease is revising relations between the
sexes to an extent that will change our entire social and economic
Not gonna lie, I was a bit surprised to see this
in a list compiled by Heinlein. But sure! Once birth control became more
widely used, the number of women of “reproductive age” in the workplace
increased, and a similar trend has been the increase in median age for
first marriage, as well as the tendency for romantic pairs to cohabitate
before (or instead of) getting married. This issue has also polarized
the political scene. Fun, right?
control/treatment has increased our expected lifespan, which changes the
way our families are structured. And increased healthcare technology
means higher portions of our income being spent on keeping us alive.
Which is interesting, because it seems that doctors aren’t interested in the same.
Anyways, moving on.
3. The most important military fact of this century is that there is no way to repel an attack from outer space.
much wrong. The most important military fact of this century is that
there is no way to prevent or defend against an attack from someone who
does not care what happens to them.
4. It is utterly
impossible that the United States will start a "preventive war." We will
fight when attacked, either directly or in a territory we have
guaranteed to defend.
In fifteen years the housing shortage will be solved by a "breakthrough"
into new technologies which will make every house now standing as
obsolete as privies.
Fifteen years from the year 2000 or fifteen years from 1949? I wish we all had smart houses. That would be absolutely amazing. Now I have this mental image of S.A.R.A.H. from Eureka.
6. We'll all be getting a little hungry by and by.
Well, some of us. Some of us are getting fatter. Yeah, you know who you are.
7. The cult of the phony in art will disappear. So-called "modern art" will be discussed only by psychiatrists.
Freud will be classed as a pre-scientific, intuitive pioneer and
psychoanalysis will be replaced by a growing, changing "operational
psychology" based on measurement and prediction.
of. And by “sort of” I mean not really. Freud is pretty much a
psychology faux pas, nowadays, but psychoanalysis still exists. But
nowadays, statistics backs up a lot of what goes on in psychology.
Cancer, the common cold, and tooth decay will all be conquered; the
revolutionary new problem in medical research will be to accomplish
"regeneration," i.e., to enable a man to grow a new leg, rather than fit
him with an artificial limb.
You know, I never really would have pegged Heinlein as an optimist. This is kind of refreshing.
By the end of this century mankind will have explored this solar
system, and the first ship intended to reach the nearest star will be
So. Much. Fury.
11. Your personal
telephone will be small enough to carry in your handbag. Your house
telephone will record messages, answer simple inquiries, and transmit
In the year 2000, this was true, at least for some
house phones. In the year 2012, my “personal telephone” does all of the
things that Heinlein said the house telephone would do. I love how
quickly technology advances.
12. Intelligent life will be found on Mars.
Yeah, wishful thinking there, Bobby. We won’t find intelligent life on Mars until we put it there.
A thousand miles an hour at a cent a mile will be commonplace; short
hauls will be made in evacuated subways at extreme speed.
wonder what the dollars per mile breakdown is for air travel, nowadays.
As a matter of fact, yeah, I’m going to do that calculation.
14. A major objective of applied physics will be to control gravity.
think I remember something about DARPA working on anti-gravity, but the
rest of applied physics isn’t even glancing in the direction of gravity
control. We’re not even 100% certain what causes gravity.
15. We will not achieve a "World State" in the predictable future. Nevertheless, Communism will vanish from this planet.
I mean, no World State, not really. Europe got part of the way there
with the Eurozone, but it’s starting to fray at the edges, which may be
partially our fault.
16. Increasing mobility will
disenfranchise a majority of the population. About 1990 a constitutional
amendment will do away with state lines while retaining the semblance.
Interesting. If anything, on some issues, the states have become more separated.
17. All aircraft will be controlled by a giant radar net run on a continent-wide basis by a multiple electronic "brain."
But really, there are aircraft control systems in development that
might actually do this soon. We just haven’t gotten there yet. Close,
18. Fish and yeast will become our principal sources of proteins. Beef will be a luxury; lamb and mutton will disappear.
be the case, as cows and sheep are just about the least space/resource
effective meat out there. We should be eating ostriches and fish.
However, yet again, Heinlein is wrong.
19. Mankind will not destroy itself, nor will "Civilization" be destroyed.
Here are things we won't get soon, if ever:
-- Travel through time
-- Travel faster than the speed of light
-- "Radio" transmission of matter.
-- Manlike robots with manlike reactions
-- Laboratory creation of life
-- Real understanding of what "thought" is and how it is related to matter.
-- Scientific proof of personal survival after death.
-- Nor a permanent end to war.
We’ve gotten… two of those. See if you know which ones!!