Buckminster Fuller, Isaac Asimov & Other Futurists Make Predictions About the 21st Century in 1967: What They Got Right & Wrong

Why hassle with motive and proof to make predictions when you may put your religion in an opportunity roll of the cube? These two strategies could possibly be stated to symbolize the vastly divergent methods of science and superstition, two realms that not often intersect besides, maybe, with regards to fortune-telling — or, within the argot of the 20th century’s soothsayers, “Futurism,” the place predictions appear to rely as a lot on wishful pondering as they do on instinct and mind.

Within the 1967 brief documentary movie, The Futurists, above, scientists and visionaries fairly actually mix the scientific methodology with random likelihood operation to make predictions concerning the 21st century. Host Walter Cronkite explains:

A panel of consultants has studied a listing of attainable 21st century developments, from character managed medicine to family robots. They’ve estimated the numerical chance of every, from zero to 100 p.c. The twenty sided cube are then rolled to simulate these chances. A use of random numbers referred to as the Monte Carlo method, usually utilized in thinktank video games. All of that is extremely speculative.

Certainly. The glimpse we get of the longer term — of our current, because it have been — may be very optimistic, “and so very, very improper,” writes Billy Ingram at TV Party — not less than in some respects. “Sadly, these previous futurists forgot to consider human greed and the refashioning of People’ option to be much less communal and extra self-centered.” The very medium on which the documentary appeared helped to heart selfishness as a cardinal American advantage.




But in 1967, the federal authorities nonetheless required main networks to run academic content material, even when “community executives understood these packages would find yourself on the backside of the Nielsen scores.” Therefore, The Futurists, which aired on primetime on CBS “when the three networks would sometimes preempt well-liked packages with a information function/documentary.” Regardless of low expectations on the time, the brief movie now proves to be a captivating doc.

The rolls of the cube with which it opens aren’t, it seems, a “crap sport,” however a “severe sport on the University of Pittsburgh,” Cronkite tells us earlier than introducing the august panel of consultants. We see various situations predicted for the approaching century. These embrace the obscure “elevated significance of human issues,” sci-fi “educating by direct recording on the mind,” and ominous “tactical conduct management gadgets.”

Buckminster Fuller even predicts bodily teleportation by radio waves, one thing just like the know-how then featured in a brand-new TV present, Star Trek, however not scientifically possible in any sense, both then or now. Nonetheless, there may be stunning prescience in The Futurists, as its opening panel of futuristic consultants declares their conclusions:

We wind up with a world which has the next options: fertility management, 100-year lifespan, managed thermal nuclear energy, continued automation, genetic management, man-machine symbiosis, family robots, wideband communications, opinion management, and continued group.

Apparently, in 1967, all of the Futurists price speaking to — or so it appeared to the movie’s producer McGraw Hill — have been males. Theirs was the one perspective provided to house viewers and to the scholars who noticed this movie in colleges throughout the nation. These males embrace not solely Fuller, who provides his full interview at 14:30, but additionally frequent maker of accurate futuristic predictions Isaac Asimov, who seems on the 20:50 mark. Other than the exclusion of 50% of the inhabitants’s perspective, and a very rosy view of human nature, nonetheless, The Futurists is usually an uncannily correct imaginative and prescient of life as we now realize it — or not less than one much more correct than most 21st century futurisms of the past.

Associated Content material: 

In 1964, Isaac Asimov Predicts What the World Will Look Like Today: Self-Driving Cars, Video Calls, Fake Meats & More

9 Science-Fiction Authors Predict the Future: How Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, William Gibson, Philip K. Dick & More Imagined the World Ahead

Octavia Butler’s Four Rules for Predicting the Future

Josh Jones is a author and musician based mostly in Durham, NC. Observe him at @jdmagness

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