Posts Tagged ‘Prediction’

Asimov’s 1964 predictions for 2014

January 6, 2014

Isaac Asimov‘s expectations back in 1964 for how the world would change in 50 years do not need much commentary. In general the IT revolution has gone much further than he thought possible but styles of living and the gadgetry around us have not changed as much as he thought they would. His population estimates were not far wrong but the necessity for population control he envisaged is not necessary. Fertility rates are dropping much faster than he imagined possible. Unemployment is surely one of the greatest challenges of the day but not – as Asimov implied – due to a surfeit of leisure. All in all, pretty close!

From the New York Times of 16th August 1964:


Asimov in 1965 (wikipedia)

Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014


The New York World’s Fair of 1964 is dedicated to “Peace Through Understanding.” Its glimpses of the world of tomorrow rule out thermonuclear warfare. And why not? If a thermonuclear war takes place, the future will not be worth discussing. So let the missiles slumber eternally on their pads and let us observe what may come in the nonatomized world of the future.

What is to come, through the fair’s eyes at least, is wonderful. The direction in which man is traveling is viewed with buoyant hope, nowhere more so than at the General Electric pavilion. There the audience whirls through four scenes, each populated by cheerful, lifelike dummies that move and talk with a facility that, inside of a minute and a half, convinces you they are alive.

The scenes, set in or about 1900, 1920, 1940 and 1960, show the advances of electrical appliances and the changes they are bringing to living. I enjoyed it hugely and only regretted that they had not carried the scenes into the future. What will life be like, say, in 2014 A.D., 50 years from now? What will the World’s Fair of 2014 be like?

I don’t know, but I can guess.

One thought that occurs to me is that men will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better. By 2014, electroluminescent panels will be in common use. Ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button.

Windows need be no more than an archaic touch, and even when present will be polarized to block out the harsh sunlight. The degree of opacity of the glass may even be made to alter automatically in accordance with the intensity of the light falling upon it.

There is an underground house at the fair which is a sign of the future. if its windows are not polarized, they can nevertheless alter the “scenery” by changes in lighting. Suburban houses underground, with easily controlled temperature, free from the vicissitudes of weather, with air cleaned and light controlled, should be fairly common. At the New York World’s Fair of 2014, General Motors’ “Futurama” may well display vistas of underground cities complete with light- forced vegetable gardens. The surface, G.M. will argue, will be given over to large-scale agriculture, grazing and parklands, with less space wasted on actual human occupancy.

Gadgetry will continue to relieve mankind of tedious jobs. Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare “automeals,” heating water and converting it to coffee; toasting bread; frying, poaching or scrambling eggs, grilling bacon, and so on. Breakfasts will be “ordered” the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning. Complete lunches and dinners, with the food semiprepared, will be stored in the freezer until ready for processing. I suspect, though, that even in 2014 it will still be advisable to have a small corner in the kitchen unit where the more individual meals can be prepared by hand, especially when company is coming.

Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence. The I.B.M. exhibit at the present fair has no robots but it is dedicated to computers, which are shown in all their amazing complexity, notably in the task of translating Russian into English. If machines are that smart today, what may not be in the works 50 years hence? It will be such computers, much miniaturized, that will serve as the “brains” of robots. In fact, 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. It will undoubtedly amuse the fairgoers to scatter debris over the floor in order to see the robot lumberingly remove it and classify it into “throw away” and “set aside.” (Robots for gardening work will also have made their appearance.)

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.)

The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long- lived batteries running on radioisotopes. The isotopes will not be expensive for they will be by- products of the fission-power plants which, by 2014, will be supplying well over half the power needs of humanity. But once the isotype batteries are used up they will be disposed of only through authorized agents of the manufacturer. ….

…. In 2014, there is every likelihood that the world population will be 6,500,000,000 and the population of the United States will be 350,000,000. Boston-to-Washington, the most crowded area of its size on the earth, will have become a single city with a population of over 40,000,000.


Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014. The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.

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!

Read the whole article.

How “Retrospective Prediction” works

May 14, 2013

I have posted earlier about Climate Science being reduced to “Retrospective Predictions”.

This is how it works:

I missed a flight today. I had predicted that I would arrive  30 minutes before check-in closed. But I was wrong. I arrived 37 minutes after check-in had closed. My prediction model was just not good enough.

My prediction model assumed a certain average velocity for my car, an empirically determined period for parking the car and getting to the check-in desk, an allowance of 15 minutes to stop for coffee along the way and an allowance of 10 minutes for inaccuracy of calculation. This gave me my starting time which – in the event – led to my being 37 minutes late for check-in.

I now applied “Retrospection” to my “Prediction”. Effectively this meant choosing which of my assumptions was wrong and where I would apply a “fudge factor”. I realised that I had not accounted for road works along the way. I therefore added in a period for “delays due to road-works” such that my total transit time was increased by precisely 67 minutes.

I then redid my calculation. Lo and Behold! My “Retrospective Prediction” was now spot on. It confirmed for me that I had been late for check-in.

(My addition of time for “delays due to road works” is a very simple but powerful factor and is given by the following equation:

delays due to road works (minutes) = 0.5 x number of days elapsed from 1st January to day of travel

In the present case, today being 14th of May it is the 134th day of the year and it is obvious that

delays due to road works = 0.5 x 134 = 67 minutes).

I am travelling tomorrow. So I shall be testing my new “Retrospective Prediction” in retrospect the day-after-tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will also try not to use the wrong departure time.

Solar Cycle 24 NASA forecast update

March 13, 2012

David Hathaway has a new forecast for solar cycle 24:

The current prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24 gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 59 in early 2013. We are currently over three years into Cycle 24. The current predicted size makes this the smallest sunspot cycle in about 100 years.

SC24 forecast: updated 2nd March 2012

SC25 will likely be even smaller and it now remains to be seen if this Landscheidt Minimum is closer to a Dalton Minimum or a Maunder Minimum.


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