Predictions of the future from the past

B ack inin a special issue of TIME devoted to predicting what to expect in the new millennium, writer Lance Morrow waxed philosophical about why we prognosticate in the first place. But in other cases, those forecasts remain indecipherable from the plots of science fiction movies.

At the risk of looking a fool when some of the following come true a century from now, here is a roundup of some of the looniest predictions since the advent of TIME — the magazine, not the concept — in The future human will be a Cyclops. Covering the construction of a new TV station inTIME addressed the potential downsides of a newly television-obsessed culture.

Every medical malady will be treatable with a miracle pill. And so far, their cultivators still live on dry ground. Tomatoes will be square. The mechanization of agriculture during the middle decades of the 20th century drastically changed the face of farming. Still others saw square tomatoes. According to Nicholas Negroponte, then director of M.

Write to Eliza Berman at eliza. By Eliza Berman. Related Stories. Here's what to know. Get our History Newsletter. Put today's news in context and see highlights from the archives. Please enter a valid email address. Sign Up Now. Check the box if you do not wish to receive promotional offers via email from TIME. You can unsubscribe at any time. By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Thank you! For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered.

Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters. If you don't get the confirmation within 10 minutes, please check your spam folder. Most Popular Stories. Stay Home, Stay Up to Date. Sign Up for Our Newsletters Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know now on politics, health and more.Everyone from science fiction writers to billionaire tech gurus to animated sitcoms have been telling us what tomorrow holds, and their track records have been surprisingly on the money.

From the exact date of James Dean's death to a vision of cellphones beforehere are 30 predictions that nobody actually expected to come true, and yet that's exactly what happened. Of all the future predictions made in Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, A Space Odysseythere's one that the movie got entirely right. It's not the lunar colonies or zero-gravity stewardesses, but rather the tablet used by astronauts that looks almost identical to today's iPads.

As author Arthur C. Clarke described it in the novel of the same namethese devices were called "newspads" and could be plugged "into the ship's information circuit to scan the latest reports from Earth. The postage-stamp-size rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen. When an astronaut had finished, he would flash back to the complete page and select a new subject for detailed examination.

In the early 20th century, home telephones were still a relatively new innovation. So it was audacious for Nikola Teslaan engineer and inventor who briefly worked with Thomas Edisonto suggest, inthat someday people would be walking around with phones in their pockets.

But, as he explained to The New York Times"It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages all over the world so simply that any individual can carry and operate his own apparatus. Predicting that the United States would someday have an African-American president?

Ten 100-year predictions that came true

Not that impressive. Predicting that the United States would have an African-American president a full 40 years before it happens, and picking his name as "President Obomi? Stand on Zanzibaran award-winning science fiction novel set inwas just two letters off the real future president's not-so-common last name. How do you begin to explain that?

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But we still can't get over that "President Obomi" character. Leave it to a college-dropout-turned-science-fiction-author to come up with the idea for credit cards. The concept was first introduced in Edward Bellamy's novel, Looking Backwardand as one character explains iteach person is given a physical punch card "with which he procures at the public storehouses, found in every community, whatever he desires whenever he desires it.

This arrangement, you will see, totally obviates the necessity for business transactions of any sort between individuals and consumers. It's a utopian vision of the future, though many credit card owners may disagree with that whole "whatever he desires whenever he desires it" part—especially after last month's bill! To be fair, a lot of fiction imagined what it might be like if human beings were capable of flying to the moon.

But From Earth to the Moona novel by author Jules Vernegot closer with more of the details than most. Sure, the general premise was kind of silly—a giant cannon fired a manned projectile into space—but he wrote about the weightlessness that astronauts experiencedsomething an author in the midth century would have no way of knowing.

Verne also predicted that there would be three astronauts on that first moon mission—though his astronauts never actually walked on the moon—and that Tampa, Florida, would be the launch site.Whether or not humans have psychic powers or not has long been a hotly debated topic. Whatever your own beliefs are on this matter, it's hard to deny that there haven't been some pretty impressive predictions over the years.

While skeptics may put it down to chance or informed guesswork, believers insist that these predictions are proof of the higher brain power that many humans apparently possess. Most of us know about Nostradamus, but what other predictions have become eerily accurate as the years unfold?

Whether they were intentional or accidental predictions, have a look at some of the most compelling prophecies of all time and see if it's enough to make you a believer Image by Christian Schnettelker.

predictions of the future from the past

After Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce is arguably the next most celebrated psychic and for good reason. Nicknamed the 'Sleeping Prophet' due to the meditative state he would put himself into in order to make his predictions, Cayce is credited with foreseeing the start and end of both World Wars, the Great Depression, the deaths of Presidents Kennedy and Roosevelt, the shifting of the Earth's poles and the rise of Hitler -- to name just a few.

His most famous prediction is perhaps the Great Wall Street Crash:. It wasn't just world events that Cayce was able to predict. In a reading from Cayce forecast future medical advancements that would make an accurate diagnosis from a single drop of blood a reality -- and this was a time when even the notion of blood as a diagnostic tool would have seemed like science fiction.

Cayce's predictions didn't just involve other people -- he also correctly predicted his own death, foreseeing on January 1, that he would be buried within four days.

He died two days later of a stroke. The name Mark Twain is familiar to most but in the context of celebrated American author; lesser known are Twain's apparent psychic abilities.

Like Edward Cayce, Twain also predicted his own death. Born in when Halley's Comet was visible, Twain foresaw that he would also die during a time when Halley's Comet was visible. Accurately, Twain died on cue -- inwhen the comet was once again visible in the night sky. Unfortunately for Twain, his psychic abilities seemed to centre on death; he foresaw his brother's death in a vivid dream where he envisioned him lying in a coffin between two chairs in his sister's living room.

The dream was so realistic Twain was unsettled for a long time after her awoke. A few weeks later Twain's brother was suddenly killed, and when Twain entered his sister's house he saw the exact same vision from his dream: his brother laid out to rest in his coffin between the two chairs, even with the exact same flower arrangement placed on his chest.

Ray Kurzweil’s Most Exciting Predictions About the Future of Humanity

The famed Serbian American inventor Nikola Tesla predicted personal wireless devices -- in Though far beyond imagination at that time, Tesla predicted that this wireless device would be hand-held, straightforward to use and that one day it would be possible to send wireless messages all over the world. In addition, "the household's daily newspaper will be printed wirelessly in the home during the night. Tesla was also able to accurately predict the nature of humanity as well as technology.Sixteen years prior to that, it will be just as smart as us.

This process could start with science fiction-level leaps in virtual reality VR technology. He predicts VR will advance so much that physical workplaces will become a thing of the past. Within a few decades, our commutes could just become a matter of strapping on a headset.

Without the need for people to live close to work, we could see unprecedented levels of deurbanization. People will no longer need to flock to large cities for work or be tethered to a specific location. Blockchain technology will continue to bolster decentralization as well.

Past predictions about the future that were way, way off

He predicts that by the early s, we will be able to copy human consciousness onto an electronic medium. As our brains will no longer be reliant on fragile biology, we could theoretically live forever. Kurzweil envisions a future that is exciting, daunting, and a little bit terrifying all at once. Time will tell if his impressive batting average will improve or if the future has other plans for humanity.

Share to Facebook. Tweet This. Share via Email. Artificial Intelligence. Will he be right about these, too? Patrick Caughill October 11th Keep up.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter. I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement and Privacy Policy. Read This Next. Propaganda Machine. Salvador Dalek. Doomsday Machine. Nightmare Fuel. Next Article.It's hard to imagine that we're almost living in the year Though we've seen plenty of impressive technological advanceslike artificial intelligence and phones that unlock by scanning our faces, it's not quite the world of flying cars and robot butlers people once imagined we'd be living in by now.

In fact, decades ago, predictions about the futuristic and revolutionary changes we'd see in this far-off sounding year were quite lofty. Want a good laugh? Here are 23 predictions about the year that at some point in time, people really expected to happen.

Unfortunately, they haven't… at least not yet! So, what's going to happen to our feet—or, more specifically, our toes—in ? In a lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons of England ina surgeon by the name of Richard Clement Lucas made a curious prediction: that the "useless outer toes" will become used less and less, so that "man might become a one-toed race. Inthe RAND Corporation, a global think tank that's contributed to the space program and the development of the internet, said they expected us to have animal employees by the year Seaborg wrote of the corporation's prediction in his book Scientist Speaks Out.

Also, the use of well-trained apes as family chauffeurs might decrease the number of automobile accidents. Inventor, science writer, and futurist Arthur C. Clarke —who co-wrote the screenplay for A Space Odyssey —believed that the boring houses of would be radically different by the time we reached the 21st century, according to Inverse.

Evidently, the houses of the future would have nothing keeping them on the ground and they would be able to move to anywhere on earth on a whim.

predictions of the future from the past

Oh, and it wouldn't just be one home that would be able to relocate without the owner even needing to get out of bed and put on pants.

Up 2anyone? The New York Times' longtime science editor Waldemar Kaempffertwho worked for the paper from the s through the s, had lots of opinions about how different the world would be by the 21st century. In a Popular Mechanics article, titled " Miracles You'll See in the Next 50 Years ," he predicted that by the 21st century, all you'll have to do to get your house clean is "simply turn the hose on everything.

That's because Kaempffert imagined furniture would be made of synthetic fabric or waterproof plastic. What about not-so-resilient material, you ask?

Just "throw soiled 'linen' into the incarcerator! In the same Popular Mechanics article, Kaempffert predicted that all food would be delivered to our homes in the form of frozen bricks by the 21st century.

Forget jetpacks and flying cars. Popular Mechanics was pretty sure back in that every family in 21st century would have at least one helicopter in their garage. It's always something! When you're curious about the future of languageyou probably should ask someone other than an engineer about it. The man of science had no love for what he considered extraneous letters, and he boldly predicted that by the s, "there will be no C, X, or Q in our everyday alphabet.

predictions of the future from the past

They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Michael J. O'Farrellfounder of The Mobile Institutehas been an expert in the technology industry since But even the experts can make mistakes. In the book ShiftO'Farrell predicted that would be the dawn of the "nanomobility era. Well, we'll believe it when we see it.With the propeller churning and the spotlight on their destination, a group of travelers returns from the moon in the year Sure, we actually went to the moon inbut this image suggests that lunar travel would become routine, Fries says.

This video phone let people talk across continents notice the architecture in the projected image. But even though the concept is high tech, Fries says, the device itself is "this giant steampunk contraption with wires everywhere.

The cab of this aerotaxi looks like it came from a horse-drawn carriage. Fries especially loves the taxi's gaslamp. What would people do if they could fly in machines? They would catch birds. No more opening the front door to let in the chimney sweeps. This card envisions future technology being used to solve a present-day problem, Fries says. Also: "How is that plane just hanging there? The seahorse cavalry is armed with swords. Automation was popular in the Victorian imagination, but there's always a human in the picture to push the buttons or operate the crank, Fries notes.

The idea of machines doing things all by themselves was totally foreign. The other side of the previous card. The cards came free with boxes of chocolate, and some people actually used them. Victorians had trains, and autos weren't far behind, but they envisioned a future that combined the two. In years, there will be flying taxis and people will travel to the moon routinely. Knowledge will be instilled into students through wires attached to their heads.

These may sound like the predictions of modern-day futurists, but they're how people a century ago saw the future—otherwise known to you and me as the present.

These vintage European postcards illustrate a view of the 21st century that is remarkably prescient in some ways and hilariously wrong in others, says Ed Fries, who selected them from his private collection. In the 10 years since he left Microsoft, where he was co-founder of the Xbox project, Fries has worked on what he calls "a random collection of futuristic projects.

Earlier this month, he presented some of his favorite postcards at a neurogaming conference in San Francisco, using them to illustrate pitfalls in predicting the future that remain relevant today. One thing you see in the cards is a tendency to assume some things won't change, even though they undoubtedly will.

In one image, a couple flags down an aerotaxi. That's futuristic enough, but the man is wearing spats and carrying a cane, while she has a parasol and an enormous hat with a feather. Did they really think transportation would undergo a revolution while fashion stayed frozen in time? At the same time, there's virtually no hint in the postcards of the truly transformative technologies of the last century—namely personal computers and the internet.

Sure, there are video phones, but the image is projected on a screen or a wall. Moving pictures were just coming into existence, Fries says, so that wasn't a huge leap. But the idea of a screen illuminated from within seems to have been beyond their imagination. All in all, people at the turn of the 20th century did a pretty good job of extrapolating the technology of their time, Fries says.From a geo-climatic point of view, the need to purify and rebalance the Earth will lead to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

Nostradamus considered that in a new era will begin, both in terms of the calendar, but also realistically. The year marks a sacred moment, favorable and, at the same time, dangerous in the history of mankind, meant to bring both disasters and revelations. The critical year does not necessarily mean an end, but rather a fundamental transformation of the world we live in, a rebirth of humankind on a new spiritual level. His adepts claim that he predicted the future with stunning accuracy.

The end of the world seems to be an obsession of all previous and current generations. In this apocalyptic scenario, there is, undoubtedly, a lot of naivety, but also self-culpability. Instinctively, people felt that in their normal behavior there are many errors concerning Nostradamus claim that any deed has its reward.

This is probably the root of the end of the world idea. It is certain that in all the scenarios regarding the end of the world, the serious wrongs, that would determine it, were also incriminated. Our yearly horoscope says that this year should not be considered a moment of destruction, but rather the birth of a new system, of a new enlightenment era. According to Nostradamus As e medic fascinated by occultism, Nostradamus risked provoking the wrath of the Catholic Church when he predicted the future for the next twenty centuries.

Was he a true visionary or maybe his legendary accuracy is just a myth amplified by time? The short and lively individual, with a long and thick beard, was a freak of nature at the Renaissance Court of king Henry the Second of France. Being known as the son of converted Jews, passionate by astrology and other occult sciences, Nostradamus was invited to Paris in mostly as a source of entertainment.

But his prophecies about the king will bring him international fame. It will pierce his eyes in the golden cage, two wounds in one, and then he will suddenly pass away.

On June 1st, when the king was taking part in a tournament, by accident, the lance of his friend, who was his adversary, pierced the royal golden helmet and continued into his eye. The horrified culprit, Count of Montgomery, was younger than the sovereign. A splinter from the broken weapon caused a secondary injury, and the king suffered greatly for ten days straight, after which he passed away.