Weird 2020 Predictions from the Past

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How did you envision the world in 2020? Flying cars? Robot nannies? A home on Mars? As we try to measure the pace of progress it seems that most of us are optimists. We envision a clearer, better world full of comfort, ease and peace. We have grandiose ideas about what our future will look like and if we are considered an “expert” people ask us about those ideas. Here are a few “expert” predictions of what the world would be like by the year 2020.

  1. Voting from home. This prediction doesn’t seem that crazy. In 1997, WIRED magazine predicted that Americans will be voting on the Presidential and local elections from the safety of their own homes. Theoretically, it’s quite possible but only if it were secure enough to do so. If this ever went into practice it could be a catastrophe. Wonder what the turnout would be?
  2. Robot Therapists. Global trend expert, Ariane Van de Ven in her book “Shift 2020” states that robots will be used as therapists, assistants and friends. Robots are popping up here and there and A.I. is moving rapidly but the days of Asimov-like robots is still a way off. Van de Ven may have jumped the gun a little.
  3. We will all be able to predict the future. Dave Evans, the chief futurist for Cisco Visual Networking, said that in the year 2020 he will be out of a job. New data and analysis algorithms will take the guess work out of any future questions. Everything that we need will be at our fingertips to know the outcome of any major decision. Where’s the fun in that?
  4. The human foot will be just one big toe. Umm…no. That’s not how evolution works. In 1911, a surgeon, Richard Lucas, made a prediction that the outer toes would be more and more useless in the future and would diminish until one main toe remained. Bummer. How will I count to 20 then?
  5. We will have animal employees. I mean, we already do, right? Farmers employ countless animals. Police employ canine units. Could this prediction be correct? In 1994, a global think tank predicted the practice of selective breeding for highly intelligent apes that would work as laborers, chauffeurs and housekeepers. Nope. Not correct. Let’s not attempt this. We’ve all seen “Planet of the Apes.”
  6. Personal Helicopters. In 1951, Popular Mechanics claimed that we would all have our own personal helicopters by 2020. First and foremost, that’s awesome. Second, if we replaced every car on the road with a helicopter it would be absolutely bananas out there. Plus, there is always that guy whose helicopter has to be bigger than everyone else’s and can you imagine the coptering while texting problems!
  7. Rampant telepathy & teleportation. In the book “Shift 2020” it was predicted that telepathy and teleportation would exist and become commonplace by 2040. Teleportation I can get behind. Imagine being able to transport to anywhere in the world in an instant with the elimination of fossil fuel emissions. Telepathy on the other hand, I can do without. We’ve browsed the internet. Do we really want to know what people are thinking?
  8. We will arrive on Mars. In 1997, Popular Mechanics predicted that we will make it to Mars in the year 2020. We may be getting close to this one as NASA claimed the earliest would be 2030. I still maintain that it will happen in my lifetime. Red planet. Here we come!
  9. Buttons, pockets, collars and ties will disappear. Jumpsuits for all! In 1939, product designer Gilbert Rhode predicted in British Vogue that in 2020 buttons, pockets, collars and ties will be banished and that men will revolt against shaving. Also, we will have antenna hats. Could Rhode have foreseen the rise of the hipster? And, we are all constantly connected so we do, kind of walk around with an antenna. Rhode might be a sorcerer.
  10. No more coffee and tea. In 1937, Nikola Tesla predicted that by 2020 people will no longer drink anything that will poison the body with harmful ingredients. Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
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