April 7, 2010. That sounds so futuristic, but it is totally today’s date. When I was little, I would have potentially used this date as a futuristic one, one where I was imagining living in space (but not experiencing muscular atrophy) and doing futuristic things. But here I am, in the year 2010. I am sitting at a desk in the world’s smallest office. This thing is so small, it would make the Japanese proud of my economy. The only thing that I need is a sliding paper door. As of right now, my office is so small it doesn’t even have a door – just a frame.
I think our expectations of the future have always been way off. I think that long in the past, the expectations did not reach high enough, and I think that in the more recent history, they have reached too far. Consider for a moment the Dark Ages, when I genuinely think people saw no future other than the one they were living. Then I think about Orwell’s 1984, which reached too far (though still made an excellent point). I also think about the movie “Blade Runner.” That movie is set in 2019 and assumes highly established off-world colonies. Also, the background features advertisements for Atari, which I think we all know will never happen. In fact, Atari hasn’t been advertised in about 15 years anyway.
What I’m getting at is this: we can’t rightly predict the future. Perhaps we can guess the next step or two, but even that is all speculation. We might be able to predict the next step of entertainment (holographic TVs, anyone?), or certain health trends (like morbid obesity – a problem already on the rise, with 67% of American adults being overweight or obese, and 34% being obese) and perhaps what that will do. But seriously, when we start projecting 20, 30, or 100 years into the future, I think we get really whacked out ideas. I watched a movie recently called “Idiocracy.” Like 1984, the message was good, but I think the conclusions were rather far-fetched. “Idiocracy” is set 500 years in the future, where everyone is completely stupid, with incredibly low IQ levels, which the movie states happened because educated people choose not to have children, or have fewer children, because they actually think about it, while uneducated people have children because they don’t know any better. The movie assumes that, on a long enough time scale, humanity will become idiots. The people of this future
But this is not about education in America. This is about predicting the future. My conclusion is this: we can’t. We are historically bad at it, and I don’t think that being farther along in a timeline of the world makes us any better at it.