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There are few things as fascinating as seeing what people in the past dreamed about the future.
"France in the Year 2000" is one example. The series of paintings, made by Jean-Marc Côté and other French artists in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910, shows artist depictions of what life might look like in the year 2000. The first series of images were printed and enclosed in cigarette and cigar boxes around the time of the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, according to the Public Domain Review, then later turned into postcards.
Lots of their ideas involve mechanized devices, flying, or a combination of the two. Some, strangely, involve people interacting in a very close and personal way with marine life. As Open Culture points out, however, there are no images of space travel.
originally posted by: AceWombat04
It seems to be a common theme among futurists of any age to overestimate how far down a particular technological path we'll go, in terms of how it affects the world as far as the "look and feel" of a future era goes. E.g. we imagined we'd have flying cars by now. And evidently people in 1900 imagined there would be airships everywhere. (They were sort of right, except it became planes instead.)
We've advanced considerably technologically, but instead of cities looking like Blade Runner, they look... well... pretty much the same as they always have, with the exception of sky rises and electrical/telephone lines. Increasingly I wonder if it isn't more likely that technology will not become ever more outwardly visible, but simply more granular and capable "in place," in the footprint it already occupies... or smaller.
originally posted by: IAMTAT
I love the 'Aerial Fireman' idea!
Fun Thread. Thanks for sharing this.
originally posted by: Akragon
a reply to: Vroomfondel
Very cool... S&F
Apparently back then they thought all we needed to do is add some wings and everything will fly...
I so want to see a whale bus though lol
originally posted by: Astyanax
Every historical era envisioned a future that was the result of contemporary trends continuing and intensifying. So yes, in the age when powered flight was cutting-edge technology, futurists imagined airborne cars and flying traffic policemen. Notice how fashions in those pictures don't seem to have changed much in a hundred years; the flying people and cops are still dressed in fin-de-siècle styles.
Today's futurists imagine a confluence of technology and biology that will transform an intensely networked world. So today's futures are all virtual reality and cyborgs and transhumanism. Essentially, they are linear extrapolations of current trends. This is true even of those who preach a forthcoming technosocial 'singularity'.
Futurists are always wrong. There are two reasons for this.
One is that history is rarely comprised of unbroken sequences of events. There are accidents, disjunctions, technological game-changers, unforeseen calamities. Nobody can possibly predict these, so we cannot account for their effects on history.
The second reason is more subtle. It was, as far as I know, first pointed out by that well-known futurist, Arthur C. Clarke. The human imagination extrapolates linearly, but the curve of scientific and technological progress has been exponential. Hence we always think the future will be less different from the present than it eventually turns out to be.
originally posted by: jonnywhite
There's so mcuh to say. A book could be written about this. So much, my God!! I don't know where to start.
We don't just overestimate certain technologies or trends, but I think we also miss things altogether.