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The World of Today from 50 Years Ago

Way back in 1964, during the New York City World’s Fair, Isaac Asimov wrote a New York Times article about what he expected technology to be like 50 years later… in 2014.


“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.”


“Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books.”


“Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.”


“The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long- lived batteries running on radioisotopes.”


“[H]ighways … in the more advanced sections of the world will have passed their peak in 2014; there will be increasing emphasis on transportation that makes the least possible contact with the surface. There will be aircraft, of course, but even ground travel will increasingly take to the air a foot or two off the ground.”


“[V]ehicles with ‘Robot-brains’ … can be set for particular destinations … that will then proceed there without interference by the slow reflexes of a human driver.”

Televisions and Displays

“[W]all screens will have replaced the ordinary set; but transparent cubes will be making their appearance in which three-dimensional viewing will be possible.”


“[T]he world population will be 6,500,000,000 and the population of the United States will be 350,000,000… All earth will be a single choked Manhattan by A.D. 2450 and society will collapse long before that!”

“There will, therefore, be a worldwide propaganda drive in favor of birth control by rational and humane methods and, by 2014, it will undoubtedly have taken serious effect.”

Food Production

“Ordinary agriculture will keep up with great difficulty and there will be ‘farms’ turning to the more efficient micro-organisms. Processed yeast and algae products will be available in a variety of flavors.”


“The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders. Schools will have to be oriented in this direction…. All the high-school students will be taught the fundamentals of computer technology will become proficient in binary arithmetic and will be trained to perfection in the use of the computer languages that will have developed out of those like the contemporary “Fortran.”


“[M]ankind 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.”

”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!”

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About The Author

Avatar of John P.

John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter and Google+.

2 Responses

  1. hazy

    Asimov also discussed in one of his short stories in I, Robot about human sabotage against robotic labor. In the short story “The Evitable Conflict”, the president of the world asks Susan Calvin for council with regards to recent discrepancies in the machines management of certain production systems.

    Different problems are discussed that revolve around the machines and the humans they’ve replaced. At the end of the short story we learn that the machines were slowly maneuvering the saboteurs to areas where they could do the least harm.

    In the final pages of the short story the president asks her if the humans have lost control of their own planet and Calvin responds that they never had control to begin with. That humans were always under the mercy of economics, weather and war and that the machines had a better understanding and would guide humanity to a better state.

  2. editor-b

    Anyway, is the human future, inevitably, the direct and full-time relation with an intelligent machine? That is, will a machine be the whole environment, a virtual playground? If so, will human beings return to this new technological mother womb, inside mechanical egg-dresses? However, what is the relationship in which a machine cannot take part or channel at all? Why won’t the future automatons be alive? What is the fundamental difference between a peculiar and mechanical structure that imitates life and life itself? Is there any, virtual or real? Can materialistic and mechanical points of view be overcome? Anyway, if machines take over all human activity, including art and science, what will happen to the organic body and its conditioned-to-work-and-think brain? Surely, will it decay? Is man-machine coexistence possible while people is fighting for jobs and resources: competition, nations, and so on? If one wants to go on questioning, there is a serious-funny book, take a look in a sample in http://goo.gl/rfVqw6 Just another suggestion, far away from dogmas or axioms