Fifty years ago Isaac Asimov published his predictions for the year 2014 in The New York Times. Asimov had written more than 500 books during his career, among them science fiction novels and nonfiction scientific books, so it’s no surprise that he pondered the future. He wrote an article titled, “Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014,” and his guesstimates of what life would be like today are close to reality.
One of his predictions was that electroluminescent panels would be in common use. The panels are currently used in display signs, retail lighting and flat panel television sets. He also predicted that gadgetry would increasingly relieve man of tedious jobs and that sight-sound communication would be in place. That certainly describes FaceTime and Skype, among other devices. And the screen he described to view people called on telephones, and for studying documents and pictures, can be compared to today’s computers, smart phones and tablets.
Asimov thought that robots would be in common use by this year. We do have robotic vacuum cleaners and computer controlled “robots” in various industries such as car manufacturing, although robotic servants are not yet commonplace.
Some of his predictions were close, but haven’t yet ocurred. He said, “Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare ‘automeals,” heating water and converting it to coffee, toasting bread; frying, poaching or scrambling eggs.” That hasn’t happened yet although instant coffee machines are currently in use.