Back to the complete issue
Thursday, 26 December 2019

We didn’t quite fulfill our childhood dreams of living like the Jetsons, but some predictions of the future did come true

Okay, so we didn’t quite fulfill our childhood dreams of living like the Jetsons, but it’s easy to overlook the significant tech advancements the human race has seen over just the past few decades. Many of the tools that are part and parcel of our daily lives were nothing but figments of people’s imagination back in the 1980s — and we’re not just talking about the three-camera iPhone 11. In 1982, Paula Taylor put together a book with children’s ideas and predictions about what life might look like in the “distant future” of the 2000s, and some of the ideas are eerily accurate, like the creation of Google and its different services. One prediction in Taylor’s book envisions computers with such mind-blowing powers that just typing in a few words would help you “find out almost anything you want to know.” We’re not saying these kids knew we would be asking our computers at 4am whether our dog would understand their birthday party, but they were definitely onto something.

Other wild ideas from the ‘80s about the future of tech that were on the money: The creation of on-demand television. Yes, once upon a time, it was nothing more than a fantasy to have Netflix / Hulu / Apple TV / HBO / whatever other streaming services we at Enterprise have yet to discover. Perhaps more outlandish for the time was the prediction of an entire home being controlled by a robot or computer. Now, we do indeed have Alexa and Google Home, among other personal “robot assistants” and they’re pretty much exactly how they were imagined: “He [the robot] has full control of the appliances, and can operate the dishwasher or the washing machine — or adjust the thermostat to make sure the house is at the right temperature.” Alexa, play Fortune Teller.

But even beyond personal tech, some writers made incredibly accurate predictions about the events of the 2000s, decades before they were even thought possible, according to Business Insider (and no, this is not a rundown of every time The Simpsons predicted something that ended up happening in real life.) For example, way back in 1865, novelist Jules Verne described in one of his books a scenario in which a group of Americans fly into space and land on the moon (this was more than a century before the actual moon landing). And in 1882, Verne saw a future where people could listen to the news, instead of having to read it from a newspaper. The first radio broadcast didn’t happen until some 40 years later. Novelist H.G. Wells kind of also predicted the creation of nuclear bombs: In his 1914 novel, “The World Set Free,” Wells “mentions a hand grenade of uranium that ‘would continue to explode indefinitely’” and says that this grenade could be dropped from an airplane. Lo and behold, the US dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki three decades later.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt; Hassan Allam Properties (tax ID:  553-096-567), one of Egypt’s most prominent and leading builders; and Saleh, Barsoum & Abdel Aziz (tax ID: 220-002-827), the leading audit, tax and accounting firm in Egypt.