As we head into 2020, which seems like an impossible year to imagine, how does our reality measure up to what we expected of our future? Have any predictions from our past come to be true for our present? Let’s take a look!
In a 1997 edition of Wired, Peter Schwartz and Peter Leyden predicted that in 2020, humans would reach Mars. While both the European Space Agency and NASA are preparing to eventually get humans to the red planet, it’s not likely for at least another decade. Though we do appreciate Schwartz and Leyden’s vision of this Mars landing being a peaceful joint effort by all nations. That in itself at the moment seems a far-off dream!
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Frank Zappa said back in 1993 that by the year 2020, we would have a centralised system in which to store and play music from, on any device. Well, where do we start? We have Spotify, Deezer, and SoundCloud to name just a few! We’re happy to see at least one 2020 prediction that was right!
You know how there is a constant fear by some that the dilution of the English language by so-called internet speak is going to result in some bastardised version that is unrecognisable? Well, 2020 predictions went one step towards that to imagine a world without certain letters! John Elfreth Watkins Jr., a curator of mechanical technology at the Smithsonian Institution, predicted that the letters C, X, and Q would become extraneous and unnecessary in the Latin alphabet. He was wrong about that, but perhaps he was right in thinking that we would communicate with “condensed words expressing condensed ideas.”
Well, aren’t we glad they got this one wrong! Back in 1995 Newsweek ran an article stating that the internet would be nothing but a fad. In that article, astronomer Clifford Stoll called e-commerce “baloney” and couldn’t see a future in the use of the internet for commerce or community. Global e-commerce is said to be at around $29 trillion today, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Nikola Tesla predicted that by 2020 we would not only stop smoking tobacco, but that we would also no longer feel the need to drink tea and coffee. Tesla made this prediction in 1937, saying, “it will simply be no longer fashionable to poison the system with harmful ingredients.” We’re more than happy to see the back of tobacco, but tea and coffee? Our caffeine-dependent bodies quake at just the thought!
Our travelling lives seem far more exciting through the eyes of those who predicted it in the past! Take cars for instance. By 2020, Popular Mechanics Magazine thought that the network of American roads would be replaced by a series of pneumatic tubes, reducing the need for fuel since a car owner would only need to drive from their homes to the tube entrances. Of course, our road networks are just as chaotic as ever worldwide, and our reliance on fuel is still contributing to the climate crisis. Though there is now a white paper on Elon Musk’s Hyperloop hypersonic pneumatic train, so, perhaps in a few more years these so-called pneumonic tubes will be sort of possible?
How many different ways have e-cash, or cryptocurrency been predicted? One such prediction was that of cryptographer David Chaum, who believed that by 2020 we would have a reliable e-cash system that would replace the need for actual cash. Economist Milton Friedman went one step further, predicting that the rise in this cash system would be through the internet. E-cash is certainly a work in progress! With more and more of us relying on plastic instead of physical coins and notes, anda wide range of cryptocurrencies available online, including Bitcoin, this is one prediction that has at least in part come to be a reality.
We’re feeling like making a few predictions ourselves. We predict the new year will be a great year for learning languages. We predict that you can achieve your language goals — and we know you can do it with us! Drop us a quick enquiry; our tailormade courses can fit into any schedule whatever your needs and level, taught by native speakers.