Futurologist not great career choice shock!

When I was at primary school, there was a book that predicted what life would be like in the year 2000. To a 10-year old, the prospect of actually getting to this milestone felt light years away – after all, I’d be 30-something, and that was almost as old as my teacher.

Anyway, the key points I remember in that book were that, by the year 2000,

– we would be travelling in remote controlled cars, into which we simply programmed our destination, and relaxed, thereby avoiding traffic jams and crashes,

– we would take all our meals in pill form,

– we would start inhabiting other planets, starting with pods on Mars, and…

– a loaf of bread would cost more than £1.00

Rather sadly, we appear to have over-predicted on three of these and under-predicted on the negative one. And, this being partly the point of this blog, the person who predicted all this has probably long packed up the Smith Corona and shuffled off to a blissful retirement in the country.

Which brings me to the wonderful world of predicting the future in 2008. And at this point, I’ll point you at almost any one of the excellent ‘Shift Happens’ videos. You might have come across these yourselves, or you might have been told about them by your kids, if you have any – possible proof that most 12 year olds are better informed about the future than their parents. Anyway, this is my favourite:

And all of this is very different from the sort of predictions that we saw in our youth. For a start, this stuff is happening now. These are events that will happen in our lifetime. Secondly, there is a lot less of the fanciful optimism of (say) a remote controlled car, as we’ve got so used to assessment of events as cause and effect. So we see the population of India changing and immediately think about the impact on the rest of the world.

I think the stark difference is that the predictions of yesteryear were cosseted in a world we understood. So the remote controlled car still had wheels, ran on roads, and was probably fuelled by fossil fuels. Our pill meals were probably going to be dispensed three times a day! And because the future these days looks much less constrained by fixed parameters, the prospect of change seems even more of a nightmare.

I wanted to close this with a snappy line about embracing change being the only way forward. I googled ‘embrace change’ to get a bit of inspiration, and found this at the top of the list:http://www.marvel.com/embracechange/ Seems as good a way forward as any…

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