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Submission + - The World Fair of 2014 according to Asimov (from 1964) ( 2

Esther Schindler writes: If you ever needed evidence that Isaac Asimov was a genius at extrapolating future technology from limited data, you'll enjoy this 1964 article in which he predicts what we'll see at the 2014 world's fair. For instance:

Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence. The I.B.M. exhibit at the present fair has no robots but it is dedicated to computers, which are shown in all their amazing complexity, notably in the task of translating Russian into English. If machines are that smart today, what may not be in the works 50 years hence? It will be such computers, much miniaturized, that will serve as the "brains" of robots. In fact, the I.B.M. building at the 2014 World's Fair may have, as one of its prime exhibits, a robot housemaid*large, clumsy, slow- moving but capable of general picking-up, arranging, cleaning and manipulation of various appliances. It will undoubtedly amuse the fairgoers to scatter debris over the floor in order to see the robot lumberingly remove it and classify it into "throw away" and "set aside." (Robots for gardening work will also have made their appearance.)

General Electric at the 2014 World's Fair will be showing 3-D movies of its "Robot of the Future," neat and streamlined, its cleaning appliances built in and performing all tasks briskly. (There will be a three-hour wait in line to see the film, for some things never change.)

It's really fun (and sometimes sigh-inducing) to see where he was accurate and where he wasn't. And, of course, the whole notion that we'd have a world's fair is among the inaccurate predictions.

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The World Fair of 2014 according to Asimov (from 1964)

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  • And, I still want my jetpack damn it!


  • Another fascinating package of hits and misses was H. G. Wells' 1938 book--actually a collection of articles--"World Brain." In some ways it anticipates the Internet in general and Wikipedia in particular. It describes a network of scholars, producing a gigantic encyclopedia, using desktop terminals capable of calling up vast quantities of information. Well, that's the "prophetic" spin. Where he got it ludicrously wrong was that the technology involved microfilm, reels of microfilm be mailed around the worl

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI