Posted by Amy Letter at 12:15 PM
Welcome to the World of Tomorrow!
One hundred years ago, some NY newspapers predicted the following about our age:
“We may have aeroplanes winging the once inconquerable air. The tides that ebb and flow to waste may take the place of our spent coal and flash their strength by wire to every point of need. Who can say?”The NYTimes goes on to ask an assortment of people what they think NY 2108 will be like:
“When the expectations of wireless experts are realized, everyone will have his own pocket telephone and may be called wherever he happens to be,” one magazine predicted in 1908. Equally farsighted was a prediction made by Dr. Simon Flexner, the first director of the Rockefeller Institute. The same New Year’s Day that The World was conjuring gyroscopic trains, Dr. Flexner declared that human organ transplants would someday be common.
Because this is a very fun game, I'd like to play. Would you like to play? Let's play. But I can't stick to NY. I'm doing the US in general. Okay:
Kevin Perlin (Inventor): it’s reasonable to suppose that in a hundred years everyone’s eyes will be implanted with tiny displays. All the information we need about the city will be accessible to us without conscious effort: where to go, what to buy, when the next subway will arrive, how to hook up with friends. We’ll be able to see a virtual reality superimposed over the physical grid.
Jim Cramer (host of "Mad Money"): The city will be the international city to live in. It’s just that we won’t be able to afford it. The financial capital of the world will be probably Dubai or Beijing, and New York will be owned by Chinese and Arab investors, among others. Travel will be much faster and more fluid, and coming to New York from the Emirates, say, will be as easy as going to Mecca. It’ll be like a country place for the wealthy elite of the world. “Oh, yeah, I have a country place — I have the Essex House.”
Robin Nagle (anthropologist): people will visit Fresh Kills landfill the way tourists go to the cemeteries in France. It will stand for us as a grand monument, like the Great Wall of China. [...] In 2108, somebody may have the curiosity or foresight to excavate the landfill to learn about the culture that created this vast repository. They will do it, too, because there will be a lot of resources that can be mined, like tin cans.
Bill T. Jones (a dancer): Our cultural landmarks will be supported by private individuals with private armies.
Kate Kaplan (a child): Central Park will be preserved in a bubble to protect it from the adverse effects of global warming. Everything will be shiny and nice and big. The subway cars and stations will have TVs in them. The Empire State Building will no longer be New York’s largest building; it will probably be replaced by a giant Starbucks.
Amy Letter (author): In 100 years, paper will be a rare, expensive luxury, and origami will be the planet's most admired art form. Words and communications will be as cheap and ubiquitous as commodity corn, and it will be impossible to escape advertisement, even out in the woods, where guerrilla advertisers will leave holographic displays perched in the trees. On the subject of food, I believe the US will, in 100 years, have the world's most humane agricultural system, having worked the actual animal out of it entirely: steaks will be "grown" on conveyor belts from chemical constituents; "nuggets" will form in like manner, inside little "nugget-shaped" pods arranged into vast industrial sheets for easy packaging; only the very rich and very perverse will actually kill and eat something with a brain. The middle-class of India will be the dominant force in North America and perhaps the world: their tastes, whims, and causes celebres will determine the human and civil rights of billions. "Nations" and "religions" will have negative connotations, and people will believe in the umbra of the corporation, proudly counting themselves "citizens of Disney" and whatnot.
What's your future?