A Hundred Years Hence: Disturbingly Accurate

Over the years there have been numerous attempts at predicting the future, with various degrees of sincerity and accuracy. But around the turn of the 20th century, with the Industrial Revolution in full swing, there were some people having a very serious look at it, and one in particular did an eerily good job.

T. Baron Russell published A Hundred Years Hence: Expectations of an Optimist in 1906. The end of the first paragraph of the first page reads thusly:

The latter part of the nineteenth century was the age of electricity, just as the middle part was the age of steam. The first part of the twentieth century is evidently going to be the age of wave manipulation, of which wireless telegraphy, as we know it, is but the infantile stirring.

He goes on to talk about how wireless communications will open up the ability to of people to communicate with one another across the globe in a much more expedient manner, and even maintain privacy:

Differential “tuning” – the process by which any wireless telephone will be brought, as transmitter, into correspondence with any other wireless telephone, as receiver – will enable every merchant to “call up” every other merchant…After communication is established, probably both parties to a conversation will retune their instruments to a fresh pitch, which , in cases requiring special secrecy, could be agreed upon beforehand.

So, signal hopping.

He predicts speech-to-text for drafting of orations and memoranda, a search for more reliable/renewable energies than coal, television (or “telautoscope” as he calls it), and color photography. He sees in film the potential for combination with the stereoscope so that recorded entertainments may take three dimensional form – a holodeck, basically. He also predicts all these entertainments will be available everywhere, and cheap! (He got it half-right, anyhow.)

Additionally, Russell predicts that, morally, we will evolve. We will be more accepting, more accommodating. Our tastes will evolve in sport as well – less battle-like competitions, more friendly games. He also sees an end to war – he believes we will no longer see the value in senseless killing. Sadly, he was too much the optimist on that point.

Come on, they look so jolly!

The book is a fascinating read, and extremely dense. This is but a taste of what Russell predicts – I won’t even go into how well he nailed the modern royalty scheme for recording music artists. I highly urge you to read A Hundred Years Hence, which is FREE from Feedbooks.

There are plenty of other prediction books out there! You might also try Three Hundred Years Hence by Mary Griffith, written in 1836. Or look to a more fictional view with Anno Domini 2071, written by Pieter Harting in 1871. For a more short-term set of predictions, with a now broad hind-sight, you can read Fifty Years Hence, or What May Be in 1943 by Robert Grimshaw.

There are many kinds of predictions – Alan O. wrote a guest post about venerated ‘psychic’ Sylvia Browne.
Dileas has a wonderful article on Orwell’s 1984; with amount of surveillance under which we all constantly live, and the legislative actions surrounding when/how/why we can be observed a major talking point in so much of the media, it’s certainly relevant.
Dileas also covered the predictions of Jules and Michel Verne’s In the Year 2889.

What do you think the future will bring?

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