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We live in a “lazy” future?

Twenty years later, I found the same old children’s book called “Future”. Many of the forecasts for 2018/2020 are far from realising, but there are some fields to the pass and others less …

Twenty years later, I picked up an old children’s book called “Future”. Many of the forecasts for 2018/2020 are far from realizing, but there are some fields to the pass and others less …

THE FUTURE: Discovering the extraordinary changes that await us, from technological advances to environmental changes. Image ©DeAgostini

The future of twenty years ago.

I have just gotten ricapitato in hand an old illustrated book by DeAgostini that I read as an adolescent beginning around 1998: the title, dreamy is THE FUTURE.

The book is gradually going to present the latest technological innovations, and — ambitious — launches into a series of forecasts. What is even more interesting, as an illustrated book, tries to show and visualize possible future inventions, through drawn illustrations and 3D rendering.

Note: Many of the forecasts refer to 2020, or to “twenty years later”, then to our 2018.

A “lazy” future

Once I reread the whole book, with an overview of the content I realized one thing: some inventions and discoveries have arrived, others not. As I expected.

Then I noticed one thing: inventions related to consumers and entertainment have come true, (in many cases even “better” than expected).

Instead all the most serious inventions and advances, related to transport, space, or important medical conquests, have not come true and are not even close to being so.

On the left here is the ambitious calendar of inventions, designed year by year up to 2035!

Those relating to content, newspapers, phones and laptops were introduced by Apple a few years later:
– electronic newspapers: the ipad, launched in 2010
– portable videophone: iphone 2G, launched in 2007, but extensively also the Symbianand Nokia phones of a couple of years before
– Electronic money: Paypal in 2007 arrives in Europe, while at 25 November 2011 it is available in 190 countries worldwide
– Computerized diffusion of purchases: amazon and e-commerce boom since 2015.
– Self-piloted vehicles on intelligent roads: by 2020, several companies will be able to produce self-driving cars, Google by some year.

All other inventions, spatial, or related to robotics, or medicine, have been missed.

The main disappointment: space exploration

The ISS, drawn really close to real.

One of the fields where our future seems lacking is that of space exploration.
The International Space Station — although completed a few years late — has been operating since 2000 with Mission Expedition 1.

Around 1998 it was probably already defined precisely, and was effectively represented complete with loyalty.

By the year 2020 there will be hotels and space stations around the earth, 450 km from the surface…

But the rest of the “Spatial things” is missing: above the orbital hotels expected “by 2020”… Not received.
Human missions to Mars? nothing concrete in sight.
The moon? We have not been going there for so long that someone starts doubting 🙂

What happened? From 2000 onwards, space budgets have been reduced for various reasons. The Columbia incident, which occurred on February 1, 2003, led to a suspension of the Shuttle program, which was subsequently closed in 2011.

To date only the ambition of Elon Musk and his Space X guide the space theme and promise some new future. In a recent keynote, an ambitious Mars colonization plan was presented.

Design of objects from the past future

Objects like smartphones and smartwatches have been intuited, but imagined bulky and colorful just like the computers from those 90s…

And just as in that period, in which each object performed only one function, the concentration of many functions in a single device, via apps was not imaginated: this is the mobile video phone, the video-clock and the personal internet colored for the kids .

Here you are iPhone and Apple Watch as they would have been in the future of the 90s!
A portable internet point for kids

GMOs and genetics for everyone!

Being a future imagined in the mid 90s, genetics could not miss! It was one of the trends of the moment: between cloning sheep, discoveries on DNA, and so on, at the time there was a heated debate.
Here is an infographic that — in full optimism pro GMO — explains the potential of the potato mixed with sole. 🙂

In the following years instead all this optimism on GMOs dropped rapidly, especially in Europe, for health risks.


Medicine of the future

Even medicine, between genetic treatments and nanomachines (see below), seems to be far from reaching those goals.

“Rotating blades of robots destroy a tumor” — “a nanorobot attacks a blood clot”

Note: the concept of nanomachine is often mentioned in Metal Gear Solid, a videogame released at the time.


The great absent, the global warming.

Temperatures forecast for 2050

Global warming, throughout the book has a small box, and is only mentioned once. In the 1990s it was an unknown problem, if not from a community of scientists and experts.
There were not yet any perceivable anomalies, in short “there were still the half seasons”.

Future yes, but influenced by today

When we try to imagine, or anticipate the future, we do so by using thought patterns, needs, anxieties and fears related to our times.
And so here is a 2018 imagined with space stations and orbiting hotels — on the enthusiasm of successes in space exploration — but also genetic everywhere, genetic therapies and nanomachines.
The robots already able to interact and perform jobs, with the typical optimism of those who look to a distant future.

The future is always created starting from our present and past, with its fashions, its obsessions and its values.

In conclusion

We now, in real 2018, are dealing in a very concrete and imminent way, with the arrival of the robots and with all the moral issues that ensue on the employment side, as automation could cause mass unemployment.
Meanwhile, global warming is already living it now with the summer fires in Greece, California and Sweden (?!) caused by drought, while the main glaciers are retreating from year to year.

Furthermore, since 1998 many things have gone wrong.
Since the dotcom bubble burst, the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 and all the subsequent terrorism Al Qaeda and then again the ISIS terrorism, the great financial crisis from 2008 onwards, which reduced investments in renewables and space, the social networks started well but then became a havers’ den and a favorite tool for populists…

All these worries and uncertainties are making people a little sadder, or surely a lot more worried than twenty years ago.

So my question is this:

But… what would our present be like if no wrong choices were made? Would it be a more 90s future (more tolerant and more peaceful)? Would we have already gone to Mars?

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Giovanni Minelli

Art Director & Cross media designer, content curator at minodesign. ADCI member.
He deals with advertising projects, graphic design and web design, with a focus on corporate image, UI and image manipulation. Experimenter of new media but also lover of the 70s graphics and 80s90s adv; seek a contemporary synthesis of these three. It is also dilettans mangaka and ebay seller.



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