Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Does anybody care to predict the future?


11 Jan 2012: There is an interesting article on the BBC website about predictions from the year 1900 by an american engineer John Elfreth Watkins. I am impressed by the astonishing accuracy of some of them, considering that for some, there wasn't a trace of the technology in sight at the time - digital photography, TV, mobile phones and more.
    Looking ahead from our time, we can expect that fossil fuel energy sources will have become truly rare, except for gas which is partially self renewing. If people will not accept solar and wind energy now, will they be forced to? Scandinavia shows us that district heating and extremely well insulated houses are possible on a large scale. If sun is all we have, we have to be smarter than we are now. I have seen advances (or reducing technology costs) even in the short time I have been spending writing this blog.
  I don't think I can come up with more right now, but this is a project worth thinking about. One is slightly deterred by one thing that Watkins didn't have to worry about but that we have lived with for 60 years, is imminent destruction through nuclear war or accident, making all our predictions go wrong. Another is that he expected american economic domination to be a permanent feature, whereas we are seeing the rise of China and India balanced with the rapid decline of USA spurred on by outsourcing of manufacturing, increasing decline of their cities, massive inequality of rich and poor, threats against Iran, and financial madness from the Tea Party tendency. The Euro isn't doing so well either!

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