People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better. — Ray Bradbury, Beyond 1984: The People Machines (via Wikiquote)
The future implies, but does not always deliver, progress. The way things were going when I was a kid, it seemed like we’d have moon colonies, autonomous robot companions, definitive evidence of extraterrestrial life, everyday passenger travel into space, and, of course, flying cars by now. Alas, some of the momentum of human potential has gone in unexpected directions and, instead, we have stuff like the Internet, smartphones, GPS tracking, streaming media, and killer drones. I guess it’s a series of trade offs, but maybe not exactly what we were expecting.
That’s the problem with trying to predict what the world’s going to be like in the future. Sure, some people with incredible powers of imagination have made some pretty accurate (and lucky) guesses over the years. But for every Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, and Edward Bellamy making generally positive predictions for humankind and its future, you’ve got others like George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Philip K. Dick, and Saint John the Divine with a bleaker outlook toward what may be in store for our species.
But, hey, we all know that it’s going to be a mix of both. Good things will happen. Bad things will happen. People have been trying to tell us that the end is nigh since anyone can remember, and obviously we’re still here, and we’re still carrying on as if we know any better. Some sincerely believe that the Maya scribbled down warnings that the world will be ending at the end of this year. Just to prove that we think that’s a bunch of poppycock, we make a few predictions for the year 2013. Take that, doomsday fanatics!