Once in a blue moon, a decades-old piece of media is uncovered that appears to have accurately foretold the future. Surprisingly, The Simpsons is perhaps the most renowned oracle of our day — it is eerie how much the show gets right. In the shape of a 1997 edition of wired magazine, a new challenger for the “most accurate forecasts of the future” accolade has emerged.
The magazine’s article, The Long Boom: A History of the Future, 1980-2020, forecasts ten things to be concerned about in the twenty-first century, ranging from geopolitical conflicts to economic technologies and an “uncontrollable epidemic.” Almost everyone will agree that got a lot of things right. Look at the tweet below, which obtained from an issue archive.
Some of these points are self-evident. A series of geopolitical developments in the 1990s resulted in a complicated relationship between China and the United States, and while a Cold War was not predicted (at least not yet), tensions between the two superpowers were expected. The “modern-day influenza,” on the other hand, is a forecast they nailed with amazing precision.
In 1997, an unknown illness producing a worldwide disaster was unthinkable, but it was something the World Health Organization had been warning about for years before 2020. This was an outlandish prognosis, but with the official COVID-19 death toll of 5.16 million and the true figure likely far higher, the globe unquestionably hit by a terrible epidemic.
There is also a case to be made for the “cultural reaction that kills development” hypothesis. Even the most advanced scientific knowledge in history has not been able to prevent thousands of people from dying because they refuse to take expert counsel in a post-truth world where “false news,” “misinformation,” and “gaslighting” are lauded by the world’s most powerful individuals.
It also foresaw climate change, a worldwide ecological issue that experts from all around the world are battling to bring to policymakers’ attention. In addition, it is harming the global food supply — according to an IPCC estimate, one-third of the world’s food supply would be in jeopardy by the end of the century if human-caused climate change continues. Air pollution is a major cause of sickness all over the world, and it plays a part in the development of lung cancer.
In 2017, pollution predicted to be responsible for nearly 265,000 lung cancer deaths, accounting for roughly 14% of all lung cancer fatalities. While air pollution is not the sole factor driving increasing cancer diagnoses – better diagnostics, food, and other factors all play a role in worldwide cancer rates – Wired was partially true.
That is not to imply that it was flawless. While susceptible to interpretation, there is no denying that technology has had an influence on practically every manufacturing system imaginable, and that it has resulted in huge cost savings.
Genetically engineered crops have increased agricultural productivity and survival, automation has increased mass manufacturing to levels previously unattainable by humans, and nearly every single person, home, and company now carries a computer in their pockets. In reality, the worldwide information technology sector estimated to be worth $5.2 trillion in 2020, making it a considerable contributor to the economy.