List of predictions
There have been various notable predictions made throughout history, including those by scientists based on the scientific method, predictions of social and technological change of futurologists, economic forecasts, religious prophecies and the fictional imaginings of authors and science fiction.
Utopias and dystopias
- An Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Malthus in 1798 started the fears of a Malthusian catastrophe where overpopulation returns people to mere subsistence.
- The Population Bomb by Paul R. Ehrlich in 1968 predicted disasters due to Neo-Malthusian concerns.
- The Limits to Growth (1972, by Club of Rome) often, erroneously, accused of predicting the inevitable exhaustion of natural resources.
- William Godwin published his utopian work Enquiry concerning Political Justice in 1793, with later editions in 1796 and 1798.
- Marquis de Condorcet published his utopian vision of social progress and the perfectibility of man Esquisse d'un Tableau Historique des Progres de l'Espirit Humain (The Future Progress of the Human Mind) in 1794
- Looking Backward: 2000-1887 was written by Edward Bellamy in 1888. The novel imagined that by 2000, the United States would be a socialist utopia, with far shorter work weeks for menial laborers and far greater leisure time for all workers. His novel predicted things such as skyscrapers, debit cards, and a device used to hear and view concerts in the home that resembles a modern television.
- Flight: a quantum fiction novel, by Vanna Bonta in 1995 describes a dystopic society whose population seeks biological death, desensitization and unconsciousness to quell human regret of mistakes and loss. The novel imagines an attainable utopian ending achieved by the power of human creativity and communication applied to repairing inner malfunctions and glitches that obstruct cooperative human societies. It predicted people of Earth uniting in mass synchronized celebrations before the advent of social media, and posited a world party as the opposite of a world war.
- The existence of Neptune was predicted through mathematical modelling based on Sir Isaac Newton's Law of gravity
- Radio waves were predicted by James Clerk Maxwell
- Final anthropic principle - highly contentious prediction bordering on philosophy
- Antimatter was predicted by Paul Dirac on the basis of his formulation of relativistic quantum mechanics.
- Quasars powered by and paired with black holes was described by Vanna Bonta in 1995, and astronomers announced the discovery in 2007.
- Future Shock (1970) by Alvin Toffler considered change moving too fast for humans to cope.
- Engines of Creation (1986) by K. Eric Drexler which involves molecular nanotechnology changing the world, and introduces the grey goo scenario.
- The End of History and the Last Man (1992, by Francis Fukuyama) heralded the arrival of the "end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government." Its thesis has since been disavowed by its author.
- The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel P. Huntington, published in Foreign Affairs, Volume 72, Number 3, Summer 1993 and later expanded into a book, states "the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future."
- The Coming Technological Singularity (1993, by Vernor Vinge) - a prediction of imminent acceleration of progress caused by increasing speed of computers and developments in AI.
- An Illustrated Speculative Timeline of Future Technology and Social Change (1993-2008, by J.R. Mooneyham)
- Ray Kurzweil is concerned with the idea of the singularity and many more optimistic technological and transhumanist predictions.
- The cure for death was predicted by Vanna Bonta in Flight: a quantum fiction novel in 1995. In 2013, Google announced launching a company with the goal of finding the cure for death.
- "Why the future doesn't need us" (April 2000, by Bill Joy) - an essay warning about the dangers of robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology to humanity. The essay has achieved wide exposure because of Bill Joy's prominence.
- Sir Arthur C. Clarke's Predictions :
|“||No one can see into the future. What I try to do is outline possible "futures" - although totally expected inventions or events can render predictions absurd after only a few years. The classic example is the statement, made in the late 1940s, by the then chairman of IBM that the world market for computers was five. I have more than that in my own office.
Perhaps I am in no position to criticise: in 1971 I predicted the first Mars Landing in 1994; now we'll be lucky if we make it by 2010. On the other hand, I thought I was being wildly optimistic in 1951 by suggesting a mission to the moon in 1978. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin beat me by almost a decade.
Still, I take pride in the fact that communications satellites are placed exactly where I suggested in 1945, and the name "Clarke Orbit" is often used (if only because it's easier to say than "geostationary orbit").
Some of the event listed here, particularly the space missions, are already scheduled. I believe all the other events could happen, although several, I hope, will not. Check me for accuracy - on December 31, 2100.
- Our Final Hour by Martin Rees in 2003. The book presents the notion that the Earth and human survival are in far greater danger from the potential effects of modern technology than is commonly realised. Hence the 21st century may be a critical moment in history when humanity's fate is decided. Rees gained controversy, and notoriety, by estimating that the probability of extinction before 2100 AD is around 50%. This is based on the possibility of malign or accidental release of destructive technology and gained some attention as he is a well-regarded astronomer.
- Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs in 2004. As it implies the book warns of a pessimistic future, in this case caused by a decay in science, community, and education.
- Tomorrow Now: Imagining the Next 50 Years by Bruce Sterling in 2002. A popular science approach on futurology, reflecting technology, politics and culture of the next 50 years.
- In 1987, Ravi Batra predicted an economic depression in his best-selling book, The Great Depression of 1990. He subsequently wrote other books on surviving economic upheaval.
- In 1996, economist Alan Greenspan famously stated that there was irrational exuberance in the stock market on Dec 5, 1996, and indeed, may well have contributed to it as a result of his policies as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. His warning went unheeded and the stock market continued to boom in the late 1990s until the stock market downturn of 2000 and 2001, when it became evident that the warning had been correct.
- Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic science fiction - comprehensive listing of humanity's worst fears
- Future history - list of common backgrounds created by science-fiction authors for their stories
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley in 1932 imagined a rigid, yet superficially "happy", dystopia that controls people through a mixture of mind control and biotechnology
- Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948, by George Orwell) - a dystopian book set in Oceania, a totalitarian state that emerged in the Americas and the British Empire. The book extrapolates the reality of contemporary Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. The main protagonist is Winston Smith whose job involves supporting the historical revisionism and propaganda of the political regime. Many original concepts from the book, such as doublethink, thought crime and newspeak have since entered popular consciousness.
- Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. The new science of psychohistory can simulate history and extrapolate the present into the future.
- The author H.G. Wells wrote several works predicting future scientific advances and often exploring the problems technology cause humanity. He was especially adept at predicting the future role of airplanes in warfare. His 1901 book, Anticipations imagined trains, cars, sexual freedom, and eugenics. In The World Set Free, published in 1914, he eerily predicted the creation of the atom bomb. His 1933 work, Shape of Things to Come, foresaw the extensive use of aerial bombardment in warfare. This was later adapted into the widely seen and critically important Alexander Korda science fiction film Things to Come.
- Paris in the Twentieth Century is a science fiction novel by Jules Verne written in 1863 that features detailed descriptions of a world of glass skyscrapers, high-speed trains, automobiles, calculators, and a worldwide communications network. It was not published in Verne's lifetime, and was only discovered by his great-grandson in 1989. It was published in 1994.
- Make Room! Make Room! - novel by Harry Harrison that predicted overpopulation in 1999 resulted in an unsuspecting population being sustained through cannibalism. Made into the movie Soylent Green.
- Logan's Run is a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, published in 1967. Describing a dystopian future society in which the population is kept young by euthanizing everyone who reaches a certain age. This neatly avoids the problem of overpopulation.
- Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner's 1968 vision of overpopulation in 2010
- Z.P.G. (1972) at the Internet Movie Database 1972 film featured an overpopulated, very polluted future Earth, whose world government practices Zero Population Growth, executing persons who violate the 30-year ban on procreation.
- The Twentieth Century (1882, by Albert Robida) - a book by a French author set in 1952 Paris, with a plethora of illustrations.
- End of civilization
- Futures studies
- Utopian and dystopian fiction
- Predictions of Soviet collapse
- Timeline of the future in forecasts
- Quasars powered by black holes Astronomy magazine; January 9, 2007
- Flight: a quantum fiction novel, by Vanna Bonta, p. 360-361; Meridian House, 1995
- How advances in technology may reshape humanity an illustrated speculative timeline of future technology and social change at www.jrmooneyham.com
- Google Is Launching A Company That Hopes To Cure Death, by Jay Yarow; Business Insider, September 18, 2013
- Google's CEO Announces Calico, a project to cure death KTVU news; September 19, 2013
- Google vs. Death, by Harry McCracken; Lev Grossman; TIME, September 30, 2013
- Clarke, Arthur C. "Sir Arthur C. Clarke's Predictions". Readers Digest. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- Imagining the Future
- War On Experts A prediction recording and monitoring site.
- Famous bad predictions from Things People Said
- The Coming Technological Singularity, presented at VISION-21 Symposium, March 30–31, 1993
- Why the future doesn't need us, Wired, April 2000
- Arthur C. Clarke Offers His Vision of the Future, presented at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, November 30, 2001
- Explore the inventions and ideas of science fiction writers
- Science predictions