What Accurate Predictions of the Present Would Have Seemed Absurd in the Past?
The above question is being considered by Eliezer Yudkowsky at Overcoming Bias giving examples of present-day phenomena that would have seemed incredible at the beginning of the 20th century.
I came up with a list of statements about present-day society that would have seemed incredible to me at various times in the past. For example:
- As of 1974:
- That nobody has been to the moon since 1972.
- That the Soviet Union no longer exists and there has been no nuclear war. (One or the other would have been plausible but not both.)
- That we're still using fossil fuels on a large scale. (I expected that we would have run out of oil by now and relying on nuclear energy.)
- President Ronald Reagan … who did a better job than anybody else in my lifetime.
- As of 1982:
- That there is a major communications network that is not run by any single organization.
- That there would be a high-quality computer operating system based on free software.
- That a corporate publicity campaign would walk out of the swamps of left-wing paranoia into real life.