June 3, 2020

Isaac Asimov predicted life in 2019 three decades ago

Wayback in 1983 the Toronto Star asked famed scientist Isaac Asimov what he thought life would be like in 2019. As that year is upon us, it’s a good time to look at his predictions.

Most of his thoughts were opaque, and a lot of is what you might expect given the time. For instance, he alludes to nuclear war between the Soviets and the U.S. potentially wiping out humanity. And he focuses heavily on computerization, the changing nature of work, and the shifting relationships between the educated and under-educated (either the poor will get make-work, or welfare).

Here’s a snippet:

An industrialized workforce must, of necessity, be more educated than an agricultural one. Field hands can get along without knowing how to read and write. Factory employees cannot.

Consequently, public education on a mass scale had to be introduced in industrializing nations in the course of the 19th century.

The change, however, is much faster this time and society must work much faster; perhaps faster than they can. It means that the next generation will be one of difficult transition as untrained millions find themselves helpless to do the jobs that most need doing.

By the year 2019, however, we should find that the transition is about over. Those who can he retrained and re-educated will have been: those who can’t be will have been put to work at something useful, or where ruling groups are less wise, will have been supported by some sort of grudging welfare arrangement.

You can see his full piece here.

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