Read the article and put these sentences in the correct place.
(1) has been matched to "e" for you.
- Human nature is the greatest single confounder of
all the predictions of decades gone by
- Each age has its future fears that turn out to be groundless
- Immortality has been a constant theme in futurology
- Fifty years ago, the futurologists of the day were confidently
forecasting an outlook that was silver,
shiny and teeming with intelligent robots.
Forecasting what life is ging to be
like years down the line is a dodgy business.
- Neither are there any aliens on the horizon,
nor even in the galaxy next door.
2 What didn't come to pass
Forecasting what life is going to be like years down the line
is a dodgy business
. Even the experts
don't always get it right. Take Bill Gates, for example.
In 1981, he firmly stated that '640K of memory ought
to be enough for anyone.' So it's more than a bit embarrassing for him now that,
even a standard issue home PC,
you need 200 times that amount of memory just
to run his own company's software. Fortunately for Bill, other
predicted that the technological future would involve giant computers
that were the size of cities, whereas what
we actually have are ever-shrinking models that you can tuck neatly into your pocket,
which are hundreds of times
more powerful than their lumbering predecessors Nano-technology
is definitely the way forward.
They imagined the robots of the future would not only be able
to think for themselves, but get on
with the housework too. But what have we got? More time-saving devices
and what seems like less time. Just how did
that happen? And absolutely no sign of a helpful house robot to mix a perfect
Martini at the end of a hard day at
the cyberface. Face it,
we haven't even cracked robotic vacuum cleaners yet.
Air tours are not booking moon packages, and space travel
is only for the trained or for fantastically
wealthy few. True, all-in-one body suits
(the uniform of brave space pioneers) did make a number of fashion appearances
- think lycra exercise gear in the eighties - but on the whole,
we've realised that body suits are a misnomer, because
they don't actually suit bodies, other than those with faultless dimensions.
Which brings me to another big fib: perfect bodies in the future.
No matter how much nipping, tucking, sucking
and filling we do, our bodies continue to traitorously reveal
the sings of our increasing years. Sorry!
Actually, we do now know how to extend life -
by eating less and exercising more. Even so, Californian
cryogenics super-salesmen have persuaded some people
to part with vast sums of money on a promise that will defrost
them when 'the time is right'. But since we haven't yet perfected
freezing strawberries, these poor deluded souls
may be nothing more than mucky puddles by 2052.
As for transport, the reason we aren't all buzzing around in our own mini-planes
has quite a lot to do with the fact
that nobody thought about what would happen when everyone wanted one.
Were they going to be stacked high above our
streets, stuck in an endless holding pattern while we desperately
tried to do our shopping?
Nutritionally-perfect pills to replace all our food?
Nothing, but online shopping, so there's no need
to leave your home/computer and traipse round the shops?
Both have met with a resounding thumbs down from the public.
We simply refuse to give up eating our nutritionally nightmarish fish and chips.
And we show absolutely no inclination
to forego and the pleasure of touching,
examining and trying the purchases we make. We love our food and our shopping,
thank you very much.
In the fifties, concerns focused on monsters and flying saucers.
Ours are reproductive. For instance we worry
that come 2052, it will be increasingly normal for grannies
to be giving birth, or that male pregnancy will be possible.
It's my bet that if you asked 100 women in their sixties,
now or in 2052, if they wanted a test-tube baby or
double-glazing, 99 per cent would opt for the windows.
As for male pregnancy, I have it filed unter 'o' as in 'Only for
the lunatic', along with human cloning and genetic engineering.
Yes, it might all be technically possible, and you might
well see genetic engineering for very specific and well-defined medical reasons,
but it will remain phenomenally risky
for the baby. It's an unchangeable part of human nature
that what we really want, above everything else, is the best
for our future generations.
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