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y: Arthur C Clarke Predicting the future in 1964

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Trying to predict the future is a discouraging and hazardous occupation because the prophet invariably falls between 2 stools. If his predictions sound at all reasonable, you can be quite sure that in 20 or at most 50 years, the progress of science and technology has made him seem ridiculously conservative. On the other hand, if by some miracle a prophet could describe the future exactly as it was going to take place, his predictions would sound so absurd, so farfetched, that everybody would laugh him to scorn. This has proved to be true in the past, and it will undoubtedly be true even more so of the century to come. The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So, if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I'll have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable have you any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen. Let's start by looking at the city of the future. Some people think that it will be like this, and they're quite right. In fact, everything you see now already exists, all the materials, all the ideas. These things could be put into practice immediately. But what about the city of the day after tomorrow? Say, the year 2000? I think it will be completely different. In fact, it may not even exist at all. Oh, I'm not thinking of the atom bomb and the next Stone Age. I'm thinking of the incredible breakthrough which has been made possible by developments in communications, particularly the transistor, and above all, the communications satellite. These things will make possible a world in which we can be in instant contact with each other wherever we may be, where we can contact our friends anywhere on earth even if we don't know their actual physical location. It will be possible in that age, perhaps only 50 years from now, for a man to conduct his business from Tahiti or Bali just as well as he could from London. In fact, if it proved worthwhile, almost any executive skill, any administrative skill, even any physical skill could be made independent of distance. I'm perfectly serious when I suggest that one day we may have brain surgeons in Edinburgh operating on patients in New Zealand. When that time comes, the whole world will have shrunk to a point, and the traditional role of the city as a meeting place for man will have ceased to make any sense. In fact, men will no longer commute. They will communicate. They won't have to travel for business anymore. They'll only travel for pleasure.

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 12 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Views: 246
Posted by: renatob on Feb 12, 2013

A great clip from the BBC's Horizon programme in 1964. Arthur Charles Clarke was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, most famous for the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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