[extropy-chat] Futures Past

Harvey Newstrom mail at harveynewstrom.com
Sun Oct 9 20:03:25 UTC 2005

On Oct 9, 2005, at 2:37 PM, Samantha Atkins wrote:

> Thanks for keeping and posting this, Greg.   It makes for interesting 
> Sunday morning reading.
> What hits me from this list is that for all the predictions we have 
> thus far (2015 is 10 years away) missed, we have exceeded some 
> predictions and likely to reach many others by 2015.  So some things 
> came a wee bit later.  Yeah we don't have smart roads and VR is still 
> not great, cryogenics hasn't improved that much, space development 
> sucks and so on.

So what exactly has arrived faster than we expected?  You listed all 
the obvious delays, but has anything really arrived sooner than 

Some people say the Internet was not predicted, but that is bogus.  
Google for an internet time-line (such as 
<http://www.zakon.org/robert/internet/timeline/>) to see that Arpanet 
was designed in the 1960's and commissioned by the DoD in 1969.  It 
became and international network in 1973.  E-mail, telnet and file 
transfer protocols were available by then.  That was over 30 years ago. 
  I was on this network in the late 1970's and had made a career of it 
by the 1980s.

Some people think cellphones are new or unpredicted.  Again, this is 
bogus.  Motorola demonstrated the first cellphone prototype in 1973 and 
offered public service in 1979.  That's 25 years ago.  Cellphones are 
pre-history to the existance of most transhumanists, so it is odd that 
they are touted as an unexpected advance.  Every star-trek fan or 
military walkie-talkie user new the concept and were just waiting for 
them to get smaller and cheaper.  There was no sudden breakthrough 
faster than futurists predicted.

So what really is progressing faster than expected that offsets all the 
delays?  I'm not denying that there is a lot of progress going on.  But 
I haven't really been suprised by any of these advancements.  They were 
all predicted.  A computer beating a human at chess?  Sequencing DNA?  
These were long predicted and had people working toward them for a long 
time.  No computer scientist was suprised that computers could play 
chess better and better.  No medical researcher failed to realize that 
we were trying to map human DNA and would eventually get it done.

Have there really been any suprises or dramatic advances that were not 
predicted or expected by science-fiction, computer-nerd futurist types?

Harvey Newstrom <HarveyNewstrom.com>

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