What We Thought This Decade Would Be Like Vs. Reality

Remember when the entire electricity grid was supposed to shut down because of Y2K? Yeah, none of that scary stuff happened when the clock struck midnight and we were launched into the year 2000. It turns out, our society as a whole is pretty bad at predicting what this decade is actually going to be like. Remember, The Jetsons took place in 2062 – a mere 44 years from today and their idea of the future is still pretty laughable (though, Teflon fabrics have made their way into haute couture).

These predictions from the future were hilariously incorrect. Sorry, tech nerds – the only hoverboards we’ve got in 2018 are the ones that can’t keep their batteries from exploding and remain firmly planted on the ground. Check out some other things we thought the future would bring…and what it really brought.

Y2K Would Catastrophically Destroy Modern Society


Y2K is one of the most obviously laughable doomsday predictions in recent times. In 1998, an issue of BYTE magazine claimed that “[Y2K] is a crisis without precedent in human history.” Nah, man. The lights didn’t even flicker. That prediction was 20 years ago. In 2018, we are decidedly not recovering from the monumental disaster that was Y2K (though our parents probably remember their monumental hangovers).

The Large Hadron Collider Would Destroy Earth


In 2008, the first beam was shot through the Large Hadron Collider – a move that was supposedly going to rip open a black hole and destroy the entire Earth. The LHC was created to test various theories of particle physics and provide answers to previously unsolved physics questions. The idea of the collider ripping open a wormhole was so infamous that it was later used in the film The Cloverfield Experiment.

Needless to say, the LHC hasn’t ripped a hole in the space-time continuum yet. Or maybe it did and we never noticed. What if the Earth really was thrown into a different, almost identical dimension where reality stars can become U.S. presidents? 2018 is pretty weird.

We Would Commute In Flying Cars


The Jetsons only took place about 44 years from present day, but flying cars are shown to be not only readily available but so common they’re basically the modern SUV of Orbit City. It’s not to say that flying cars don’t exist in 2018, but they’re massively expensive and not really allowed on normal roads.

Currently, Uber is working on developing low-cost aerocar travel routes in a new app called UberAir. Unfortunately, batteries for flying cars are pretty limited and will only last for about 60 miles. As Popular Mechanics notes, the limitations of a Terrafugia Transition, a real-life flying car that can run up to 62 miles per hour, “remain enormous.” Better luck next time.

We’d All Have Brain Chip Implants

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In recent years, humans have made some awesome advancements in biometrics. Your thumbprint serves as a super secure password to your iPhone, but many sci-fi films and TV shows (including Black Mirror) have predicted biometric implants in human beings. This is a step beyond a FitBit, and simply isn’t used in any capacity approved by the FDA, but that doesn’t mean scientists aren’t trying.

According to Gizmodo, a company called DARPA is working on a brain chip implant that helps cure depression. Back in 2006, the experimental technology was implanted inside a woman named Liss Murphy – and it worked. The research effort currently has $65 million of backing.

Cryogenically Frozen Humans Would Be Brought Back To Life


It should be a given that people haven’t yet figured out how to live forever or transfer their consciousness into another being. Sci-Fi films have long championed the idea of cryogenic chambers and freezing and unfreezing dying humans so they could be brought back to life when science had found cures for their life-threatening problems. The only issue is that science still has not. Though some scientists have predicted that cryogenically frozen brains (which actually do exist in 2018) could be successfully transplanted into donor bodies within three years, we’re just not there. It won’t happen in this decade regardless, and do we even want it to happen in the first place?

Humans Would Be Immortal

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Much like cryogenically freezing bodies, people have long thought that future technology and medical advancements would bring immortality. Of course, in 2018, the only fountain of youth that actually exists is a scalpel in the hands of a clever plastic surgeon. That doesn’t stop Silicon Valley from trying. A number of tech companies, including SNES (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) and Project Calico, have massive, multi-million dollar funding. The former hopes to find drugs that cure age-related damage and the latter hopes to flat-out “cure death.” Rumor has it that even Google has been building a drug to mimic foxo3, a gene that’s associated with extremely long lifespans.

Needless to say, this is all pretty far off. In 2017, the male U.S. life expectancy actually slipped backward. Oops.

The Internet Would Collapse


Tech experts have long been speculating over the collapse of the Internet pretty much since the Internet was invented. In 1995, Robert Metcalfe (the guy who invented Ethernet) wrote an article stating that by 1996, the Internet would “go spectacularly supernova” and “catastrophically collapse.” Surely, this would happen by 2018, but nope.

Though most of us have had our gripes with Verizon and Optimum, any rare Internet outages only ever last a couple of hours. If Y2K wasn’t enough to tear down the machine, what would be? A lot of people believe that if the Earth’s magnetic poles change, it could cause a similar catastrophe. It’s unclear how long those related outages would actually last for before we were living in The 100, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Gold Would Be Worthless


Thomas Edison was undeniably brilliant, but his predictions were sometimes misguided. Edison truly believed that in the future, gold would be as common and worthless as steel. He thought science would be able to convert iron into gold like it was no big deal. Though science definitely has learned to synthesize precious stones, lab-grown gems just don’t have the same value even if they look almost exactly the same as their natural counterparts.

Edison wasn’t entirely wrong though because while gold has value, it no longer has bearing on our economy. As of the 1970s, U.S. currency is no longer backed by gold, but every Cash4Gold commercial on TV proves the precious metal is definitely still worth something in 2018.

Apple Would Go Bankrupt


Everyone remembers playing Oregon Trail on the very first Macintosh computers. Despite those fine memories of the very first commercially produced Apple products, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Everyone expected the company to fail. In 1996, The New York Times predicted that the tech company was “cooked” and that it was “so sad” because it was a classic. Michael Dell, whose eponymous brand once had a very competitive corner of the laptop market, claimed that Apple should shut down and “give the money back to the shareholders.” Even Microsoft’s CTO said, “Apple is already dead.”

Unfortunately for their competitors, Apple is alive and kicking. Those people probably all own an iPhone X, especially Microsoft’s CTO since the company’s break into the smartphone market with Windows Phones was a horribly failed experiment.

Books Would Be Made Of Nickel


Another one of Edison’s misguided future predictions was that books would be made of nickel, not paper. He claimed that nickel would be cheaper, stronger and more flexible than the old standard. In 2018, schoolkids obviously aren’t breaking their backs by carrying metal textbooks. In fact, some of them don’t carry textbooks at all in favor of digital textbooks loaded to their iPads. In this sense, Edison wasn’t completely wrong. Many books are made of metal if you’re reading them on an Amazon Kindle. In fact, iPads and other devices do actually contain nickel, which is an allergen to a lot of people. Just imagine the rashes the general public would get if they were forced to study from nickel-plated books!

Humans Would Colonize The Moon

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In 1982, The New York Times took a poll on what futurists thought would happen in the next 20 or so years. While some people predicted that families would have fewer children and people would adopt work coop spaces, others predicted that people would colonize the moon.

Futurist Barbara Hubbard believed that “in 20 years, there is the possibility of a cosmic civilization,” but humans would first have to take their minds “off destruction and concentrate on construction.” In 2018, with world leaders threatening nuclear war on Twitter, it’s safe to say that we’re still in the “destruction” phase and haven’t made any serious moves towards living on the moon. Oh well.

AI Would Have An Actual Conscious

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Everyone has seen Wall-E and I, Robot. In the future, artificial intelligence was supposed to actually feel. That’s not really a thing in 2018. Though AIs have gotten really good at pretending to be human (we love our Siri and Alexa), they decidedly don’t have actual feelings. That doesn’t mean they’re not eerily smart though. Last year, Facebook had to shut down their AI bots because they learned their own, non-human language and were actually communicating with each other. Fortunately, it wasn’t the beginning of the end. They were mostly just talking nonsense.

Humans Would Clone Each Other

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Human cloning is highly navigated territory when it comes to the science fiction genre. This is still not a thing in 2018 – and it probably shouldn’t be. Human cloning has long been debated as an actual possibility, but the ethics of it remain up in the air even if the technology exists. In fact, human embryos are cloned to make stem cells, the first of which occurred in 2001. Dogs and sheep have also been cloned in the past (though they regrettably didn’t live long, healthy lives). In 2018, Chinese scientists managed to clone a monkey which brought us one step closer to living in Orphan Black. It could happen, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Time Travel Would Be A Thing


Whether you’re watching Doctor Who, Star Trek or Back to the Future, the idea of time travel is really cool. Unfortunately, we still can’t hop into a Delorean and drive ourselves into a different decade. The main caveat of time traveling back in time is that you’d need to travel faster than light. That’s simply not possible.

According to Physics.org, traveling forward in time is actually not difficult at all. Einstein’s theory of relativity shows that time passes at slightly different rates for people moving relative to one another but it’s negligible unless you’re approaching the speed of light. To go backward in time, you’d have to move even faster. Nope, not happening anytime soon.

Cars Would Not Have Doors

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According to Beyond 2000, an Australian TV show, cars wouldn’t need doors in the future. Why? It was hard to say – something about aerodynamics? Would it be better gas mileage? Maybe doors just don’t look cool and in the future, we look cool? That prediction never really made much sense because doors are a safety feature. Imagine getting in an accident and being trapped inside a driver’s seat that looks like an airplane cockpit with no way to get out. Needless to say, car doors are plentiful even if some models regrettably forgo all four.

The Alphabet Would No Longer Contain C, X, and Q


Language is always changing. We may not have had the expression “on fleek” 10 years ago, but the English alphabet hasn’t really changed all that much since the 1800s. Olde English saw a couple characters we don’t recognize now like “wynn” and “thorn.” Somewhere down the line, “uu” became “w” and the ampersand (or &) was removed as the English alphabet’s 27th character. The S was brought in to replace ƒ somewhere around WWI, but since then, the alphabet has been the same. In 1900, Ladies’ Home Journal predicted that the letters C, X and Q would disappear from the alphabet within 100 years. That never happened. Not even close.

Flying Bicycles Would Be Hipper Than A Fixed Gear


Why set your sights on a flying car when you could ride a flying bicycle around town? In 1909, this was a legitimate prediction by Jules Bois (who The New York Times hailed as a “mystic” and “litterateur.” He claimed that “a kind of flying bicycle will have been invented which will enable everybody to traverse the air at will, far above the earth.” I’m not sure if we need to tell you that even if flying bicycles exist, hardly anyone is flying them. Though Up may have been inspiring (all those balloons could lift a house!), it’s just not as practical as using a car.

Cities Would Be Strictly For Businessmen (And Women)


In 1909, Jules Bois also predicted that hardly anyone would live in cities – they would be places of business only. Basically, cities would shut down at night and people would travel back home to the countryside or suburbs where they live. With real estate costs skyrocketing in cities like San Francisco and New York because the demand for a home is higher than the actual amount of real estate, this definitely isn’t true. At the very least, it won’t happen in this decade, but the future holds more possibilities. As rent prices continue to skyrocket (the average price of a San Francisco two-bedroom is around $4,500 a month), people will be priced out. The evidence: In 2017, New York City actually saw a population decline.

We’d Take Vacations To The Moon On Commercial Space Flights

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In the 1950s, it was thought that space travel would be available to everyone in the new millennium. Over here in 2018, we still haven’t put a man on Mars (though Elon Musk is totally working on it).

Space travel obviously isn’t widely available to the average person like a commercial flight. Citizens of Earth can’t go into space without some serious training (and some serious funding – just ask Lance Bass). A company called Space Adventures offers multi-millionaires a chance to hitch aboard a Russian flight to the International Space Station, but over the course of eight years, they’ve only brought seven people. The company also offered $150 million translunar flights, and two people took them up on it in 2011. It’s unclear whether the mission was squashed or if they’re still training. Either way, that’s a lot of money and a lot of effort making it a lofty dream for most.

Humans Would Live In Underground Cities

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In 1964, author Isaac Asimov imaged the 2014 World’s Fair for The New York Times. OF course, World’s Fairs are no longer a thing, so that was his first incorrect prediction. His second was that humans would have underground cities.

“Men will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better,” he wrote. “By 2014, electroluminescent panels will be in common use. Ceilings and walls will glow softly and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button… Suburban houses underground, with easily controlled temperature, free from the vicissitudes of weather, with air cleaned and light controlled, should be fairly common.” Some of us may only be able to afford basement apartments and are sorely lacking in Vitamin D, but it’s just not the same thing.