Brain Pickings

Arthur C. Clarke Predicts the Future in 1964, Gets It Oddly Right

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How to walk the line between futurism and absurdity, or why the satellite is more important than the A-bomb.

Earlier this week, we explored 5 vintage visions for the future of technology. In this fantastic clip from a 1964 BBC Horizon program — the same series that to this day explores such illuminating topics as the nature of reality, the age-old tension between science and religion, how music works, and what time really is — legendary science fiction writer, inventor, and futurist Arthur C. Clarke predicts the future.

A half-century before most of today’s technologies, he presages the digital convergence with uncanny accuracy and reminds us, with eloquence and lucidity foreign to most of today’s quasi-futurists, of the very essence and purpose of predicting the future in the first place.

The only thing that we can be sure of the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic.

One day, we may have brain surgeons in Edinburgh operating on patients in New Zealand. When that time comes, the whole world would’ve shrunk to a point and the traditional role of the city as a meeting place for men would’ve 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.

For more of Clarke’s striking futurism, treat yourself to Profiles of the Future — his fantastic anthology of essays written between 1959 and 1961, exploring the ultimate possibilities of the future with equal parts visionary imagination and astonishing accuracy.

via Open Culture

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