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A series of tubes? Jumpsuits and shoes?
January 18, 2010 8:39 AM   Subscribe

"Back when I was a boy, I bought a children's book at my town's library book sale called "2010: Living in the Future" by Geoffrey Hoyle. Written in 1972, it had been withdrawn from the library's collection by the mid-80s, when I picked it up. I've somehow managed to hang onto it for 25 years and now, suddenly, here we are: 2010. I'm reproducing this long out-of-print book here to see how we're doing. Are we really living in the future?"
posted by joshwa (93 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
For those who don't get the navigation, find the little arrow on the bottom right. That will flip you to the next page/blog post.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:42 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why would this person fail to crop the table, or rug, or whatever it's sitting on, format their page so that the content occupies the merest fraction, and add a bar on the bottom with unchanging content? Do they hate people's interest and attention?
posted by Mapes at 8:45 AM on January 18, 2010 [30 favorites]


Sorry, I don't have the time to click click click click...I'm guessing the answer is: No.
posted by kozad at 8:47 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The bit with the angry bald blogger rolling out of bed to hack away at a keyboard seems pretty acurate.
posted by Artw at 8:49 AM on January 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


The bit with the angry bald blogger rolling out of bed to hack away at a keyboard seems pretty acurate.

You mean this part?
posted by nitsuj at 8:57 AM on January 18, 2010 [51 favorites]


The strangest and most unlikely prediction is we would be so rational. (Apart from the guy with the killer beard on P14. He's nuts.)
posted by Fiery Jack at 8:58 AM on January 18, 2010


"You mean this part?"

He's typing an angry rejection of the navigation on that site.
posted by Artw at 9:04 AM on January 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


I really want that shower. And apparently, while there were space issues, there wasn't any concern for conservation in this version of 2010, since you just dumped your dishes down the sink when you were done with them.

Some of this reminds me of the book Disney put out abut the Epcot Center. I must've borrowed that from the library 20 times as a kid. I finally went to the Epcot Center as an adult. It wasn't half as awesome as it was in that book when I was a kid.
posted by KGMoney at 9:04 AM on January 18, 2010


I'd be alright with wearing a futuristic jumpsuit. Where did we go wrong?
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:10 AM on January 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


In the year 2010 everyone wears a jumpsuit and shoes. The clothes may look odd, but they are sensible.

Hmm... a bald blogger who jumps out of bed to type angru things on the internet and who has a commitment to wearing ugly, unfashionable clothes because they are "sensible". They also have a very tiny apartment. I'm getting a real picture here.
posted by Artw at 9:11 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The odd navigation is worth it. The last few pages deal with an enormous subterranean network of liquid-filled tubes that function like some sort of automated shipping system. The illustrations remind me of a motif in my grade school doodles - partially inspired by the pipes windows screensaver I'm sure. The most baffling part is the special liquid with which the tubes are filled. It somehow compensates for varying density and destinations. Nano-goo?
posted by Mizu at 9:13 AM on January 18, 2010


The navigation is indeed a bit confusing, but the book itself is delightfully charming. You know, putting aside the copyright issue.
posted by muddgirl at 9:14 AM on January 18, 2010


Apparently in the future, all drawings will be Outsider Art.

I have a jumpsuit, gleaned from a thrift store and sitting in a box at home. Maybe I should start wearing it in public.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:15 AM on January 18, 2010


If dropseats for easy access became socially acceptable, along with those giant, waist-cinching belts (oh, wait...) then I would wear jumpsuits. Until I don't have to get naked to pee in a public restroom, the jumpsuit stays in my closet and is only worn for *very* special occasions.
posted by Mizu at 9:19 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"In the future preople will complain endlessly about being oppressed by copyright whilst actually ignoring it."
posted by Artw at 9:20 AM on January 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


One thing that's kind of interesting here: in 1972, this stuff was all purely speculative fiction. There was no conceivable way to build pretty much anything listed.

In 2010, all those personal convenience items would be perfectly buildable. The automatic shower isn't much different than the Japanese automatic toilets. Japan also has automats that cook food live while you watch, in much the same way as the magic kitchen he talks about. We haven't made them yet, but we easily could, which is pretty interesting.

He got the communication stuff spot-on; he was wrong about form factors, and over-estimated the social willingness to do things in new ways, but we are indeed doing exactly what he proposed, albeit by slightly different methods.

Boy, was he wrong about clothes. :) And the 'series of tubes' stuff at the end of the book is funny as hell.
posted by Malor at 9:20 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The strangest and most unlikely prediction is we would be so rational

Yeah , we're still basically savages ......with smartphones.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:22 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ug beat you over head! Ug have App for that!
posted by Artw at 9:23 AM on January 18, 2010 [22 favorites]


The most baffling part is the special liquid with which the tubes are filled.

The Goos didn't know that they were in a book, or that they were extremely delicious.
-- The Sign Painter.
posted by Electric Dragon at 9:24 AM on January 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


BACON—WELL DONE. TWO EGGS—MEDIUM. TOAST. TEA—MILK AND SUGAR.

I don't trust this machine. It sounds like it's just about to initiate GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:25 AM on January 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I loved that book. Thanks for this.
posted by dforemsky at 9:32 AM on January 18, 2010


It is important to check the bill because computers can make mistakes.

No.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:32 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


the bald blogger is just mad because it's 2010 and Osama is in charge, throwing down fatwas in his amazing technicolor track-suit.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:37 AM on January 18, 2010


If you were a bald angry blogger who wore jumpsuits because they are sensible you would totally double check every bill ever.
posted by Artw at 9:38 AM on January 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


In 2010 there must be no wasted space. There are so many people in the world that every inch of ground must be used wisely.
Oh, if only.

It is important to check the bill because computers can make mistakes.

No.
posted by jeffamaphone


For kids that is an appropriate simplification, even if inaccurate. It IS important to know that the people who make hardware and software make mistakes. But I doubt that any kind of completely accurate explanation would fit in a kids' book; that level of abstraction is not readily understood by this age group. And to properly explain why would be too long for a good read.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:41 AM on January 18, 2010


I think my favorite part was the schoolteacher surrounded by that awesome-looking control console. I might have decided to become a teacher if that was a reality.
posted by DMan at 9:43 AM on January 18, 2010


there wasn't any concern for conservation in this version of 2010, since you just dumped your dishes down the sink when you were done with them.

They wouldn't necessarily be discarded. I remember something similar predicted in the old Walter Cronkite series "The Twenty-First Century." The dishes were made of some plastic-like material and they were simply melted down and re-formed again for the next usage. The melting process had the side effect of incinerating all the left-over food.

Of course this isn't very energy efficient, but we had all those nuclear power plants to look forward to.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:44 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm reproducing this long out-of-print book here to see how we're doing. Are we really living in the future?"

So copyright infringement is ok for things we like?

I say yes, but I hate our current system of copyright.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:47 AM on January 18, 2010


Do they hate people's interest and attention?

It's Tumblr, Jake. Tumblr.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:54 AM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


In a way the shitty navigation negates the reproduction of the entire book and brings it back closer to something that you might squint at and wave your hands a lot and pretend is fair use.
posted by Artw at 9:56 AM on January 18, 2010


So copyright infringement is ok for things we like?

I say yes, but I hate our current system of copyright.


Geoffrey Hoyle is still alive, so there's no system of copyright under which this would be OK.


I hate Geoffrey Hoyle's imagined future. It's like the future in "The Machine Stops" except with cheesy sideburns.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:03 AM on January 18, 2010


I swear some of the stuff in the book has been in Wallace & Gromit. That said, why did "futurists" always think that all this wonderful technology would result in more leisure time, not less? Was it that hard to imagine that if you're always connected to your job you're assumed to always be at work?
posted by tommasz at 10:09 AM on January 18, 2010


Videoconferencing etc is really the most futuristic thing most of us do on any kind of regular basis. I'm a remote student and I feel like when I explain to people how it works, I kind of sound like this book.

"You watch a university professor lecture on databases at a time that's convenient to you. You do your homework and tests directly on your vision phone, or you can do them on paper and use a machine to take a picture of them. Then you use your vision phone to send the picture to your professor, many miles away, and his graduate students grade it just as they have for centuries. When they're done, they take another picture of the scored work and send it back to your vision phone, so you can see it. You never meet any of these people in person, but you earn the exact same degree your parents would have had to live on campus to earn."

Thanks, the future! I like not having to live anywhere near where I go to school.

Also: a family friend of mine has a shower where you set the temperature with a dial. Someday when I have a few more dollars to my name I am going to have that exact same thing, because it is AWESOME.
posted by crinklebat at 10:15 AM on January 18, 2010


IN 2020 WE WILL HAVE A BETTER USER INTERFACE.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:22 AM on January 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


There IS more leisure time, not less. It's just unevenly distributed in a society with ever-increasing numbers of the unemployed and the disabled. And then there are those of us who MetaFilter during work hours, in 1972, it would've been considered a leisure activity.

As for the 'ugly' jump suits, I WISH that one would've come into being. IMO, they beat Business Attire, baggy jeans and most of what you can get at TJMaxx. Still, he should've predicted cool stuff printed on shirts like the MeFi logo, 3 wolf moon and HAN SHOT FIRST.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:25 AM on January 18, 2010


Silly futurist!
posted by mazola at 10:28 AM on January 18, 2010


Boy, was he wrong about clothes. :)

As for the 'ugly' jump suits, I WISH that one would've come into being.

All you have to do is wear your Snuggie in public, and you're all set.
posted by CarlRossi at 10:35 AM on January 18, 2010


One thing that's kind of interesting here: in 1972, this stuff was all purely speculative fiction. There was no conceivable way to build pretty much anything listed.

Nope. The heating system described was not only not futuristic, it was commonplace.
There is a boiler that not only heats or cools the air but cleans it. Every hour, air is sucked into the boiler from all over the house. The air passes through a filter which removes all the dust and dirt. From here it goes into a humidifier which either takes water out of the air or puts it back in.
I got as far as the jumpsuits and decided I wasn't going to spend any more of my future on this. Also, I do not want to sleep on the floor, no matter how soft it is.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:46 AM on January 18, 2010


The desk described here seems a lot like those touchscreen all-in-one desktop PCs, which I've been jonesing for lately.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:56 AM on January 18, 2010


Also, "jumpsuits and shoes" is so weird. People wore shoes in 1972, so mentioning that they'd be wearing shoes in 2010 is an odd bit of forecasting. Did he mean "no more boots or sandals?" or was he trying to say that there were no socks involved?

Of course, people also wore jumpsuits in the 1970s. I remember seeing Burt Reynolds on the Tonight show wearing some kind of jumpsuit with an ascot and thinking "Wow, that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen a grownup who was not Cher wearing."
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:00 AM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Of course, people also wore jumpsuits in the 1970s. I remember seeing Burt Reynolds on the Tonight show wearing some kind of jumpsuit with an ascot and thinking "Wow, that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen a grownup who was not Cher wearing."

Sadly, I doubt it even makes the top twenty anymore. The top eight alone belong to Lady Gaga.
posted by Caduceus at 11:05 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's interesting to me is how Hoyle's future assumes such a high degree of independence for kids. That's what would've really grabbed me if I'd read this as a wee child. You mean, you can go downtown to the Sports and Social Center by yourself?

Seems like in boring ol' actual 2010 Amazing Technological Advancements have made kids subject to more protection and observation by their parents and teachers and whatnot, not less. Hoyle's 2010 trusts kids to find their own way around town, do their schoolwork more-or-less independently, and meet up with their parents occasionally to discuss the day's adventures. And that's sort of weird. But cool.



I too want one of those magic showers. Look at that smug bastard on page thirteen enjoying his fancy future shower like some sort of smug bastard. How I envy him.
posted by Neofelis at 11:08 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


blue_beetle wrote So copyright infringement is ok for things we like?

Well, as you said, there's the fact that our current system is broken.

But more important to my way of thinking, I figure if it's not available for purchase then bugger copyright. Copyright should not be a tool for producing a memory hole. I'm down with enforcing copyright as long as the copywritten work is available for purchase, if it isn't then I could care about copyright.

If someone can show me how I can purchase a copy of 2010: Living in the Future I will be a lot more respectful of its copyright. If I can't buy it, I have zero respect for copyright.

Sidhedevil Actually, under the original copyright law of the USA, copyright was limited to a maximum of 28 years: 14 years from creation with the possibility of renewal for an additional 14 years if the author was still alive.
posted by sotonohito at 11:11 AM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sidhedevil Actually, under the original copyright law of the USA, copyright was limited to a maximum of 28 years: 14 years from creation with the possibility of renewal for an additional 14 years if the author was still alive.

I had forgotten that embarrassing moment from my nation's past, which is especially ridiculous considering all the time I spent in graduate school reading about the Walter Scott and Frederick Marryat lawsuits.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:15 AM on January 18, 2010


The automatic shower isn't much different than the Japanese automatic toilets.

It's not much different from a car wash. A commenter on the page also says this, but it's the first thing that came to mind. It's the foam nozzles that cinches it. That's a car wash, and I am all the hell for it.

I love old futurism. Thanks for posting.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:22 AM on January 18, 2010


I want one of those automatic showers. And free, frequent, convenient 24 hour public transit? Yes please!
posted by SisterHavana at 11:32 AM on January 18, 2010


One real advantage to wearing jumpsuits all the time is that they're easy to draw...

The only real thing this guy got right was the internet, but that's a pretty big deal, and was pretty hard to predict.

It's not hard to predict that we won't rebuild every single building in the next 30 years.
posted by aubilenon at 11:41 AM on January 18, 2010


All I know is I'm not eating at that guy's house:
The delivery man opens the refrigerators, deep freezers, and cold-storage units from outside the house and places his load in the right containers. (emphasis mine)
And I don't care how comfortable they are, I am NOT wearing a jumpsuit.

Was it that hard to imagine that if you're always connected to your job you're assumed to always be at work?

Uh-huh, tommasz. Seriously. I have a hard enough time turning the computer off on the weekends as it is. Boyfriend says that I am "Amish on weekends."
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:43 AM on January 18, 2010


That bald guy looks like Ivan Dobsky, the meatsafe murderer (only he never done it).
posted by troybob at 11:45 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meh, back in the 90's I wore jumpsuits all the time.
I am more future than any of you.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:01 PM on January 18, 2010


also, gotta say, as far as the foodstuffs go, the real 2010 is even more amazing. basically any kind of thing is available frozen and can be microwaved in minutes. remember, back in 1972, if you wanted a burrito, you had to make one.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:05 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Laugh all you want, but in my closet I have a go-bag filled with all sorts of stuff that might be useful, and in there, amongst everything else, is a carefully folded jumpsuit.

What I'm saying is that I still anticipate a future where this might be necessary, and I'm prepared.

Because one day, some super-villain is going to set up shop down the road from me, and he's going to need employees. And I want to be seen as the kind of can-do worker who is ready for anything.
posted by quin at 12:07 PM on January 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


The best part for me was the comments..but suddenly I can't get the comments to view.

Well, it was enjoyable. Thanks for sharing it. I used to work in a graphic design firm in the late 70's and early 80's. Everyone was drawing in a Peter Max style. This made me wonder if our communication art will look extra dopey in 2050.
posted by naplesyellow at 12:07 PM on January 18, 2010


That bald guy looks like Ivan Dobsky, the meatsafe murderer (only he never done it).

OMG! another human who has seen monkey dust! nobody believes me that its real! I LOVE YOU!
posted by sexyrobot at 12:08 PM on January 18, 2010


...as far as the foodstuffs go, the real 2010 is even more amazing.

At least we don't need like 30 ovens in our kitchen. I started to suspect this book was published by Easy-Off.
posted by troybob at 12:08 PM on January 18, 2010


...nobody believes me that its real!...

tell me about it! nobody ever laughs when I introduce myself as a first-time cottager (NSFWoH)
posted by troybob at 12:17 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


In 2010, Rick Rubin can walk into your house whenever he damn well pleases.

As a side note, a robot arm did NOT throw me my toast this morning. For the record, our 2010 fucking sucks.
posted by dr_dank at 12:18 PM on January 18, 2010


So if I can sum up this thread:

Imagined 2010: comfy bright jumpsuits
Actual 2010: copyright lawsuits
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:19 PM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Apparently, in the future I'm an illustrator of children's books, because this is drawn about as well as I can.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:29 PM on January 18, 2010


Sorry, but that book can't touch Lazy Tommy Pumpkinhead by William Pene Du Bois.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060217502/
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:36 PM on January 18, 2010


In 2010, Rick Rubin can walk into your house whenever he damn well pleases.

Yes, but good luck getting out of his house during a fire without breaking a leg.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:41 PM on January 18, 2010


One of my friends points out that this future is very specific to the middle-class. The people delivering all those groceries, and driving the buses 24 hours a day, and presumably maintaining the garden-like restaurant (and somewhere, preparing the food pods to be dropped into the tubes) are not working from home three days a week.
posted by not that girl at 12:53 PM on January 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


the magic kitchen he talks about. We haven't made them yet, but we easily could

Not so fast!
posted by kaspen at 12:55 PM on January 18, 2010


That kitchen seemed like the worst thing. Bazillions of moving parts, all ready to break at any moment, insanely complex, and of course it deprives people of the joy of cooking.
posted by sotonohito at 1:05 PM on January 18, 2010


Although, sotonohito, the thought of a machine just handing me toast in the morning without any effort is right up on my OH GOD YES scale.

You're talking to someone who set up the coffeemaker yesterday morning, went into the other room, asked her boyfriend if the coffee was done yet and then realized oh damn, I forgot to put the water in.

A robot that does nothing but make me toast before I am fully caffeinated and able to handle complex tasks would be pretty much my idea of heaven.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:22 PM on January 18, 2010


sotonohito: A bit like what Terry Gilliam imagines in Brazil.
posted by codacorolla at 1:32 PM on January 18, 2010


I have to admit that the lack of an automated McDonald's clone has always baffled me. Surely an automated affair with as few moving parts as possible staffing one reasonably well-trained person who deals with difficult customers' orders and is smart enough to sort out the routine mechanical issues is more cost-effective than a staff of minimum-wage workers?

The food quality is the same (utter crap), it's easier for it to be a 24-hour joint, and there's no worry of someone spitting in your food or taking a dump and then not washing their hands before making it. As an owner the lower cost trumps everything and as a customer the fewer people touching my food before I eat it the better.
posted by Ryvar at 1:53 PM on January 18, 2010


This thread needs more David Byrne. His prescient song "In the Future," from Music for the Knee Plays.

In the future everyone will have the same haircut and the same clothes.
In the future everyone will be very fat from the stachy diet.
In the future everyone will be very thin from not having enough to eat.
In the future it will be next to impossible to tell girls from boys, even in bed.
In the future men will be ’super masculine’ and women will be ’ultra-feminine’.
In the future half of us will be ’mentally ill’.
In the future there will be no religion or spirtualism of any sort.
In the future the ’psychic arts’ will be put to practical use.
In the future we will not think that ’nature’ is beautiful.
In the future the weather will always be the same.
In the future no one will fight with anyone else.
In the future there will be an atomic war.
In the future water will be expensive.
In the future all material items will be free.
In the future everyone’s house will be like a little fortress.
In the future everyone’s house will be a total entertainment centre.

In the future everyone but the wealthy will be very happy.
In the future everyone but the wealthy will be very filthy.
In the future everyone but the wealthy will be very heathly.
In the future tv will be so good that the printed word will function as an artform only.
In the future people with boring jobs will take pills to relieve the boredom.
In the future that no one will live in cities.
In the future there will be mini-wars going on everywhere.
In the future everyone will think about love all the time.

In the future political and other decisions will be based completely on opinion polls.
In the future there will be machines which will produce a religious experience in the user.
In the future there will be groups of wild people, living in the wilderness.
In the future there will only be paper money which will be personalised.
In the future there will be a classless society.

In the future everyone will only get to go home once a year.
In the future everyone will stay home all the time.
In the future we will not have time for leisure activities.
In the future we will only ’work’ one day a week.
In the future our bodies will be shrivelled up but our brains will be bigger.
In the future there will be starving people everywhere.
In the future people will live in space.
In the future no one will be able to afford tv.
In the future the helpless will be killed.
In the future everyone will have their own style of way-out clothes.
In the future we will make love to anything, anytime, anywhere.
In the future there will be so much going on ... that no one will be able to keep track of it.
posted by namasaya at 2:12 PM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


of course, food in the future has actually turned out a bit more like this.(SLYT)
maybe it's because the internet is expanding.(also SLYT)
posted by sexyrobot at 2:49 PM on January 18, 2010


This was entertaining.
posted by serazin at 2:51 PM on January 18, 2010


maybe it's because the internet is expanding. (also SLYT)

Oh word, I'd forgotten all about the old lady internet.
posted by Sova at 2:56 PM on January 18, 2010


The people delivering all those groceries, and driving the buses 24 hours a day, and presumably maintaining the garden-like restaurant (and somewhere, preparing the food pods to be dropped into the tubes) are not working from home three days a week.

Dude, robots.
posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on January 18, 2010


It is important to check the bill because computers can make mistakes.

Thanks for this!
posted by trip and a half at 3:13 PM on January 18, 2010


In the year 2010 you do not sleep on a bed ... The bedroom is an office, and the kitchen is a living room.

This, at least, is true. No jumpsuit, though.
posted by Grangousier at 3:20 PM on January 18, 2010




That bald guy looks like Ivan Dobsky, the meatsafe murderer (only he never done it).

OMG! another human who has seen monkey dust! nobody believes me that its real! I LOVE YOU!


Mr Hoppy!
posted by Electric Dragon at 4:35 PM on January 18, 2010


In the year 2010 you do not sleep on a bed ... The bedroom is an office, and the kitchen is a living room.

"But where do I go to the bathroom?"
"Wherever you like!"
posted by sexyrobot at 4:49 PM on January 18, 2010


Are we really living in the future?

I would think it should be obvious to anyone that we're living in the present.
posted by armage at 4:49 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, except for Japan. We're actually living in the future.

I'll let you in on a secret: it's not all that interesting.
posted by armage at 4:50 PM on January 18, 2010


In the year 2010 you do not sleep on a bed ... The bedroom is an office, and the kitchen is a living room.

...but the closet is not a bathroom, and you'd better wash that sweater now.
posted by rusty at 6:09 PM on January 18, 2010


BACON—WELL DONE. TWO EGGS—MEDIUM. TOAST. TEA—MILK AND SUGAR.

This was my favorite part. I immediately said TEA. EARL GREY. HOT. to my vision desk.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:30 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here in the technical vastness of the future, we can guess that surely the past was very different.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:48 PM on January 18, 2010


And where are all the mutants from the atomic wars?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:53 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


tommasz: “[W]hy did "futurists" always think that all this wonderful technology would result in more leisure time, not less?

At least in part, I think it's because said "futurists" had a very difficult time predicting what, exactly, people would do for work. That's probably the hardest question to predict (and the one that's really most interesting; if you know that, the answers to all the other questions pale in comparison). So you get little predictions about toilets and showers and other little details, but hand-wavy vagueness about the really big questions like work. It's a really tough prediction.

Also, I'm not sure it's just futurists; average people make the same mistake pretty consistently. Faced with the introduction of some new appliance or other piece of technology that will cut the amount of labor required for a particular task, people tend to imagine it giving them more leisure time. But within a short period of acclimation, virtually everyone finds things to fill that new-found time with that they don't consider "leisure." You can see this pattern happen both with domestic appliances (washing machine, dishwasher), and also with the productivity boost due to computers in the workplace.

Ryvar: “I have to admit that the lack of an automated McDonald's clone has always baffled me. Surely an automated affair with as few moving parts as possible staffing one reasonably well-trained person who deals with difficult customers' orders and is smart enough to sort out the routine mechanical issues is more cost-effective than a staff of minimum-wage workers?

The fact that it hasn't been automated suggests that the upfront capital required to mechanize is too high, relative to the ongoing costs for low-wage employees that you'd be able to eliminate and the maintenance costs of the machine.

This suggests that automation is less a function of technology than one of labor costs and discount rates. I tend to agree, and think this is probably why we're not living in a future where our food is served to us by robots: it's not because the technology doesn't exist but because humans are still cheaper. Call it the Werner von Braun school of workplace automation.

(I noticed a while ago that, at least in some McDonalds locations, they've put in a robotic machine for the sole purpose of dumping fries into the metal baskets that go in the fryer. Nothing else, just that. It can't be cheap, but somebody has evidently decided that the time savings and quality control that come from automating that particular task are worth the investment. If they've bothered to do that but still have people assembling hamburgers, taking orders, and bagging stuff, I suspect they've decided the machines aren't up to it yet.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:04 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Have you ever slept on just a mattress that's sitting on the floor? Every gnarly piece of lint or debris that is in the room ends up on your sheets. And then no matter how often you vacuum or change your sheets they're just gross again as soon as you put them back on.

This is the problem I have with the bed of the future. I've also taken a lot of cold medicine about an hour ago, so maybe I missed the part where he already solved that problem with nanobots or tubes or something.

Other than that, I pretty much have the office of the future because I work out of a walk-in closet on my vision desk laptop and vision phone webcam for the very occasional teleconference.

Lately I've taken to only working 3 days a week as well. But that's not because everything is better in the future, it's because I'm extremely lazy.
posted by howrobotsaremade at 8:00 PM on January 18, 2010


I wanted to look at this but that site design is just way too fucking terrible. This guy has obviously never scanned a book, nor read one.
posted by tehloki at 9:01 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a Paypal fund somewhere where I can buy this guy a scanner? I mean, holy hell, this is iPhone pictures haphazardly snapped from 2 feet away.... what a shitty treatment of an interesting book.
posted by crapmatic at 9:37 PM on January 18, 2010


jumpsuit

Speed suit.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:41 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


That said, why did "futurists" always think that all this wonderful technology would result in more leisure time, not less?

Part of the definition of "futurist" involves being uninterested in, and generally ignorant of the social roles of technology and labour.

Someone who imagines alternate methods of organising society to increase leisure time is not a "futurist", but a "communist".
posted by stammer at 12:21 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I loved this. & I agree with not that girl when she says:

One of my friends points out that this future is very specific to the middle-class. The people delivering all those groceries, and driving the buses 24 hours a day, and presumably maintaining the garden-like restaurant (and somewhere, preparing the food pods to be dropped into the tubes) are not working from home three days a week.

Almost all futurologists and trend planners that I deal with do this. They say things like 'We see a trend towards wellness' when I look at the world around me and see a trend towards obesity and alcohol abuse.

But anyway, thanks so much for posting. Very, very interesting.
posted by DanCall at 1:03 AM on January 19, 2010


Now you are up and dressed it is time to go to the kitchen for breakfast. On one wall of the kitchen there is a cooking unit, made up of small ovens, refrigerators, deep freezers, and cold-storage compartments. All the cooking is done automatically.

Oh, I wish. How I long for this sort of future, but especially with the "foodie" movement, it seems like analog cooking has a strong foothold and won't be replaced any time soon. Man do I ever hate cooking - I view it as a serious impediment to getting food into my mouth. I do enjoy eating food that I cooked as opposed to pre-prepared food, but the process annoys the hell out of me.

and of course it deprives people of the joy of cooking.

I seriously have tried to find it, but this joy is as elusive and mythical to me as a unicorn.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:43 AM on January 19, 2010


And where are all the mutants from the atomic wars?

Making jumpsuits in thousands of colours.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:53 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dunno man, we may not have hover cars, but last night when i set my laptop up to dualview with my wall sized projector screen, to play shows i downloaded off of a computer down the hall, I thought "Man, I'm living in the future!"

I was also completely baked so it might not have been as profound in real life.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:28 AM on January 19, 2010


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