Asimov’s Future Fantastic

The thoughts of scientist and sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov‘s (1920 – 1992) on a technologically-advanced future in his essay ‘Future Fantastic’ (1989).

“In the past, three fundamental advances in human communication evolved that altered every facet of our world enormously and permanently. The first advance was speech, the second writing, and the third printing.

Now we face a fourth advance in communication every bit as important as the first three – the computer. This fourth revolution will enable most human beings to be more creative than they’ve ever been before. And provided we do not destroy the world by nuclear warfare, overpopulation or pollution, we will have a world of the technochild – a world as different from our present as today’s is from the caveman. How will the lives of the next generation be different from their parents or grandparents?” (p.426)

Future Visions:

” One immediate response is to view the computer merely as another form of amusement, rather like a super-TV […] [S]uch a things can change the world. For one thing, communication by computer networks can wipe out the feeling of distance. It can make the globe seem like a neighborhood. ” (p. 426 – link McLuhan’s the global village)

“[C]omputers will reduce the necessity of using physical transportation to gain or gather information.” (p.427)

“[T]he technochildren of tomorrow will be accustomed to living in a decentralized world, to reaching out in a variety of ways from their homes – or wherever they are – to do what needs doing.” (p.427)

“What does all this [the computerized revolution] mean? That we will be dealing with a world of leisure. Once computers nd robots are doing the dull, mechanical work, the world will start running itself to a far greater extent than ever before. Will there be more “Renaissance people” as a result? Yes.” (p. 429)

“It is my guess that the 21th century may see a society in which one-third of the population will be engaged in entertaining the other two-third.” (p.430)

“[T]here will be a kaleidoscope of people linked into global communities by computerized communication. Perpetual conventions will take place, in which individuals continually drop in and out, bringing in findings or ideas and leaving stimulated. There will be a constant melange of teaching and learning.

What I foresee is a society in intense creative ferment, people reaching out to others, new thoughts arising and spreading at a speed never before imagined, change and variety filling the planet (to say nothing of the smaller, artificial worlds that will be constructed in space). It will be a new world that will look back at earlier centuries as having been only half alive.” (p. 431)

Asimov, I. (1991). ‘Future Fantastic,’ first appeared in Special Reports magazine (spring 1989), in Robot Visions, New York: Penguin Books.


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