Scoot: 2020 and predictions that never came true!

New Year's 2020
Photo credit HAKINMHAN/Getty Images

Welcome to the year 2020!

The year 2000 sounded so futuristic.  Remember all the paranoia of Y2K and the idea that our computers would not be able to recognize the year 2000? Well, the predicted chaos did not become reality, and we did just fine moving into the year 2000.

There was no real fear about the year 2020; but throughout history, there have been many predictions about what society would be like by 2020. Some of the predictions have come true – but many predictions about life in 2020 were way off and now that we are officially in 2020 we can address some of the outrageous predictions about the future that didn’t happen now that the future is here.

It was predicted that by 2020 houses would not be grounded to the Earth. In 1966, inventor and futurists Arthur C. Clarke predicted that by this time houses would be able to move anywhere and wrote, “Whole communities may migrate south in the winter, or more to new lands whenever they feel the need for a change of scenery.”

Imagine cleaning your entire home with a hose! Waldemar Kaempffert, a science editor with the New York Times contributed to an article in Popular Mechanics magazine in 1950 that all furniture would be made of synthetic fabric or waterproof plastic and cleaning a home would entail hosing down everything with the water draining out of a drain in the middle of the floor and that a shot of hot air would quickly dry everything. I have first-hand experience that we are not there yet!

In the same Popular Mechanics article, Kaempffert predicted that “Cooking as an art” would only be a memory and that all food would be delivered to homes in frozen bricks. Kaempffert also predicted that by 2020 rayon underwear would be converted into candy. Hopefully, not right after they were worn.

During a lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1911, Richard Clement Lucas predicted that by 2020 our outer toes would become less necessary and instead of feet – humans would have one big toe. Well, that hasn’t happened and if that prediction did become reality I assume the utensils used for a pedicure would change dramatically!

In 1999, futurist Ray Kurzwell predicted that the life expectancy of humans would rise to over 100 years old.

In 1994, the RAND Corporation, a global think tank, predicted that by the year 2020 animals would be bred to take over manual labor. The prediction went so far as to say that homes would have live-in apes to perform household chores and lawn jobs and that they would be trained to be the family chauffeurs with the hope of cutting down on the number of traffic accidents. Hey, with the way people drive today – maybe trained apes would do a better job than humans.

Though many of the predictions about 2020 were ridiculously wrong, some of the predictions about what the world would be like in 2020 did come true, even if not they are widespread through society.

The predictions of self-driving cars has become reality, but not to the degree where everyone has a self-driving car. There are plenty of self-driving cars on the roads today.

The futuristic prediction that everyone will be tracked has basically become a reality. Smartphones, television sets, surveillance camera everywhere and GPS technology does allow all of us to be tracked through nearly every moment of our lives.

There was a prediction that the world population would hit 8 billion by 2020 and the current world population is estimated to be 7.7 billion and that’s close enough to say that prediction about 2020 was accurate.

What seemed like a ridiculous prediction as recently as 1997 about China becoming the world’s largest economy was close to being true. China has the world’s second-largest economy in the world and the prediction that China would become a democracy did not come true, but China’s communist government was smart enough to allow a strong capital-driven economy to flourish.

The year 2020 may sound incredibly futuristic, but since much of the technological advances evolved over time, we might not be sensitive to just how futuristic our society has become.

And advanced as our world might be – we still have to drive and deal with the stupidity of other drivers; we still mop the floors even if there are more sophisticated items like the Swifter; we still fight with weight gain; and illness and traveling by air remains primitive. Who would have thought in 2020 we would still be taking our shoes off to funnel through TSA? I would have thought we would be put in a tube and sent right to our flight.

As much as humans have helped fulfill some of the predictions about the future – it is the shortcomings of humans that prevent our world from becoming a model of the vision of the year 2020.

Happy New Year!