Monday, March 31, 2008

Global Warming/Cooling (1982)

The 1982 book, The Omni Future Almanac, reports on the debate between those who believe the year 2000 will bring about rapid global warming, and those that believe the earth will be cooling.
Some scientists cite 2000 as the approximate year when the carbon dioxide "greenhouse" effect will be recognized as having raised global temperatures significantly. Some environmentalists predict that CO2 pollution will create a canopy over the earth that will prevent heat from radiating into space. Most experts doubt that this effect will occur. Instead, many scientists are worried about a widespread, gradual cooling trend that could take hold by this year. If earth is indeed cooling, this climate change could signal the eventual onset of a new Ice Age that would slowly freeze much of the populated world by the year 12,000.

See also:
The Coming Ice Age (1982)
Solar Energy for Tomorrow's World (1980)
Closer Than We Think! Polar City (1959)
Communities May Be Weatherized (Edwardsville Intelligencer, 1952)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Future War Tank (1939)

This image appeared on the back cover of the December, 1939 issue of Amazing Stories. The accompanying text for this "Future War Tank" is below.
Future War Tank
This Land Battleship Can Form The Spearhead of Attack in Future Wars

It will be used to penetrate and smash strategic enemy positions and hold them until support arrives. massively armored, they will brush aside ordinary tanks. Only direct hits by heavy guns will affect it. Its anti-aircraft guns will repel aerial attack. Flame throwers will demoralize infantry resistance. Trenches and fortifications will be crumbled. Its crew will defend captured positions for days if need be. Its great weight will pave a road for following infantry and field artillery. Its guns will cover their advance.

See also:
Will War Drive Civilization Underground? (1942)
Nazi Paleo-Futurism (1941)
Word Origins: Imagineering, continued (1942)
Our Friend the Atom (Book, 1956)
After the War (1944)
Memory of 'Tomorrow' (New York Times, 1941)
Gigantic Robots to Fight Our Battles (Fresno Bee, 1934)
Pictures Stately Edifices (1923)
Looks for Era of Brotherhood (1923)
Poison War (1981)

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Internet? Bah! (1995) has a link to a February 27, 1995 Newsweek article stating that this whole Internet thing is a bunch of hype. Author Clifford Stoll proclaims, "no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works." You can read the piece in its entirety here. Excerpts appear below.
Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly [on the Internet]. The result? Every voice is heard. The cacophany more closely resembles citizens band radio, complete with handles, harrasment, and anonymous threats. When most everyone shouts, few listen.

. . . Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.

These expensive toys are difficult to use in classrooms and require extensive teacher training. Sure, kids love videogames--but think of your own experience: can you recall even one educational filmstrip of decades past?

We're promised instant catalog shopping--just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet--which there isn't--the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

See also:
The Answer Machine (1964)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sea City of the Future (1984)

This image appears in the 1984 book The Future World of Agriculture and illustrates futuristic farming techniques near a sea city.
Robots tend crops that grow on floating platforms around a sea city of the future. Water from the ocean would evaporate, rise to the base of the platforms (leaving the salt behind), and feed the crops.

See also:
Sea City 2000 (1979)
Robot Farms (1982)
Farm of the Future (1984)
Superfarm of the Year 2020 (1979)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Impacts of Robotic Sex (1997)

After reading Gizmodo's interview with a technosexual I thought it was as good a time as any to look at an article from the July-August, 1997 Futurist about sex with robots.

Joel C. Snell wrote a piece called, "Impacts of Robotic Sex," which describes many of the same reasons for wanting a robotic sex partner as Zoltan does in the Gizmodo article. Alimony, disease, and a sense of shifting cultural norms all lend themselves to a tone of inevitability in both pieces. The more tomorrow changes, the more it stays the same. The Futurist magazine article appears below in its entirety.

(The robot to the right is a painting my girlfriend, Malorie Shallcross, did for Valentine's Day.)
Robots that provide sexual companionship are likely to become common in the future. Prototype models have already been reported from Japan.

The future "sexbots" will have humanlike features and will be soft and pliant, like the latest dolls for children. Sexbots will contain vibrators to provided love talk.

Sexbots will be disease free; they won't judge one's sexual performance, and they won't say no. They will never have a headache or demand alimony.

They could certainly alter human relations. Here are a few potential impacts of sexbots:

Marriages may be destroyed by sexbots. A husband chooses sex with the sexbot, alienating his wife; the jealous wife destroys her sexbot rival and sues the manufacturer.

Individuals may change gender orientation. Heterosexual people may use a same-sex sexbot to experiment with homosexual relations. Or gay people might use other-sex sexbots to experiment with heterosexuality.

Robotic sex may become addictive. Sexbots would always be available and never say no, so addictions would be easy to feed. People may become obsessed by their ever faithful, ever pleasing sexbot lovers and rearrange their lives to accommodate their addictions. Eventually, support groups will likely form.

Technovirgins will emerge. An entire class of humans may emerge who not only will never have sex with other humans, but won't even desire it.

Robotic sex may become "better" than human sex. Like many other technologies that have replaced human endeavors, robots may surpass human technique; because they would be programmable, sexbots would meet each individual user's needs.

Would electronic and robotic sex reduce teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, abortions, pedophilia, and prostitution? The jury is still out on these implications. However, boundaries, barriers, and beliefs will be challenged.

See also:
Civilized Adultery (1970)
Headlines of the Near Future (1972)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Buckminster Fuller Screenprints (1981)

The 1981 catalogue Buckminster Fuller, Inventions: Twelve Around One is a gorgeous keepsake from the Carl Solway Gallery in Cinncinnati, Ohio. Their 1981 exhibition of screenprints, derived from Buckminster Fuller drawings, must have been stunning. The catalogue reproduces thirteen screenprints which were produced under the supervision of Fuller. The edition was limited to 60 numbered portfolios which are selling today for $45,000!

A photo of Fuller signing the screenprints appears above. Below you will find the introduction to the catalogue. Look for more from this rare book soon. Many thanks to Brian Horrigan, co-author of Yesterday's Tomorrows, for lending it to me. (I only recently discovered that Mr. Horrigan and I live just blocks from each other, and he was kind enough to lend me some great rare material.)

This catalogue reproduces a portfolio of thirteen screenprints and text by Buckminster Fuller published under the supervision of Buckminster Fuller by Colophon, Cincinnati, Ohio. The edition is limited to 60 numbered portfolios (1-60) and 20 hors commerce (I-XX).

Each of the thirteen prints consists of two 30" by 40" screenprinted sheets, one of which illustrates drawings for a patent invention by Fuller, and the second sheet illustrates the realization of the concept. These two sheets may be presented separately, in two frames; or together, as an overlay, in one frame. This catalogue reproduces both presentation options.

The patent invention drawings are screenprinted in white ink on a clear polyester film. A plain blue backing sheet, provided with each print, may be placed under the clear film patent drawings to create the effect of a blueprint. The accompanying photo realization of each invention is a screenprint on Lenox 100 percent rag paper. The text pages and the blue backing sheets are Curtis Tweedweave 100 percent rag paper made especially for this portfolio.

Each of the thirteen prints in the portfolio is hand signed and numbered by Buckminster Fuller on the clear film element.

See also:
Fuller's Traveling Cartridge (circa 1960s)
The Most Well-Documented Lives in History
Sea City 2000 (1979)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Computers in the Home by Year 2000 (1978)

The March 30, 1978 Titusville Herald (Titusville, PA) ran a story about Honeywell's Man-Made Sciences Group titled, "Between Man and Machine." An excerpt which quotes Arnold Kanarick appears below.
"Human-computer interaction is the real growth area," Kanarick says. "I don't think it's too blue-sky to say that you'll find a computer in the American home by the year 2000. They're getting smaller and less expensive every year. One day computers will be running our houses, ordering our groceries, doing a thousand things we now do for ourselves.

"Interacting with them will be a common and casual thing, like using the telephone is today. No matter how automated the world becomes the machines will still be working for our convenience, and not the other way around."

See also:
Computersville is almost here (1970)
Living Room of the Future (1979)
Computers the size of a room (1970)
Fuzzy-Duzzy, The Computer You Cuddle (1976)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nirvana Draws Nearer (1959)

I'd like you to imagine a crazy, futuristic dystopia in which women (gasp) work outside the home. And I'm not talking about doing a little gardening on the weekends. I mean full-fledged, testosterone-driven, trouser-wrenching, tell Little Johnny I'll be late for his baseball game, kind of jobs.

What's that you ask, "But if women get jobs outside the home, who will sew on all the buttons?" Good question. Read on.

The August 17, 1959 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran a column by Douglass Welch titled, "Nirvana Draws Nearer." The part of Welch's column pertaining to women appears below.
There is an industrial designer in Detroit named Montgomery Ferar (he should have stood in bed), who has taken a long look into the near future and thinks he knows what the American woman is going to be like. If he's right, she is going to be sitting on a silken pillow all day long, curling her hair, buffing her nails and thinking up ways to beguile a husband who won't need her any more.

Mr. Ferar says we are "squandering" our American woman today on "dull repetitive tasks in the home and office," and, although we are tempted to say that a little judicious squandering never hurt any woman, we won't. He says he is going to free the American woman from housework so she can devote her "perseverence, manual dexterity and meticulous attention to detail to creative ends." Mind you, he doesn't say she has brains; He thinks of her only as having certain mechanical skills.

We don't like the kind of woman he visualizes. We would be late almost every night coming home to such a woman. In the future, Mr. Ferar says, the kitchen will disappear. Our woman will be sitting at the family table dressed to the teeth like a sultry adventuress while robot, self-energized utensils whip up the family dinner and serve it. After dinner the dishes "will be loaded," presumably by the husband and children, into a "dining caddy" or combination dishwasher and storage cabinet, which will roll off into another room, washing the dishes on the way.


The cleaning and dusting of a home will be made unnecessary by electronic filters built into the air conditioning system, and beds won't have to be made because there will be no sheets, blankets and pillowcases. Radiant ceiling panels will keep us warm by beddy-bye. And at the supermarket our woman will merely shout her orders into a machine which will collect and pack her purchases and thank her kindly.

Mr. Ferar thinks this will free the American woman for a career. It means no such thing. At best it means that instead of spending half her waking moments chasing her children and attending to them and keeping them out of danger she would only be freed to spend ALL her time doing that.

Come, Mr. Ferar, let's think this thing through. You still haven't found a way to sew on buttons and send suits out to the cleaner and do the family bookkeeping and wipe away tears.

See also:
Max Factor on the Woman of 2009 (1959)
Taller Women by Year 2000 (1949)
Closer Than We Think! Robot Housemaid (1959)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Women and the Year 2000 (1967)
After the War (1944)
Lives of Women to Improve (1923)
Feminine Beauty (New York Times, 1909)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

SMRT-1 Concept Art (1982)

This concept art for the SMRT-1 robot at EPCOT Center is dated May 3, 1982. SMRT-1 was featured at the Communicore exhibit and "spoke" with visitors via telephones while playing trivia games.

The Widen Your World website has a pretty thorough breakdown of the Communicore exhibit. Their photograph of SMRT-1 appears below. Communicore was closed in 1993 and converted into the Innoventions exhibit in 1994.

Be sure to check out one of the Paleo-Future blog's earliest posts, which happened to be about the The Computer Song. The Computer Song was from the Communicore attraction, Astuter Computer Revue, and certainly gives you a taste of the early-EPCOT atmosphere.

See also:
Astuter Computer Revue
EPCOT's Horizons
EPCOT Publicity Materials (1981)
Mickey Futurism (1980s)
The Simpson's go to EPCOT
Westcot (1991)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Australia Telecom's Broadband (Part 2, 1992)

Part 2 of the 1992 Australia Telecom concept video Broadband demonstrates teleconferencing via videophone, as well as encrypted data transfer.

Oh, and scary metal walkways of the future. Don't forget the walkways.

Stay tuned for part 3, coming soon.

See also:
Australia Telecom's Broadband (Part 1, 1992)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Air Force Predictions for 2063 (1963)

The 1963 book, 2063 A.D., includes the predictions of Brigadier General Irving L. Branch. Branch was a commander at the Air Force Flight Test Center and predicted that by 2063 exploration of the near planets (Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn) will have been accomplished with manned vehicles. He also predicted that the moon and Mars will be heavily populated with researchers living in space colonies.

His contribution to the book appears below.
1. What kind of space vehicles do you think man will be using?

In the year 2063, a broad spectrum of space transportation systems will exist. Fusion power will provide the primary energy source for the large space transports of 2063. Single stage, high thrust recoverable boosters using a conventional thermal rocket engine propulsion cycle will provide ascent capability from the surface of earth or other planets, whereas low thrust electric propulsion will give an efficient means of transport in the low acceleration environment of free space between the planets. Both chemical and nuclear propulsion will, however, be used as required to extend the operational domain of man.

2. How far out in space will we have moved?

Thorough exploration of the near planets - Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn - by manned vehicles will have been accomplished by 2063. Preliminary manned exploration of the outer planets and all secondary bodies of the solar system as well as comets will be in process. A major effort will be fully organized to develop a transportation system for manned exploration of our closer stellar neighbors.

3. What sort of colonization will have taken place on other planets?

Population of the moon will have attained 100,000 by 2063. Primary products of the lunar colony will be rocket propellants for planetary exploration. Mars will attain a population of 10,000 by 2063, though rate of growth at that time will far exceed that of the moon. Population centers of the moon and Mars will consist primarily of research and engineering personnel with supporting technicians. Colonies will contain an acceptable mix of both male and female personnel. Development of these extra-terrestrial colonies will occur employing a transport mechanism operating with a steadily reducing crew return rate, i.e., emphasis will be given to encouraging a oneway system of space transport. Scientific and economic information will be readily communicated between the colonies though personnel and cargo will tend to remain fixed upon first delivery to the specified target body of the solar system.

4. Will we have moved closer to a one-world concept in our space efforts?

The one-world concept in our space efforts will not be particularly strengthened because of steady improvements made in propulsive capabilities. Independent scientific exploration and economic development of our solar system by many nations will be possible prior to 2063, due to readily available low cost propulsive systems.

5. What will ballistic missiles be used for?

Ballistic missiles will not be employed as a weapon system by 2063 due to development of other more lethal military systems and due to increased international competition in the scientific exporation and economic development of our solar system.

6. What natural resources will be taxing in outer space?

No extra-terrestrial natural resources will be taxed with direct monetary return to earth though the growing economic systems of the lunar and planetary colonies will maintain independent taxation for maintenance and development of local activities. Monetary benefits to the international bodies on the earth will accrue only through application of scientific information derived from interplanetary and interstellar exploration.

7. What commercial ventures will have derived from this feature?

Space transportation will have comprise the bulk of interplanetary activities though the primary goals of such extra-terrestrial colony will be the extraction of scientific data and transmission of this information.

See also:
General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)
Broken Time Capsule (1963-1997)
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)
Edmund G. Brown's Californifuture (1963)
James B. Utt on Space Travel (1963)