Back To The Paleofuture

This post pretends that it doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of featuring this image: Electronic Home Library as imagined by the Chicago Sunday Tribune in February if 1959.Electronic Home Library closer than we think paleofuture

Another “futuristic” image — “on-line” shopping of the 2000th as dreamt up by the dreamers of the mid-last-century.

Internet Shopping from 50th
She is kind’a cute, this “secretary of the future” as the future was imagined in the 60th.Paleofuture

People are dreamers. We dream about yesterday never having happened to us, if yesterday brought nothing but misery. We dream that tomorrow will be a better day, certainly better than yesterday that we want to forget. And we dream of the future — the near future we hope we live to see, and the really-really distant one, stretching beyond the time we die dreaming…

And that’s where it is really becoming all at once interesting, funny and sad…

The 1982 book The Omni Future Almanac took a stab at what the job market of the future might look like, begins the article  47 Futuristic Jobs You Were Supposed To Have By Now on — a blog that looks into the future that never was. The list starts disconcertingly enough:

  • Cryogenics laboratory assistant
  • Laser beam operator
  • Holograph designer
  • Mutation expert


The venerable father of American science-fiction, Robert Heinlein,  was his time’s great paleofuturist, although the term paleofuture didn’t exist yet (and MS Word insists it still doesn’t). He offered his vision of the future yet to come in the Galaxy magazine’s February 1952 issue. Dismayed by his own lack of foresight, he revised it in 1966 in his short story collection The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein.

Of his many predictions, the #3 seems to me the most, well, far-fetched: The most important military fact of this century is that there is no way to repel an attack from outer space.

The #4 and #5, on the other hand, are the most depressing precisely because “it never was”:

4. It is utterly impossible that the United States will start a “preventive war.” We will fight when attacked, either directly or in a territory we have guaranteed to defend.

5. In fifteen years the housing shortage will be solved by a “breakthrough” into new technologies which will make every house now standing as obsolete as privies.

Read more at Robert Heinlein’s predictions for the Year 2000 (from 1952)

Thus keep dreaming. Maybe your grandson would become Mutation Expert instrumental in the carrying on the Mission Impossible of repelling an attack from the outer space.

And, changing the subject entirely, I found a better picture to go with my recent post, The Noblest And The Awfullest, about the Superorganism. It illustrates the point about human purpose-driven groups even better than the image of a marching soldiers.  What respectable superorganism will do without a few miscasts and a croc in the middle!

National Anthem before the   West Point vs Stanford football game

National Anthem before the West Point vs Stanford football game


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