When considering our future relationships with technology it can be very interesting to start by looking at what people thought we would be doing today.
So, 100 years ago, what did future tech look like?
Looking back, before we look forward.
We know that no one can truly predict how the world will look in a hundred years, but science fiction books and movies have given us a better imagination of what could be possible.
Many inventors have given thanks for motivation from such franchises as Star Trek for inspiring them with ideas and technology but what did people of the 1900’s believe the world would look like in a hundred years?
In 1899 Jean-Marc Cote and a few other artists released images for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris.
The images showcased what they believed technology would look like in 100 years, some of these pictures are actually rather accurate, some laughably far from reality.
Manual house chores have always been a boring and time-consuming activity in any century.
The picture above shows a scrubbing brush device sweeping up almost by itself which is every house owner’s dream.
In 1996 the first robotic vacuum cleaner was introduced in to the market by ELECTOLUX.
Unfortunately for ELECTOLUX the vacuum had frequent problems and didn’t clean well, as such it really didn’t take off.
Almost a hundred years on from the pictures creation, in 2002, the Roomba was introduced to the world and with its ability to navigate obstructions it was quickly a popular gadget.
As of 2017 robot vacuums make up 23% of all vacuums owned by households.
From massive computer to a little phone in your pocket.
The above image is showing the artists vision of a video phone call. Over the last 100 years (since the 1920’s) people have been working towards delivering something of this nature.
It hasn’t been until more recently that technology, costs and networks via the internet have made video calling a reality to the general public.
Another source, but similar ideas.
A German chocolate company came out with a similar concept, also for the Paris World Fair.
Hildebrand’s published postcards with artists concepts of technology in the future, once again some were close to what we have already achieved, and some nowhere near the mark.
This postcard from Hildebrand’s postcard campaign “Germany in 2000 years “showcases moving sidewalks as a viable option for travel.
Little must they have known because the first moving walk way had debuted in 1893 at the worlds Columbian exposition. Or maybe they used this as a source of inspiration.
The first commercial moving walkway was 1954 in New Jersey, United States.
For some of the first things they got right, they certainly got some things wrong.
Imagination is a wonderful thing. Especially when it inspires you to look towards the future and all the wonderful possibilities.
You never know what some people may think up, invent or even improve but sometimes some ideas just won’t ever work…
Unfortunately for the French artists they got this very wrong and I don’t believe it needs much explanation, can wales even be domesticated?
Regardless, submarines had been around since the 1500’s and have simply gotten better, for example, running off nuclear power since 1986. You can even catch your very own commercial submarine ride for exploring the ocean.
Back on land now, and in the barber shop, and the people of 1900 imagined a fully automated haircut, trusting robots enough to cut their hair (and beards!).
How relaxing would it be to sit back as the robots massages your scalp and trims away the excess, no longer needing to have unwanted small talk with the barber?
Unfortunately this is another concept that hasn’t been produced yet, the mechanical arms of robots just aren’t precise enough and lack the dexterity of human hands, the future isn’t here yet for the hairdresser industry.
Another very strange idea, and one that wants to make you ask “what were they thinking?” Walking on water!
I don’t personally see any real benefit or need to walk on water, except maybe for the fun of it.
It would seem that that’s the people in 1900 were probably going for.
Another concept that hasn’t come to light yet but that’s not because lack of trying, although we have established that non-Newtonian liquids can be walked on, simply mixing corn starch with water can have some amusing effects.
Technology moves faster today than at any other time in history.
About every 18 months computers double their capabilities and processing power.
A 1965 paper featured a certain Gordon Moore, one of Intel’s co-founders, in the paper he described the doubling of components in integrated circuits from 1958 to 1965 and suggested that this would last for another ten years.
His prediction was proven right and is now known as Moores Law, the doubling of transistors on integrated circuits every two years, which affects the processing speeds of all associated electronic devices.
In time many people believe that the advancement will slow, and as of 2015 Intel has now slowed to 2 and a half years compared to 18 months at their peak of releases.
Of course, there could well be a shake up in the industry with private organisations investing in the experimentation of quantum computing.
What will technology be like in a hundred years from now?
It’s easy to laugh at some of the ideas the artists present, but a lot of the pictures aren’t far off from what we use today.
Automation seems to be the theme of all advancements in technology, from the 1900’s to now. We are already seeing how people are working towards improving robotics to include Artificial Intelligence.
Pictures like these inspired and motivated inventors of the past to create a better future, just like the movies of today inspire the future inventors.
But, we don’t always create flattering views of the future. In fact, many video games and movies have taught us is the world will be a desolate waste land scatted with old technology, brought on by the lust for the advancement in new technology!
With this being said, we do still create art that represents the future as a technological paradise with humans and robots working and living in a clean society. An abundance of all things, no world hunger, and no war.