Whatever Happened to the Future?

Although the prime minister is constantly talking about ‘moving forward’, George Dunford has noticed we’ve stopped thinking about the future. This is a cross-post from his blog, Hackpacker.

Pulp is the latest in a long list of 1990s bands with too-clever accountants and mortgages to service that are touring again. One of the Sheffield group’s bigger hits was Disco 2000, a wry look at teen unrequited love and the hope of reunion when the millennium clocked over. Recorded in 1995, the song will take on an odd retro-futurism when it’s performed this year - 11 years after the rendezvous deadline. Since this song bounced through Converse All Stars in the mid-90s we’ve stopped focusing on a point in the future as hopeful.

All through the 20th century, the year 2000 was something to aim for, a number that became synonymous with the futuristic, from the ABC TV science program Towards 2000 (which became Beyond 2000 then Beyond Tomorrow) to the British comic 2000AD. But the hope for the year 2000 became infected with the Millennium Bug as Y2K became something to fear. By 1999 Silverchair snarled in their Anthem for the Year 2000: “Never knew we were living in a world/ with a mind that could be so small”. The shift from hope to betrayal was captured in the recent Threadless T-shirt which opines “This was supposed to be the future - where is my jetpack?”

So it’s interesting to see the positive future making a comeback. The Future Timeline looks to capture predictions for the coming centuries including robot insects acting as spies and the disappearance of Nigeria’s rainforests. And that’s just the next ten years. Technology brings most of the good news - why jetpack when you can teleport? Good to hear that gay marriage will finally be legal in every US state and someone has finally cured the common cold. Okay, so the site is based on predictions but references point off to projects currently underway and some show long-term trends (like the fact that by 2015 more Americans will be in favour of gay marriage than against). And while there’s terrifying tales of extinction, shortages and war, there is also hope.

Read more.

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