A wonderful series of French postcards (no, not that kind, you deviants) from 1898 depict what life would be like 102 years in the future. Some of them are straight out of Jules Verne (particularly their notions of aerodynamics… what’s holding some of those things up in the air is beyond me) but others hit surprisingly close to the mark, allowing for the fact that everything is cast in terms of 1898 technology. Here are some selected images – click each one for full-size.
A torpedo plane
A house on the road
On the hunt for microbes. The image on the right is a electron micrograph of the T4 bacteriophage virus, which for all the world looks like a Lunar Excursion Module.
We’re not quite to the stage of computerised tailors, but we’re getting close. I’m still waiting for replicators.
Remote-control farming. The image on the right shows what could be a very reasonable control panel with large LED display for directing the operation of GPS-controlled combines, planters, and whatnot – and this at a time when only a few farms had electricity.
Modern farmer in his GPS-controlled tractor. The technology is there – making something like this practical should not take more than a decade if people were to put some development effort into it.
Electric train concept on the left, Maglev train demo in China on the right.
Heating with Radium. While the concept is novel, the use of radium in industry was fraught with tragedy; obviously direct radioactivity is not a practical heat source.
Motorized skates. On the right, spnKiX – see the KickStarter campaign here.
Electricity for entertainment. The comfortable domestic scene at left, listening to the 21st-century Gazette on a wax recorder, pales in comparison to today’s hypnogourds. And there’s still nothing on worth watching. Except “Fringe.”
An astronomer viewing the heavens from the comfort of his desk. The Hubble space telescope surpassed all imaginings.
I insert this one because despite the imagined advances in technology, a commensurate advance in social awareness didn’t seem part of the program. The natives look like they were drawn by Jean de Brunhoff (if you’ve ever read “Le voyage de Babar.”
We have a problem with perspective as well as aerodynamics here. The cab on the right is about to take its wing off and crash in flames. Apparently, putting wings on something will allow you to be able to counteract the force of gravity. Also, I chuckled when I noticed that the cab driver still sits outside the passenger compartment, as cabriolet drivers did in the 19th century.
Caption on the left: “An Airbus”. Compare this with the massive Airbus beluga on the right.
Advance Sentinel in a helicopter; modern helicopter drone.
As silly as the Roomba seems, especially when you watch a cat riding one around, it shows that what the mind can concieve, the mind can achieve.
So the question now arises, what will life be like in 2102? We don’t know what we don’t know, and many of the advances we’ve seen in our own lifetimes could not have even been dreamed of in 1898. If we can keep from blowing ourselves up or melting ourselves down, the next century promises to be terribly exciting in terms of technology, given the exponential rate of increase. But if a descendant of mine 100 years from now sits at his or her thought-directed device and inscribes a 3-D blog entry in a bio-electronic storage medium that they are still waiting for that flying car, I’m going to be pissed.
The Old Wolf has spoken.