Your Chance to Predict the Future
IT TURNED up in the Plokta in-tray, so perhaps one of you sent it to us. Or perhaps it fell through a wormhole in space. Who knows? At any rate, it's an article from the January 26, 1978 issue of Computer Weekly, entitled "Computers to the year 2000 and beyond a Delphic Poll". They asked 500 readers in which year various technical advances would happen, with choices all the way up to 2000, or 'never'; lopped off the top and bottom 10% for each question, and charted the spread and median for the remainder. The results are, well, instructive, though you must remember that the readers in question were mostly computer geeks.
90% thought there'd be a computer-based shopping service using domestic TV by 1990. We actually got it in 1998 (hey, we know we were using telephones and the Internet before then, but they specified domestic TV).
90% thought we'd have widespread use of pocket terminals with radio links to computer services by the year 1994; the Palm VII fits the bill in 2000. And most thought that there'd be comprehensive information on all citizens stored in a central national database by 1995; but how many realised it would be run by private market research companies rather than the Government?
90% thought that traditional magnetic memories, such as tapes and discs, would be almost completely replaced by solid state devices by 1995; we're still waiting. On the other hand, 6% thought we'd never have a hand-held computer equivalent in power to a 370/148. Sadly, not even Dr Plokta has any idea what a 370/148 might be, but we're pretty sure that Marianne has irritating toys with more processing power. And 4% thought we'd never have a 5MB store with random access time of less than 100ms available for less than £100. About 10p's worth, I should think, and it'll be half that next week.
More than 50% thought that the average working week would have reduced to 20 hours by 2000 due to advances in robotics and automation. And the majority thought that major Government decisions would be based primarily on computer modelling and predictions in the late 90s, rather than the random whims of Ministers. And it's possible to argue that we have experimented with direct connections between microprocessor and human brain or nervous system to improve human capabilities, though it's really only been successful with severely disabled people.
Anyway, after we'd had a good giggle at all of this, we thought that Plokta could instructively mount its own Delphic Poll. We'd like you all to predict the dates on which the following events will happen. Dates up to 2050, or "later than 2050" or "never", please.
|1.||Plokta wins its first Nova|
|2.||Plokta wins its first Hugo|
|3.||Plokta gives up and goes away to sulk in a corner|
|4.||First fan fitted with a datajack|
|5.||First fan fitted with a datajack, spills beer all over it and has to put themselves through the dishwasher|
|6.||Entire Plokta cabal relocates to Croydon|
|7.||Entirety of Croydon fandom relocates to Reading, Walthamstow, Altrincham and Chester|
|8.||With the majority of web servers powered by potatoes, Silicon Valley transplants to Idaho|
|9.||Tobes has brain transplant and becomes boringly normal|
|10.||Alcoholic laboratory rat stands for TAFF after getting all 10 nipples pierced|
|11.||SETI@Home detects intelligent alien life from Marcus' bedroom|
|12.||Genetic engineering allows birth of mythical beasts like unicorns, elves and whales|
|13.||Marianne gets pregnant|
|14.||Marianne has litter of sentient kittens|
|15.||Human race extinct due to being supplanted by sentient kittens|
|16.||Sentient kittens extinct due to unwillingness to open doors, tins of cat-food etc. on their own|
|17.||Sue meets a nice elf and settles down|
|18.||Sue taken to court by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Elves|
|19.||First Internet re-creation society starts up|
|20.||First re-created Internet flame war aborted after nobody can agree whether or not using an AI version of Gary Farber is in-period|
|21.||JK Rowling turns out to be the cryogenically frozen brain of Enid Blyton|
|22.||Dr Plokta receives the Nobel prize for physics, following the fannish takeover of Sweden|
|23.||Worlds first bio-fanzine published (old-time electronic fandom claim it will never catch on).|
|24.||Delphic Poll abandoned due to lack of interest|
--Alison Scott et al.