ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Predicting the Future – Maybe It’s What We Make It

Posted by Plish on July 23, 2011

I came across this great little blurb at Impact Lab where Seagrams distillery  made predictions in the 1940’s about what life would be like in the future.  One of the pictures, shown below, shows what is essentially a Sport Bar with flat screen TV’s. 

What’s missing from this scene?  See what you come up with and then continue reading….

The first obvious feature is that the hockey players, including the goalie, are not wearing any protective headgear.

The other aspect is that there are no other races (or women) shown in the image, only white men.

Why do television sets and bars get ‘modernized’ but behaviors don’t?

First, helmets for players.  It was considered uncool for players to use head protection.  It’s a macho thing!   Helmets would get in the way of fans identifying the players!   Why would players in the future be less macho? If anything they’d be more macho, right?  (The natural  question to ask is: are hockey players of the present less macho because they wear helmets?)

I suspect that macho-ism explains the fact that it’s all men in the bar as well.   It’s interesting that a more racially diverse crowd wasn’t considered part of the future.

Let’s shift gears from people to objects – the TV’s. Why did flat screen TV’s in bars get predicted?

Think about the attributes of any product – things like size, weight, speed, flavor, temperature, etc.  The future tends to hold products that are smaller, thinner, lighter, faster, more flavorful, hotter/colder,… well, you get the idea. 

These physical, touchy-feely aspects come into being because we want things to be better.  We imagine them better and make them better. In a way, we make the future.

People, on the other hand, are harder to figure out. 

But then, maybe it’s not that much different.  If we want to predict how people will behave, maybe we should just imagine ourselves better, more open, more loving, more concerned about safety, more concerned about each other…

Then we should just make the future that way.

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