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Posted 10.04.19

Five spookily accurate technology predictions from the past

The tech of today integrates seamlessly with our lives. We happily take for granted the ability to speak to friends on the other side of the world via FaceTime and staying in touch with family in real time via social media. We even chat with bots who save money for us and break down our daily budgets. 

Spookily, some rather clever individuals predicted aspects of future tech, decades before it came to fruition.

We take a look at some of the wildest technology predictions by authors, scientists and inventors that turned out to be spookily accurate…

1.Nikola Tesla – Smartphones

Long before the iPhone XS was the most coveted piece of pocket-tech on the planet, Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-American engineer and inventor, predicted smartphones…in 1926!

In an interview with John B.Kennedy, Tesla spoke about wireless technology, and how, when applied to the whole planet; “we shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance.”

He also said that “we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles”. AND he said that the phones used to do this would be amazingly simple, and fit into our pockets.

Yeah. Pretty much!

2. Ray Bradbury – AirPods

In Bradbury’s most famous novel, Fahrenheit 451 (1953), the writer explored many aspects of future tech. It included flat-screen TVs and even a Facebook-style “digital wall”, but his most prescient prediction was even more gobsmackingly bang on…

Some of the characters in the Fahrenheit 451 society wear “seashells” and “thimble radios”, which strike an uncanny resemblance with EarPods or Apple AirPods, and Bluetooth headsets too.

Half a decade before they were even a possibility, though…weird.

3. Alan Turing – AI and machine learning

In 1947, Turing – now regarded by many as the father of modern computing – gave a talk to the London Mathematical Society. During this, he stated the case for a “machine that could learn from experience”.

Already anticipating the deep learning function of AI, Turing also pondered the effect that these machines and this tech would have on the future jobs market. He wondered if digital machines would either destroy or create new roles…

With AI taking over customer service, clerical tasks and even financial roles, this is certainly a debate which is on the news agenda today. Although a recent report by PWC has predicted that AI will actually create more jobs than it displaces…

4. HG Wells – Instant messaging & email

In his 1923 novel, Men Like Gods, Wells explored a futuristic version of Earth, that was essentially Utopian in its vision. In this future, the people in the story communicated with each other via a wireless system. The system blended voicemail and email like properties.

He writes: “A message is sent to the station of the district in which the recipient is known to be, and there it waits until he chooses to tap his accumulated messages. And any that one wishes to repeat can be repeated. Then he talks back to the senders and dispatches any other messages he wishes. The transmission is wireless.”

Erm, hello Whatsapp and other messaging platforms, where we talk to each other using text, pictures, video and voice recordings…

5. JG Ballard – Social media and YouTube stars…

Over 30 years ago, novelist JG Ballard accurately predicted the rise of social media. He also foresaw microblogging and even the rise of YouTube-style stars…

In an interview with Vogue magazine, he mused: “Every one of our actions during the day, across the entire spectrum of domestic life, will be instantly recorded on videotape. In the evening we will sit back to scan the rushes, selected by a computer trained to pick out only our best profiles, our wittiest dialogue, our most affecting expressions filmed through the kindest filters, and then stitch these together into a heightened re-enactment of the day.”


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