“Anticipations”was not a typical blockbuster sci fi book I or anyone else would expect from H.G. Wells.

And this scientific and articulated precision with which he predicted our current reality more than 100 years ago sends shivers down a spine.

If the mind has been able to envision the interactive walls talking to you, having a personal clon in case of emergency or conquering Mars, the only thing left is the resources and at least one person’s will necessary for those perceivably unimaginable things’ implementation.

Remembering Moore’s law, the available resources are multiplying with a speed that will eventually allow us to implement pretty much everything our parents, us, or our children will consider inconceivable.

“Today’s science is tomorrow’s technology.”
― Edward Teller, The Legacy Of Hiroshima

From the very beginning Wells states that the legal mechanism of the state will suffer a huge reformation due to the mechanization of life. Reading all those newly appearing articles on the future needs to resolve the conflict of human-robot rightsor the huge demand for those kind of lawyers might be very attributable to Well’s general vision.

Another interesting, albeit not as new a thought is the statement that “the general distribution of population must always be directly dependent to transport facilities”.

Even though Wells has predominantly based his talk on the railway hubs, we can now see how much air connection hubs are contributing to the economy of the country.

Just think of those top-of-the-mind airports like J. F. Kennedy, Heathrow, Ataturk, Frankfurt airport. And now think at least about the Turkish Airlines strategy to have most of their connecting flights layover in Istanbul.

Indeed, if you say that infrastructure is key to building a prosperous economy I could not agree with you more. Sticking to Europe, just compare the Polish or German infrastructural system to the Ukrainian or Russian one. Then look at the investments inflows and businesses’ relocation.

In spite of the much lower cost of having workforce in Ukraine or Russia, major IT companies are moving them over to Poland, thus creating a huge economic powerhouse in the Center of Europe. Simply because infrastructure is already there.

Not sure if this had not taken place thousands of years before Wells was even born, but I find the observation of distinct and class-showing areas to be a very precise evaluation of the current state of any city’s real estate.

Obviously, the reasons for the so-called ”areas segregation” might fall into a much wider specter than simply poor-rich spectrum. Having lived a year in the US, I have a very good understanding of the concepts of upper-scale district (mostly white Republicans), hipster neighborhood (normally cheaper rent – occupied by students and yuppies), ghettos (less financially prosperous parts of population) and gentrification.

Wells has foreseen a trend of moving out of huge metropolis to the suburbs to conceive a safer and more joyful area for one’s family breeding. The question of “buying air at the cost of educational disadvantages” has been critically touched upon in the overall discussion. Obviously now and then, the procurement of quality education regardless of the area’s size is one of the most pressing issues both for modern parenting and UNICEF 2000 goals alike.

Interestingly, in connection to the previously stated trend, Wells envisioned the appearance of big shopping malls, “full of respectable mediocre goods, disastrous to taste and individuality”. Well, I definitely like his sense of humor.

In case there has even been Liz Ryan popping up in your newsfeed, I bet you know how important it is to be a multitasker in the current economy. But guess what? This thing is as old as hundred years now, if not more.

H. Wells states that the more progress is being envisioned in the nearest time, the more people would need to reconfigure their skills to catch up with the Industrial Revolution, in case they do not want to be thrown to the outskirts of civilization, which will be further touched upon in the following article.

We are talking about robotization now. We are elaborating on the ways how and who will be spared of the disastrous consequences of this eminent change. It was in 1902 when Wells mentioned “non-productive but active men” (read: people working in service industry), who are “engaged in more or less necessary operations of coordination, management, promotion, advertising and trade” that will work with unpredictable human emotions and set the way of the future development.

People skills, creativity, negotiation, – the skills deemed unsubstitutable by robotics were deemed to be critical more than a hundred years ago.

This article has no purpose of stating all futurists’ prediction are correct. Indeed it is normally these guys’ prudence of thought that makes them fell short of the target. Just like Wells was right about the advent of the “vast mechanical carriages, able to traverse all sorts of ground”, he was still too cautious about the success of the balloon and submarine. Well, we can always jump over to Jules Verne in here.

To sum up, I just would like to say that we often times tend to overestimate the times we live in. Which is a good thing, I believe. And I would not change my time for no other one. However, the major bedrock of thought is our assurance that times and people change.

In reality, it is only the environment that evolves with the major foundations standing where they were for centuries and the tides of the time smoothly flowing from one living creature to another…

Must-read if:

  1. You want to examine the arguments and visions of the future and catch some generally applicable design thinking template to elaborate on the far-off future
  2. You like G.H. Wells
  3. You are interested in the the “Ray Kurzweils” of XIX century

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