Future Inventions as Seen by the 1950s
The supposed future invention of the “push-button school” was proposed for a solution to the soon to be overcrowded schools due to the baby-boomer generation. There would be classrooms taught by a teacher who is projected on the screen and students, being watched by a camera in their computer, would answer questions on their computer. Although young children have yet to be placed in classrooms on their own with no supervision but a camera, there has been an increase in college courses that can be taken online, technological aids used by teachers for all age groups, and professors who teach classes at universities via telecommunication. I believe that people of that time period could not imagine how easily accessible computers would become and perhaps over estimated how well-behaved children of the future would be. Although it seems impossible to ever put children in a classroom by themselves, the general idea of education based on computer use is quickly becoming fact as more and more classes are requiring students to have internet access.
The “driverless car” was another assumption made about the future by the people of the 1950s. Although there has yet to be a driverless car made, there are driverless airplanes, driverless boats, and driverless trains. However, the invention of a driverless car would rely on the entire nation adopting the new mode of transportation, if not then how would someone be able to drive defensively against those who do not have self-driven cars. I do not believe people of this time period understood the extent to which the automotive industry, or for that matter maybe any industry, would be able to control the advancement of our nation. I believe people of the 1950s believed that technology, and the advancement of it, would control our society to such an extent that nothing else would matter.
The Future in The Eyes of the 1930s
“Dr. Wile imagined a bureau of records under government control that would begin monitoring people the day they were born. He predicted that everything about a person would be recorded; from someone’s physical and mental defects at birth to the subjective progress and imperfections of that person throughout their life. Then, when someone wished to be married, they would be assessed by bureaucrats and found a suitable mate based upon case cards that have been cross-indexed against members of the opposite sex. These assessments would be made based on class and desirable physical and mental traits.”
I remember listening to my mom talk about how my grandpa use to say that “in the future the government would be able to take us all and keep records on everything we do.” I think that generation was really concerned with the degree to which the government would be capable of keeping track of its citizens in the future. It was viewed as a great infringement on our right to privacy and the beginning of our loss of freedoms. Once the government stripped us of our privacy, who knows what they would take next. Now, in the 21st century we are seeing a lot of these ideas coming to fruition. From the chips inserted into our passports, to the full body scanners at the airport, to the debates over internet privacy, it seems like every few years we lose a little more privacy. Who knows, maybe Dr. Wile was just a little off in terms of the timing of this new world. Maybe in another 100 years we will have to be assessed by bureaucrats before we can marry. This in relation to the large number of thoughts concerning robots in the future as well as beliefs about future “meal pills”, it seems like people of the 30’s worried that we would advance to a point in the future where we no longer enjoyed the simple things in life. We will lay in bed all day while robots do all of our tasks, with the government tracking our every move, as we swallow our meals whole in pill form. Although there would be a lot of opportunities in the future, we would lose our ability to enjoy all that comes with being alive.