Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Thirty years ago and thirty years ahead

Part of my work in progress is set thirty years ahead. Musing about the changes that might happen in the next three decades, it seems useful to consider what has changed since 1984. 

Things we thought okay in 1984 we don't think okay now
  • smoking in bars, restaurants and other people's houses
  • dog excrement on pavements - we didn't like it, but grudgingly accepted that to a dog, the whole of outdoors was a potential lavatory
  • milder forms of sexual harassment
  • huge shoulder pads, streaky hair, clothes bigger than you were (like Princess Diana's wedding dress)
  • burglar alarms that had to be turned off by a human, and frequently rang for three days straight over a bank holiday
Things we have now we didn't have in 1984
  • personal computers
  • smart phones
  • internet shopping
  • ebooks and ereaders
  • 24 hour drinking, often outside the bar to accommodate smokers
  • speed cushions (because road planners are very very stupid)
  • the London Congestion Charge (boo, hiss)
  • fines on motorists (£135 million a year in the UK)
  • a modest London one-bedroom flat costing half a million pounds
So what about thirty years' time? I really hope we get driverless cars, and if we do, people won't be able to understand how we endured the carnage on the roads: in the UK in 2013, 1,713 people were killed, 21,657 seriously injured. They'll also wonder why we put up with the pollution cars produce, and our streets being lined with parked cars. In London, most of us live in a car park.

Other possibilities: a cash-free economy, artificial intelligence, and undeniable climate change.

(And please, can we have drones? Amazon delivering by drone would be SO cool.)

What do you think will change in the next thirty years? Tell me in the comments.


  1. Driverless cars would be good! At the very least, I want one that parks itself. (I'll be 90 in thirty years time so I might need a hand with parking by then!)

    Happy New Year and I hope it's a good one for you!

  2. Seth Godin thinks driverless cars will happen sooner than we think:

    I imagine that like me you are just off out to quaff champagne and see in the new year with a ritzy crowd. Ah, the demands of a glamorous life... Thank you for pausing to comment on my blog, and here's to a great 2015!

  3. I think that 30 years of advancement in technology will totally transform our world.

    30 years ago I was still using a main frame computer, but all that power has now shrunk into a few Si chips. The future with Quantum Computing defies imagination.

    The various manifestations of robotics will change the work place, pretty well eliminating unskilled jobs. Education will concentrate more and more on science and creativity.

    Communication will change, exploiting holograhics so that you will 'experience' people remotely using all the senses of sight sound touch and smell.

    Likewise entertainment media will evolve so that you will experience everything in a more realistic way. Sensing the weather, feeling the emotions, hugging the heroine (or hero!)of a novel .... the mind starts to boggle at possibilities here!

    Politically I think that a world government may develop for dealing with global security issues so that crises like that in Syria will not be allowed to develop.

    Humanity will start to colonise the galaxy, once we have learned how to use nuclear fusion as a safe power source.

    Definitely a Brave New World on the horizon.

    Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous New Year!

  4. My New Year's Eve traditionally is an early night so we can go and do sporty things on New Year's Day! Which hasn't quite worked out due to other people loving the old firework displays from midnight to half past midnight, so my other half is still snoring. But we do plan to take our bikes out on the Downs Link today so I may just go and prod him till he gets out of bed!

    You have a Happy New Year's Day, Lexi!

  5. Thanks for the ideas, Q.

    "A world government may develop for dealing with global security issues..." I realize I've sort of got this in the WIP, for dealing with the threat of illegal time travel.

    I also wonder, thinking of robotics, whether a robot would be an essential part of any team (though not football, obviously).

    Not sure about us colonizing the galaxy - could we afford to? Also, books will take a lot of beating with experiencing everything in a more realistic way, because they trigger the brain to do it for you in a way that would be difficult to improve on.

    I did begin to read an article on Quantum Computing but my brain started hurting.

  6. FH, I too secretly favour the early night option on New Year's Eve.

    I biked to the workshop this morning and the traffic was lovely - i.e. absent.

  7. My favorite take on this is Woody Allen's Sleeper:

    Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk."
    Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
    Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?
    Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
    Dr. Melik: Incredible.

  8. That is such a funny film.

    The medical profession seldom admits that there are fashions in medicine like everything else.

  9. I love your blog, Lexi! Your posts are always so interesting and so are the comments.

  10. Thank you Anna - I am lucky in my commenters - good eggs all.