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#75894 07/12/02 03:00 PM
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Ayleurs old and new,

Is there a word for the tendency, when making predictions, to project the present into the future?

I'll give a few examples here. Although they all come from the world of Science Fiction, I don't think that's the only area in which such a term would be useful:

1. Gerry Anderson's (http://www.fanderson.org.uk/)television series.
(a)Thunderbirds http://www.thunderbirdsonline.co.uk was produced in the 1960s, but set in 2020(ish). The look of the technology, but more especially the hairstyles and clothing adopted by the puppet stars, were very much 60s styles, albeit cutting-edge 60s styles.

(b)UFO http://www.ufo-dvd.com/#
Produced 1969, very daringly set in 1985!
By this time we would all be driving De Lorean style "gull-wing door" cars that sounded jet propelled, but we'd still have early 70s clothes and hairstyles (slightly Chairman Mao suits for Earthlings, as I recall, silver one-piece jobs for people on the Moonbase). Unlike Thunderbirds, UFO used real live actors, which made the dated styles even more obvious. What I find most entertaining about UFO now is the idea that roads could actually be less busy in 15 years time

In fact I don't reckon much of Gerry Anderson's stuff has aged well. The hardware looks good, and most of these programs are (great) fun to watch, but the blatant projection of the then-present into the future is striking, and occasionally ridiculous.

2. H.G.Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke.
OK, I know it's unfair to compare TV programs with books, but I'm making a point. All of these authors have, one way or another, been called prophetic - in other words they didn't project their present into the future as Gerry Anderson did, or at least they did so in a more selective manner. Jules Verne is credited with predicting submarines, H.G. Wells with predicting (errrm) global organisations like the UN (surely something else?..), Clarke with predicting communications satellites.

I realise that we can only really judge how much people are projecting the present in retrospect; but this doesn't stop us assessing someone's powers of prediction in advance (predicting powers of prediction? ) Just think about investments or racing tipsters.

However, it's very specifically the tendency to project the present into the future that I'm talking about here, not simply being a poor prophet.

Gerry Anderson is more ?eh? than Arthur C.Clarke

Arthur C.Clarke is not prone to ?eh?


If there isn't a word for ?eh? then perhaps we could invent one...

Fisk

P.S. I predict that I will need to explain myself better here. Quick check on my own ?eh? factor.



#75895 07/12/02 03:34 PM
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I don't know about tendencies, shona, but this sounds a whole lot like the "science" of futurology, which deals with the projecting of current trends into future possibilities.
; )


#75896 07/12/02 04:09 PM
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it is also a failure of imagination.. computer are prime example.. even though they were known in the 1940 and 1950, no one ever imaginged they would shrink in size, and become universally available.. (to any one who has money)

many science fiction writers of the 40's and 50's envision computers as tool that are only available in giant companies, governments, and universities, very few thought that they would be come everday tools, and small enought to fit in a pocket! Today's Palm pilots do more than enniac, faster, cheaper, with 1/10,000 of the space and energy requirements!

one of my father's "greenhorn" stories about coming to america is about his choice to fly to US.. in 1948, flying was so expensive and exotic, he thought, this is going to be my one and only opportunity in my lifetime to take an airplain... and i'm doing it!

i first flew in 1960, and by the late 1980's, my parents has so many airmiles, they flew to alaska free! so in my fathers lifetime, flying has gone from a once in a life time type experience to a normal mode of travel..but he failed to see that possiblity! and he is not alone..

improvement to engines, and economies of scale have made airtravel everyday..

my personal view of the next big innovation? transdermal electrical rechargers.. so batteries will be come obsolete.

we will charge our phones, our portable CD, our beepers just by walking and talking. and we will use even more electronic gadgets, because keeping them charged will be easier!


#75897 07/12/02 04:15 PM
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Verne also wrote a story called "From the Earth to the Moon." It was a little prophetic, but he did project the current into the future. If I recall correctly, his "spaceship" was a projectile lobbed from a big gun.

I think prophetic is commonly used in this case. Is it that you believe the term has more of a mystical flavor and less of a "reasonable inference" flavor?



k



#75898 07/12/02 04:26 PM
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I think prophetic is commonly used in this case. Is it that you believe the term has more of a mystical flavor and less of a "reasonable inference" flavor?

Not quite, FF - it's more about the quality of the prophecy. And the same applies to futurology tsuwm.

It's like some people are prone to make predictions which are essentially on a straight line from the present, with no surprises or quantum leaps. Reality never works like that, of course.

I suppose if futurology is taken as "straight line prediction" and prophecy as fairly accurate "quantum leap" prediction, you could say

Arthur C Clarke is more prophet than futurologist
or
Gerry Anderson takes a futurological approach to his stories

Hmmm.

I suppose I'm looking for a word for the tendency to straight line prediction, to put it another way.

I thought this would make my brain hurt




#75899 07/12/02 04:29 PM
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my personal view of the next big innovation? transdermal electrical rechargers.. so batteries will be come obsolete.

we will charge our phones, our portable CD, our beepers just by walking and talking. and we will use even more electronic gadgets, because keeping them charged will be easier!


I so hope you're right on this. This carrying an extra battery business is far too irritating. It seems like such a natural extension, too. Maybe it would encourage Americans to be less lazy (I know I need all the encouragement I can get). [Frankly, though, we need to think of town designs that make it easier to walk and ride bikes, etc.]

I think Dr Seuss is going to end up being prophetic and that the days of GATTACA are not far away - and no laws can stop it. (No, I'm not being funny. I'm serious.) First stop genetic defects, then on to designer babies, then after-the-fact mods like breast augmentation, penis enlargement, no more male pattern baldness, etc. Then we'll have Sneetches, people striving to be like those who are considered their betters. Scary thing to me is designer germs (Ray Kurzweil writes about it in "The Age of Spiritual Machines" -- seems extremely far-fetched, but this guy seriously knows his stuff, so I'm reluctant to categorize him as a loon.) Imagine we take a highly infectious disease and make it hard to kill. (Seems *really* possible now with the recent news of the synthesized polio bug.)

k



#75900 07/12/02 04:42 PM
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it is also a failure of imagination

You ain't kidding, Helen!

No one could have envisaged how big the Web would get. Even Microsoft, techy of techies, utterly failed and had to run to catch up.

Having said that, apparently Pete Townshend of The Who envisaged something similar in his proposed musical Lifehouse, started in 1971 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/newsid_403000/403916.stm

And on the other hand, the business prophets were wrong about the supposed rush to get WAP phones http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/business/newsid_942000/942808.stm - and paid dearly for their mistake!

The latter is an example of a straight line prediction - "the Web is big, mobile phones are big, so the Web via mobile phones will be big". The former is an inspired prediction, that didn't depend upon the existence of anything like what was being predicted at the time of prediction.

There's the distinction I'm trying to make, put another way (keep trying, Fish )




#75901 07/12/02 05:59 PM
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what we are talking about is a paradigm shift... this is a place were the word has a real meaning..

Xerox -- was one.. the Head of the old Haliod company saw that there was a real need for a tool that no one had ever seen before.. a quick, cheap copier..

being able to see, that a technology fills a need that people don't even know that they have is a gift..

i personly know, that several years ago, i thought a moon roof (windows on the roof a car that could open) the stupidest thing.. (and presumed it would be prone to leaking.. then i bought a used car, and it had one.. now, i wouldn't think of buying a car with out one! I love it!

Clikers (remote controlers) are an other one of those, i never knew i needed till i had one things.. i don't have garbage disposal, and have use one at friends houses, and have no desire to have one..

ATM's too, who imagined how they would change the world?

some changes are incremental, tapes recording to tape cassets, to digital recording to CD, to DVD's... but the leap to recorded music and from there to tapes.. were major shifts..




#75902 07/12/02 07:12 PM
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Okay, wait. Moon roofs? Moon roofs? I'd never thought of them as being used to let in the Moon!
Is it just people around my area calling them sun roofs?


#75903 07/12/02 07:56 PM
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Moonroof and sunroof are two different things. The moonroof in my wife's Cherokee has an opaque hand-operated sliding roof that opens to reveal a glass roof above it which may then be moved or left closed.

A sunroof is an opaque moonroof without the secondary roof below it.



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