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The year 2000 imagined in 1967: successful prophecies and glaring errors

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Today, the future that we imagine for our world is not necessarily the most pleasant. Economic crises, growing geopolitical tensions, food and water shortages, accelerating global warming… Everything is not rosy, far from it. In the 1960s, and especially in 1967, the tone was quite different. Walter Cronkite, renowned American anchor and journalist, known for having presented the CBS Evening News for almost 20 years, was one of those people who liked to imagine a bright future.

A future full of extremely advanced technologies and punctuated by societal upheavals. The funny thing about all this is that some of his predictions turned out to be surprisingly accurate, but others fell by the wayside< /strong>. Let's explore together the truth and the falsehood of these futuristic projections.

Accurate technological forecasts

Walter Cronkite was nicknamed “ the most trusted man in America» (just that!), offered surprising predictions to say the least as part of his television series exploring the 21st century called The 21st Century. Among these visions of the future, one of the most striking concerned GPS navigation systems. Cronkite described with some clairvoyance “a driver assistance, information and routing system&nbsp ;» guiding drivers using signals built into the roads themselves.

Although this integration of signals into road infrastructure never materialized, Cronkite's prediction still turned out to be quite close to the technologies we use. Today, many drivers use GPS through the use of applications like Waze or Google Maps. We therefore did better, by integrating these devices directly into vehicles rather than in the road network, but there was an idea in his proposal .

Cronkite's clairvoyance did not stop there. He also tested a “ mechanical doctor ” as part of his series, a kind of medical chair capable of performing electrocardiograms instantly. An innovation that can be considered a (very) distant cousin of smart watches like the Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch.

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Failed anticipations: the failure of cars on rails and domestic robots

However, some of Cronkite's futuristic visions remained in the limbo of the unrealized. In particular, he envisaged that cars would be transported on rails incorporated into roads, thus enabling automated travel across the country. An overly ambitious design that never came to fruition, hampered of course by the complexity and enormous cost that would have been involved in implementing such a system on a large scale.

Furthermore, Cronkite imagined a future where hovercrafts and small personal submarines would allow the exploration of the ocean depths and the extraction of resources. While these technologies do exist, they have never reached the domestic or everyday use that Cronkite predicted.

He also imagined a future where every home would benefit from the help of fully automated robots, designed specifically to tackle domestic tasks. Generalized automation which remains, for the moment, still very far from being achievable given the difficulty of incorporating AI systems into robots. Rather than multifunctional robots, it is rather very specialized devices such as robot vacuum cleaners which have experienced real growth on the domestic market.

Economic and social expectations&nbsp ;: an optimistic but incomplete picture

Cronkite's predictions about average household income at the dawn of the 21st century were somewhat wrong far from reality. He projected that these revenues would reach 15,000 to $25,000 after taxes in the year 2000. However, the actual figures showed a significantly higher average income, around $42,000.

However, this estimate omitted a key factor: the impact of inflation and the resulting stagnation of real wages. Thus, in terms of purchasing power, the real gains turned out to be less impressive than expected by Cronkite.

Cronkite was therefore not entirely wrong when he speculated on the year 2000, even if some of his predictions remain in total discrepancy with the reality that we really know. The reflections of this man, who died in 2009, remind us of at least one thing: anticipation of the future remains a very complex exercise and the conclusions that we are often more revealing of the era from which they emanate than of the future itself.

  • In the 1960s, Walter Cronkite, an American journalist, hosted the show The 21st Century where he enjoyed making forecasts for the ;#8217;year 2000.
  • Among these, some turned out to be quite correct: GPS navigation and personal health monitoring devices.
  • Others were more fanciful or technically infeasible: cars on rails and generalized home automation robotics.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116