The Future Is Now
Predicting breakthroughs in 1996, we were far too conservative
What we missed: In 2009, the mysterious “Satoshi Nakamoto” proposed that bitcoins be “mined” from data rather than issued by a central bank. At press time, a bitcoin was trading at $569.
This spring, an antibody in some HIV patients restored hope for a vaccine. In 2015, in a move we didn’t foresee, “anti-vaxxer” parents influenced by Jenny McCarthy and Donald Trump helped make measles scary again.
It’s not as endearing as The Jetsons’ Rosie, but the iRobot Roomba, an autonomous vacuum cleaner, has sold more than 10 million units.
In 1996, Alcor, a Scottsdale, Ariz., company, had 67 heads and bodies in deep freeze, cryosuspension awaiting revival. Now it has 146. Walt Disney isn’t among them, but Ted Williams is. “He doesn’t give us a hard time,” says Alcor’s Diane Cremeens. “He keeps to himself.”
When David and I published Reality Check: Here’s the Real Future 20 years ago, some patted us on the propeller beanie and told us nice try, but you’re far too boosterish. The tech breakthroughs we’d forecast on a timeline, they told us, were going to take far longer to arrive than we and our expert sources suggested. So did they?