Arthur C. Clarke Offers His Vision of the Future
December 3, 2001 by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Kurzweil
The science fiction visionary behind HAL offers his predictions of salient events to come in this century.
Originally published December 3, 2001 on KurzweilAI.net.
On Friday, November 30, 2001, Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and inventor of the geosynchronous communications satellite, joined myself and two other panelists by video and phone connection from Sri Lanka to offer his vision of the future. The event took place at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of an audience of approximately 500 college and high school students and teachers.
The other panelists included Alison Taunton-Rigby, president of Forester Biotech and David Cyganski, WPI professor of electrical and computer engineering and an expert in machine vision.
The legendary science fiction author offered the predictions below. My own view is that Clarke’s near term predictions involving energy are at least a decade premature. However, many of his predictions involving intelligent machines and nanotechnology are insightful and reflect a keen understanding of the acceleration of technological progress.
Arthur C. Clarke’s predictions for the next century:
2002 Clean low-power fuel involving a new energy source, possibly based on cold fusion.
2003 The automobile industry is given five years to replace fossil fuels.
2004 First publicly admitted human clone.
2006 Last coal mine closed.
2009 A city in a third world country is devastated by an atomic bomb explosion.
2009 All nuclear weapons are destroyed.
2010 A new form of space-based energy is adopted.
2010 Despite protests against “big brother,” ubiquitous monitoring eliminates many forms of criminal activity.
2011 Space flights become available for the public.
2013 Prince Harry flies in space.
2015 Complete control of matter at the atomic level is achieved.
2016 All existing currencies are abolished. A universal currency is adopted based on the “megawatt hour.”
2017 Arthur C. Clarke, on his one hundredth birthday, is a guest on the space orbiter.
2019 There is a meteorite impact on Earth.
2020 Artificial Intelligence reaches human levels. There are now two intelligent species on Earth, one biological, and one nonbiological.
2021 The first human landing on Mars is achieved. There is an unpleasant surprise.
2023 Dinosaurs are cloned from fragments of DNA. A dinosaur zoo opens in Florida.
2025 Brain research leads to an understanding of all human senses. Full immersion virtual reality becomes available. The user puts on a metal helmet and is then able to enter “new universes.”
2040 A universal replicator based on nanotechnology is now able to create any object from gourmet meals to diamonds. The only thing that has value is information.
2040 The concept of human “work” is phased out.
2061 Hunter gatherer societies are recreated.
2061 The return of Haley’s comet is visited by humans.
2090 Large scale burning of fossil fuels is resumed to replace carbon dioxide.
2095 A true “space drive” is developed. The first humans are sent out to nearby star systems already visited by robots.
2100 History begins.