How Accurate Are Arthur C. Clarke’s Predictions in 2015?

Famed writer Arthur C. Clarke is best remembered today as the author of the science-fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Though he certainly deserves acknowledgement for his writing and contribution to Kubrick’s classic sci-fi film, Clarke’s uncanny ability to predict the future is also worth remembering.

As we enter a new year, it is an apt time to reflect on Arthur C. Clarke’s predictions as a futurist. From foreseeing today’s satellite technologies to envisioning an iPhone-powered world, Clarke was truly a man ahead of his time.

Which of Clarke’s predictions continue to be accurate in 2015? Read on to discover the many technological advancements foretold by this incredible futurist.

1. Telecommuting

As early as 1945, Arthur Clarke was predicting that telecommunications would vastly transform the future world of business. The satellite technology predicted by Clarke 70 years ago has vastly transformed the world we live in today, enabling us to communicate via video conference calls, emails, and worldwide cellular phone networks. As Clarke stated in 1964, satellite technologies “will make possible a world in which we can be in instant contact with each other, wherever we may be.” Today, businessmen in Shanghai can video chat with colleagues in London or New York in real-time, a technological advance that was practically unimaginable 50 years ago.

What does Clarke see for the world of telecommuting in the more distant future? The futurist suggests that we will ultimately “no longer commute, but communicate,” and predicts that cities will cease to be fundamental to business. Though this is not yet the case, it is very likely that telecommuting will continue to develop, making business more and more digital each year.

2. The Personal Computer

In a 1974 ABC interview, Clarke accurately described what today is known as the PC or laptop computer. Clarke accurately describes a multi-functional “console” through which individuals might communicate with others and complete daily tasks. Clarke accurately predicted that this home computer would be compact, with a keyboard and television-like screen.

Perhaps Clarke’s most accurate prediction about the PC is his claim that the people of the future would “take computers for granted as much as [the people of 1974] take the telephone for granted.” In a world where nearly 9 out of 10 Americans own a computing device, Clarke’s predictions certainly ring true.

3. The Smartphone

Though Clarke may not have foreseen the precise way in which the modern smartphone has developed, the futurist did indeed imagine an interconnected world in which computer communications would be increasingly more powerful and portable. Clarke predicted that these technologies would be powered by artificial intelligence as well. In today’s modern world, where many individuals ask the all-powered Siri a question before consulting another person, Clarke’s predictions have clearly become a reality.

4. The Internet

In Clarke’s 1974 interview, the futurist predicted today’s modern internet capabilities with startling accuracy. In the 21st century, Clark predicted that we would be able to “get all of the information [we] need” through the internet via devices found in our own homes. Clark foresaw us accessing our “bank statements [and] theater reservations” simply by connecting to the internet. Simply put, Clarke envisioned the internet precisely as it is today, complete with online shopping and the ability to access news and information from any location at any given time.

5. Satellite Networks

In his 1945 essay entitled, “The Space-Station: Its Radio Applications” Arthur Clarke described today’s satellite technologies with almost startling accuracy. Clarke foresaw a world in which satellite communications would power worldwide communications, including the then-fledgling technology of television.

And, in fact, Clarke was right on all points. In the sixties, eccentric magnate Howard Hughes teamed up with NASA to develop satellites under what became known as the Telstar program. On July 12th, 1962, Telstar 1 maid the world’s first satellite TV transmission, which effectively set the stage for HughesNet Internet. Today, satellite networks power GPS technology, enable global digital communications, and much more. Information can now be procured in seconds rather than hours and often requires a mere voice-command search on one’s smartphone. Satellite technology is at the crux of Clarke’s predictions for the future and has certainly shaped the world we live in today.

What does Clarke see for us in the decades to come? If his predictions come true, we may someday be able to prolong lives and send people into the future through something Clarke calls “suspended animation.” Clarke also foresees cloning and replication techniques that might naturally develop as a result of today’s cloning technologies and 3D printing capabilities. However, in Clarke’s exact words, “The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic.”

Clarke himself would certainly applaud today’s fast-paced world of technological advancement. No one knows for certain what the future may hold, but, as Clarke himself reminds us, it is sure to be impressive.


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