Attempts to locate oneself within history are as natural and as absurd, as attempts to locate oneself within astronomy. On the day that I was born, 13 April 1949, nineteen senior Nazi officials were convicted at Nuremberg, including Hitler's former envoy to the Vatican, Baron Ernst von Weizsacker, who was found guilty of planning aggression against Czechoslovakia and committing atrocities against the Jewish people. On the same day, the State of Israel celebrated its first Passover seder and the United Nations, still meeting in those days at Flushing Meadow in Queens, voted to consider the Jewish state's application for membership. In Damascus, eleven newspapers were closed by the regime of General Hosni Zayim. In America, the National Committee on Alcoholism announced an upcoming 'A-Day' under the non-uplifting slogan: 'You can drink—help the alcoholic who can't.' ('Can't'?) The International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled in favor of Britain in the Corfu Channel dispute with Albania. At the UN, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko denounced the newly formed NATO alliance as a tool for aggression against the USSR. The rising Chinese Communists, under a man then known to Western readership as Mao Tze-Tung, announced a limited willingness to bargain with the still-existing Chinese government in a city then known to the outside world as 'Peiping.'All this was unknown to me as I nuzzled my mother's breast for the first time and would certainly have happened in just the same way if I had not been born at all, or even conceived. One of the newspaper astrologists for that day addressed those whose birthday it was:There are powerful rays from the planet Mars, the war god, in your horoscope for your coming year and this always means a chance to battle if you want to take it up. Try to avoid such disturbances where women relatives or friends are concerned, because the outlook for victory upon your part in such circumstances is rather dark. If you must fight, pick a man!Sage counsel no doubt, which I wish I had imbibed with that same maternal lactation, but impartially offered also to the many people born on that day who were also destined to die on it.
Christopher Hitchens
Gadgetry will continue to relieve mankind of tedious jobs. Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare ‘automeals,’ heating water and converting it to coffee; toasting bread; frying, poaching or scrambling eggs, grilling bacon and so on. Breakfasts will be ‘ordered’ the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning. Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books. Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica. [M]en will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better. By 2014, electroluminescent panels will be in common use. Ceilings and walls will glow softly and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button. Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence. The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long- lived batteries running on radioisotopes.[H]ighways … in the more advanced sections of the world will have passed their peak in 2014; there will be increasing emphasis on transportation that makes the least possible contact with the surface. There will be aircraft, of course, but even ground travel will increasingly take to the air a foot or two off the ground. [V]ehicles with ‘Robot-brains’ … can be set for particular destinations … that will then proceed there without interference by the slow reflexes of a human driver. [W]all screens will have replaced the ordinary set; but transparent cubes will be making their appearance in which three-dimensional viewing will be possible. [T]he world population will be 6,500,000,000 and the population of the United States will be 350,000,000. All earth will be a single choked Manhattan by A.D. 2450 and society will collapse long before that!There will, therefore, be a worldwide propaganda drive in favor of birth control by rational and humane methods and, by 2014, it will undoubtedly have taken serious effect. Ordinary agriculture will keep up with great difficulty and there will be ‘farms’ turning to the more efficient micro-organisms. Processed yeast and algae products will be available in a variety of flavors. The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders. Schools will have to be oriented in this direction…. All the high-school students will be taught the fundamentals of computer technology will become proficient in binary arithmetic and will be trained to perfection in the use of the computer languages that will have developed out of those like the contemporary Fortran. [M]ankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014. [T]he most glorious single word in the vocabulary will have become work! in our a society of enforced leisure.
Isaac Asimov