Special issue with the Sunday Magazine
MILLENNIUM : January 23, 2000
21 predictions for the 21st century
© Ladies Home Journal
What's next? With a new century, not to mention a new millennium, just begun, that question is looming large. What will the next one hundred years bring? Cures for disease? Deadly epidemics? Mass destruction? World peace? Will the world ten decades from now even be recognisable to us 20th century types?
A hundred years ago, the Ladies' Home Journal published a list of predictions for the coming century that proved to be remarkably prescient. Yes, we do have air-conditioning, just as the December 1900 issue said we would, as well as a form of worldwide communication we now call live television coverage.
And so, continuing the tradition we're looking forward once again. To see what the future might hold, we asked a number of experts - leaders in government, top scientists and physicians, academics, business chiefs, writers, journalists and more - for their vision of the life we'll lead in the century that's just beginning to unfold.
Our bodies, ourselves
1 The twenty-first century will see babies born completely outside the human body as the normal and common way to create children. People will be conceived in dishes, the embryos will be checked for genetic diseases and then grown to term in artificial wombs.
2 Stem cells will be used to grow replacement organs.
Dean Omish, M.D.,
3 As a woman begins perimenopause, she will be able to measure her hormones daily and take the exact amount of each hormone - in a gel form that's rubbed into the skin - to keep her at her optimum reproductive levels.
Lonnie Barbach, Ph.D.,
4 Mental illness will be curable - and in some cases preventable. Scientists will understand how genes and the environment interact to build the brain, determining its chemistry and circuitry, and how these processes go awry to cause mental illness and other brain disorders. Advances in brain imaging, molecular genetics and other technologies will make it possible to predict whether a person is at risk for mental illness; research will yield revolutionary new treatments and even ways of preventing these devastating illnesses that today affect so many millions of people around the world.
Steven E. Hyman, M.D.,
5 The leading cause of death will be epidemics.
6 Because people will be living longer and will be healthy to an older age, there will be an enormous turnover in marriage. It will not be unusual for a person to be married five or six times. There will also be two forms of marriage - a permanent one and a "companionate marriage." The latter, by its very nature, will be a relationship terminable at will, but still conferring legitimacy upon offspring. The "permanent" marriage will be governed by the more conventional and usual rules. The companionate marriage will be a lot more fun.
Raoul Lionel Felder,
7 There will be a very small percentage of men who still make more money than women, but as a general rule, women will make more money than men.
With technological advances, muscle, which used to give men an edge, is really not required. What is required are communication skills, with which women tend to have an edge over men.
8 Men will spend as much time as women on rearing children over one year old.
9 There will be two dominant occupations in the future:
10 The first, second, and third woman President will be elected in the first half of the 21st century.
Ellen R. Malcolm,
11 Virtual reality conferencing will eliminate the need for constant business travel - put on the headset and you are there in the conference room clear across the globe.
12 The 21st century will be remembered as the century of contact: the discovery of life-forms of extraterrestrial origin. Not LGMs (little green men - or women) to be sure, but life-forms, all the same.
Peter G. Brown,
13 The year is 2030. You still can't get good airline food and Star Wars Part 20 has just been released. But what has captured the public's imagination is the launch of NASA's first interstellar probe. This Coke-can-size machine doesn't look anything like the spacecraft of 1999. It will reach and land on a passing asteroid two years after its launch from Earth, where it will use its DNA-based biomimetic system as a blueprint to evolve, adapt and grow into a more complex exploring and thinking system.
Daniel S. Goldin,
14 Space travel will become a recreation for the ultra-wealthy, but eventually will become accessible to most people.
15 The electronic superhighway will replace the supermarket. At the touch of a button, a shopper can order any produce, any dish, in any language - from caviar and boeuf en daube to Sacher torte and lemon-meringue pie - to be delivered within minutes to the customer's door and paid for with an electronic credit card. The only process that will not be done electronically is actually eating and digesting the food.
16 There will be term limits on life, based on each individual's ability to pay for his or her own care.
17 Fluid pricing will replace fixed pricing, and consumers and marketers will negotiate prices on everything from airline tickets to soft drinks based on the supply and demand of the moment. Whether the transaction takes place on the Internet or in a retail establishment, the negotiation will be handled by computer programs.
18 Later rather than sooner, but eventually during the next millennium, humankind will establish a viable and authoritative world government that will forever abolish war as a means of settling international conflicts.
19 "Locator" chips, embedded in babies at birth, will be able to transmit the position of a lost child anywhere on earth, via information from the Global Positioning System. "Protein sensor" chips will be able to measure micro-chemical changes in the body and so offer early diagnoses of cancer and other diseases. "Communicator" chips, small enough to wear behind one's front teeth and in one's ears, will act as the ultimate in cellular telephone handsets, enabling people to make a phone call or control the 21st century version of the Internet by voice alone.
Peter G. Brown,
20 We will understand the biological basis for human "love," and couples will still be doing it.
Phillip A. Sharp,
21 Fashion and beauty items will be worn by individuals to minimise exposure to germs in public places. Items will include personal air purifiers and second-skin suits to protect the epidermis in the form of body-suits, gloves, tights, long underwear and socks. For a short time, people will avoid shaking or holding hands and kissing in public for fear of transmitting or receiving unwanted germs, and spitting becomes the ultimate insult and a potential threat to others' health, so it is banned in public places.
Copyrights © 2000, The Hindu.
Republication or redissemination ofthe contents of this screen are expressly prohibited
without the written consent of The Hindu.