lf we look into the world as it may be at the end of another
generation, let's say 2019 - that's 35 years from now, the same
number of years since 1949 when
George Orwell's 1984 was
first published - three considerations must dominate our
If the United States
and the Soviet Union flail away at each other at any time
between now and 2019, there is absolutely no use to discussing
what life will be like in that year.
Too few of us, or of
our children and grand children, will be alive then for there to
be any point in describing the precise condition of global
misery at that time.
Let us, therefore, assume there will be no nuclear war - not
necessarily a safe assumption - and carry on from there.
Computerization will undoubtedly continue onward inevitably.
Computers have already made themselves essential to the
governments of the industrial nations, and to world industry:
and it is now beginning to make itself comfortable in the home.
An essential side product, the mobile computerized object, or
robot, is already flooding into industry and will, in the course
of the next generation, penetrate the home.
There is bound to be resistance to the march of the computers,
but barring a successful Luddite revolution, which does not seem
in the cards, the march will continue.
The growing complexity of society will make it impossible to do
without them, except by courting chaos; and those parts of the
world that fall behind in this respect will suffer so obviously
as a result that their ruling bodies will clamor for
computerization as they now clamor for weapons.
The immediate effect of intensifying computerization will be, of
course, to change utterly our work habits. This has happened
Before the Industrial Revolution, the vast majority of
humanity was engaged in agriculture and indirectly allied
professions. After industrialization, the shift from the farm to
the factory was rapid and painful. With computerization the new
shift from the factory to something new will be still more rapid
and in consequence, still more painful.
It is not that computerization is going to mean fewer jobs as a
whole, for technological advance has always, in the past,
created more jobs than it has destroyed, and there is no reason
to think that won't be true now, too.
However, the jobs created are not identical with the jobs that
have been destroyed, and in similar cases in the past the change
has never been so radical.
The jobs that will disappear will tend to be just those routine
clerical and assembly-line jobs that are simple enough,
repetitive enough, and stultifying enough to destroy the finely
balanced minds of those human beings unfortunate enough to have
been forced to spend years doing them in order to earn a living,
and yet complicated enough to rest above the capacity of any
machine that is neither a computer nor computerized.
It is these that computers and robots for which they are
perfectly designed will take over.
The jobs that will appear will, inevitably, involve the design,
the manufacture, the installation, the maintenance and repair of
computers and robots, and an understanding of whole new
these "intelligent" machines
will make possible.
This means that a vast change in the nature of education must
take place, and entire populations must be made
"computer-literate" and must be taught to deal with a
Again, this sort of thing has happened before.
workforce must, of necessity, be more educated than an
agricultural one. Field hands can get along without knowing how
to read and write. Factory employees cannot.
Consequently, public education on a mass scale had to be
introduced in industrializing nations in the course of the 19th
The change, however, is much faster this time and society must
work much faster; perhaps faster than they can. It means that
the next generation will be one of difficult transition as
untrained millions find themselves helpless to do the jobs that
most need doing.
By the year 2019, however, we should find that the transition is
Those who can be
retrained and re-educated will have been: those who can't be
will have been put to work at something useful, or where ruling
groups are less wise, will have been supported by some sort of
grudging welfare arrangement.
In any case, the generation of the transition will be dying out,
and there will be a new generation growing up who will have been
educated into the new world.
It is quite likely
that society, then, will have entered a phase that may be more
or less permanently improved over the situation as it now exists
for a variety of reasons.
be continuing to increase for some years after the present
and this will make the pangs of transition even more
be unable to hide from themselves the fact that no problem
can possibly be solved as long as those problems continue to
be intensified by the addition of greater numbers more
rapidly than they can be dealt with.
Efforts to prevent this from happening by encouraging a
lower birthrate will become steadily more strenuous and
it is to be hoped that by 2019, the world as a whole will be
striving toward a population plateau.
of human irresponsibility in terms of waste and pollution
will become more apparent and unbearable with time and
again, attempts to deal with this will become more
It is to be hoped
that by 2019, advances in technology will place tools in our
hands that will help accelerate the process whereby the
deterioration of the environment will be reversed.
The world effort
that must be invested in this and in generally easing the
pains of the transition may, assuming the presence of a
minimum level of sanity among the peoples of the world,
again not a safe assumption, weaken in comparison the causes
that have fed the time-honored quarrels between and within
nations over petty hatred and suspicions.
In short, there will
be increasing co-operation among nations and among groups within
nations, not out of any sudden growth of idealism or decency but
out of a cold-blooded realization that anything less than that
will mean destruction for all.
By 2019, then, it may well be that the nations will be getting
along well enough to allow the planet to live under the faint
a world government by
'co-operation', even though no one may admit its existence.
Aside from these negative advances - the approaching
defeat of overpopulation, pollution and militarism - there will
be positive advances, too.
Education, which must be revolutionized in the new world, will
be revolutionized by the very agency that requires the
revolution - the computer.
Schools will undoubtedly still exist, but a good schoolteacher
can do no better than to inspire curiosity which an interested
student can then satisfy at home at the console of his computer
There will be an opportunity finally for every youngster, and
indeed, every person, to learn what he or she wants to learn in
his or her own time, at his or her own speed, in his or her own
Education will become fun because it will bubble up from within
and not be forced in from without.
At the dawn of 1984,
Isaac Asimov predicted that robots
would be common by the year 2019.
They are, in many forms,
although silicone-covered sex companions
may have been one step beyond his imagination.
While computers and robots are doing the scut-work of society so
that the world, in 2019, will seem more and more to be "running
itself," more and more human beings will find themselves living
a life rich in 'leisure'.
This does not mean leisure to do 'nothing', but leisure
to do something one wants to do:
to be free to
engage in scientific research, in literature and the arts,
to pursue out-of-the-way interests and fascinating hobbies
of all kinds.
And if it seems
impossibly optimistic to suppose that the world could be
changing in this direction in a mere 35 years (only changing, of
course and not necessarily having achieved the change totally),
then add the final item to the mix.
Add my third phrase:
It is not likely that
we will abandon space, having come this far. And if militarism
fades, we will do more with it than make it another arena for
war. Nor will we simply make trips through it.
We will enter space to stay...
With the shuttle rocket as the vehicle, we will
build a space station and lay
the foundation for making space a permanent home for increasing
numbers of human beings.
By 2019, we will be
back on the moon in force.
There will be on it
not Americans only, but an international force of some size; and
not to collect moon rocks only, but to establish a mining
station that will process moon soil and take it to places in
space where it can be smelted into metals, ceramics, glass and
concrete - construction materials for the large structures that
will be put in orbit about the Earth.
One such structure which very conceivably, might be completed by
2019 would be the prototype of a solar power station, outfitted
to collect solar energy, convert it to microwaves and beam it to
It would be the first of a girdle of such devices fitted about
Earth's equatorial plane.
It would the
beginning of the time when a major part of Earth's energy will
come from the sun under conditions that will make it not the
property of any one nation, but of the globe generally.
Such structures will be, in themselves guarantees of world peace
and continued co-operation among nations.
The energy will be so
necessary to all and so clearly deliverable only if the nations
remain at peace and work together, that war would become simply
unthinkable - by popular demand.
observatories will be built in space
to increase our knowledge of the universe immeasurably; as will
laboratories, where experiments can be conducted that might be
unsafe, or impossible, on Earth's surface.
Most important, in a practical sense, would be the construction
of factories that could make use of the special properties of
space - high and low temperatures, hard radiation, unlimited
vacuum, zero gravity - to manufacture objects that could be
difficult or impossible to manufacture on Earth, so that the
world's technology might be totally transformed.
In fact, projects might even be on the planning boards in 2019
to shift industries into orbit in a wholesale manner.
Space, you see, is
far more voluminous than Earth's surface is and it is therefore
a far more useful repository for the waste that is inseparable
from industry. Nor are there living things in space to suffer
from the influx of waste.
And the waste would
not even remain in Earth's vicinity, but would be swept outward
far beyond the asteroid belt by the solar wind.
Earth will then be in a position to rid itself of the
side-effects of industrialization, and yet without actually
getting rid of its needed advantages. The factories will be
gone, but not far, only a few thousand miles straight up.
And humanity, not its structures only, will eventually be in
By 2019, the
space settlement should
be on the drawing boards; and may perhaps be under
It would be the first
of many in which human beings could live by the tens of
thousands, and in which they could build small societies of all
kinds, lending humanity a further twist of variety.
In fact, although the world of 2019 will be far changed from the
present world of 1984, that will only be a barometer of far
greater changes planned for the years still to come.