1999 AD predicts the future

By on September 7, 2011
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Strange documentary from the 60s predicts our own time with eerie accuracy.

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It’s no secret that humans are pretty bad when it comes to predicting future technology. Terminator predicted that at this current date, we would be facing a robot uprising, Lost in Space said  that we will be colonizing other planets, Escape from New York thought that we will be in midst of World War III, and 2001: Space Odessey predicted that sentient and self aware computers would the norm.

The extent of my computer's sentience

Thus you can imagine my surprise when I found out a little 1960s documentary that predicts the future with strange accuracy. The documentary is called 1999 AD, and it has been on YouTube for a while, but it has recently come to my attention. The film depicts a middle class family living in the “House of the Future”, and all the futuristic day to day activities that the family participates in. Such activities include internet banking, online conference calls, online shopping, integration of computers in schooling, and even microwave cooking. All this is done on computers, or “computer consoles” connected to a single home network, or “console counterparts”. Unlike futuristic depictions from its time, there are no laser guns, jetpacks, or clunkily adorable robots. The film stays grounded in depicting what is possible, not what would be super awesome.

Strangely enough, while the film succeeds in predicting future technology, it fails in predicting societal changes. It is quite a surreal experience watching a futuristic film that sticks firmly to mid 20th century gender roles. For example, the film needs to explicitly point out that it is the “husband” who does the internet banking, and the “wife” who does the internet shopping. What is the conference call used for in the film? Why, it is to tell the wife to start cooking, because the males are hungry. This juxtaposition of futuristic technology and outdated societal norms make it quite a bizarre experience, it’s like watching Space Marines perform Shakespearean plays, or the entirety of the Fallout game series.

The documentary ends with the husband asking what is next. What will the technological advancements be in the future? Where will human accomplishments go? And what will we do with those wonderful technological advancements?

We will complain that it has no multitasking

You can check all three parts of the film below

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

 

Think it’s a hoax? Lots of people thought so, so note that the husband in his 30s appearing in the film is now 76 years old


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