People in diving suits fishing for birds?
The school where books are ground up and electrified into pupils' heads?
A serious attempt to predict the future is a rare thing indeed, even on the part of science fiction writers, who are often more concerned with allegory and the exploration of ideas than with literally trying to figure out what the future will look like.
For my money one of the best "future visions" is Spielberg's Minority Report. Not for "pre-crime", but for the suburbs that still look like suburbs, the personalized advertising (perhaps a little extreme), and the general normality of the cities (aside from the silly vertical freeways). The future looks a lot like now - because buildings last a long time, and the landscape changes even less than that.
Reminds me of a Wired magazine article from 1999 speculating on what the greatest invention of the 20th century was, and what the greatest invention of the 21st might be. One of the people interviewed suggested that in terms of inventions having an impact on everyday life, the greatest invention of the 20th century (which was a 19th century invention) was the bicycle and the greatest invention of the 21st would be (another 19th century invention) the telephone (because it was going to reach the other 75% of people who didn't yet have it thanks to cellphones).
Whoever that person was, 'e seems to have been spot on.
Though, that house looks a bit shady. I wonder if there's a meth lab in it...
Commons is a bit messy, since it started with a focus on archiving and sorting images more than displaying them (except insofar as they're displayed in Wikipedia articles), so it's not surprising that third-party sites are re-presenting its content. And since its point is to collect freely licensed content and promote reuse, there's nothing wrong with that. But there's a bit more focus recently on making it directly browsable.
Slideshow gadget info: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Help:Gadget-GallerySlidesh...
So, sorry to unveil this fact to you: It was just for the fun. Teacher pushing books in the crusher to feed student earphones? Underwater flying? Flying cops? All this is funny speculation that has a single purpose: entertainment. It is just like drawings of Dubout, with a scifi theme instead of cats (and a lower artistic value).
So, in makes it even more surprising that it has some relevance to today's achievement. I would like to compare with serious "scientific" forecasts of the future at the same time. I would bet they weren't as accurate as these drawings.
However I wonder if you focus on the materials of the future you could make more accurate predictions.
For example carbon nanotubes is a material of the future (I've heard it said we could build a lift to the moon with carbon nanotubes).
Superconductivity, when we can make room temperature superconductive material, well blows the mind to think what you can make with that. Hover cars?
Wireless electricity, not strictly a material, but a game changer none the less.
Sending you kind greetings from the champion country in getting screwed over in the last centuries.
The first practical small submarines were around on the early 1800s (man powered at that point) and there had been many advancements in underwater tech (including significant steps in individual breathing apparatus and practical powered sub-marine vehicles) in the late 1800s - so around 1900 the oceans were the next great frontier in the eyes of many of the people who were in a position to care about such things, particularly after the popular success of Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues" and to a lesser extent other similar works.
This aspiration of the oceans as the next great frontier may also have been driven partly by the massive increase in demand for fuel over that century or two due to the industrial revolution: if you could find a massive source of useful fuel material in that great unexplored wilderness you could name your fortune.
lt;dr: around then, under-water was cool to the public (brought up in the industrial revolution & looking for the next exciting technological developments), potentially very important militarily, and seen as one of mankinds next big steps.
By 1900 there had been several successful experimental airships, and in 1900 the Luftschiff Zeppelin LZ1 launched. It would be another three years before the Wright Flyer flew though.
I presume it's because underwater adventuring and photography was very new and exciting: http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/archeosm/archeosom/en/sca...
First underwater photography: http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/the-first-under...
They did have a lot of flying pictures (which I found impressive), but missed that flying would diminish the importance of water transport for people.
Another example is "A Tailor of Latest Fashion" where what seems to be a steam engine powers an automatic dress maker.
If even the jump from the 80s to now has taught me anything, we, right now, are going to look ridiculous to people in 30 years, let alone 100.
If this were CNN today on a 2100 prediction HN would be all over it calling it populist/sensationalist/lazy etc.
I'm surprised they didn't guess 'wireless' a little more (the classroom) since radio was being invented at the time (even wireless headphones were almost technically possible with a crystal radio).
* Very liberally, drive-through car wash
* Air as a domain for combat
* Commuter air travel
* Aerial firefighting
* Air mail
* (okay, nobody's riding on seahorses)
* (okay, nobody's hunting seagulls)
* Air traffic control
* Mechanized farming
* Spy drones
* Mechanized animal processing
* Automated goods fabrication
* (okay, nobody's stealing eagle eggs)
* (okay, nobody's riding fish)
* Mobile homes
* Online education
* Very liberally, drive-through car wash (again)
* Tanks/armored vehicles
* (okay, nobody's playing sports underwater)
* (okay, nobody's domesticating whales or commuting underwater)
Most of what they got right: things we do which are labor-intensive and could be automated
Most of what they got wrong: the value or cost of putting people under water, and the degree to which animals play a role in daily life
Why didn't this happen?
While we have long since passed the era of the Zeppelin, we're certainly nowhere near cruising along with air-taxis or wing/slash/jet packs.
But, think about how bad the average driver is. Now realize that they're driving in two dimensions. What happens when you add a third? Terrible, terrible things. That's why we haven't invested in any infrastructure in flying cars, and without that infrastructure, it ain't gonna happen.
Atop of this, it is really hard to sell postcards in which the bastard offspring of looms rule the world.
Or, since I want to be alive to share the laugh, any prediction for year 2020-2050 made this year or last year?
> The Tomorrow Project explores our possible futures through fact-based, science-based fiction and video conversations with scientists and science fiction authors, legends and world renowned experts, passionate advocates and everyday people. Science fiction gives all of us all a language so that we can have a conversation about the future and these conversations make dramatic changes.
On a more serious note, those images also reminded me of Hayao Miyazaki's work (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/people.php?id=5...)