Toward the year 2018 – a look ahead from 50 years ago

Toward the year 2018 – a look ahead from 50 years ago

In 1968, a group of 12 thought leaders gathered together at a futurist conference in New York, USA. Their topic?  What will the world be like in 2018? 

Their thoughts, warnings, aspirations and predictions are contained in a printed record of the conference, a book entitled, appropriately, toward the year 2018.


Whilst some of the predictions were off the mark – some were right on the button.

Bell Labs Director, John Pierce, foresaw the development of telephony to the point where text and pictures will be able to be easily transmitted and documents will be able to be edited in high quality – “comparable to a letterpress”.

Remember this was at a time when documents were produced almost exclusively by typewriter…

And Anthony Oettinger (Harvard Scientist) gave a good account of a potential future internet – even though his address even predated ARPANET, the grandfather of the modern internet.

By the way – ARPANET – (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was an early packet switching network and the first network to implement the protocol suite TCP/IP.  More on the fascinating history of ARPANET – the beginnings of the internet that started with initial discussions in 1963 –  in a future blog!

Oettinger suggested the world would become widely connected but also warned of the unintended outcomes.

“Putting broad-band communications, picture telephones, and instant computerized retrieval in the hands of such an organization is like feeding pastry to a fat man.” It is “much too optimistic” to assume that these same technologies would entail the ability to use them wisely. “Applying technology, like all human efforts,” Oettinger warns, “bears bittersweet fruits.”

What about our future?

How would we all fare today, predicting how technology will affect our work, lifestyle and communities in 2068?

As an organisation that specialises in forecasting detailed changes in population and housing, .id understands the challenges of making assumptions about future trends. We also know how important forecast data is, in assisting local councils to plan services for their communities in the coming decades.

In fact, we’re working with more than 140 councils around Australia and New Zealand,  providing them with population forecasts right out to 2041, so we are also familiar with looking well into the future.

If you’d like to see how your council area population will look in 2041 (and all the years in between now and then, through a population forecast) please contact us, we’d be happy to chat about how we can help.

And – if you’d like to read more about “toward the year 2018” please click here to read the recent New Yorker magazine article.

.id is a team of demographers, urban economists, spatial planners and Census data experts who use a unique combination of online tools and consulting to help governments and organisations plan for the future. Access our free demographic resources here.

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Jim - ideas, observations and handy shortcuts

Jim has been a member of the .id team since early 2010, following 10 years as a Director in local government and prior to that, many years at IBM. Jim is also a former .id client and recognised the value of .id’s tools in council decision making. He decided to join .id to help spread the word! He manages .id’s local government clients in Queensland and South Australia, helping them to use .id’s tools for informed strategy and policy decisions. Outside work, Jim enjoys learning Spanish, travel (especially to Spanish speaking locales) and collects the odd car or two…

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