November 18, 1982
by Wilbur Norton Vroman
Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public
1920's, a journalist pictured the man of the future as having large eyes. a huge cranium
and skinny arms and legs. Today's journalist could predict the man of the future as having
eyes of a. fixed focus, a pinhead, muscular legs and an enlarged heart. Since it can't be
disproved, a prediction may be made that 7,000,000 years hence, an Earthling-Martian
hybrid will have replaced Homo sapiens. In man's immediate future, computers and genetic
engineering will be of great importance. There are many startling changes in process today
in families, homes, cities, food, education, transportation and in medicine. A safe
prediction may be made that in the year 2000 A. D., The Fortnightly Club of Redlands will
still be meeting in the Lyon Wing of the Smiley Library.
years ago when I was a teenager, I read an article in a Sunday paper that foretold the
physical appearance of the man of the distant future. He would be very skinny with
unmuscular arms and legs. His eyes would be very large and he would have a large cranium
with a protruding forehead. The author intended the article to be sensational. He had even
created his own theory of evolution, a hybrid between Lemarcks's theory of the inheritance
of acquired characteristics and Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest. According
to the author, the automobile had made it unnecessary for man to use his legs, and
electrical appliances had made it unnecessary to use his arms. The muscles in his arms and
legs atrophied and he inherited unmuscular arms and leas. Life also had become more mental
and visual and the man with the largest brain and best eyes survived.
spend hours in front of the television, we have computers to do all or our brain work and
we are in the midst of a physical fitness fad. A sensational writer of today, would
foretell the physical appearance of the man of the distant future as having eyes with a
fixed focus from constant TV watching, as having a pinhead fromLL not having to solve any
problems and as having tremendous muscle on his legs and also an enlarged heart from his
daily jogging stint. He may even have acquired spatulate-tipped fingers from the pushing
of buttons on TV sets and computers.
It was safe
for our writer to make a prediction millions of years in the future, Who would want to
stay around in limbo
a million of bars Just to refute a prediction Therefore I Too make a prediction that in
the year 7,000,000 A. C. ,After Computers) , Martian maids will have stirred the cosm i c
urge of :ale earthlings, or female earthlings will have stirred the cosmic urge of male Martians, and will, with time and new
biological techniques, have created an "earth-rears" hybrid who became the
dominant species of two planets. This species would be neither black, brown, white, yellow
nor red but would be of a 'seafoam green color. Over the years, the species, Homo sapiens
would have become extinct. These new intelligent hybrids would have given themselves a new
scientific name, Martiacanthropus chlorodermus. This hybrid "human" would no
longer be viviparous but would have inherited the more convenient egg-laying method of
reproduction. Pure fantasy! I can't prove my fantasy; but who can prove that I am wrong!
predictions are not the sole province of my senile mind. Even such respected journals as
the Smithsonian devoted eight paces of its October 1981 edition to a prediction of what
the animals of the future would be. Among its fantastic predictions is an animal called a
"Turmi", scientific name, Formicederus paladens Quoting the
Smithsonian: " a descendant of African forest pigs, the turmi uses its pick-like
tusks to pry open termite nests. Its mouth is a small toothless hole, with a ribbon tongue
for catching termites." Another animal described is a "Flooer" scientific
name, Florifacies mirabilis. Again, quoting from the Smithsonian, A sedentary
bat, the flooer has brightly colored ears and a nose that mimic a species of flower. An
insect that mistakes the bat for a flower is snapped up quickly."
But enough of
these non-provable, fantastic Predictions! There is enough in the immediate future to
surprise our eyes open. It is the time of many exciting discoveries and of their almost
immediate application in our lives. Every corporation has its R. & D., Research and
Development, Department that is in a ceaseless search for improvements or for the novel.
New and improved models are on the drawing board before the not-so-new model goes into
development of a new idea and its immediate application has not always been the case. As I
type this paper on my IBM Correcting Selective III typewriter with its remarkable little
ball that permits me to change type faces, with its lighted margin scale, with its
variable spacing and, best of all, with its correcting key, I think of the slow
development of the typewriter. It was first patented in 1714 but .;as not
commercially ally available until the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1874, the shift
key was added that permitted both upper and lower case letters. There have been many minor
changes since then but the basic idea remained the same until IBM perfected the ball type
element. Chances have come fast and furiously since then. 'sow we have the IBM Electronic
75 that can remember 15,500 typed characters, that can make revisions and corrections
without complete retyping and that can correct a complete lire of typing by simply
depressing the backspace. It remembers frequently used margins and tabulations and can set
them automatically. What's new in your R. & D. Department, IBM?
is ,ore often thought of in connection :with computers. At first, they were huge
installations. I remember a Rotary Club visit to the S.A.C. installation at .Norton. The
IBM computer filled a large air-conditioned room. It was huge and completely
incomprehensible to most of us. With the discovery of first the transistor and then the
silicon chip, computers have become smaller and smaller; but they still remain
in=reprehensible to most of us. Incomprehensible or not, IBM, Radio Shack, Apple and
others are selling personal computers which will probably become necessities and further
complicate our life. I even have a hand-held calculator upon which I compute how much
compound interest I can earn on my checking account if I don't pay my MasterCard charges
until the last minute!
Hardly a day
passes but what someone makes a new prediction for the use of a computer. I make only one.
In the near future, we will not submit Form 1040 to the Internal Revenue Service. Instead
we will be billed by the IRS. About March 1st we will receive the invoice on which will be
printed, "Pay this amount by April 15th." Data from many sources, banks,
churches , tax collectors, employers, corporations, charities, etc., would have been
reported directly to the IRS and stored in the IRS Computers. A Social Security number or
numbers in a joint return would be typed into the computer and then all data relating to
that number would be searched, accumulated, the tax due computed and a printout made. An
envelope would be automatically addressed, stuffed with the print-out and the IRS bill is
on its may.
important in our futures as computers is genetic engineering. Most of us know a little
about chromosomes, those filament-like strands that form at certain times when a cell
divides. Along the chromosomes are the genes which curry the factors for inheritance.
About a quarter of a century ago, two scientists, Francis Crick and James Watson,
determined the nature of these genes, how they are structured. They are two parallel
strands of DNA, the abbreviation of a complex protein. The parallel strands are arranged
in a helix. After the structure of the gene was determined, other scientists lost little
time in developing a technique for splitting the gene. After splitting the gene into two
parts, other scientists developed a technique for combining the DNA of one gene to the DNA
of another, to splice the gene from one organism to a gene from another organism. Genes
from fruit flies, toads, even a mammal, a rabbit, have been split and combined with the
genes of a bacteria. One scientist has succeeding in adding to a gene of a mouse, the gene
for human interferon, a substance that fights viruses in the human body. The mouse was
able to manufacture interferon, something that no mouse had ever done before. This gene
For interferon was inherited by the mouse's offspring.
scientist may splice the genes of a frog to the genes of a rabbit, I doubt if there will
be an amphibious rabbit or a frog with a cotton tail. Scientists have been, and will
continue to apply their knowledge and techniques to more practical and economically
feasible projects. Already, they have spliced the gene for blight resistance in the tomato
to a gene of the potato and produced a potato that is blight resistant. Blight caused the
potato famine of the nineteenth century. Other scientists are trying to transfer the gene
fOr nitrogen-fixing bacteria on the
roots of peas and beans into the genes of wheat and other cereals. With
nitrogen-fixing bacteria on their roots, the cereals would be able to make their own
nitrogen fertilizer from the abundance of
nitrogen in our atmosphere.
interferon, the virus fighter in the human body. The common cold is caused by a virus as
are some types of cancer. Genes for interferon and the gene for insulin have been spliced
into the genes of a bacteria and bacteria are now producing interferon and insulin. At
today's fast pace, research is quickly -followed by industrial development and we shall
have in the very near future a less expensive source for interferon and for insulin. The
common cold may become less of a nuisance and we may have a new weapon against cancer.
Insulin will be cheaper and without the present contaminants.
and Computers! Recombinant DNA and Genetic Engineering! These fields are too technical for
me to pursue them further. I do believe, however, that out of these two areas will come
some of our most startling and innovative changes. What are some of the other changes that
we may anticipate?
Last tear my
wife, Laura, presented a paper to the Cosmos Club. She called it, "A 1ook
Ahead". Fortunately for me, she took copious notes from her reading; and I have
benefited from her notes in part of my paper.
already seen many changes in the family. Our parents would be astounded and would probably
disapprove of what has already taken place. Husband and wife both working, the birth
control pill, easy divorces, couples living together without marriage, homosexual
marriages, single parent households, interracial marriages, smaller and very mobile
families! There is even a sperm bank from which a single woman can purchase sperms of
Noble Prize Winner to sire her baby.
the future, there is a possibility that any prospective parents may be able to pre-set the
sex of their baby, program its intelligence, looks and personality. When babies can be
grown in a laboratory jar, or when a woman can have an embryo implanted in her womb what
happens to motherhood, the mystery of the pregnant woman' The baby could literally be hers
but actually could be the baby of another woman, a woman whose genes had been classed as
genetically superior. Conception has already taken place in a test tube and there are
surrogate mothers who have born babies in their body for another woman, and for a price.
the current recession, we have seen many a Mid-west family on the move, on to Texas to
find work. In the future, the family may consist of just a man and woman living together
as industry requires high mobility. Other families may stay put and raise children.
Margaret Mead who was often startling in her comments, said, "Parenthood may be
limited to a small number of families whose principal function would be child rearing,
leaving the rest of the population free to function as individuals". I doubt it; but
in the future many couples may decide between careers and children by either not having
children or deferring the raising of children until retirement. Why not wait to buy your
embryos until after your work career is over? It may be common for couples in their
sixties to start to raise a family. Life may be extended more than long enough for the
couple to raise the child to maturity. It would not be a biological child of their own but
a child raised from an embryo they had purchased.. Even today, with double careers, some
parents would gladly relinquish parental responsibilities, not out of lack of love for
their children but because they feel inadequate to the task. Each day, today, many, many
children are driven in the early hours to day care centers, or to grandparents. There
could be parental professionals who would be a family unit assigned to, and well.paid for
rearing children. The Redlands Facts might carry this ad in the future: "Why let
parenthood tie you down? Let us raise your infant
into a responsible successful adult. Class A Professional Parents Family, with father,
age 39, mother, 17, grandmother 67. A four child unit. Regulated diet exceeds government
standards. All adults hold Child Development and Management Credentials certified by the
State of California. Biological parents permitted frequent visits. Child may spend summer
with biological parents although not recommended. Religion, art and music encouraged by
special arrangement. Five year contract minimum".
may take many different forms. There may be a communal family consisting of several adults
and children banded together as a single unit. The communal family may be organized around
a common interest such as religion, politics, or recreation. Everyone in the family would
be interested in swimming or tennis, or golf.
There may be
a family unit consisting of an unmarried adult, either sex, and one or more children. A
man ._ loved children but did not want to marry or live with a woman. _. He could think,
"I should ask some woman, or several women, whom I admire to have babies for me. I'd
like to have a house full of children of different races and sizes and sexes". And
for a fee it might come to-pass.
A family unit
may be composed of two homosexual persons. Homosexual marriages have already been
performed. We may even find homosexual partners adopting children and establishing
families. Homosexual couples have already attempted adoptions.
marriages or, in today's parlance, 'meaningful relationships are far from uncommon
today. A person of either sex may have a 'live-in'. Social pressure, lack of money and
unwanted" pregnancies, limited the number of trial marriages in the past. All of
these limiting factors are disappearing, and it may be said that two of the factors,
social pressure and lack of money, are often the cause of today's trial marriages. There
may be several trial marriages After the initial marriage, couples may select new partners
when they want children. When the children leave home, the couple may divorce and for
other reasons marry a different partner. At retirement with new interest, they may divorce
again and marry a new partner with like interests. Partners would change as life patterns
our food in the future? Eating meat is an expensive habit. We may have roasts, ham, bacon,
steak and chops:
soybeans. They will no`. longer taste like a fricassee of innertubes but, except for their
uniformity of texture will taste like prime meat. It will be a heyday for Loma Linda
In the future
all vegetables may be grown in automated greenhouses. Temperature, humidity, water,
fertilizer and light would all be computer controlled at the optimum level for each crop.
They could be grown on sterile sand much as we grow some of our 'tomatoes today. '
cholesterol milk may be produced from a polyunsaturated cow, the result of feeding
polyunsaturated oil covered with a layer; of protein. Synthetic cheese has already been
made in laboratories and may replace natural cheese except that the dairymen will still be
producing excess cheese in greater quantities to sell to the:: Federal Government! By
careful selection and breeding, chickens may be as large as turkeys and turkeys as large
as ostriches. A turkey may, be developed that has its white meat as moist as a chicken's.
may no longer be necessary in dairies, gardens and poultry farms. Research may have made
it possible to sterilize the entire male generation of pests except for a few spared by an
ecology-minded California governor.
three years ago, I saw in Germany non-fat milk stacked on the floor without refrigeration.
The Germans had developed a process that keeps milk from spoilage or souring. All food in
the future may be guaranteed against spoilage by nuclear irradiation. Meat may keep fresh
on the pantry shelf. Lettuce will no longer develop a rust-colored fungus but will stay
fresh and crisp at room temperature.. A wealthy Arab planned to tow an iceberg to Saudi
Arabia to supply fresh water to that desert country. It was not such a bad idea when one
considers the amount of water in an iceberg.
Recycling of water may be commonplace in the future. In Santee, San Diego County,
recycled sewage has been used to make a fresh water-stream in a park and for many years,
San Francisco has been recycling part of its water.
water may become fresh water through the development
of an economical desalting process and rich Arabs will no longer plan on towing icebergs
1896, H. G. Wells wrote When the Sleeper Wakes . In the novel a man sleeps for
several centuries. He wakens to find himself in a city enclosed in a glass dome. Pioneers
in the distant future may still be going west only this time, west to the floor of the
Pacific Ocean where they may build their cities enclosed in a dome under the ocean. This
may not be too many centuries off: A scientist at General Electric has already kept a
hamster alive under water by enclosing it in a box made of a synthetic membrane. The
membrane extracts-air from the water while it keeps the water out. The hamster was able to
breathe. The day may come when, instead of motels, we may have "aquatels catering to
tourists who may want to relax in the silence of an underwater environment.
talks about the weather but no one does anything about it." In the future with
improved weather satellites , weather will be more accurately forecasted and will be
forecasted for longer periods in advance. However, unless the Indians perfect their rain
dances, I doubt if we shall be able to do much about the weather. The forces that
determine weather are too varied and powerful. Even sunspots affect the weather. I doubt
if any scientist would venture to change the sunspots even if he could. If weather could
be controlled, however, think of the advantages, especially the military advantage it
would give a nation. Napoleon would not have met his "Waterloo" had he been able
to control the rain and the soggy grain fields that bogged down his troops.
satellites are already photographing great areas of the earth's surface, identifying the
soils. Our satellites are already cataloging the weather all over the earth. Our
agronomists already know the ideal conditions for growing crops. Put all this
information into a computer, push a few buttons and crop, weather and soil could be
matched. We may find a few new areas on our limited earth for the growing of Washington
the future, despite protests from the ecologists, mice and mosquitoes will be pests of the
past. Mice will no longer exist because they have been fed a birth control chemical put
into a peanut butter sandwich. Mosquitoes will have been eradicated by an aquatic worm
developed to feed only on mosquito larvae.
controlled nuclear fusion is perfected, electricity will be cheap and limitless. With
cheap and limitless electricity, the year 2000 may see freeway lanes which will transmit
electric power directly to the automobile. Direction and speed would automatically be
controlled. You would drive into the Los Angeles approach lane, power would be connected,
speed set move into the through lane, go to sleep or read a book. An alarm would notify
you when it was time to get off at the ramp for the Music Center!
cheaper power and lighter engines, it will be possible to fly at 8,000 miles an hour, to
go halfway around the world in an hour and one half. Airports may be underground with only
the control tower above and they would probably still be a mess.
pressure will have closed all U. S. Customs offices and speeded departure of passengers
from international flights. Luggage will still be subject to some delay but will be
retrieved by inserting your ticket into a slot of the nearest computerized robot.
will no longer be allowed at the air terminal: There will be vertical lift-off and landing
air busses that will shuttle between parking lots and airports.
the Basics!" That may still be the shibboleth of distraught parents as educators try
to absorb into the school program the technical knowledge and skills required in the
future.. New methods of teaching will be tried. Children may have all their schooling
through computers and television in their own hoes. They would take tests by pushing
buttons to answer questions flashed on the TV screens. Lectures may be in large
auditoriums on large three dimensional screens. The audio-visual lecture could be followed
by small seminars.
educators may have gone back to the program for higher education suggested by Dr. Robert
Hutchins a generation or so prior. Twelve years of schooling would give everyone a basic
liberal education and only those students interested in and qualified for independent,
study would go on to college and university. All irrelevant activities such as football
would be abandoned.
be drugs to improve our ability to lealrln and to retain what we learn and then to recall
at will what we have retained. Each day we would swallow our memory pills; that is if we
It may be
possible in some distant year, through gene splicing to implant in the embryo all of the
acquired knowledge of the father and. mother. A child would be born with an intelligence
equal to his parents. The growth of knowledge would be greater than anything we can
is an accepted fact. The day is already upon us when books, magazines, newspapers and
films can be stored in a computer. A Fortnightly member would type the subject for his
next paper into a computer in his home. The subject would travel over telephone wires to
the Library of Congress. Here, a huge computer would search out on its silicon chips for
pertinent information on the chosen subject and a list of materials would return over the
wires to be=typed out automatically in the member's home on his computer-printer. The
member could select specific materials and request them, by computer, from the
Library of Congress, or he could request the computer within certain parameters to make
its own choice of materials and in the matter of minutes, the computer printer would start
typing information on the chosen subject in the member's home. Under such conditions, I
think that one could predict that Fortnightly papers would be much too long.
most startling area of the future is what it may be possible to do to the human being. I
personally do not think that we shall ever have cloning of outstanding individuals,; to
make an identical copy of an Albert Einstein. I have already mentioned that there are
sperm banks where sperms from outstanding individuals may be bought and used to sire a
baby. Perhaps some of our Fortnightly members have been asked to contribute to such a bank; I haven't even received
sperms, a woman in the future may be able to buy a tiny embryo, take it to her
obstetrician, have it implanted in her uterus and, nine months later, she would give birth
to a baby guaranteed to be free of all genetic defects. It would meet all the woman's
specifications as to color of eyes, hair, sex, features and intelligence. It could even be
possible that the embryo could be conceived, nurtured and raised to full term outside of
the woman's body.
be bred to have high intelligence or with superior strength and athletic ability. Some
could have great musical ability, could be guaranteed future Mozarts. Do you want a child
seven feet tall? We have one in our embryo bank. All embryos would be free of all
allergies, arthritis, diabetes and cancer. There could be no intrinsic limits to the life
There will be
dacron arteries, plastic heart valves and artificial replacements for tissues and whole
organs. Blood pressure, respiration and pulse may be monitored by tiny sensors and
transmitters implanted in the body. They would emit a signal when something went wrong.
The signal would be picked up by a diagnostic computer and the computer, in the case of a
crisis could summon Dr. Hill on the run!
It may be
possible to enhance our lives by replacing worn-out parts, Other natural or artificial, by
newer models, to replace the 1992 model of a heart valve by the latest 1998 model!
In all this
frenetic replacement of: parts, the brain may not have to be replaced. It has been
augmented by a tiny computer implanted in the body and connected by fine wires to the
cranial nerves. Replace the batteries occasionally and it would give eternal life to the
brain. Already computers win over the human brain at chess; if you can't beat them join
polio are virtually* dreads of the past. In the future measles, diphtheria and the various
herpes may only be reminiscents of the old timers Teeth will no longer have cavities. With
the mass production of interferon, the common cold will be cured as will some forms of
cancer. 'Pain will be blocked out by plates implanted in pain centers of the body.
congestion, water shortage and the scarcity of good agriculture land will have made it
impossible to have the typical Redlands home of today, a home surrounded by a lawn,
shrubbery and flowers. Redlands may be just one large building or buildings several block
square and towering upward 2000 feet. In the subbasement, there would be an industrial
complex. In the basement, would be the merchants and professional offices. On the first
floor would be schools and recreational facilities. Above all these would be the
apartments for up to 200 floors. The sky scraper would be self-contained. Air and water
would be recycled.
Some of the
apartments would grow their own tomatoes by hydroponics. What a wonderful view one would
have of Greyback from an apartment on the 150th floor or, looking westward of the hole in
Colton that was once Slover's mountain.
Much of this
paper has been gleaned from the predictions of sensational writers. I am too much of a
conservative to believe that many, if any, will ever occur. I predict, with reasonable
sureness that I won't be around to find out. I am sure
computers and genetic engineers will have increasing importance in our futures.
wish to make one other prediction: Although its Yucaipa branch has more members, in the
year 2000, the oldest club of its kind will still be meeting each fortnight in the Lyon
Wing of the Smiley Library and that Dr. Paul Allen from his wheelchair will still be
extolling the traditions of the Fortnightly Club of Redlands.
Davies. Science Year,
1979, p. 247.
Recognizing Talk May Make Big Advance Soon". Wall Street Journal,
August 21, 1982, p. 21.
Top Computers May Get Thought Initiating Programs". Wall Street Journal,
August 13, 1982, p. 19.
Guide to the Curious Fauna of the Future", An extract from After Man: A Zoology of the Future by Dougal Dixon.Smithsonian,
October 1981, p. 101.
,Alvin Tofler, 1970
with Care" Daniel L. Hartl. Science Year,
1978, p. 28.
Business machines. Spring/Fall, 1982 catalog of Business Machines.
the Next Thirty Years,
Henry Still, 1968.
Plan, A Philadelphia Concern Links Childless
and Surrogate Mothers". Wall Street Journal,
13, 1982., p. 1:
Daniel L. Hartl,Shience-Year.; 1981, p. 196.
Tube Gardens", John G. Blair. Science,
Jan/Feb 1982. p. 71.
First Intelligent Mobile Robots Soon may Serve as Plant Sentries". Wall Street
August 16, 1982. p. 15.
with Life", Boyce Rensberger. Science,
Nov. 1981, p. 45.
Shall Be Born", Graham Chedd. Science, Jan/Feb. 1981. P. 31.;