Arthur C. Clarke accurately describes the 21st century...in 1976
While other futurists predicted flying cars and robots everywhere, Clarke was more interested in where communication was headed, and his predictions are remarkably accurate decades later.
Eric MackContributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is email@example.com.
ExpertiseSolar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects. CNET's "Living off the Grid" series. https://www.cnet.com/feature/home/energy-and-utilities/living-off-the-grid/Credentials
Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
In 1964, Isaac Asimov wrote up a set of predictions about life in 2014. He was pretty close on a few and way off on others. That same year, author and inventor Arthur C. Clarke appeared on the BBC and described a world of instant global communication made possible by satellites. He talked briefly about the coming wonders of telemedicine and ubiquitous telecommuting.
This week, AT&T released another Clarke video from its archives that was recorded at a conference in 1976. In a brief interview, Clarke expands on his vision of the time we're living in now, with a focus on communication. He nails almost everything, from the Internet and email to smartphones, Google and even smartwatches.
We've compiled Clarke's eight most significant predictions that are part of our daily lives today and that Clarke foresaw with remarkable clarity 39 years ago. Check them out in the gallery below.
8 predictions Arthur C. Clarke got right decades ago (pictures)
A few things Clarke saw still have yet to come to pass. He imagined that our new telecommunications technologies would render all commuting moot. Both in 1964 and 1976, he talks about all travel being solely for pleasure rather than work or business.
It's hard to imagine a world without commuting or business travel taking shape anytime soon, although it is heading in that direction for some of us. For example, I haven't commuted to an office since 2006 and am currently typing this while inexplicably wearing snow pants despite the 60-degree temperature outside, because... it's the future and I can.
Clarke also thought we might have done away with time zones by now to make all our global communication less confusing. That also doesn't seem to be happening, even if it might be a good idea. For some of us, it's the only way we practice arithmetic anymore.
Watch the 1976 interview with Clarke below and let us know in the comments how far off you think a world free of commuting and time zones might be.