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8 predictions Arthur C. Clarke got right decades ago (pictures)

"2001" author Arthur C. Clarke brought us some frightening visions of the future that have yet to come to pass. But he also nailed an awful lot about 21st-century life.

Eric Mack
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 ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Eric Mack
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1 of 8 Josh Miller/CNET

Where home computers were headed

Speaking at an AT&T/MIT conference in 1976, "2001: A Space Odyssey" author Arthur C. Clarke shared his vision of the future. He described the ability to communicate with the outside world using HD screens attached to keyboards.

In other words, he accurately saw where the home computers just being introduced at the time were headed. He failed to mention the dominant position that cat videos would come to occupy on these screens, however.

Related article: Arthur C. Clarke describes the 21st century in detail... in 1976

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2 of 8 Microsoft

Skype/FaceTime

Like many futurists frustrated by the tyranny of tinny audio over phone lines as their primary means of real-time communication, Arthur C. Clarke envisioned video calls being commonplace in the future.

Decades later, Skype and FaceTime made the inevitability a reality, though nerds in the know (with decent early broadband) were video-chatting via Cu-SeeMe in the 1990s.

Related article: Arthur C. Clarke describes the 21st century in detail... in 1976

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3 of 8 CNET

The Internet

Decades before the Internet became a thing, Arthur C. Clarke had a spot-on vision of connected devices "which will enable us to send much more information to our friends...to exchange pictorial information, graphical information, data, books and so forth."  Impressive, even if he failed to predict Tinder.

Related article: Arthur C. Clarke describes the 21st century in detail... in 1976

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4 of 8 Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Email

In 1976, there was the telephone and snail mail, but nothing that existed only in the digital ether on servers or systems until you checked it (aka email). Yet Clarke was savvy enough to foresee not only where real-time communication was headed, but how mail would go digital, too.

He probably foresaw Snapchat as well, but that prediction deleted itself 10 seconds later.

Related article: Arthur C. Clarke describes the 21st century in detail... in 1976

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5 of 8 Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

Google

Arthur C. Clarke imagined a "machine" that would search a "central library" to bring you just the information you were looking for, be it news, info on airline flights, sports scores, whatever. If we can grant that the Internet is Clarke's library, then it would seem that his machine actually turned out to be the algorithms behind Google, Bing and other search engines.

Related article: Arthur C. Clarke describes the 21st century in detail... in 1976

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6 of 8 CNET

Mobile phones

Not only did Arthur C. Clarke predict mobile phones, which is not so amazing because the technology was already in existence at the time, he also saw how mobile devices would "restructure society," a process that we're in the midst of right now.

Related article: Arthur C. Clarke describes the 21st century in detail... in 1976

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7 of 8 Johanna DeBiase/CNET

Telecommuting

Arthur C. Clarke imagined that by this point in history all travel would be for pleasure and we'd all be telecommuting. The digital commute is not quite so universal yet, but  it's been a reality for many of us for years already.

Related article: Arthur C. Clarke describes the 21st century in detail... in 1976

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8 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Smartwatches

Like many others in the 1970s, Arthur C. Clarke still clearly longed for a vintage Dick Tracy radio watch. Almost 40 years later, they're here, but it's not clear that many people are still longing to talk into their wrists. I still think Clarke would be wowed by how easy it is to order an Uber using an Android Wear device, though.

Related article: Arthur C. Clarke describes the 21st century in detail... in 1976

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