Los Angeles Times Magazine's 1988 Predictions About Life In 2013
In 1988, the Los Angeles Times Magazine wondered what a day in the life of an Angeleno family would be in 2013. So the magazine asked experts in architecture, urban planning, science, technology and even futurists how everyday life would be different twenty-five years later. Now the Los Angeles Times has republished the feature.
It's pretty fascinating to read through the article for the ideas about what technology would be like in the future. It turns out that the vision of where technology would go wasn't too far off the mark, and in a lot of ways our technology is even smarter than experts imagined it would be. The article follows a day in the life of the Morrow family, and here's how they wake up:
WITH A BARELY perceptible click, the Morrow house turns itself on, as it has every morning since the family had it retrofitted with the Smart House system of wiring five years ago. Within seconds, warm air whooshes out of heating ducts in the three bedrooms, while the water heater checks to make sure there's plenty of hot water. In the kitchen, the coffee maker begins dripping at the same time the oven switches itself on to bake a fresh batch of cinnamon rolls. Next door in the study, the family's personalized home newspaper, featuring articles on the subjects that interest them, such as financial news and stories about their community, is being printed by laser-- jet printer off the home computer--all while the family sleeps.
This isn't so far off: the really wealthy among us can afford to deck out their entire house with sensors that can be operated remotely or automatically. The idea of the personalized home newspaper that gets printed out is just about half right. The personalized news experience is dead-on, but little did the folks in 1984 know that many of us would abandon dead trees altogether when it came to getting our news.Robots are a big part of the Morrows' world. Computer engineer Frances Lambert told the Times: "Robotics are the coming industry of the next century. Having a robot will be like having a really good sound system now." With the exception of roombas, we're not quite there. We don't have robo-pets (unless you count those nano-pets from the 1990s) or robots that will clean our houses, wash our windows or make our meals just yet. On the other hand smart phones, iPads, laptops and generally the internet have done a lot of the things we dreamed robots might do.
The young kid who is not into schoolwork but is into technology makes an appearance, although we're guessing the real 2013 Zach is more into computer games or programming than, um, laser discs:
Despite Zach aversion to schoolwork, he enjoys working with laser discs because "it's like watching TV." For a project on John F. Kennedy, Zach reads through the which is also on laser similar to the compact discs that used to be used for music. Next he pulls out a disc on Kennedy's life and pops it into the side of the computer. Now, as he watches the screen, Zach not only reads Kennedy's words but also sees and hears Kennedy making a speech, which gives the 11- year-old a much better understanding of a president he has only heard about.
Angelenos in 1988 were also obsessed with being fit, but they imagined our workouts would be more computerized than they actually are (and that Jane Fonda would still be leading the charge, at least where grandma was concerned): "Pulling on some sweats, Alma heads for the tiny home gym, where she slips a credit--card-size X--ER Script--her personal exercise prescription--into a slot by the door. Electronic weights come out of the wall, and Alma begins her 20-minute workout."But when it comes to imagining Los Angeles' place in the world, the article wasn't quite there:
With the advent of L.A.'s status as a world city and one of the three financial centers of the world--along with Tokyo and New downtown area is as vital as that of either of those cities. Thousands of people live here keep an apartment here and have a house in the suburbs--and it has emerged as a thriving regional center. That's why Bill's corporation, employing some 50,000 people world-wide, moved its national headquarters from New York to Los Angeles at the turn of the century.
Major corporations have not been moving from New York to Los Angeles, and we're known more for our mid-market businesses than major corporations. New York is still tops, but of course, Japan isn't the asian country that is on our minds when we think of the global economy. At least we have a revitalized downtown. Experts expected Hollywood would get cleaned up, too: "As he passes through Hollywood on an elevated part of the track, Bill marvels at the way the neighborhood sleaze has been systematically cleaned up, thanks to massive redevelopment along Sunset Boulevard."But no one in 1988 thought we'd have our traffic issue and solved or that we'd give up our love for the automobile, but experts knew things our cars would change:
CHANCES ARE THAT in the next 25 years, Los Angeles won't lose its ardor for the automobile. But the cars in which we spend so much of our time will be smaller, more efficient, more automated and more personalized, industry experts say.
There are articles in this magazine's issue that talk about the big problems that Los Angeles needs to solve in order for life to improve. In some ways we missed the mark: we haven't reformed our schools or really dealt with the problem of homelessness. On the other hand, crime has fallen since the 1980s and our skies have become much less polluted than they used to be.And at the end, the Morrow family decides to watch their favorite old movie about the future "Blade Runner," which was a very sound prediction.
The entire (dead-paper) issue is a fascinating read.