Since the media has been around, there has been a kind of mania when trying to predict future events, sometimes in a grotesque way, others with disturbing precisionand. Unexpectedly, the most prominent oracle of our time has probably been The Simpson. You would be surprised how many things that occur in its episodes have happened today, after its broadcast.

Now a new contender for the “Most Accurate Predictions of the Future” award has entered the agenda, in the form of a 1997 issue of Wired magazine. In his then controversial article, The Long Boom: A History of the Future, the magazine predicted 10 things we should be concerned about in the 21st century, listing from geopolitical tensions to technologies that impact the economy, through climate change and even an “uncontrollable plague”.

The article was remarkably prescient, of course. What its authors did not imagine was that the ten predictions came true (more or less). Yes, it is true that the spoiler of the pandemic it was a bit wrong. “Only” 5 million have died worldwide, far less than the 200 million predicted in the article, but the rest makes your hair stand on end. But almost everyone will agree that they got a remarkable number of points right.

You can see for yourself in this tweet where an image of those 1997 pages of Wired magazine is collected.

Here is the complete list. Ten scenario spoilers:

  • Tensions between China and the United States are escalating into a new Cold War, on the verge of a hot one.
  • The new technologies turn out to be a failure. They just don’t deliver the expected productivity gains or big economic boosts.
  • Russia becomes a mafia-run kleptocracy or retreats to the quasi-communist nationalism that threatens Europe.
  • The process of integration of Europe stops. Eastern and Western Europe cannot refine a reunification, and even the European unification process breaks down.
  • A major ecological crisis causes global climate change that, among other things, disrupts the food supply, leading to large price increases everywhere and sporadic famines.
  • The huge increase in crime and terrorism forces the world to recoil in fear. People who constantly feel like they might exploit or scam are not in the mood to open up.
  • The cumulative escalation of pollution causes a dramatic increase in cancer, overwhelming the poorly prepared healthcare system.
  • Energy prices skyrocket. The upheavals in the Middle East disrupt oil supplies and alternative energy sources fail to materialize.
  • An uncontrollable plague: Today’s flu epidemic or its equivalent erupts like a wildfire, killing more than 200 million people.
  • A social and cultural reaction stops progress in its tracks. Human beings must choose to move on. They may not …

Some of these things were relatively obvious, it is true. But others not so much. During the 1990s, a series of geopolitical events resulted in a complex relationship between China and the United States. And, although the prediction of a Cold War is not true (at least, yet), tensions were expected between the two superpowers.

However, one prediction they hit with astonishing precision is “modern influenza.” An unknown disease causing a global crisis was barely considered in 1997, but something the World Health Organization has been warning about for years leading up to 2020. This was a redical prediction, but with the official death toll from Covid at 5.16 million and the actual figure is probably higher, the world has experienced a devastating event, there is no doubt about that.

Read:  They will invest 15,000 million pesos in Trolleybus to Chalco and Metro Line A trains

There is also an argument in favor of the prediction of the “cultural backlash that stops progress.” In the age of post-truth, where the most powerful people in the world share the “fake news”, misinformation and hoaxes, not even the most advanced scientific knowledge in history has managed to prevent thousands of people from dying because they refuse to accept expert advice.

Climate change, a global ecological crisis in which scientists around the world are struggling to try to get the attention of lawmakers, was also predicted. And indeed, it is really affecting the global food supply: an IPCC report recently concluded that a third of the world’s food supply will be at risk by the end of the century if the climate continues in this negative spiral as a result of the human footprint. .

And on air pollution as a major driver of disease around the world, they weren’t far off either. Since it plays a role in the appearance of lung cancer and it is estimated that in 2017, about 265,000 lung cancer deaths were directly attributable to contamination, which represents approximately 14% of all deaths from this pathology. While air pollution isn’t the only thing driving cancer diagnoses – diet and improved diagnoses influence global cancer rates – Wired was right to some extent.

But there are also things in which they failed. Although it is open to interpretation, there is an argument with which it can be argued that technology has impacted almost all possible production systems and has brought with it important economic impulses. Genetically modified crops have increased their yields and survival, automation has improved mass production to levels unattainable by humans, and almost all individuals carry a computer in their pockets. Call them smartphones, if you want. In fact, the global information technology industry was worth around $ 5.2 trillion in 2020.

And finally, that energy prices could skyrocket and there would be a social and cultural reaction on the part of citizens, it did hit the nail on the head. Currently, we are in an unprecedented energy crisis in much of the world, with prices skyrocketing and governments looking for new ways to supply factories and homes. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens have marched in different protests in some European countries. At Magnet we have emphasized this phenomenon on different occasions. Do you know what they talked about in the 90s on the subject? Whether wind farms killed birds or not.

Still, what is true is the good news that if we, and democracy, have survived the worst of the ten predictions at stake, we can survive anything. Meanwhile, we can try to theorize whether the world will be worse in the next 20 years.

Magnet Newsletter

Subscribe to receive every day the latest news and the most important news to understand and enjoy the world.