Thursday, August 23, 2012

In the Year 2000…..

By Ellen Cutter, Director of Research.

For fans of The Conan O’Brien Show, you know the sketch series “In the year 2000” where Conan and a celebrity guest make predictions for what will happen in the future. A few examples:

  • “Everyone on earth will become flesh-eating zombies. When the flesh is all gone, they will be dirt-eating zombies. Hence after that, some will reluctantly go to the Olive Garden.”
  • “Microsoft will go out of business and Bill Gates will be bankrupt after the disastrous release of their latest product Windows Kevin Costner.”
Well, as it turns out, they ripped off the idea from the French. Earlier this week, a friend sent me this link from the Public Domain Review – a blog that showcases unusual historic works online. The post shows a series of futuristic pictures produced between 1899 and 1910 depicting what France would be like in the year 2000. The pictures were used in all sorts of ways, some were made for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, and others were post cards or enclosures in cigar boxes. You can see that with some they got right, including predicting the RV, while with others...well, they just make you scratch your head.

Where am I going with this?  Skilled Work, Without the Worker, an article published this week in The New York Times, provides a look into the future of manufacturing and logistics – two fields that will increasingly use robotics to boost productivity. It includes several photos, some of which seem as absurd or surprising as many from France at the turn of the century. But, that's the future and it's where we are headed. It’s a great read and the implications, especially for the workforce, are huge. This is a must read for economic developers.