This was originallyΒ publishedΒ on Pessimists Archive.

Newspaper. 1800s progress predictions.

The nightmare began with the protagonist appearing in his rural childhood home, when suddenly in a flash it is replaced with an industrial hellcape where vegetables were extinct and yet to be invented flying machines glided overhead:

β€œπ™Έ πš•πš˜πš˜πš”πšŽπš πšžπš™πš˜πš— πšπš‘πšŽ πšœπšžπš›πš›πš˜πšžπš—πšπš’πš—πš πšŒπš˜πšžπš—πšπš›πš’, πš’πš πšŒπš˜πšžπš—πšπš›πš’ πš’πš πšŒπš˜πšžπš•πš πš‹πšŽ πšŒπšŠπš•πš•πšŽπš, πš πš‘πšŽπš›πšŽ πšŸπšŽπšπšŽπšπšŠπš‹πš•πšŽ πš—πšŠπšπšžπš›πšŽ πš‘πšŠπš 𝚌𝚎𝚊𝚜𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚘 πšŽπš‘πš’πšœπš.” β€œπ™°πšœ πš’πš πš™πš›πš˜πš™πšŽπš•πš•πšŽπš πš‹πš’ πšœπš˜πš–πšŽ πšžπš—πšœπšŽπšŽπš— πš’πš—πšπšŽπš›πš—πšŠπš• πš™πš˜πš πšŽπš›, πš–πš˜πš—πšœπšπš›πš˜πšžπšœ πš–πšŠπšŒπš‘πš’πš—πšŽπšœ πšπš•πšŽπš  πš πš’πšπš‘ πš’πš—πšŒπš˜πš—πšŒπšŽπš’πšŸπšŠπš‹πš•πšŽ πšœπš πš’πšπšπš—πšŽπšœπšœ.”

Newspaper. 1800s human progress predictions. Machines.

Baldness was common in women thanks to modern travel speeds.

β€œπ™ΌπšŠπš—πš’ πš πšŽπš›πšŽ πš‹πšŠπš•πš, πšŠπš—πš πš˜πš— πšŠπšœπš”πš’πš—πš πšπš‘πšŽ πš›πšŽπšŠπšœπš˜πš—, 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 πšπš’πšŸπšŽπš— πšπš‘πšŽ πšžπš—πšπšŽπš›πšœπšπšŠπš—πš πšπš‘πšŠπš πšπš‘πšŽπš’ πš‘πšŠπš πš‹πšŽπšŽπš— πšπš›πšŽπšŠπš πšπš›πšŠπšŸπšŽπš•πš•πšŽπš›πšœ, πšŠπš—πš πšπš‘πšŠπš πšπš‘πšŽ πš›πšŠπš™πš’πšπš’πšπš’ 𝚘𝚏 πš–πš˜πšπšŽπš›πš— πšŒπš˜πš—πšŸπšŽπš’πšŠπš—πšŒπšŽ, πš•πš’πšπšŽπš›πšŠπš•πš•πš’ πšœπšŒπšŠπš•πš™πšŽπš πšπš‘πš˜πšœπšŽ πš πš‘πš˜ πš“πš˜πšžπš›πš—πšŽπš’πšŽπš πš–πšžπšŒπš‘ πš’πš— πšπš‘πšŽπš–, πšœπš πšŽπšŽπš™πš’πš—πš πš πš‘πš’πšœπš”πšŽπš›πšœ, πšŽπš’πšŽπš‹πš›πš˜πš πšœ, 𝚎𝚒𝚎 πš•πšŠπšœπš‘πšŽπšœ πšŠπš—πš πš’πš— 𝚏𝚊𝚌𝚝 πšŽπšŸπšŽπš›πš’ πšπš‘πš’πš—πš πš’πš— πšŠπš—πš’ 𝚠𝚊𝚒 πš–πš˜πšŸπšŽπšŠπš‹πš•πšŽ πšπš›πš˜πš– πšπš‘πšŽπš’πš› πšπšŠπšŒπšŽπšœβ€

Newspaper. 1800s human progress predictions. Baldness.

Animals were extinct and carriages? Horseless and driverless!

β€œπ™°πš—πš’πš–πšŠπš• πš•πš’πšπšŽ πšŠπš™πš™πšŽπšŠπš›πšŽπš 𝚝𝚘 πš‹πšŽ πšŽπš‘πšπš’πš—πšŒπš; πšŒπšŠπš›πšπšœ πšŠπš—πš πšŒπšŠπš›πš›πš’πšŠπšπšŽπšœ πšŒπšŠπš–πšŽ πš›πšŠπšπšπš•πš’πš—πš πšπš˜πš πš— πšπš‘πšŽ πš‘πš’πšπš‘πš πšŠπš’πšœ, πš‘πš˜πš›πšœπšŽπš•πšŽπšœπšœ πšŠπš—πš πšπš›πš’πšŸπšŽπš›πš•πšŽπšœπšœ, πš πš‘πšŽπšŽπš• πš‹πšŠπš›πš›πš˜πš πšœ πšπš›πšžπš—πšπš•πšŽπš πšŠπš•πš˜πš—πš πš πš’πšπš‘πš˜πšžπš πšŠπš—πš’ πšŸπš’πšœπš’πš‹πš•πšŽ πšŠπšπšŽπš—πšŒπš’. π™½πšŠπšπšžπš›πšŽ 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚘𝚏 πšπšŠπšœπš‘πš’πš˜πš—, πšŠπš—πš πšπš‘πšŽ πš πš˜πš›πš•πš πšœπšŽπšŽπš–πšŽπš 𝚝𝚘 𝚐𝚎𝚝 πšŠπš•πš˜πš—πš πšπš˜πš•πšŽπš›πšŠπš‹πš•πš’ πš πšŽπš•πš• πš πš’πšπš‘πš˜πšžπš πš‘πšŽπš›.”

Newspaper. 1800s human progress predictions. Animal extinction.

(this pre-dates the current official first use of β€˜driverless’)

Disposable automaton workmen built skyscrapers. He refers to them as β€˜modern prometheuses’ no doubt referencing the subtitle of Mary Shelly’s 1818 β€˜Frankenstein’, a novel that still shapes conversations about the future today:

“π™·πšŽπš›πšŽ 𝚠𝚊𝚜 πšπš‘πšŽπš— 𝚊𝚝 πš˜πš—πšŒπšŽ 𝚊 πš—πšŽπš  πšŸπšŽπš›πšœπš’πš˜πš— 𝚘𝚏 πšπš‘πšŽ πš˜πš•πš π™Άπš›πšŽπšŽπš” πšπšŠπš‹πš•πšŽ, 𝚊 πš–πš˜πšπšŽπš›πš— πš™πš›πš˜πš–πšŽπšπš‘πšŽπšžπšœπšŽπšœ “𝚊𝚜 πš™πš•πšŽπš—πšπš’πšπšžπš• 𝚊𝚜 πš‹πš•πšŠπšŒπš”πš‹πšŽπš›πš›πš’πšŽπšœ.”

Newspaper. 1800s human progress predictions.

His reaction to this world of technological progress? Horror.

β€œπšƒπš‘πšŽπšœπšŽ πšπš‘πš’πš—πšπšœ πšŠπšœπšπš˜πš—πš’πšœπš‘πšŽπš, πš‹πšžπš πšπš‘πšŽπš’ πšŠπš•πšœπš˜ πš™πšŽπš›πš™πš•πšŽπš‘πšŽπš πšŠπš—πš πš πšŽπšŠπš›πš’πšŽπš πš–πšŽ. π™Όπš’ πšœπš™πš’πš›πš’πš πšπš›πšŽπš  πšœπš’πšŒπš”, πšŠπš—πš 𝙸 πš•πš˜πš—πšπšŽπš πšπš˜πš› πšπš‘πšŽ πš˜πš•πš πš πš˜πš›πš•πš πšŠπšπšŠπš’πš—, πšŠπš—πš πš’πšπšœ πššπšžπš’πšŽπš πšŠπš—πš πš™πšŽπšŠπšŒπšŽπšŠπš‹πš•πšŽ πš–πš˜πšπšŽπšœ 𝚘𝚏 πšŽπš—πš“πš˜πš’πš–πšŽπš—πš.” β€œπ™°πš•πš• πšπš‘πš’πš—πšπšœ πšœπšŽπšŽπš–πšŽπš πšπš˜πš›πšŒπšŽπš, πšžπš—πš—πšŠπšπšžπš›πšŠπš•, πšžπš—πš›πšŽπšŠπš• – πš’πš—πšπšŽπšŽπš, πš•πš’πšπšπš•πšŽ πš‹πšŽπšπšπšŽπš› πšπš‘πšŠπš— πš‹πšŠπš›πšŽπšπšŠπšŒπšŽπš πš’πš–πš™πš˜πšœπš’πšπš’πš˜πš—πšœ.”

Newspaper. 1800s human progress predictions. Technology.

The man entered a hotel, what he found within was a steam powered dystopia:

β€œπšƒπš‘πšŽ πš›πš˜πš˜πš–πšœ πš πšŽπš›πšŽ πš‘πšŽπšŠπšπšŽπš πš‹πš’ πšœπšπšŽπšŠπš–! πšƒπš‘πšŽ πš‹πšŽπšπšœ πš πšŽπš›πšŽ πš–πšŠπšπšŽ πšŠπš—πš πšŠπš’πš›πšŽπš πš‹πš’ πšœπšπšŽπšŠπš–, πšŠπš—πš πš’πš—πšœπšπšŽπšŠπš 𝚘𝚏 𝚊 πš™πš›πšŽπšπšπš’, πš›πšŽπš πš•πš’πš™πš™πšŽπš, πš›πš˜πšœπšŽπš’ πšŒπš‘πšŽπšŽπš”πšŽπš πšŒπš‘πšŠπš–πš‹πšŽπš›πš–πšŠπš’πš, πšπš‘πšŽπš›πšŽ 𝚠𝚊𝚜 πšŠπš— πšŠπšŒπšŒπšžπš›πšœπšŽπš πš–πšŠπšŒπš‘πš’πš—πšŽ πš–πšŠπš— πšœπš–πš˜πš˜πšπš‘πš’πš—πš πšπš˜πš πš— πšπš‘πšŽ πš™πš’πš•πš•πš˜πš  πšŠπš—πš πš‹πš˜πš•πšœπšπšŽπš› πš πš’πšπš‘ πš–πšŠπšπš‘πšŽπš–πšŠπšπš’πšŒπšŠπš• πš™πš›πšŽπšŒπš’πšœπš’πš˜πš—.”

Newspaper. 1800s human progress predictions.

In the hotel he picked up a newspaper littered with new steam related terms he could not understand. So he picked up a dictionary.

β€œπ™Έ πš•πš˜πš˜πš”πšŽπš πš’πš—πšπš˜ 𝚊 πš–πš˜πšπšŽπš›πš— πšπš’πšŒπšπš’πš˜πš—πšŠπš›πš’ πšπš˜πš› πšœπš˜πš–πšŽ πš•πš’πšπš‘πš πšžπš™πš˜πš— πšπš‘πšŽπšœπšŽ πšœπšžπš‹πš“πšŽπšŒπšπšœ πš‹πšžπš 𝚐𝚘𝚝 πš—πš˜πš—πšŽ πšŽπš‘πšŒπšŽπš™πš πš‘πšžπš—πšπš›πšŽπšπšœ 𝚘𝚏 πšπšŽπšπš’πš—πš’πšπš’πš˜πš—πšœ πšœπšžπšŒπš‘ πšŠπšœβ€¦β€

β€œHorse, s. an animation of which but little is now known. Old writers affirm there were at one time several thousands in this country.”

β€œTree, s. Vegetable production; once plentiful in these parts, and still to be found in remote districts.”

β€œTranquility, s. Obsolete; an unnatural state of existence, to which the ancients were very partial.”

β€œπ™Έπš— πšπšŽπšœπš™πšŠπš’πš› 𝙸 πšπš‘πš›πšŽπš  πšπš˜πš πš— πšπš‘πšŽ πš‹πš˜πš˜πš” πšŠπš—πš πš›πšžπšœπš‘πšŽπš 𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚘𝚏 πšπš‘πšŽ πš‘πš˜πšžπšœπšŽ.”

He made his way to a theater production of Hamlet, the cast all being steam powered automatons. He said it was better than any other purpose which he had seen steam applied (until Hamlet exploded) so he fled the theatre.

β€œπ™Έ πš–πšŠπšπšŽ πš–πš’ πšŽπšœπšŒπšŠπš™πšŽ πš‹πšžπš πš˜πš— πš›πšŽπšŠπšŒπš‘πš’πš—πš πšπš‘πšŽ πšœπšπš›πšŽπšŽπš, πšπš‘πš’πš—πšπšœ πš πšŽπš›πšŽ πšπšŽπš— πšπš’πš–πšŽπšœ πš πš˜πš›πšœπšŽ πšπš‘πšŠπš— πšŽπšŸπšŽπš›. 𝙸 πšŒπš˜πšžπš•πš πšœπšŒπšŠπš›πšŒπšŽπš•πš’ πš‹πš›πšŽπšŠπšπš‘ – πšπš‘πšŽπš›πšŽ 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚊 πš‹πš•πš˜πš πš’πš—πš, 𝚊 πš›πš˜πšŠπš›πš’πš—πš, 𝚊 πš‘πš’πšœπšœπš’πš—πš, 𝚊 πšπš’πš£πš£πš’πš—πš, 𝚊 πš πš‘πš’πš£πš£πš’πš—πš πšπš˜πš’πš—πš πš˜πš— πšŠπš•πš• πš›πš˜πšžπš—πš – πšπš’πš›πšŽπšœ πš πšŽπš›πšŽ πš‹πš•πšŠπš£πš’πš—πš, πš πšŠπšπšŽπš› 𝚠𝚊𝚜 πš‹πšžπš‹πš‹πš•πš’πš—πš, πš‹πš˜πš’πš•πšŽπš›πšœ πš πšŽπš›πšŽ πš‹πšžπš›πšœπšπš’πš—πšβ€“ πš πš‘πšŽπš— πš•πš˜! 𝙸 πšŠπš πš˜πš”πšŽ πšŠπš—πš πšπš˜πšžπš—πš πš–πš’πšœπšŽπš•πš πš’πš— 𝚊 𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚝𝚎 𝚘𝚏 πš™πš›πš˜πšπšžπšœπšŽ πš™πšŽπš›πšœπš™πš’πš›πšŠπšπš’πš˜πš—.”

He awoke, relieved. Got up and went to his window to see a comforting sight: a horse drawn carriage.

β€œπ™Έ πšœπšπšŠπš›πšπšŽπš πšžπš™, πš›πšŠπš— 𝚝𝚘 πšπš‘πšŽ πš πš’πš—πšπš˜πš , πšŠπš—πš 𝚜𝚊𝚠 πšœπšŽπšŸπšŽπš›πšŠπš• πš–πš’πš•πš”πš–πšŽπš— πšŠπš—πš πš‹πšŠπš”πšŽπš›πšœβ€™ πšŒπšŠπš›πšπšœ, πš πš’πšπš‘ πš‘πš˜πš›πšœπšŽπšœ πš’πš— πšπš‘πšŽπš–, πšπš›πš˜πšπšπš’πš—πš πš–πšŽπš›πš’πš•πš’ πšŠπš•πš˜πš—πš. 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚊 πšπš‘πšŠπš—πš”πšπšžπš• πš–πšŠπš—, 𝙸 πš™πšžπš πš˜πš— πš–πš’ πšŒπš•πš˜πšπš‘πšŽπšœ, πšŠπš—πš πš πš‘πš’πš•πšŽ πšπš˜πš’πš—πš 𝚜𝚘 πš–πšŠπšπšŽ πšžπš™ πš–πš’ πš–πš’πš—πš 𝚝𝚘 πš›πšŽπšŠπš πš—πš˜ πš–πš˜πš›πšŽ πš–πšŠπš—πšžπšœπšŒπš›πš’πš™πš πš™πš˜πšŽπš–πšœ, πšŠπš—πš πšŽπšœπšŒπš‘πšŽπš  πšπš’πš— πšŠπš—πš πš πšŠπšπšŽπš› πšπš˜πš› πšπš’πš–πšŽ 𝚝𝚘 πšŒπš˜πš–πšŽ.”

As we enter the third decade of the 21st Century let us reflect on how much better life is now than in 1830 and how catastrophizing about new technologies is as silly and shortsighted now as it was 190 years ago.

Happy new year!

Newspaper. 1800s human progress predictions.