Magazine article Foreign Policy

The Future Is Now

Magazine article Foreign Policy

The Future Is Now

Article excerpt

In The Shape of Things to Come, H.G. Well's classic science-fiction novel, the author describes meeting an international bureaucrat named Dr. Philip Raven, who relays a vision of the future that has come to him in a dream, stretching all the way to 2106.

Raven foresees, accurately, as it turned out, that the world was on the brink of a great cataclysm, which he called the Second World War. But in Raven's gloomy vision, the war rages on for 10 years, followed by an epidemic of maculated fever-a disease transmitted by captive baboons-that wipes out half the world's population. Along with his accounts of these events, Raven describes a number of things that have since come to pass-submarine-launched ballistic missiles, for instance-and many that have not, like the suppression of all religions and the rise of a "World Encyclopaedia Establishment." * The Future Is Now, FOREIGN POLICYs special report on the era ahead, is hopefully a bit more grounded in reality. We reached out to top practitioners of the dark arts of prognostication-people whose jobs demand that they make big bets about the future, backed up by their reputations and, in some cases, billions of dollars. …

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