1988 Predictions of What 2013 Would Be like Are Scarily Accurate

A "Los Angeles Times Magazine" story did a pretty good job of predicting the future. Still waiting on those robot cooks, though

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The future of L.A., as envisioned by Nicole Yorkin in a 1988 cover story for the "Los Angeles Times Magazine"

We may not have robots doing our cooking, but a 1988 magazine story predicting what life would be like in 2013 got a lot of other things right, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Times Magazine’s April 3, 1988, cover story, “L.A. 2013,” profiled a day in the life of a fictional family living in the year 2013. Jerry Lockenour stashed the magazine on a shelf, and 25 years later, found that it came in handy as a teaching aid for his USC graduate class on technology development and applications.

“I kept the article thinking it would be great to pull out 25 years later and see how we did,” Lockenour told the Times.

(MORE: Whose Fault Is a Driverless-Car Crash?)

The essay’s author, Nicole Yorkin, spoke with more than 30 futurists and experts, forecasting smart cars equipped with computers and navigation systems, video-chat systems and the smart card, “a personal portable computer about the size of a 3-by-5 card” that fits in the palm of your hand. Yorkin’s experts were right: luxury cars outfitted with GPS, Skype and smartphones have all become integral parts of modern-day life.

Well, they were right on some accounts. The essay’s prediction that robots would be our most essential appliances by 2013 (the fictional family from the future had a robotic household helper and robot dog) hasn’t yet come to fruition. Until then, there’s always our Aibos and Roombas — and even better technology on the horizon.

MORE: Finally, a Robotic Dog That Can Toss Cinder Blocks like They’re Beanbags


if you replace the idea of "robot dogs" with things like the xbox, they were dead on. 

what good would a robot dog be? the things we enjoy about pets are the things that make them living creatures. to have a robot chase a ball would get old fast, etc. on the other hand, change out the automaton "robot" functions for "information" ... and  what do you have? you have the xbox, playstation, desktop computer, whatever. digitization has taken many of the places of things like pets and "people to talk to" etc much farther than just "being able to talk in real time to one another".   maybe not making your dinner but a far cry from medieval europe as to what choices you have at  9 pm tonight. :)


This is old news, I saw the same thing several months ago...


The future is based on the nature of discovery,which leads to technology, all while factoring the effect of diminishing returns.

The first great discovery was fire, from which the iron and bronze ages emerged, meaning simple tools and weapons. Gunpowder and crude oil are the next stage of fire history giving us complex machines and weapons, the industrial age pt 1. We accomplished everything we were ever going to do with fire when the populations of the Earth all met up and then exploded which counter-balanced the diminishing returns aspect. Nuclear energy was the final stage of fire, since fire is based on combustion and the materials best suited (Wood was basic observation and accident of simple phenomenon and easy material. Powder and oil was thoughtful observation of  somewhat difficult material and nuclear was almost completely theoretical prediction about extremely difficult material). Everything happened on a timescale of 20-30,000 years

The second and last great discovery was electricity, giving us the industrial age pt 2, as well as the communication and information ages, with each step becoming more arduous and expensive as we learned how to obtain, control and use it.  We're about to finalize everything that can be done with that discovery with self aware machines which combines all three ages: Machines will be industrious, capable of communication and possess information and intelligence.  All this happened/happens in 200-300+x years

Outside of that we have yet to find the third source of power. And that will be by far the hardest and expensive one of all to find and manipulate. Because of the population being static the self aware machines will help us overcome the diminishing returns at the limits of electricity. This last step (machine awareness) is an x-factor we're currently going through (Siri, Watson and Asimo being the lead of the pack) and may take a few years to a few decades to reach actualization, and which may overlap with our discovery of the new energy source like nuclear overlapped electricity.

Maybe the discovery will be gravity manipulation, dark matter or zero-point energy or something we can't begin to fathom now. Whatever it is will see the beginning of us meeting the stars.


also, since electricity is the basis of fire ( fire happens when magnetism loses control of electrons, some of which collide and radiate heat and photons.  Under control means flow of electrons as electricity.) so the next energy will be the basis of electricity, and may link us to a phenomenon that can only be observed at present, gravity

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DuckBeach like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

The latino community is doing the robot work in LA, though (I know -- I've lived there for the last 10 years).  I think robots are something that white people and the japanese fantasize about when there are not enough latinos around.

shakenama like.author.displayName 1 Like

We think we're technologicly advanced....yet we still drive to and from work with a 120 year old invention. In 1885 German engineer invented the internal combustion engine. We have only built and redesigned around the engine...so solar or hydrogen...then you'll impress me


@shakenama I'd say we're technologically advanced, look at how young that 120 year old invention is compared to most other advances made prior to it.


@shakenama we also get most of out power (assuming you're anywhere but France or Scandinavia) from coal-powered steam turbines, and in fact even nuclear power just replaces coal fires with radioactive decay... and is all run on analog systems. And our hydroelectric power also comes from 80 year old dams.

SwiftrightRight like.author.displayName 1 Like

@shakenama I know today I had my lunch on an invention that over 5000 years old. We think were advanced and yet the best sandwiches are still based on old fashion bread. 


@shakenama There is a reason we don't make leaps-and-bounds when it comes to technologies.  We creep along one step at a time.  It is called "economic viability."  It allows people to use their own money, come up with new technology, and profit.  The cogs of capitalism.  And it works.

jcottle like.author.displayName 1 Like

The actual future always lags well behind the imaginative predictions of futurists. If any advancement is even remotely influenced by either politics or religion, it's anticipated arrival is slowed to a crawl and finally halted. Electronic gadgetry is one of the few instances able to keep pace and steer clear because the government is able to tax it and religious pundits are able to use it as yet another medium to spread their gospel. 

zeustiak like.author.displayName 1 Like

@jcottle Yeah, I feel sorry for Ray Kurzweil cause that guy really believes he is going to live forever.