It’s always fun to see what people 40 years ago thought life would be like in 2008:
Homes in Mi’s 80th year are practically self-maintaining. Electrostatic precipitators clean the air and climatizers maintain the temperature and humidity at optimum levels. Robots are available to do housework and other simple chores. New materials for siding and interiors are self-cleaning and never peel, chip or crack.
Dwellings for the most part are assembled from prefabricated modules, which can be attached speedily in the configuration that best suits the homeowner. Once the foundation is laid, attaching the modules to make up a two- or three-bedroom house is a job that doesn’t take more than a day. Such modular homes easily can be expanded to accommodate a growing family. A typical wedding present for the 21st century newlyweds is a fully equipped bedroom, kitchen or living room module.
Other conveniences ease kitchenwork. The housewife simply determines in advance her menus for the week, then slips prepackaged meals into the freezer and lets the automatic food utility do the rest. At preset times, each meal slides into the microwave oven and is cooked or thawed. The meal then is served on disposable plastic plates. These plates, as well as knives, forks and spoons of the same material, are so inexpensive they can be discarded after use.
As usual with articles like these there’s a few things it gets spot on, some things it’s totally wrong about, and a few that are almost true. Stuff like:
The single most important item in 2008 households is the computer.
Is quite true for a lot of families these days, but not for all the reasons the article suggests:
These electronic brains govern everything from meal preparation and waking up the household to assembling shopping lists and keeping track of the bank balance. Sensors in kitchen appliances, climatizing units, communicators, power supply and other household utilities warn the computer when the item is likely to fail. A repairman will show up even before any obvious breakdown occurs.
Computers also handle travel reservations, relay telephone messages, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, compute taxes and even figure the monthly bills for electricity, water, telephone and other utilities. Not every family has its private computer. Many families reserve time on a city or regional computer to serve their needs. The machine tallies up its own services and submits a bill, just as it does with other utilities.
Meal preparation? Not yet. You could probably rig up some sort of custom alarm system to have it wake you and your family up, but I don’t know of any off-the-shelf systems for doing so. Lots of people use it to make shopping lists and check their bank balances. The self-reporting appliance thing is possible these days to some degree, but the appliances that do so are expensive and limited in their functionality. The second paragraph hits a lot more of on the head with the travel reservations, phone messages, and so on though I get the impression that they’re suggesting a level of automation in those processes that isn’t actually present today.
What’s interesting to consider is that for all the ways that things have changed since 40 years ago there’s a lot about life that hasn’t changed all that much. While we do have the possibility of buying a TV these days that’s as big as our living room wall—even if most of us can’t afford it yet—we’re still pretty much taking care of business ourselves on a day to day basis. The robots and computers haven’t taken over all the menial tasks just yet.
But I’d love to have that four hour a day work day they talk about in that article.