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Wired’s 1997 prophetic “predictions” for the 21st century

Wired's 1997 prophetic "predictions" for the 21st century 1

In 1997, Wired magazine published an article “predicting” things that could stall economic growth, general welfare, and social development in the 21st century. And almost everything came true!

In a recently found 24-year-old article, Reddit users discussed an article from the 1997 issue of Wired magazine about what the world will be like in the next 25 years. Many called the publication prophetic due to the fact that some of the ideas are similar to what happened in reality.

Wired's 1997 prophetic "predictions" for the 21st century 2
© u/TooSmalley/Reddit

The article is called ‘The Future of the World: The Great Leap Forward Timeline‘. In the article, the author assured that the economy at that time was going through a transition period, which began 40 years ago, if we count from today.

The main topic of discussion was a list of ten threats that, according to Wired journalists, could hinder the development of mankind. A user with the nickname TooSmalley shared this snippet from a scanned page of the magazine.

In the comments, they considered that most of the points had already come true in one form or another. For example, the article discussed that tensions between China and the United States would lead to a new Cold War.

Many have paid attention to the penultimate item on the list. It spoke of a new plague, an analogue of the Spanish flu, which “can break out like wildfire and claim the lives of up to 200 million people.” Users felt that the coronavirus could be considered this disease. According to official statistics, just over 5 million people died from COVID-19, and outbreaks of the disease around the world began to be recorded back in March 2020.

In addition to the pandemic, Wired magazine also called the disillusionment with new technologies, the gradual collapse of the European Union, the rise in energy prices and various economic crises as problems for the whole world. 

In addition, judging by the predictions from the old article, we may face hunger in some parts of the planet, social and cultural regression of humanity and an uncontrolled growth of cancer. 

One of the points of the prediction also came true with incredible accuracy: the terrorist threats “plunged the world into a stupor.”

The last item was social and cultural public condemnation, which will permanently stop progress. Users felt that this could be compared to a “culture of undoing,” a form of criticizing and punishing an individual or group of individuals through judgment, both online and in the real world.

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The comments concluded that the list looks like “apocalyptic bingo” and proof of human life in the “worst version of the universe.” However, some commentators expressed the opinion that everyone interprets the list in their own way, so for some it may seem absolutely accurate, and for others it is only a partial confirmation of the problems in the modern world.

Note that the author of the article did not say at all that he was engaged in predicting the future. According to him, this is only an informed forecast for 25 years.


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