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Android Love of the Future (1982)

The June 2, 1982 Washington Post ran a short piece about lovebots of the future. The article by Stephanie Mansfield predicts androids would be on the market by the mid-1990s, and likely revolutionize the way people looked at sexual relations.  

Arthur Harkins, director of the graduate program in futures research at the University of Minnesota, is even quoted as saying that android-human relationships might be treated as common-law marriages. I suppose as long as people didn't get gay-robo-married the U.S. would be okay with that. I can hear the asinine protest chants already, "it's WALL-E and EVE, not Elektro and Steve!" 

The entire piece appears below.

He comes home every night, grabs a beer and falls asleep in front of the television. You might as well be married to a robot, you say. Well, by the year 2000, you could be.

He may even look like Cary Grant, talk about white-water rafting, be able to fix a drink and possibly even be good in bed," says Arthur Harkins, director of the graduate program in futures research at the University of Minnesota.

"One of the things we're seeing now is that people are shopping for other people the way they'd shop for an appliance," he says, citing the proliferation of computerized dating services, explicitly worded personal want ads and marriage brokers. "You're buying something that makes you happy."

Domestic robot systems are expected to come on the market by the mid-1990s, according to Harkins, and sell for several thousand dollars. These highly sophisticated androids can be programmed to offer a wide range of human personality traits. ("We can even make them neurotic") and are likely to be purchased by "people who have difficulty opening up to other human being," he says.

These surrogate spouses would be beneficial to very lonely people.

But can you fall in love with a robot? "Why not?" says Harkins, citing a bedridden hospital patient. "Along comes this wonderful android who doesn't care a bit about that, whereas other human beings may not be so inclined."

The union between man and machine would not be recognized as legal, Harkins says, but perhaps could be treated as a common-law marriage. And there's no question of a messy divorce. "Just trade it in, I suppose," the scientist says.

Another example of future schlock was the robot pets offered by Neiman-Marcus last Christmas, which Harkins says only strengthens his theory that people today want certainty. "They want somebody predictable," he says.

But Harkins says he doesn't want to trade in his own wife for a robot -- just yet. Not even, he fantasizes, "a Margot Kidder robot."

"I'd be bored stiff," he says. "But I may get to be 70 years old and look at a Mae West robot with a great deal of interest."


Previously on Paleo-Future:



Crime Will No Longer Exist in 2007 (1907)

You know what's awesome about living in the future? Not having to worry about crime of any kind.

The March 17, 1907 Washington Post ran a piece from the Chicago Tribune titled "How Our Progeny Will Live One Hundred Years From Now." An excerpt, which imagines a world where crime is extremely rare, appears below.

I found the most interesting idea in the piece to be that those of a criminal inclination would no longer be allowed to procreate.


The repression of crime will largely be through preventive measures. With improved detective methods the chances of escape in any given case will be greatly diminished, the innocent will be rarely accused at all, and the punishments of the guilty will be of a reformatory character. In the meantime the study of mental science will have made great strides, and a great source of crime will be eliminated because men and women with the mental twist which leads to crime will be absolutely prevented from propagating their race.


Previously on Paleo-Future:



The Future Is So Yesterday

The Washington Post had an article on Sunday about the new Disney House of the Future. The piece touched on a lot of issues that involve postmodern paleo-futurism and reminds me of a February 23, 1997 New York Times article titled, "Disney Calls Future a Thing of the Past." An excerpt from the Washington Post piece appears below.

Disney -- so far into our heads, hopes and dreams that it is legendarily the Mouse that built the better people trap -- is now presenting not so much the future, but the future that it thinks we want. Wander around Tomorrowland and it no longer gleams with white plastic and blue trim. No "2001." It is an antique future, a bronze future, full of things that look like astrolabes channeling Leonardo da Vinci.


The future of the future is in the past?

"This is an aspirational future," says Disney spokesman John J. Nicoletti.

See also:
Disney Calls Future a Thing of the Past (1997)
Postmodern Paleo-Future
Tomorrowland, Disneyland Opening Day (1955)
Rebuilding Tomorrowland (1966)
EPCOT Publicity Materials (1981)
Mickey Futurism (1980s)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957)
Monsanto House of the Future Brochure (1961)



Your Own Wireless Telephone (1910)

Are the switchboard girls listening in on your calls? Get the Wireless Telephone! This story ran in the February 20, 1910 Washington Post (Washington, D.C.). The story has a number of typos and grammatical errors so I took some liberties with the transcript, but you can read it unedited above.

The part about calling your husband and telling him to stop at the butcher's shop is amazing. I don't think I'd believe the article was real if I hadn't found it myself.

The wireless telephone makes it easy enough for the timid lover who hasn't the courage to make his avowal to his Valentine face to face.

He could have used the ordinary telephone you say? Ah, there was the dread of the listening giggling telephone girls at the Central switchboard. Crossed wires might cross him in love besides.

He wasn't safe with the old style telephone - for it is old style though still in use. Somebody else might cut in. Somebody else might cut him off and thereby cut him out.

For the wireless telephone is here. That is if it isn't here it's there.

And do you think it is necessary to hitch a wireless telephone to a tall steel tower to get results? Not at all. Mr. Pickerill uses an umbrella. Mr. Pickerill says if you are at all superstitious about raising an umbrella in the house -- for the wireless telephone can be used anywhere within a radius of several hundred miles outdoors or in-you can hitch the telephone to a typewriter or an iron bed or the metal frame of a sewing machine or the coal scuttle or the radiator or the kitchen stove or the gas fixture - he doesn't care - and call up your own true love.

Wives can call husbands at their offices or on the way to Harlem or the suburbs in the car and say, "Do stop at the butcher's on the corner and get some liver and bacon!" It's the girl's day out. And you know how she is! She never orders a thing ahead.

As a matter of fact, the present style telephone is used mostly by loving couples. After a man's married the trouble begins - not on account of needles and pins money so much as because he doesn't telephone that he'll be late at the office or has to sit up with a sick friend.

"When we were keeping company you used to ring me up a dozen times a day simply to ask me if I still loved you!" the wife will cry. "And if Central would say Busy you'd get so jealous and accuse me of having other fellows call me up. And if Central would say Nobody answers you'd write complaints to the main office. But now you never even let me know you are not coming home!"

Lovers must be sure that their wireless telephones are in tune as well as their thoughts in accord. The wireless telegraph companies are appealing to the Government to supervise aerograms because mocking amateurs are continually butting in on the Hertzian waves.

So too if lovers are not in tune, the wrong girl may get the wireless telephone proposal.

Advice to Married Men - Don't you care when your wife says angrily, "Don't tell me, I know you heard me. I called you all day and your wireless telephone was in perfect condition when you fastened it to your hat this morning when you left the house."

Affect a look of surprise and reply, "Don't be angry dear. I forgot to take off my rubbers and wore them all day."