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Welcome to the Paleofuture blog, where we explore past visions of the future. From flying cars and jetpacks to utopias and dystopias.

The Universal Writing Formula for Futurism


I can't believe it took me this long, but I figured out the universal writing formula for futurism! It just clicked after reading a 1980s newspaper article about robots! Let me know what I'm missing:

  • Imagine [ten/twenty/fifty] years in the future.
  • Your [car/toaster/robot] speaks to you.
  • No, it's not your [friend/mom/crazy fever dream].
  • Your life just got better* with technology!

[*If article appears between 1971 and 1979 replace "better" with "shitty in the worst way"]

 

The December 8, 1985 Syracuse Herald Journal (Syracuse, NY) ran a piece about the personal robots of the future which uses this formula. The excerpt below quotes Nelson Winkless, author of the 1984 book, If I Had a Robot.

Imagine driving down the highway 10 or 20 years from now.

 

Suddenly, a small voice says, "You haven't called your mother lately. Don't you think you'd better call her today?"

No, it's not your conscience. It's your own personal robot, a funny little creature that keeps track of your obligations and watches out for you.

Of course, no one really knows what robots of the future will do to make your life easier. But a New Mexico robotics expert and author, Nelson Winkless, expects them to be more than mechanical housekeepers.

"Before we have robots that will do windows, we're going to have self-cleaning windows," he said, in a telephone interview from Corales, N.M. "I expect them to be useful in ways yet unanticipated.

"Suppose you had this little guy bumbling after you, keeping track of things. You may come to a corner and he'll say, 'Why don't you slow down and watch out here?'" says Winkless, who wrote "If I Had a Robot: What to Expect of the Personal Robot" (Dilithium Press, $9.95).

"We have just gotten to the point where we have (robots) that operate intuitively. They look at information and say, 'In all of my experience in life, what does this remind me of most?' They can see opportunities and problems and point them out."

Joe Herrera, robot product manager for Tomy Corp., in Carson, Calif., thinks there will be "a robot in every garage" by the year 2000.

"One robot for the home may be able to wash your car and tell the kids stories," says Herrera, whose company manufactures robot toys.

"Right now, personal robots are in the same stage handheld calculators were 10 years ago. But every year, we're learning more and more."


Read more:
If I Had a Robot (1984)
Newton the Household Robot (1989)
The Future of Personal Robots (1986)
Robo-Shop (1989)
Japanese Retail Robots (1986)
In a Cashless Future, Robots Will Cook (1996)

 

Jetscalator (1960)

Weather Made to Order? (1954)