1980 Book Was Prescient on 2018’s Tech

For a while I’ve been nostalgic about a book I read in the early 1980s, called The Techno/Peasant Survival Manual. It was a pretty obscure book. I don’t recall anyone else mentioning it, and there are no reviews on Amazon.

But over the decades since then I’ve watched as computer and communication technology changed the world, while human nature stayed the same, or some would say even regressed. Sometimes I’ve stopped to think: “I bet this was all predicted in that obscure blue book from 1980.” But I hadn’t seen a copy since then.

Well, you can read it for free if you sign up to the Internet Archive’s borrowing program.

My assessment after having revisited it nearly 4 decades later: in some areas it wildly overestimated the pace of change (biotech, space exploration, fusion power). But when it comes to computers, it’s eerie how close it came on the big picture:

No, I didn’t make this up to pass off as the work of some lost techno/Nostradamus, this is exactly what the 1980 book told everyone the future would be. It said we’d be addicted to our iPhones, and our Facebook data privacy would be breached for the sake of political manipulation. Well, not exactly, but you could almost take out the product names in that sentence and slip it in as the work of the seers of 1980.

Professor of Physics and Astronomy. Views expressed are my own and do not represent anyone else or any institution.

Professor of Physics and Astronomy. Views expressed are my own and do not represent anyone else or any institution.