The future now

nikola-tesla
Nikola Tesla 1856 – 1943

Inverted Commas 1: The modern world viewed from 1926

When wireless is perfectly applied, the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance.

Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.

We shall be able to witness and hear events — the inauguration of a President, the playing of a World Series game, the havoc of an earthquake or the terror of a battle — just as though we were present.

Nikola Tesla’s prescient prediction of the internet, skype, the mobile phone (or cellphone) and live reporting — and all this in 1926, ninety-one years ago.

nikolatesla

Sadly not all his predictions have come true, for example:

International boundaries will be largely obliterated and a great step will be made toward the unification and harmonious existence of the various races inhabiting the globe.

And why we are still waiting for this?

It is clear to any trained observer, and even to the sociologically untrained, that a new attitude toward sex discrimination has come over the world through the centuries, receiving an abrupt stimulus just before and after the [First] World War.

This struggle of the human female toward sex equality will end in a new sex order, with the female as superior.  The modern woman, who anticipates in merely superficial phenomena the advancement of her sex, is but a surface symptom of something deeper and more potent fermenting in the bosom of the race.

It is not in the shallow physical imitation of men that women will assert first their equality and later their superiority, but in the awakening of the intellect of women.

Through countless generations, from the very beginning, the social subservience of women resulted naturally in the partial atrophy or at least the hereditary suspension of mental qualities which we now know the female sex to be endowed with no less than men.

  • John B Kennedy, “When Woman Is Boss: An Interview with Nikola Tesla,” Collier’s, January 30th, 1926;
    cited in Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes: the legacy of autism and how to think smarter about people who think differently, 2015;
    whole text at http://www.tfcbooks.com/tesla/1926-01-30.htm [accessed February 2nd 2017]

Inverted commas will be another occasional series, this time of quotations that strike me as appealing, intriguing or apposite.

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14 thoughts on “The future now

  1. Tesla was an amazing man. If it weren’t for the greedy capitalist commercialism of business and society in his day, just at it is now, we might have had a world much more efficiently and sustainably powered than we do. Perhaps if women had had more of the say back in his day, things might have been different – or would we just have ended up with a female Trump?

    1. Yes, humans on the Moon and all that, just half a century after the Wright brothers. Hope it’s not another half century for his other predictions or there’ll be no world to salvage, or even humans.

  2. Wow. Must learn more about Tesla. He had some prescient ideas.

    I’ve been thinking about the male/female thing too. I took my ten-year-old son to a birthday party on Sunday and was just observing all the little-boy stuff, how they’re punching each other, wearing their shirts from favorite sports team (go Patriots!), the joyful play with toys that shoot and stab, the fascination with video game violence, and thinking, this is exactly what we see ruling the world today. Why this fascination with death, conflict, and violence? To the female principle, which bears life within it, it seems baffling.

    I’m not saying it was wrong to go through this phase. Humanity had to detach itself from the “Mother” in order to know itself. But now, it is going too far. And as Tesla says, the way forward is for the female principle, the life principle (which can manifest in man or woman) to step forward into the lead again — and not by imitating the current ruling paradigm, but by awakening dormant capacities.

    It’s interesting that my state, which has a Republican-dominated state government, now has an all-Democrat, all-female delegation to Congress. This is the first all-woman delegation from a US state in history. (There are only four of them, so it’s not so hard, but still.) The winds of change? We shall see.

    1. I do hope, if not the winds of change, then these delegates are at least green shoots that herald a Spring. The present incumbant in the White House is definitely the worst possible representative of the male species imaginable. As a kid I too like to wrestle and to play with guns, but I soon grew out of it; it seems that some boys never do.

      The male-female gender divide that was long regarded as the paradigm is I think increasingly seen as a false one, rather it seems that we are all more part of a spectrum. Nevertheless, spectrum or not, we need to realise that for the sake of the planet and the human race we all need to cooperate with and respect each other more than is at present happening. Tesla’s anticipation of a more equitable future is not beyond our ability to achieve, surely?

      Sorry, a bit of a rambling response — not far off shut-eye time here!

  3. elmediat

    There are times when the idea of a Cabal to stop/control social progress in ethics and values seems very plausible. One could see in people like Obama, Tessla & Da Vinci agents of change/time travellers trying to influence or direct the course of history in a positive direction. One could go down the rabbit hole wondering who/what arranged for Trump presidency . Who will fix this Temporal anomaly ?

    BTW Is that a Dalek in the last image ?

    1. Oh for chance to do that ‘timey-wimey’ thing and counteract the Trump residency in the White House. But that could open a whole store of canned worms …

      A Dalek? Hmm, it looks suspiciously like one …

  4. Ooh, oi loves me a bit o’ Tesla! Absolutely fascinating human being. And a genius, at that. There is a lovely little comic about him over at The Oatmeal ( if you haven’t already seen it) : http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla

    Quite eerie how accurate his predictions re; technology were! But yes, very sad in contrast that we haven’t managed the other stuff…especially when no scientific know-how is required for that…just some compassion, decency, and basic human empathy…

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