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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

the 21st century

Man lands on Mars, the elderly retire to the moon, humans are cloned. Welcome to the brave new world

By Arthur C. Clarke

asia in the new millennium
Mapping the Future The future wealth and size of Asian nations

The 21st Century By Arthur C. Clarke

Asia Trends 2000 The promises and perils of one wired world

The Microchip Silicon will get into everything
The Power As the region prospers, chances for conflict may become greater
Essay by Fidel Ramos Ending repression was easy; now we must defend freedom
The Dynasty It's here to stay
The Classes Many more Asians may escape poverty
The People Democracy in Asia will become increasingly deep-rooted
Essay by Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo Shifts to new paradigms may include the "common good" and spirituality
The Mind Classrooms of the future will be virtually unrecognizable
Essay by Stan Shih The challenge of creating markets in a competitive world
The Body Science will soon deliver miracle cures, designer babies and new dilemmas
The Soul Asia seeks a new cultural identity
Essay by the Dalai Lama Balancing material progress with inner development to achieve true success
The Food Are the pushers of genetically modified edibles out to lunch?
The Vacation Inner and outer space are the destinations of the future
The Design Asia still has a place in the shape of things to come
The Metropolis Sweeping global changes are reshaping urban destinies
The Earth Environmental awareness is growing
The Jobs New and reinvented careers will fire the imagination
The Money The cashless society is on the way
The Investor Globalization and the Net will empower future shareholders and savers
The Sexes Democracy, capitalism and the Internet can lift women to the top
Essay by Marina Mahathir In Malaysia, we should change the way society looks at their roles
The Family The family promises to be much different than it is today
The Economy New ways of working call for new ways of thinking
Essay by Donald Tsang Financial well-being is a responsibility for each nation and the world
The Network The connection will go much deeper

The Asiaweek Round Table on ASEAN in 2020

Celebrations Asia is gearing up

Celebrities How some of the region's most visible personalities intend to welcome the New Year

Millenium Dictionary From pop anthems to dawn sites and midnight nuptials, a guide to 2000

DESPITE ALL CLAIMS TO the contrary, no one can predict the future, and I have always resisted all attempts to label me a "prophet." I prefer "extrapolator." What I have tried to do, at least in my non-fiction, is outline possible "futures" - at the same time pointing out that totally unexpected inventions or events can make any forecasts absurd after a very few years. The classic example is the statement in the late 1940s by the chairman of IBM then that the world market for computers was about five. I have more in my own office, and they are still breeding like rabbits . . .

But perhaps I'm in no position to criticize Thomas Watson Sr. In Transit of Earth (1971), I put the first Mars landing in 1994: now we'll be lucky if we make it by 2010. On the other hand, when Prelude to Space was published in 1951, I thought I was being wildly optimistic by suggesting a moon mission in 1978. Neil and Buzz beat me by almost a decade.

Still, I take a modest pride in the fact that communications satellites are placed exactly where I suggested in 1945, and that the name "Clarke Orbit" is now often used, if only because it's easier to say than "geostationary orbit." And the chapter "The Century Syndrome" in my 1990 novel The Ghost from the Grand Banks, may well have been the first account, outside the technical literature, of the now-dreaded Millennium Bug - its cause and its cure.

Even so, the chronology that follows should be given with a "health warning." Some of the events listed (particularly the space missions) are already scheduled, and will occur on the actual dates given. I believe all the other events could happen, although several, I hope, will not.

In spite of the temptation, I have omitted many interesting and all-too-possible disasters, because optimism about the future is always desirable; it may help to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Check me for accuracy - on December 31, 2100.

2001 Jan. 1 The next millennium and century begin.

- Cassini spaceprobe (launched October 1997; arrives Saturn July 2000) begins exploration of the planet's moons and rings.

- Galileo probe (launched October 1989) continues surveying Jupiter and its moons. Life beneath the ice-covered oceans of Europa appears increasingly likely.

2002 The first commercial device producing clean, safe power by low-temperature nuclear reactions goes on the market, heralding the end of the Fossil-Fuel Age. Economic and geopolitical earthquakes follow, and, for their discovery of so-called "Cold Fusion" in 1989, Pons and Fleischmann receive the Nobel Prize for Physics.

2003 The motor industry is given five years to replace all fuel-burning engines by the new energy device.

- NASA's robot Mars Surveyor (carrying Lander and Rover) is launched.

2004 The first (publicly admitted) human clone.

2005 The first sample launched back to Earth by Mars Surveyor.

- The Dalai Lama returns to Tibet.

2006 The world's last coal mine closed in India.

2007 NASA's Next Generation Space Telescope (successor to the Hubble) launched.

- President Chandrika Kumaratunga gets the Nobel Prize for restoring peace to Sri Lanka.

2008 On what would have been his 80th birthday, July 26, the film director Stanley Kubrick, who made 2001: A Space Odyssey, posthumously receives a special Oscar for Lifetime Achievement.

2009 A city in North Korea is devastated by the accidental explosion of an A-bomb. After a brief debate in the U.N., all nuclear weapons are destroyed.

2010 The first Quantum Generators (tapping space energy) are developed. Available in portable and household units from a few kilowatts upward, they can produce electricity indefinitely. Central power stations close down; the age of pylons ends as grid systems are dismantled.

- In spite of protests against "Big Brother" government, electronic monitoring virtually removes professional criminals from society.

2011 Largest living animal filmed: a 75-meter octopus in the Mariana Trench. By a curious coincidence, later that same year even larger marine creatures are discovered when the first robot probes drill through the ice of Europa, and an entire new biota is revealed.

2012 Aerospace-planes enter service. The history of space travel has repeated that of aeronautics, although more slowly, because the technical problems are so much greater. From Yuri Gagarin to commercial space flight has taken twice as long as from the Wright Brothers to the DC-3.

2013 On a flight sponsored by Bandar Seri Begawan, a Brunei prince becomes the first member of a royal family to fly in space.

2014 Construction of Hilton Orbiter Hotel begins, by assembling and converting the giant Shuttle tanks which had previously been allowed to fall back to Earth.

2015 An inevitable byproduct of the Quantum Generator is complete control of matter at the atomic level. Thus the old dream of alchemy is realized on a commercial scale, often with surprising results. Within a few years, since they are more useful, lead and copper cost twice as much as gold.

2016 All existing currencies are abolished. The megawatt-hour becomes the unit of exchange.

2017 December 16. On his 100th birthday, Sir Arthur Clarke is one of the first guests in the Hilton Orbiter.

- China holds the first nationwide popular elections to its parliament.

2019 A major meteor impact occurs on the North Polar icecap. There is no loss of human life, but the resulting tsunamis cause considerable damage along the coasts of Greenland and Canada. The long-discussed Project Spaceguard, to identify and deflect any potentially dangerous comets or asteroids, is finally activated

2020 Artificial Intelligence (AI) reaches the human level. From now onward there are two intelligent species on Planet Earth, one evolving far more rapidly than biology would ever permit. Interstellar probes carrying AIs are launched toward the nearer stars.

2021 The first humans land on Mars, and have some unpleasant surprises.

2023 Dinosaur facsimiles are cloned from computer-generated DNA. Disney's Triassic Zoo opens in Florida. Despite some unfortunate initial accidents, mini-raptors start replacing guard dogs.

2024 Infra-red signals are detected coming from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. They are obviously the product of a technologically advanced civilization, but all attempts to decipher them fail.

2025 Neurological research finally leads to an understanding of all the senses, and direct inputs become possible, bypassing eyes, ears, skin, etc. The inevitable result is the metal "Braincap" of which the 20th century's Walkman was a primitive precursor. Anyone wearing this helmet, fitting tightly over the skull, can enter a whole universe of experience real or imaginary - and even merge in real-time with other minds. Apart from its use for entertainment and vicarious adventure, the Braincap is a boon to doctors, who can now experience their patients symptoms (suitably attenuated). It also revolutionizes the legal profession; deliberate lying is impossible. As the Braincap can only function properly on a completely bald head, wig-making becomes a major industry.

2026 Singapore becomes the world's first country to enforce Truth in Advertising.

2036 China overtakes the U.S. in gross national product to become the world's largest economy.

2040 The "Universal Replicator," based on nano-technology, is perfected: any object, however complex, can be created - given the necessary raw material and the appropriate information matrix. Diamonds or gourmet meals can, literally, be made from dirt. As a result, agriculture and industry are phased out, ending that recent invention in human history - work! There is an explosion in arts, entertainment and education. Hunter-gathering societies are deliberately recreated; huge areas of the planet, no longer needed for food production, are allowed to revert to their original state. Young people can now discharge their aggressive instincts by using cross-bows to stalk big game, which is robotic and frequently dangerous.

2045 The totally self-contained, recycling, mobile home (envisaged almost a century earlier by Buckminster Fuller) is perfected. Any additional carbon needed for food synthesis is obtained by extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

2047 Hong Kong celebrates its 50th year as an SAR by completely eliminating border controls and barriers between itself and the rest of China.

2050 "Escape from Utopia." Bored by life in this peaceful and unexciting era, millions decided to use cryonic suspension to emigrate into the future in search of adventure. Vast "hibernacula" are established in the Antarctic and in the regions of perpetual night at the lunar poles.

2051 Ground is broken on the moon for self-sustaining, robotized colonies, where the elderly will survive longer, thanks to the low lunar gravity.

2057 October 4. Centennial of Sputnik 1. The dawn of the space age is celebrated by humans not only on Earth, but on the Moon, Mars, Europa, Ganymede and Titan - and in orbit round Venus, Neptune and Pluto.

2061 The return of Halley's Comet; first landing on nucleus by humans. The sensational discovery of both dormant and active lifeforms vindicates Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's century-old hypothesis that life is omnipresent throughout space.

2090 Large-scale burning of fossil fuels is resumed to replace the carbon dioxide "mined" from the air and postpone the next Ice Age by promoting global warming.

2095 The development of a true "space drive" - a propulsion system reacting against the structure of space time - makes the rocket obsolete and permits velocities close to that of light. The first human explorers set off to nearby star systems that robot probes have already found promising.

2100 History begins...

Clarke is a futurist and science fiction writer. Copyright Arthur C. Clarke 1999

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home


U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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