Future Predictions of Famous Scientist Herman Kahn
About economist Herman Kahn and some of his future predictions of the economy in the world to come.
Future Predictions: For 1975-1980
--Under certain conditions an economic depression could begin in the mid-1970s. If so, by the late 1970s the U.S. dollar will be worth a great deal less and inflation will increase. Polarization of the political left and right will occur. Bonn will devalue the mark. At this point the President of the U.S. will probably turn to the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund to solve the problem, but it will be too late, and his action will cause a run on the dollar. In response, the President will have to make the dollar incontrovertible, England will do the same with the pound sterling, and a panic will then ensue. In the end, there will be a worldwide depression, in which governments will fall and people may starve.
For 1985--Over 70 problems of various kinds may cause a technological crisis.
For 2000--Kahn divides the world into 5 categories:
Category of Nation Annual per capita average in Gross National Product
Preindustrial Less than $200
Highly Industrial $1,500-4,000
Postindustrial More than $4,000
Kahn predicts that by the year 2000, if conditions continue to follow present trends, the U.S. GNP per head will rise from the 1965 level of $3,557 to $10,160, while India's will rise from $99 to $270. About 3/8 of the world's population will be above the $600 per capita line, and the average of those over $600 will be almost $4,000, but those below the line will average only a little over $3000.
The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. will still be superpowers so far as Gross National Product; the next 8 intermediate powers, with half the GNP, will be Japan, West Germany, France, China, the United Kingdom, India, Italy, and Canada. The next 120 powers on the list will have 2/3 the GNP of the intermediate powers. In short, gaps will still exist, but people will be generally richer, with the Gross World Product up from $2.1 trillion in 1965 to $10.9 trillion (in 1965 U.S. dollars). The per capital GWP will increase from half to 4 times that of 1965, depending on world conditions, with the shift in favor of the developing nations. Most nations will go up a notch or 2 on Kahn's 5-category ladder.
--In the year 2000, the population of the world will be about 6.4 billion, slightly more than 2 times the 1965 population. Africa and South America will have the greatest growth rates, but nearly 60% of the world's peoples will still be Asian.
--In the year 2000, people will throw out in-expensive appliances rather than repair them because repair and maintenance costs will have risen so much. Complete modular replacement units may be widely available.
--Productivity per capita will rise, providing more leisure. By 2000, the U.S. may have a population of 318 million, of which 38% may be unemployed, while, under optimal conditions, one family in 12 will have an income of over $50,000 a year. (Now only one family in several hundred earns that much.) Over 25% of all families will have incomes above $25,000 a year.
--It is possible that many people will be kept in a permanently drugged state and adapted to a specific ecology to which they will be assigned by some computerized calculation. The central government may be faced with such over-whelming immediate problems that it may not be able to see the forest for the trees. To many problems there may be no solutions which do not reject modern technology or condemn billions of surplus humans to death or deprivation. (This is one of Kahn's pessimistic scenarios.)
--Technology will have made possible multiple application of the laser, new power sources, new airborne and submarine vehicles, 3-dimensional photography, and human hibernation for medical purposes.
--Cultures will become increasingly sensate, humanistic, and hedonistic.
--Increased literacy and education will encourage the formation of elite groups according to individual merit rather than material factors such as money.
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