Modern Scientist Predictions Theodore J. Gordon

About the predictions both right and wrong of modern scientist Theodore J. Gordon including ones on space travel, nuclear weapon, pollution.



Now president of the Futures Group, which does private research, Theodore Gordon was director of Space Stations and Planetary Systems at McDonnell Douglas. With others, he pioneered the Cross Impact Matrix, a leading prediction technique. Some of the following predictions were made with Olaf Helmer in a 1964 Rand think-tank study.

Past Predictions: Wrong--In the Rand study, Gordon and Helmer predicted the following developments for outer space:

* By 1967-1970, unmanned inspections of satellites; Soviet manned flyby of the moon.

* By 1968-1975, rescue of astronauts stranded in space.

* By 1970-1974, manned inspections of satellites in orbit.

* By 1970-1975, a 10-man space station in orbit.

Right--Also in the Rand study, Gordon and Helmer made the following predictions which did come true:

* By 1964-1966, Soviet rendezvous in space.

* By 1964-1967, development of kiloton nuclear weapons to be used by soldiers on the ground.

* By 1968-1970, extensive use of devices that control without killing (e.g., tear gas, water cannons); development of tiny sensors and transmitters for reconnaissance and arms control.

* By 1968-1976, development of incapacitating biological agents.

* By 1969-1970, manned landing on moon and safe return to earth.

* By 1970-1983, large-scale birth control feasible with oral contraceptives or other means.

Future Predictions: For 1984

* With 6 billion people in the world, food production will have increasing importance. Possibilities: tropical agriculture, technology geared to the needs of developing nations, world organizations to promote development of multinational agricultural complexes, a world granary.

* More prefabricated foods will be available. More meat analogues and extenders made from soybeans and other vegetable protein sources will masquerade as hamburger and other meat products.

* Technology may come up with new kinds of bacteria to fix nitrogen in the soil; hotels for raising farm animals; oyster farms in parts of the ocean warmed by effluents from nuclear power plants; drugs that cause cows to have twins.

* Though some pollution problems will have been eradicated by technology, others will continue to plague us. For example, topsoil will be eroding faster than new topsoil can form unless something is done about it, and balances in air-pollution may be upset, causing climatological changes. (Particles causing light to be reflected away from earth make temperatures drop, while the greenhouse effect raises temperatures.)

For 1985--It will be necessary for 13% of the world's energy to come from nuclear power plants.

For 1989--Primitive forms of life will be created in the laboratory.

By 2000--Inherited defects will be found and corrected before birth. (We are already on our way to this through a process in which a hollow needle is inserted into the womb of a pregnant woman in order to pick up fluid and cells which enable diagnosis of fetal defects.)

No Dates Given--Gordon has said, in regard to genetic engineering of human beings, "Given the ability to tailor the race, I wonder if we would 'create all men equal,' or would we choose to manufacture apartheid? Might the races of the future be a superior group, the DNA controllers; the humble servants; special athletes for the 'games'; research scientists with 200 IQs and diminutive bodies . . .?"

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