Thomas Sutcliffe hints at the coming social media revolution. He sees culture breaking down into micro-cultures, places of individual self-expression. He drools over the idea of owning a TiVo box (I bet he had shelves heaving with unwatched VHS cassettes, like the rest of us). Perhaps his most prescient vision is one drawn from an observation of 1999. An advert for GAP clothing reflects a changing view of the world. Three children represent a changing world, a connected, socially fluid world. Words are not present, words divide, and pictures are read by all of us.
Science pundits have an unfair advantage in the prediction game. They can look to what is in the early stages of development and then simply place a timeframe on events. So no surprises that Steve Connor looks to the Human Genome Project for inspiration. It's the ongoing debate on human cloning and designer babies that concerns Connor. By 2005, he predicts, the UK government will approve 'therapeutic cloning' of human cells. In 2004, the UK's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority gave such permission.
Connor's vision of computing goes deeper than that of his fellow Indy journalists. He sees the end of the silicon chip by 2020, replaced by DNA to produce biological computers. By 2013 the three core components of a bio computer have been developed (storage, method of transmission and logic system). But progress is slow and bio computers are currently far less able than silicon based computers. But Connor may yet be proved right, let's check back in five years' time.
So on the morning of 01.01.2000 there was optimism. Mankind was going forward towards its true potential and destiny. New Labour was a breath of fresh air. Osama Bin Laden was a fringe loon. We weren't concerned with the expenses of our politicians. We didn't have a clue as to what a Credit Crunch was. Eastern Europe was that place we went on £5 flights from EasyJet. Our military presence in the Middle East was minimal. Big Brother, the TV show, did not exist. Big Brother, the surveillance state was still small(ish). Yet somehow all these red flags were missed by those pundits foolish enough to peer into the crystal ball.
Histories of the twentieth century often begin with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. The optimism of that first Independent of the twenty-first century lasted 619 days. Histories of the new millennium begin on Tuesday 11 September 2001. The only prediction that everybody got right, the one at the start of each article that day, is that second guessing the future is a mug's game.