David Kristof and Todd Nickerson wanted to know what the world's most prominent people thought of the upcoming millennium. So they sent out blizzard of letters -- 6,000 of them in fact. They wanted to make sure they had enough responses for a book. They did.
About 650 sent back an enclosed postcard with their predictions, and the authors winnowed the list down to 250. Clips of their new book were release in an article in the Chicago Sun-Times.
"We worked out a system," said Kristof, a Chicago native who works with Nickerson at Lucent Technologies in New York. The Sun-Times quotes Kristof as saying``We ranked the replies based on how famous the person was and how good the message was. Some of the most famous ones had stupid messages.''
Each page of the book reproduces a reply postcard. Most are handwritten, and the ones that are hard to read are deciphered.
Submissions were sought from every head of government, astronaut and Nobel Prize winner, in addition to entertainers, artists, writers and politicians.
Here are some of their prognostications:
Leon N. Cooper, Nobel physicist--``It's easier to predict what will happen in the next thousand years than what will happen next week--so: (I) Most of the diseases that plague us today will be cured--but others will emerge. Hopefully we'll be able to deal with them before they destroy us. (II) Thinking machines will be developed--machines that reason and perhaps are conscious. We will communicate with them as with other humans. (III) We will find a way to live forever. (IV) We will continue to complain that things are not as good as they used to be. (V) If we're lucky, we'll survive.''
Oliver Stone, director--``DNA will evolve to the next state--with or without the present world population. Mind culture--and artificial intelligence--will replace word culture.''
Joan Rivers, comedian--``My prediction is that in the new millennium, interest rates will be higher and my breasts will be lower.''
Joseph Wambaugh, novelist--``The printed word shall vanish completely in the coming century, and with it the act of sober reflection. This bodes ominous for the peoples of the next millennium.''
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times movie critic--``Tribalism will die out and humans will cease to be victims of the us-vs.-them mentality.''
Leon Lederman, Fermilab director--``Population is stabilized, the new sources of energy encourage environmental remediation. Clean, efficient nano-technologies manufacture, from molecular modules, all the needs of the planet. War, disease, drugs are obsolete. There is no cash. Transactions are via DNA-authenticated credit devices. Taxes are automatically subtracted. And a growing number of citizens are signing up for the virtual satisfaction helmets.''
George Harrison, musician--``You will all be dead is my prediction.''
Derek H.R. Barton, Nobel chemist--``I predict that molecular biologists will find out how to stop the aging process. Then we can all live forever. The world population will grow ad infinitum. A real problem!''
Bruce Hornsby, musician--``Peace in the Middle East/ A robot mowing your lawn/ Political stability and the end of famine in Africa/ Flying from the U.S. to China for dinner/ The three-day workweek/ An African-American U.S. president.''
Sonny Rollins, jazz musician--``Wouldst that an alien invasion from outer space unites our diverse populations.''
Gore Vidal, novelist--``Much of the next millennium will be devoted to escape from a planet where, among other inconveniences, thanks to overpopulation and poisonous agricultural-industrial practices, the water supply has given out. A busy time; desalinating the oceans while sending colonies to rocks not designed for us. I also suspect the next major religion will feature a voluntary suicide gospel, to thin us out, as it were, joyously.''
Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey--``Sometime between 2000 and 3000--proof of intelligent life elsewhere. Between 2000 and 2500--major damage by meteor impact.''
Tony Hillerman, novelist--``Through the next 1,000 years we will see a melding of races into a single homogenized humanity. However, I wonder if the species will endure until 3000 A.D. There are many devastating possibilities and our creator may decide to end the experiment.''
Earl Weaver, baseball coach--``I predict that the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox baseball teams will both win a world championship before the year 2500.''
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (Full Text)
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