The next fifty years; A Future Filled With Change
The next. Thanks. Thanks thanks thanks thanks. When they are changed during the next 15 years. National Education radio presents a series of programs expressing a variety of opinions on the future of the democratic environment. These views were given at the 50th year conference of the American Institute of planners held in Washington in October of last year. In attendance was anyon public affairs director Bill Greenwood. This is the fourth in our 13 week series of programs exploring urban needs in this
country during the next 50 years. This week a future filled with change a discussion of technology population concentrations and the expectations of youth. Speaking on these topics will be for experts in the fields of physics philosophy literature and jurisprudence. Our first guest is Dr. Herman Kahn a physicist and director of the Hudson Institute formerly associated with the Rand Corporation. He is a frequent writer and is here to discuss his concept of America's needs in the next 50 years. Here is Dr. Herman Kahn. I'm going to start off by trying to give you a sense. Why does acting like I didn't take us out of a professional's I wanted to spend a good deal of time hopefully increasing an amount on long range prospects. Roughly a hundred percent of our workers on the future but typically it's 5 to 10 years ahead. All the while
20 30 40 years ahead is done on a grant not on a contract. The reason that this is a vague feeling that such a contract would be embezzlement. Shared by our contractors. There are important requirements for long range locks but sometimes they're not quite as important as you might think of the Hong Kong is going to lose about two thirds of US territory when their lease expires. As you may remember from high school to college history they got the lease. During the. Boxer about and. It has never come up. I know. Policy. As a fact that had any effect on any decision.
Very interesting to know many of your problems are very similar. After explaining why it is the way that we're in this matter and the price we got today I'd be. Willing to make a quick what I call a surprise for a projection of what the next 50 years will look like. Terms of price three is related to the concept of the naive projection of economics with which many of you are familiar in a projection. You assume that current conditions continue on change in a surprise free you put in whatever figure you believe. And then make your extrapolations. You know that's why the surprise rate you put in what you believe in that shit happens you should be surprised. But in fact you'll be shocked. The most surprising thing that could
happen is they had a surprise for a projection come out. That is the most surprising thing in the world would be no surprises. On the other hand I do believe that a lot less is going to happen in the next thirty three years from the political. Point of view. It's happened the last 66. I may turn out to be wrong. But if I was to make an analogy I say the situation is much more like 1815 than 1914. If you're if you get if you call your highschool college history 1815 mock determination of about 25 years of revolutionary violence in Europe. French Revolution a body on it was I'm almost certain if you had gone to the people in Vienna and asked them what do you expect for the next 25 years 25 years more the same. Price. Actually this case gave. That's
not what happened. You had roughly a hundred years of relative calm. You had a revolution of 1830 nine hundred forty eight. You had wars you had assassinations you had anarchy. A lot happened but nothing on the scale of the biggest 25 years you were in Bart. I mean. The big issue is what the Industrial Revolution and the rise of Prussia and of Japan both totally unexpected events the rise of Russia United States were expected and long predicted. I'm going to try to give a feel that what a surprise people actually looks by the basic tool. This is something we have coined for our own use of the basic multiple trends. This is just a list of things we have to choose 13. If you did it you might use 15 you
might use 20. You might choose five. We chose 13 trends to watch to characterize the last seven eight or nine centuries and then we make a very big and bold step. We say what has been going on for seven eight or nine centuries may continue for another 50 years. Now. That turns out to be a bolder step than you might imagine in two separate ways. The first and most important way is even though this trend has been there for seven eight or nine centuries it has had ripples on it. You know if ebb and flow are suggesting. And that is a guess. Second guess has to do with increasing belief by a group of I would guess about 100 intellectuals and
about 200000 hippies and 5000 members of the New Left. We are in a sense of real change. Now the easiest way to look profound in a medium like this is to say man has been on earth for a million years and said You know I thought of it that way that sounds kind of profound. Anybody talks about a million years of obviously profound man. Well I want to I want to put that on you for the moment. Roughly speaking examine the last million years of history carefully. I note two important event. About a thousand years.
I recall just thought it 10000 years ago so-called Crescent spread over the next six years right around the rest of the world and about 200 years ago the industrial revolution started actually nothing happened. Now if you're a religious man you want to add at least one more incident. I am an agnostic and now I have this great so important ideas and so on were let loose during this period. Now these hundred intellectuals 5000 members of the left and 20000 hippies have the temerity to suggest that the next 50 years an event of equal magnitude looker. That's a pretty impressive statement and I'll try to pull it off but I tried to argue this will happen. Talk about a sometimes called the post-industrial society. I try to distinguish from that post economic
society. I don't think will happen throughout the fifties the world is in fact very dangerous. But I've got much less dangerous around 59 60 61. The word money is not very dangerous today at least in the sense of stark cataclysm. I mean wars on it's a big thing and its important and its effects have not yet been felt. But in the terms of sort of your war or this kind of thing or major appeasement where you lose a company that does not seem to be the issue as far as we can see for 20 years now I wouldn't want to bet on it. I would next five or 10 and it depends a little bit upon being careful and reasonable more accurately. Let me describe situations fall during the 50s. I had say a dozen scenarios. It's a term I use over and over again chosen to denigrate. A fictional sequence of events which I
wouldn't take too seriously but wanted to dismiss. It's a scenario. I had about a dozen scenarios. The accidental or deliberate nuclear war all of which were taken seriously by people in 1962 we had a contract for about one hundred fifty thousand dollars not a dozen scenarios. We failed to deliver on that contract. You really can't do that you can't take people's money and fail to deliver. So again a very thick report. Which itself was a dead giveaway. And it was filled with scenarios and nobody lost any sleep on them. Now this may be a tribute to our lack of imagination and there is something to that. Why look at the specific details of World War 1. That scenario wouldn't pass. And yes you may recall it happened. There's another reason to choose the year 2000.
If you're looking at issues like development and maybe some city planning issues you find that it's a good day so things can be done you know to be meaningful actually charismatic to mean something to people. For example for development issues a lot of my volunteer specifically looking at it. We think this full set of things lie and there we do the studies without apology. Take Mexico Mexico has varied in growth rates per capita over the last 50 years between three and a half percent want to make a somewhat arbitrary assumption that represents good management or good luck. What didn't happen is bad management or bad luck. Now what's a definitely good and bad luck. By 1975 hardly noticeable by 1985 noticeable but not by the year 2000 means a factor of 2. Being good and bad luck or good and bad management is a doubling of the Bo's'n of the per capita income. Between being rich and poor. And the point
is it takes a 30 year perspective to see the difference. You simply can't do it and that's another reason for doing these studies but you have some important the natural state agricultural or agriculture one might think of a civilized man that means man to live in cities as a civilized civilization means a civic culture. There's roughly 50 to one dollars per capita and I suspect that in turning those words reasonably you cannot find a single society in history up to about the middle of the eighteenth century that very much exceeded that much below you can think of 50 to 200 dollars per capita as the natural state of human beings in some reasonable state. I think that by a factor of 10 and that factor of 10 is different you know got Western and Eastern Europe. Mass consumption society. They're just different from the big industrial step another factor of 10.
What we expect to happen to the United States to the West and Europe the Soviet Union and so on to about 20 percent of the world's peoples in the next 50 years. And you've got a society which has a some sense just as different from the kind of mass consumption societies as imaginative societies ops American society. But I do want to emphasize that time post-industrial as opposed to the time post economics which I would argue take another factor of 10 most economic theory that is a service oriented defined of services to services or services to oneself services to industry. Let me describe this building there's a great deal of misunderstanding about this. First imagine Congress is completely computer run. So that did not have to lift a finger to get any material goods. They would still presumably work and it becomes you know the Sony Joe service which
is very hard to work out the gross national product at all circumstances. If you had been talking to an audience America 200 years ago and told them that in a hundred years all of our culture will be produced by 5 percent of people they would say this these 5 percent have a stranglehold on United States. They would use the most basic commodity. They'd be talking about the new agricultural state in fact agriculture is a dull subject today. A farmer comes almost as I've just doubled my production on the south hundred acres. His wife will say that's what I was to be done today and the New York Times and you'll read it but you somehow have to get excited. There is a growing belief that the same things going to occur for industry and rather have a new industrial state will have a state which industry is very much not at the center and everything that's going on today I think indicates that this a Pops is basically correct. Sometimes business tell me who's going to pay the bills. I'm saying
you are. And who cares. It really is. But it gets the point across. But the farmer can say the same thing he does but he doesn't dominate. All right who is going to be the center of the society. I mentioned already there are about a hundred intellectuals studying this issue and you will not be surprised at their conclusion. I think that intellectuals will be at the center. It's an open issue. That was Dr. Herman Kahn physicist government advisor and director of New York's Hudson Institute. Our discussion of the needs of this country during the next half century continues with a look of technological problems expected in the future to speak on that aspect is Dr. Emanuel G.M. the Nein a researcher and philosopher executive director of the Harvard University program on Technology and Society.
Here is Dr. Mass the Nene first new technologies if applied. Must lead to social change and to changes in social and individual values. Second the number of power and frequency of introduction of new technologies today and in the foreseeable future bring about such extensive and continuous change that we must henceforth see change as the principle or essential characteristic of the world which we try to understand and to deal with. And third. The particular kind of social and value changes that we observe. And that we must increasingly expect are not independent of the fact. That it is the introduction and application of new technology. That is bringing them about. If the last proposition is true. There is some hope that we may gradually succeed in developing the
intellectual and political instruments necessary to anticipate future developments. I should like to review this argument briefly. And then offer a duty critical scrutiny of my colleagues. One of the most obvious characteristics of technology. Is that it brings about changes in physical nature. We can thus define a new technology. As one which makes possible a new way of inducing a physical change. Or which creates a wholly new physical possibility or option that simply did not exist before. A.L. of way in which technology technology makes for change is by removing some options that were previously available to us. The removal of options is not the result of the technology however. But of the act of choosing a new
option. That the technology has created. Since new possibilities and new opportunities generally require new organizations of human effort to realize and exploit them. Technology generally has second order effects that take the form of social changes. These changes must moreover be of a sort conducive to exploitation of the new opportunities the technology creates. Otherwise it makes no sense even to speak of the social effects of technological change. Social consequences are. Surely not uniquely your univocal determined by the character of innovation but they cannot be entirely independent of that character. And still be consequences. What the advent of nuclear weapons altered was the military organization of the country not the structure of its communications industry and the launching of satellites
affects international relations much more directly than it does the institutions of organized sport. There is a Congress. Between technology and its effect in other words that serves as intellectual ground for all inquiry into the social effects of technology. The essence of this Congress is that it is after all the technology that creates the new physical possibilities which provide society with new options that it can take advantage of by reorganization of its institutions and procedures. The process does not occur the other way around. To be sure. What technologies will be developed at any particular time. Is dependent on the social organization and system of values that prevail at that particular time. I do not mean to depreciate. The interaction between technology and
society especially in a way especially in complex societies. Where the interaction is recognised and can be guided. But the interaction does not obliterate the identity of the actors. The material initiative remains with technology and the social adaptation to it remains its consequence. New technology also means a high probability of change in values. For two reasons. First what we want and what we cherish that is our values are selections from what it is possible to have. Otherwise morality gives way to fantasy. When we say that technology makes possible what was not possible before we say that we can now get or have what we could not have before our old values thus come into question because we can do
something about them by deliberate alteration of their material conditions. Both what we value and the ways in which we decide what we value can change in other words because technology can generate new value. Second a particular technology can portend a particular kind of value change because certain attitudes and values are more conducive than others. The most effective exploitation of the potentialities of the new technology. What keeps this argument from being circular is the novelty inherent in technological change. The values existing at any given time will determine the technological choices that a society will make but these choices will be based on the foreseeable consequences of a new technology.
The essence of technology as creative new possibility means that there is an irreducible element of uncertainty of unforeseeable consequence in any innovation. Two evaluations are necessary there for one before. And one after the innovation. The first is an evaluation of prospects. The second is an evaluation of results uncertainty and here and in technological innovation means that there will usually be a difference between these two evaluations. To that extent new technology will lead to value change. Our own age is characterized by a deliberate fostering of technological change in a modern industrialized society particularly there are a number of pressures that conspire.
Toward this result. First economic pressures argue for the greater efficiency implicit in the new technology. The principal example of this is the continuing process of capital modernization that takes place in industry. Second there are political pressures that seek the greater absolute effectiveness of a new technology as in our latest weapons for example. Third we turn more and more to the promise of new technology for help in dealing with our social problems. Fourth there is what I would call the Everest complex which spurs action simply because the technology that makes it possible is available. Space vehicles spawn moon programs. There is finally an Apollo syndrome political and industrial interests engaged in developing a new technology have a vested interest in the powerful means needed to urge its adoption and widespread use.
This social drive to develop ever more new technology and the high probability that new technology will result in social changes are the conditions for a world whose defining characteristic is change. That is the kind of world I once described as directly after the pre-Socratic philosophers Heraclitus who saw it change as the essence of being. When change becomes that pervasive in the world it must color the ways in which we understand organize and evaluate the world. The sheer fact of change will have an impact on our sensibilities and ideas. Our institutions and practices our politics and values. Most of these have to date developed on the assumption that stability was more characteristic of the world than change. That is that change was but a temporary perturbation
of stability or a transition to a new and presumed better or higher stable state. When that fundamental metaphysical assumption is undermined our whole attitude toward an approach to the world and society undergo fundamental and far reaching alterations we are forced to a posture of systematic expectation of change which has intellectual social and political implications. There is concern expressed in many quarters these days as recently as this afternoon in this room about the threat of technology devalues some writers go so far as to a certain incompatibilities between technology and values and to warn that technological progress is tantamount to dehumanization and destruction of value. There is no question as I
noted earlier that technological change alters the mix of choices available to man and the choices made. Ipso facto preclude other choices that might have been made. Some values are destroyed in this process. It is also the case no doubt that some of the choices made are constrained by the very technology that makes them available. In such cases the loss of value can be tragic and justly regretted and invade again. But I see little but an emotional basis for the fear that technological progress must of necessity mean a progressive destruction of value. I believe that the principal source of the view of the technology and values are incompatible by nature is the confusion of what is valuable with what is stable. Values change however slowly
they change more quickly. As I have suggested the more quickly or extensively a society develops and introduces new technology since technological change is so prominent a characteristic of our own society. We tend to note inadequacies in our received values more quickly than might have been the case in other times. If that perception is then coupled with the conviction that technology and value are inherently inimical to each other the opinion is reinforced that the advance of technology must mean the decline of value and of the amenities of distinctively human civilization. I want to mention finally some respects in which technological change and the intellectual and social changes it brings with it are likely to alter the conditions and patterns of government.
Briefly put they enhance the role of government in society. And not surprisingly given the considerations I have already reduced they enhance the role of knowledge in government.
- The next fifty years
- A Future Filled With Change
- Producing Organization
- WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Series Description
- For series info, see Item 3455. This prog.: A Future Filled with Change: Herman Kahn, Emmanuel G. Mesthene, Carl Oglesby, Claude Brown
- Social Issues
- Media type
Producing Organization: WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-26-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “The next fifty years; A Future Filled With Change,” 1968-07-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-5t3g2j1z.
- MLA: “The next fifty years; A Future Filled With Change.” 1968-07-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-5t3g2j1z>.
- APA: The next fifty years; A Future Filled With Change. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-5t3g2j1z