Looking to the Future
When a magazine for high-school students asked its readers what life would be like in twenty years, they said: Machines would be run by solar power. Buildings would rotate so they could follow the sun to take maximum advantage of its light and heat Walls would "radiate light" and "change color with the push of a button." Food would be replaced by pills. School would be taught "by electrical impulse while we sleep." Cars would have radar. Does this sound like the year 2000? Actually, the article was written in 1958 and the question was, "what will life be like in 1978?"
The future is much too important to simply guess about, the way the high school students did, so experts are regularly asked to predict accurately. By carefully studying the present, skilled businessmen, scientists, and politicians are supposedly able to figure out in advance what will happen. But can they? One expert on cities wrote: Cities of the future would not be crowded, but would have space for farms and fields. People would travel to work in "airbuses", large all-weather helicopters carrying up to 200 passengers. When a person left the airbus station he could drive a coin-operated car equipped with radar. The radar equipment of cars would make traffic accidents "almost unheard of". Does that sound familiar? If the expert had been accurate it would, because he was writing in 1957. His subject was "The city of 1982".
If the professionals sometimes sound like high-school students, it's probably because future study is still a new field. But economic forecasting, or predicting what the economy will do, has been around for a long time. It should be accurate, and generally it is. But there have been some big market in the field, too. In early 1929, most forecasters saw an excellent future for the stock market. In October of that year, the stock market had its worst losses ever, ruining thousands of investors who had put their faith in financial foreseers.
One forecaster knew that predictions about the future would always be subject to significant error. In 1957, H.J.Rand of the Rad corporation was asked about the year 2000, "Only one thing is certain," he answered. "Children born today will have reached the age of 43."
1. The high-school students' answers to "What would life be like in 1978?" sound
2. According to the writer, forecasting is fairly accurate in
3. Which of the following statements is not compatible with the writer's comment on future study?
A) Predictions should be accurate
B) Professional sometimes sound like high-school students
C) There have been some big mistakes in the field of economic forecasting.
D) Predictions about future would always be subject to significant errors.
4. The passage "Looking to the Future" was most probably written
A) in 1982
B) in 1958
C) after 1958
D) in 1957
5. H.J.Rand's prediction about the year 2000 shows that
A) it is easy to figure out in advance what will happen
B) it is difficult to figure out in advance what will happen
C) only professionals can figure out in advance what will happen
D) very few professionals figure out in advance what will happen