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Somewhere around thirty years ago, Dr. Boli had an interesting conversation with a high-school student. This young man was complaining about teachers, as high-school students often do; and on this day his particular complaint was that his teacher was giving an automatic F to any composition written on a computer rather than a typewriter. The teacher’s stated reason was that, in the real world, students would have to know how to use a typewriter.
Now, even thirty years ago, Dr. Boli was confident that, by the time that high-school student was kicked out into the real world, the office typewriter would be sharing space with the adding machine and the Dictaphone cylinders in an abandoned closet with a sign saying “HERE BE DRAGONS” taped to the door. But a future without typewriters was unimaginable to that teacher.
The future does that to us. We wrap ourselves in a blanket of comfortable familiarity, and then the future comes to whisk the blanket away. The things we regarded as eternal laws of the universe turn out to be temporary arrangements. Every prediction Dr. Boli made that began “The Soviet Union will always…” was completely and utterly wrong. The Soviet Union died just as typewriters became obsolete in business. Coincidence or conspiracy?
Sometimes the future plays a subtler joke on us. Star Trek famously predicted, and in fact inspired, the personal communication devices that have become ubiquitous; but Star Trek never predicted that they would be used mostly for looking at funny pictures of cats.
Can we use our past failures to make our predictions more accurate? Probably not. But there is no reason why we should not try the experiment. In celebration of International Typewriter Appreciation Month, Dr. Boli will be making occasional wild and almost ludicrously unlikely predictions of the future; then he will show you his reasoning, and you may decide whether the predictions are as ludicrous as they seemed.
His first prediction:
In two centuries, the Islamic East will be proverbially tolerant, and in fact will often be sneered at by self-identified conservatives for its indiscriminate liberalism.
In tomorrow’s article, Dr. Boli will explain why he makes that prediction. But if you wish to speculate until then, he will not stop you.