This week, The Intelligence Brief takes a trip back in time, as we take a look at how people in decades envisioned the future world of 2022.

Welcome to the Future, as Seen From the Past


Welcome to this week’s edition of The Intelligence Brief… as we continue to ease our way into 2022, this week we take a trip back in time, as we take a look at how people in decades past might have envisioned the world of today. Items we’ll touch on include 1) what old newspapers reveal about people’s thinking about the world of tomorrow 2) one forward thinker’s rather prescient ideas from a century ago about how our world today might look, and 3) a novel past prediction from a New York Times reader about a UAP discovery that would happen in 2022.


“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”

– Pablo Picasso.

Before we get into the thick of things, a few items in the news that we’ve been covering this week at The Debrief include the discovery of plumes of steam that erupt from the surface of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, and how they may not actually prove the existence of an underground ocean, as well as how designing and building a house may get easier thanks to 3D printing. Elsewhere, some experts are worried about whether ‘Deep Fake’ technology could wreak havoc on Hollywood.

Meanwhile, there have been some exciting developments in the way of video news over at The Debrief this week, which includes the addition of an all-new web series, The Debrief’s Tech Talk, hosted by Josh Rutledge and Stefan Gearhart. In this inaugural episode, the gents of all-things-tech take us on a journey into the inner workings of the Presonus Studio 68C. And while you’re checking out our YouTube channel, don’t forget to catch the latest episode of The Debrief Weekly News Roundup with our very own Cristina Gomez, as well as past episodes of Debriefed with Chrissy Newton.

And with that all out of the way, now join me as we take a trip back in time to the world of 1922… and get an anachronistic perspective on how people of decades past envisioned our modern world in the year 2022.



Days of Future Past: I See by the Papers

One of my favorite pastimes (that is, when I have any free time) is to scan old newspaper archives for various historical topics of interest. It can be both rewarding, and at times amusing to see what made it into print decades, or even centuries ago. That is particularly true when it comes to predictions about the future, although from time to time, past commentators on what the world of tomorrow might look like were eerily on-point.

In 1922, just four years before his death, English author of fiction and early feminist W.L. George made a number of rather prescient assertions about how he envisioned the world of 2022 might look. George’s predictions about the world of the 21st century, like many other futurists of his day, weren’t all entirely spot-on, although many of them were quite close to the mark.

Writing for the New York Herald, George proclaimed that “The people of the year 2022 will probably never see a wire outlined against the sky,” in noting how telegraph wires and other features common to communication in his era would be gone by now. George added that “it is practically certain that wireless telegraphy and wireless telephones will have crushed the cable system long before the century is done.”


Also anticipating a future where flight had become commonplace, George wrote that “commercial flying will have become entirely commonplace. The passenger steamer will survive on the coasts, but it will have disappeared on the main routes, and will have been replaced by flying convoys, which should cover the distance between London and New York in about 12 hours.”


Energy, Equal Rights, and Nutrition in 2022

Among George’s insights had also been his anticipation that dwindling resources such as fossil fuels would eventually lead to the prevalence of cleaner energy sources. “Coal will not be exhausted,” George guessed, “but our reserves will be seriously depleted, and so will those of oil. One of the world dangers a century hence will be a shortage of fuel, but it is likely that by that time a great deal of power will be obtained from tides, from the sun, probably from radium and other forms of radial energy, while it may also be that atomic energy will be harnessed.”

“It is practically certain that in 2022,” George also predicted, “nearly all women will have discarded the idea that they are primarily ‘makers of men.’ Most fit women will then be following an individual career. All positions will be open to them and a great many women will have risen high.” George also guessed that many women of the future would be serving in government, having been elected to Congress, and appointed to positions that included judicial posts, and even “some in the president’s Cabinet.”

Granted, not every one of George’s predictions was quite so up to par. Of nutrition in the year 2022, he surmised that “It is conceivable, though not certain, that in 2022 a complete meal may be taken in the shape of four pills.”

Despite the proliferation of vitamins and other supplementary dietary regimens in existence today, George was quick to concede that his projections about meals in pill form were “not entirely visionary” and that he was “convinced that corned beef hash and pumpkin pie will still exist.” Hey, for my own part, I’m especially glad that he left open for these appetizing possibilities.


UFOs: An Entertaining Theory for 2022

On a final Ufological note, I was recently reminded of an amusing prediction that appeared in the New York Times several years ago by one of my readers, who recalled me writing about it back in early 2013.

The item in question dealt with an interactive feature originally published in late 2011 titled “Predicting the Future of Computing,” which presented a slew of crowd-sourced contributions from Times readers about how they envisioned major developments in computing, and a few other tangent threads related to general futurism.

One particularly insightful reader shared the following idea, having to do with a subject that the Times would (now famously) bring back to the forefront of public discourse in 2017: UFOs, or as they are often called, UAP. In the year 2022, the reader predicted, it will be learned that UFOs represent “tourists from Earth’s future,” and in some instances “future biologists collecting non-genetically modified food crop seeds.”


More than really being a valid or likely prediction about future UFO revelations for 2022, the reader’s lighthearted supposition reflected concerns that remain persistent about GMOs, and how they might be affecting our nutrition, and more broadly, the world in general. Although it remains to be seen whether any new revelations about UFOs on par with this Times reader’s prediction will come to light in the months ahead, one thing does appear to be evident: as the UAP debate rages on, it has managed to claim a far greater degree of credibility in the decade since this prediction first appeared.

With such renewed interest—and renewed efforts by the U.S. government at trying to assess what UAP could represent—finding the ultimate resolution to this mystery could now be just a matter of “time”… even if they don’t end up representing visits by concerned biologists from our distant future.

That concludes this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief. You can read past editions of The Intelligence Brief at our website, or if you found this installment online, don’t forget to subscribe and get future email editions from us here. Also, if you have a tip or other information you’d like to send along directly to me, you can email me at micah [@] the, or Tweet at me @MicahHanks.

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