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7 Surprising Predictions for 2023 That Experts Made 100 Years Ago

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Predictions and Prognostications

If the pundits of yore were right about their predictions for 2023, we'd enjoy a four-hour workday, radio-powered flying vehicles, and a 300-year lifespan. That's all according to a series of newspaper clippings from 1923 that have gone viral on Twitter thanks to Paul Fairie, a researcher and instructor at the University of Calgary. In the viral thread, the political scientists shared more than a dozen 100-year-old clippings from experts who tried to peer into the future. While some predictions are way off the mark — I think we're all waiting for the four-hour workday — others were shockingly prescient. Here are some of the most notable predictions from that thread.


Related: 2020s vs. 1920s: Will History Repeat?

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We'll Have a Four-Hour Workday

In his utopian vision for the future, electrical engineer Charles P. Steinmetz predicted "an amazing transformation in life in 2023," including an end to drudgery and a workday that lasts no more than four hours. Short of an impending political revolution, odds are that most full-time employees will continue to work around 8.5 hours a day. That said, Steinmetz is in good company when it comes to predicting a shift to a less work-centric lifestyle. Writing in 1930, the English economist John Maynard Keynes famously envisioned a 15-hour workweek for his grandchildren.


Related: Here's Where You Can Work 4 Days a Week or Less

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We'll Communicate With 'Watch-Size' Phones

Long before Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, and the advent of the iPhone, Americans were dreaming of the Apple Watch — or at least something like it. "Watch-size radio telephones will keep everybody in communication with the ends of the earth," one prediction reads. Although they're a couple years too late — Samsung debuted the first watch phone in 1999 — their prediction is strikingly accurate, especially now as smartwatches have entered the mainstream.


Related: 103 Tech Products That Will Make Your Life Easier

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The U.S. Will Have a Population of 300 Million

One of the more accurate predictions is that the U.S. would be home to 300 million people in 2023. That's only around 30 million off from the reality, according to the U.S. Census bureau's population clock, which puts our population at 334 million people. That number is expected to grow to 369 million people by 2052, an expansion of around 0.3 percent per year,  according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.


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Utensils and Dwellings Will Be Made of 'Pulp'

Although this prediction predates the word "biodegradable," experts were already thinking of structures and utensils made of plant matter in the 1920s. Today, biodegradable, compostable, and edible utensils are all the rage, with companies like Lavazza and Disney promoting such eco-friendly options.

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We'll Have Telepathy

The scientist Archibald Low, the inventor of the first drone, predicted that warfare in 2023 would be wireless. While that's certainly true in one sense of the word — given drone and cyberwarfare's prominence in the 21st century — he also envisions that "mental telepathy will exist in embryo, and will form a very useful method of communication."

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Everyone Will Be Beautiful

In 2023, there'll be no need for beauty pageants, according to one prediction, because "there will be so many beautiful people that it will be almost impossible to select winners." While it's impossible to measure if we're more beautiful 100 years later, people certainly don't feel that way, especially as social media and advertising set unrealistic beauty standards. More than half of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies," according to the National Organization for Women.

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Life Expectancy Will Be 300 Years

Contrary to one expert's prediction that "the average length of human life will be 300 years," life expectancy has been falling in the U.S., peaking at 79 in 2019 and dropping to 76 in 2021. COVID-19, drug overdoses, and accidental injuries account for the majority of the drop, though heart and liver disease are also perennial issues. (By contrast, people in Japan average 85 years). Still, our life expectancy is a whole lot better than it was  in the 1920s when the average American only lived into their 50s.