Via Stories of the Future, I came across this 1932 essay of H. G. Wells, "Wanted: Professors of Foresight:"
It seems an odd thing to me that though we have thousands and thousands of professors and hundreds of thousands of students of history working upon the records of the past, there is not a single person anywhere who makes a whole-time job of estimating the future consequences of new inventions and new devices. There is not a single Professor of Foresight in the world. But why shouldn’t there be? All these new things, these new inventions and new powers, come crowding along; every one is fraught with consequences, and yet it is only after something has hit us hard that we set about dealing with it.
Tonight we are confronted with two facts, one bad and one good; the first, which has only been hinted at, that acts of war have become hideously immediate and far reaching; and the second that the whole round world can be brought together into one brotherhood, into one communion, one close-knit freely communicating citizenship, far more easily today, than was possible with even such a little country as England a century ago.
Tell me if that second paragraph couldn't have been written this afternoon.This should make us pause in any claims that ours is a unique period in human history, in which the opportunities for collaboration and mutual understanding are unprecendented. Ten years after Wells published this essay, where was the world? Fully engaged in World War II.