The report on “The Future of Transportation” looked ahead more than thirty years to the year 2000. Responsible for scientific forecasts, I divided technology into three areas: materials, energy and information. I missed the importance of composite materials but my other two forecasts were substantially correct. I predicted that petroleum fuels would be dominant in our society until about 2000 but would have to be superseded by 2030. I predicted that the rapid development of electronics and software would lead to major advances in Information Technology. Advances in computation, communication and digital control would dominate our progress between 1964 and 2000.
The study led to Ford beginning research on sodium-sulfur batteries for electric cars. Believing my own forecast about IT, I shifted my attention to research on artificial intelligence, and then installed one of the first process control computers used in Ford’s manufacturing. Impatient with the slow pace of innovation in the auto industry, I then left for Xerox Corporation.
What does all this have to do with the arts in Western North Carolina? Having once been 67% correct in 35-year forecasts, I wondered if I could predict the 35-year future of the arts. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so here are my major conclusions:
1. A Western North Carolina author will win the Nobel Prize in Literature sometime before 2040.
2. Regional theater will thrive with vitality and new plays, while Broadway will continue staging revivals and dull Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals.
Have a happy future in the land of the French Broad River and do not complain about last week's rain.