21st Challenge No. 30 Results

Cloudy crystal-balling: When techno-predictions go awry.

Published February 12, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Guessing wrong isn't as easy as some prognosticators make it look. We asked readers to spoof shortsighted predictions out of the past -- the kind that orbit the Net via e-mail, like some ghost satellite, still beeping out archaic signals from 1967.

The following pronouncements may seem patently impossible, but we've learned never to sell the future short. Given enough time, the future has a way of coming back to bite us on the ass.


Nobody's toaster needs an IP address.

-- Jason Tiscione


It would be immoral to install an ON/OFF switch in the family pet.

-- Brian E. Bradley

Given that some Machine Intelligences like to keep pets, I think there may be a galactic market for maybe 50,000 humans.

Strategic Planner, IBM (Interstellar Biological Materials)

-- Glenn D. Brown

Genetic engineering may have its uses, but who the heck would want to hear a dog talk?

-- Steve Gattuso

I really don't want my bathroom fixtures gossiping with the neighbor's doorknob.

-- Brian E. Bradley

Even if the ReAnimatizer does work on Richard Nixon, nobody'd be crazy enough to elect him president.

-- Bob Perlman

The American public will never accept an insect-human hybrid as their president.

-- Tom Faust

Why should anyone want a device that makes their dreams come true? Never heard about nightmares?

-- Juan Delmonte

Nobody with any dignity is ever going to want to have sex with a machine.

-- Josh Gibson

Artificial intelligence? Don't we have enough of that on TV already?

-- Glenn Mabbutt

What kind of moron would buy a car that ran on human waste?

-- CEO of Texaco

-- Alex Prestin

I see no market for a motorized pogo stick, though I am impressed with the placement of the cup holder.

memo from a prominent auto executive

-- Navin Vembar

OK, I can accept that your Web bot finds online contests and creates responses. But does anyone really want to demonstrate their wittiness to complete strangers?

-- ostensibly submitted by Arthur Stock

200 years is enough. Who the hell would want to live any longer?

-- Andrew Coates

People will have no interest in travel to Mars as long as they can go to Toledo.

-- Michael Joyce

Never again will people completely blow a programming shortcut out of proportion -- like leaving off two characters in a date.

-- Marc Plaisant

California is the hottest, best real estate market in the entire world, and you are a fool if you don't cash in your 401K to put 5 percent down and borrow as much as the bank will give you to buy a shack in the Oakland Public School district along the Hayward Fault.

-- Ann C. Logue (who says she is about to move to Chicago)

Thanks for taking the 21st Challenge. Check back in two weeks for another contest.

By Charlie Varon

Charlie Varon is a humorist and playwright. His works include "Ralph Nader Is Missing" and "Rush Limbaugh in Night School."

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By Jim Rosenau

Jim Rosenau is a writer, editor and software designer in Berkeley, Calif. Jim and Charlie are also co-founders of the citizens group Californians for Earthquake Prevention and partners in Mockingbird Media, which offers a full line of comic services.

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