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It’s hard to believe we’re living in the year 2020 (MMXX)! It’s a leap year in the Gregorian calendar containing 366 days with February 29 as the extra day. It’s also an Olympic year with summer games in Tokyo. This new year, in fact, is marked with great significance.

The expression “20/20” is so commonplace in the United States there’s even been a TV newsmagazine named after it since 1978. The show’s name and other references derive from the “20/20” measurement of visual acuity. By looking at lots of people, eye doctors decided what a “normal” human being should be able to see when standing 20 feet away from an eye chart. If you have 20/20 vision, it means when you stand 20 feet away from the chart you can see what the “normal” human being can see. There’s also the saying that “hindsight is 20/20” meaning when you look back at things in the past, because you have the benefit of knowing the future so to speak, you can see what you couldn’t see back when you made your initial decision.

Not since 1919, have we had a double-digit year. And there won’t be another one until 2121 – 101 years from now.

Was 1919 a good double-digit year? Many historians today summarize 1919 as one of the worst years in 20th century American history. World War I was over and most Americans were eager for peace and security; however, 1919 would prove to be anything but. Revolution and unrest ran rampant across Europe and North America, and the Flu Pandemic continued in the U.S. from the prior year with a third brutal wave in the spring that took the lives of 185,440 people. Terrorist bombings shocked seven U.S. cities in June, the first of a series of “Red Scares” began when the government passed an act that blacklisted anyone thought to be involved with communism, race riots rocked the nation and hundreds of workers went on strike across the country. The adoption of constitutional amendments giving women the vote and establishing Prohibition denoted the high-water mark of the moral impulses of the Progressive era.

In addition, voters grew disillusioned during the Woodrow Wilson years, with many feeling the President and the Progressives went too far, alienating people from the government. And even though WWI had ended, anxious citizens questioned the reasons and results of the war.

Even in the sports world, on Oct. 9, 1919, the first major scandal in Major League Baseball — and to this day, the worst – occurred when nine players from the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. It is forever known as the Black Sox Scandal with players, such as immortal Shoeless Joe Jackson, banned from the game and Hall of Fame forever.

On a brighter note, dial telephones were introduced by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company with the first rotary dial telephones in the Bell System installed in Norfolk, Virginia. The pop-up toaster, short wave radios and arc welders also were invented in the U.S.

After looking at 1919, the year 2020 seems futuristic and awesome. A century ago, no one could have predicted it would kick off a half century of unprecedented productivity.

Current future forecasters say 2020 will include driverless cars becoming mainstream. But while that idea still seems like science fiction, experts predict there will be 10 million of them on the road in 2020. And, are we ready for moon mining with maybe robotic moon bases, chips implanted in our brains and a high-speed rail linking London to Beijing? According to a dazzling number of technology predictions that single out the year 2020, it may be one heck of a year! Let’s take a look at what some prognosticators say are some of the other wonders that may be in store for us in the new year.

Predictors say there’s no technological reason why Japan shouldn’t be able to move forward with its ambitious plan to build a robotic lunar outpost in 2020 — built by robots, for robots. And the U.S. military has pledged to get half its energy from renewable resources this year. Universal translation will be commonplace in mobile devices, there will be advances in artificial organs and 3D-video conferencing, while a $1,000 computer will have the processing power of the human brain. And once we have such a computer, can we build a complete synthetic human brain from scratch? Researchers at Switzerland’s Blue Brain Project think so.

In 2020, forecasters also predict world sales of electric vehicles will reach 6,600,000; solar energy will become more economical than regular electricity in more than half of the U.S., more people, in fact, will own a phone than have electricity; and the world’s population is forecasted to reach 7,758,156,000.

Finally, here are some hilarious predictions about the year 2020 that at some point in time, people really expected to happen: We’ll have personal helicopters, live in flying houses, all roads will become tubes, nobody will work because everyone will be rich, mail will be sent via rocket, we’ll be able to vote electronically from home, have robots as therapists, everyone will be a vegetarian and we’ll finally make it to Mars.

We would not go as far as to say that future is now, but the potential is undeniably there.

Vince LaBarbera
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Vince LaBarbera

Vince is a Fort Wayne native. He earned a master of science degree in journalism and advertising from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. LaBarbera is retired but continues to enjoy freelance writing and serving the Radio Reading Service of the Allen County Public Library. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer