Back in 1996 a young boy wrote a letter for school with predictions about the year 2016. Christopher Janitz was just nine years old and little did he know his mother would save that letter and present it to him on his 29th birthday.
Kids tend to make the most optimistic predictions regardless of the era, (unless they’re from the 1970s, in which case they realised everything was going to be shit. And young Christopher’s predictions were really no different than that of other millennials.
The nine-year-old child of 1990s New Jersey predicted techno-utopian wonders like robot cops, hovercars, robo-cashiers and computer-desks.
Twenty years from today it will be 2016 and there will not be cars that ride on the ground. The cars will float in the air. The schools won’t be made from blocks of stone. They will be made from metal and they will be in funny looking shapes. There will be robot policemen and cashiers and other kinds of people. There won’t be normal desk. The desks will be like a computer with weird kinds of pencils. In the 2016 I’ll be 29-years-old and my sister will be 32-years-old and my mum will be 63-years-old. Twenty years from today the New York Giants will win the Super Bowl and the Dallas Cowboys will never win the Super Bowl again in NFL history.
We can’t fault little Christopher for being so wrong about hovercars and funny looking schools. He was just a kid. But the most interesting thing about the predictions is how modern day 29-year-old Christopher thinks he did.
“I’m most surprised at how some of the ideas I had as a kid ended up coming true,” he told ABC News. “We have automated or ‘robot’ cashiers when you head to the [supermarket] and do self-checkout. I’m a designer who works on a computer all day and owns an iPad with a stylus, so that little bit came true, too!”
Every prediction from the past is a bit of a Rorschach test. Whenever we publish visions of tomorrow from decades ago, people easily see what they want to see. We can stretch definitions to make predictions conform to what we’d like them to say. But nobody can predict the future with certainty. Least of all a nine-year-old kid.
While it’s fun to look back at predictions like this, let us never forget: Kids are dumb. Sometimes adorably so. But they’re still dumb. And we won’t hold that against them.