The beautiful mind of Nikola Tesla was one of the best ones in a scientific and technical generation that stands shoulders above the lot we have right now. Not only was he able to invent and imagine amazing inventions like Tesla coils, AC electricity, radio-controlled devices, robotics, microwaves, etc.needs, he also predicted a lot about the future of technology especially that relating to the revolution in electronics and electrical engineering.
The level of accuracy in these predictions is staggering as he even managed to get their subtle details right. Here are some of his more well-known predictions that turned out to be true:
1. Smartphones and Artificial “wireless” intelligence
Tesla infamously predicted the smartphone experience in 1904 when the AC was still in its infancy. Here is what he had to say:
“…..A cheap and simple device, which might be carried in one’s pocket, may then be set up somewhere on sea or land, and it will record the world’s news or such special messages as may be intended for it. Thus, the entire earth will be converted into a huge brain, as it were, capable of response in every one of its parts. Since a single plant of but one hundred horse-power can operate hundreds of millions of instruments, the system will have a virtually infinite working capacity, and it need immensely facilitate and cheapen the transmission of intelligence.” -21st Century Books, The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires
The chilling thing about this revelation for me is not the smartphone but his vision of the entire Earth being “one huge brain”. That’s the web and internet of things for you!
Tesla believed that automated machines could one day take over the industry. He made a remote-controlled boat as early as 1898 which he named “Teleautomation” and exhibited it in front of Madison Square Garden. Most people at that time had no idea what radio waves were and panicked by the apparent wizardry of it. This invention of his was the first demonstration of robotics at work. He called them automatons, which is arguably a much cooler name than robots themselves. About automatons, he said:
“Innumerable activities still performed by human hands today will be performed by automatons. At this very moment, scientists working in the laboratories of American universities are attempting to create what has been described as a ‘thinking machine.’ I anticipated this development.”
Amazing, isn’t it?
3. Flying Machines/ Planes
Tesla wasn’t limited to electricity and electronics only. Even though it was only in his latter stage of life that aeroplanes were invented and converted into the ocean-faring machines, he actually knew before it happened. He believed that they would take someone from Europe to America in just a few hours which they did but only decades after his own death. Even nowadays, jetliners take around eight hours to make the trans-Atlantic journey. But, he also said that planes would be powered by wireless electrical energy and they would result in the dissolution of international borders as well as global peace. That much hasn’t happened right now and doesn’t seem too close to be happening but it is more of disappointment rather than a wrong prediction.
We humans have been guilty of war-mongering and war-profiteering more than ever. If only we had invested that much in Science, we could have all this that Tesla predicted. The concept of borderless nations has been implemented somewhat like in Europe where once bitter rivals like France and Germany have virtually no visible border between each other.
He also patented a weird electro-propulsive flying machine powered by an anti-electromagnetic field drive or Space Drive. It resembled both a plane and a helicopter of sorts. Just like his admirer Elon Musk, he was very interested in space itself and aimed to use this spaceship to indulge in interplanetary travel. Here is what he had to say on this matter:
“After these experiments, I planned to build a flying machine, which could fly not only in the air but within interplanetary space. The principle of operation of the flying machine is as follows: towards the flight direction, compression of the ether is to become weaker by the generator installed in the flying machine. As the ether keeps pressing with prior intensity from all other sides, then the flying machine began moving. Being within this flying machine you will not feel its speeding-up as the ether is not to hamper your movement. I had to abandon my plans to create the flying machine. There were two reasons for it: first, I have no money to work in secret. But the main reason is that the great war began in Europe and I wouldn’t like my inventions used to kill! When on earth will these madmen stop?”
So, not only he was a great inventor but also a great humanitarian and visionary as well. He probably might not have succeeded in this endeavour but he could have made some awesome discoveries on his own.
4. Free energy and Monopoles
Tesla was also kind of a believer in conspiracy theories where he suggested that long ago that the energy companies had a monopoly on the fossil fuels and were hampering the progress of finding free energy. According to him, the world was on the verge of a major revelation that would mean free energy.
Tesla understood the principles of the overwhelming energy available in nature like solar and the wind and said:
“The earth currents of electricity are to be harnessed. Nature supplies them free of charge. The cost of power and light and heat will be practically nothing.”
He also predicted a revolutionary change: the decentralisation of energy and power. Although that is a far cry nowadays when corporations control out energy requirements and lobby billions of dollars each year to maintain their energy hegemony, it still isn’t impossible. Solar energy is becoming cheaper and smarter and as a result, we are all moving forward towards a world where each person can generate his own power requirements very easily. I love how brilliant minds like him are idealistic to the core. We are made to believe that being scientific is similar to being a skeptic but that is not the case. Not according to the great Nikola Tesla. Technological progress can change the face of the world for good!