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Your Future ... Seriously

The science fiction author Isaac Asimov, inspired by his visit to the New York World's Fair back in 1964, wrote down some predictions of life 50 years hence. Fifty years from 1964 brings us to today, and the New York Times recently re-published the piece in honor of the occasion.

What did Mr. Asimov foresee that came true? To me, his most impressive predictions were flat-screen televisions and Skype on iPads. However, anyone projecting life 50 years hence can be expected to whiff on a few calls, and Mr. Asimov didn't disappoint. We do not have colonies on the moon and Mars, which means we're spared the communication problems Mr. Asimov predicted we'd have.

How Long?

All fun aside, where will you be 50 years from now? Alive, to begin with. Life expectancy is rising dramatically thanks to the advances in medical science, health consciousness and improvements in diet and exercise. In the last century or so, we've seen our life expectancy increase by more than 20 years. Although the actual numbers are fuzzy, differing, as they do, by country, gender and whether or not you had a world war or flu pandemic in your life, the trend is inescapable. It's easy to dismiss a 100-year trend as not applying to you, but think again. Odds are you are going to live another 50 years, which means you can add another ten years to what you expected as your lifespan.

It may sound like a nice thing, being able to live longer, but it's not a cheap thing. Laws and customs don't always change as fast as your life expectancy, and so you have rules like retirement beginning at 60. When you add people who are able to retire earlier, it's not too much of a reach to find more and more people living longer in retirement than in their earning years.

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