In 1926, Nikola Tesla Predicts the World of 2026

Not long after Nikola Tesla died in 1943, the world seemed to forget him. The first public tribute paid to his considerable research and development in the realm of electricity thereafter came in 1960 with the introduction of the tesla, the SI unit of magnetic flux density. But in the decades since Tesla has enjoyed an afterlife as an icon of under-appreciated prescience. Some of this reputation is based on interviews given in the 1920s and 1930s, when he was still a celebrity. Take the short Colliers magazine profile from 1926 in which he foresees the emergence of devices that will allow us “to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance”; a man, Tesla predicts, “will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.”

This article is one source of the words spoken in the Voices of the Past video above. In it, Tesla also speaks of a future hugely enriched by the “wireless energy” he spent much of his career pursuing. It will power “flying machines” in which “we shall ride from New York to Europe in a few hours.” A household’s daily newspaper “will be printed ‘wirelessly’ in the home during the night.”

Thanks to instant worldwide communication, “international boundaries will be largely obliterated and a great step will be made toward the unification and harmonious existence of the various races inhabiting the globe.” All the while, new generations of ever better-educated women “will ignore precedent and startle civilization with their progress.”

Many will applaud Tesla’s views on the advancement of women, though here his thinking takes a turn that may give pause even to the most forward-thinking among us today: “The acquisition of new fields of endeavor by women, their gradual usurpation of leadership, will dull and finally dissipate feminine sensibilities, will choke the maternal instinct, so that marriage and motherhood may become abhorrent and human civilization draw closer and closer to the perfect civilization of the bee.” The inventor of alternating current has much to say in favor of apian society, “the most highly organized and intelligently coordinated system of any form of nonrational animal life.” And so why not restructure human civilization around a single queen?

This video also draws on a 1937 interview with Tesla in Liberty magazine, which features even more discomfiting propositions. “The only method compatible with our notions of civilization and the race is to prevent the breeding of the unfit by sterilization and the deliberate guidance of the mating instinct,” Tesla insists. “The Secretary of Hygiene or Physical Culture will be far more important in the cabinet of the President of the United States who holds office in the year 2035 than the Secretary of War.” Despite perhaps having crossed the line into mad-scientism, Tesla remained incisive about the persistent condition of humans under high technology. “We suffer from the derangement of our civilization because we have not yet completely adjusted ourselves to the machine age,” he claims. “The solution of our problems does not lie in destroying but in mastering the machine.” Here in the 21st century, of course, many of us would be content simply to gain mastery over the one in our vest pocket.

Related Content:

Nikola Tesla Accurately Predicted the Rise of the Internet & Smart Phone in 1926

Nikola Tesla’s Predictions for the 21st Century: The Rise of Smart Phones & Wireless, The Demise of Coffee, The Rule of Eugenics (1926/35)

The Electric Rise and Fall of Nikola Tesla: As Told by Technoillusionist Marco Tempest

Futurist from 1901 Describes the World of 2001: Opera by Telephone, Free College & Pneumatic Tubes Aplenty

A 1947 French Film Accurately Predicted Our 21st-Century Addiction to Smartphones

Hear an Ancient Chinese Historian Describe The Roman Empire (and Other Voices of the Past)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

by | Permalink | Comments (8) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (8)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Joe Rice says:

    The eugenics movement was quite popular in 1930’s America. California, Virginia and other states forcibly sterilized many people during this time period, and even later.

    Not to excuse Tesla’s abhorrent statemeny. It should be noted that this was not the ravings of a mad scientist, but an accepted political argument.

  • Starlight Projects says:

    You are absolutely right… And they did it again in the 60s and 70s in the USA and 3rd world countries without people’s permission, authorization or even knowledge. It has always been the one of the solutions of the so called “New World Order.” As you say, and I agree 100%, nothing new…

  • Fred says:

    The World didn’t the forget him….Those in power who teach the world, made it so that we never hear of him… Best way to get generations after generations more stupid and ignorant…AND STAY IN POWER

  • Amber says:

    Wonderful comments guys :)
    So happy to know there are so many people that can see through the deception.

    Also, lovely article thank you :)

  • Steven Harris says:

    Life will change food shortages bankruptcies animal species depleting diseases increasing countries on the edge of War waste centers poisoning oceans an earth with killing off animals everywhere human beings fighting over religion and land immigration bringing in diseases

  • Charlotte Miller says:

    Nikola Tesla was a brilliant scientist. It’s a shame Edison and Marconi treated him so badly stealing his work and claiming his patents.

  • Shrawan Kumar says:

    Absolutly Correct abt Nikola Tesla ..

    He was doing all the research works for common people without any money matters ..thats what led him to debt
    …..Businessman JP Morgan , Thomas Edison and Marconi they never hesitated to steal his research work to get credit from the common people … !!

    He left 80 Briefcases when he died ..which was handed over to his niece …who handed over 60 Briefcases to US Govt. …and finally 40 Briefcases were made Public .. BUT with lots of overworked so that it should NOT be clear to the Common people .!!
    …Today you ask any Aspirant , Engineer Electrical. or Electronics or AStroPhysics …Or Research work doing Professionals HOw they Miss NIKOLA TESLA Sire today …!!??!!
    ..So sad ..!!.

  • Daren Roy John Dahlgren says:

    Nikki T was transgender..he could have kids. They say he was fat for about a year n he had a very odd relationship with mark Twain. He had a very high pitched voice n screamed n yelled like a woman to his workers. He’d freak out over pearls n never would touch women’s hair n he never had sex with any women. Once a young apprentice asked him why Tesla never had sex with any of those beautiful women he dated Tesla pulled down his pants n the guy said he had a vagina. Women would asked Tesla’s colleges if they ever saw what Tesla had if they saw him at the urinal. They said he was always in the stall. He didn’t age well just like most women n he honored his mother more than his dad..Nikola is both a girls n boys name n Tesla was an enud.he chose the feminine side. I think his grand nephew is really his grandson n his sister raised his son as her never know he was very reclusive for a reason.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.