David Byrne's 1987 Predictions for the Computers of 2007S

The January, 1987 issue of OMNI Magazine included a cover story titled, "14 Great Minds Predict the Future." OMNI asked influential people from a variety of fields what was in store for humanity in the year 2007, twenty years into the future. There were predictions about everything from peace in the Middle East to 3D televisions.

David Byrne, lead singer and songwriter of the Talking Heads, gazed into his crystal ball to write about pop art, the future of television, and why computers will never help the creative process. With the benefit of hindsight it's a little hard to believe that Byrne was so pessimistic about the potential for computers as a creative tool, especially when futuristic designs for computers were getting so many others excited. An excerpt from the OMNI piece appears below.

David Byrne, Lead Singer, Talking Heads

I don't think computers will have any important effect on the arts in 2007. When it comes to the arts they're just big or small adding machines. And if they can't "think," that's all they'll ever be. They may help creative people with their bookkeeping, but they won't help in the creative process.

The video revolution, however, will have some real impact on the arts in the next 20 years. It already has. Because people's attention spans are getting shorter, more fiction and drama will be done by television, a perfect medium for them. But I don't think anything will be wiped out; books will always be there; everything will find its place.

Outlets for art, in the marketplace and on television, will multiply and spread. Even the three big TV networks will feature looser, more specialized programming to appeal to special-interest groups. The networks will be freed from the need to try to please everybody, which they do now and inevitably end up with a show so stupid nobody likes it. Obviously this multiplication of outlets will benefit the arts.

I don't think we'll see the participatory art that so many people predict. Some people will use new equipment to make art, but they will be the same people who would have been making art anyway. Still, I definitely think that the general public will be interested in art that was once considered avant-garde.