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British Kids From the 1960s Had Some Really Dark Predictions for the Future

Operation Teapot nuclear tests in Nevada in 1955
Gif: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Some of the most interesting predictions for the future don’t come from expert futurists or well-financed think tanks, they come from average kids. Today, we have video from the 1960s that features kids talking about their own vision for tomorrow. And it’s depressing as hell.

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The footage comes from a December 28, 1966 program on the BBC. And it really is astounding to see how terrified these kids were that they would all be destroyed by nuclear explosions. Not just a small or limited nuclear war, either. These kids were convinced that the full-on apocalypse was coming.

The segment starts off optimistically enough, with one boy saying that he expects there to be spaceships, computers, and robots by the year 2000. But the piece quickly gets into some of the darker predictions, with another boy saying that there will likely be atomic bombs “dropping all over the place.”

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“The world will just melt and the world will become one vast atomic explosion,” the boy explains. You can watch for yourself on YouTube.

Another boy goes on to explain that “some madmen” will get access to an atomic bomb and “blow the world into oblivion.” That boy may have come up with the idea himself, or he could’ve caught a movie like Seven Days to Noon (1950) on TV which imagines this precise scenario.

“There’s nothing you can do to stop it, the more people get bombs, somebody’s going to lose it one day,” a girl explains.

Even the “optimistic” kid in the video, who says that he doesn’t believe there will be a nuclear war, surmises that automation will create a society where almost everyone is out of work. This, of course, was a pretty common prediction for the time, as people thought robots would be doing everything by now, even leading to a higher suicide rate because people will have no purpose in their own lives.

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The kids are also obsessed with overpopulation and seem convinced that people of the future will have to live under the sea and in “glass domes in the Sahara,” provided nuclear war doesn’t break out.

Assuming these kids were about 10 or 12 years old when this aired in 1966, they’d be in their early 60s today, right around British Prime Minister Theresa May’s age (she’s 62). Little did these kids know that there wouldn’t be a nuclear war, but that they would be the ones creating a completely avoidable human-made disaster called Brexit.

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People in Britain are stocking up like a nuclear war is coming anyway. Best of luck, British friends. It seems like you’re going to need it after yesterday’s vote that’s put the country on a track for a no-deal Brexit.

[YouTube]

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Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

Shit, man, I’m in my thirties and I still have nightmares about that kind of stuff. I woke up in a cold sweat two weeks ago because I dreamt that nuclear weapons were going to be launched during the Eagles/Bears game and I spent the following twenty (dream) minutes trying to console my girlfriend and calling my parents. I’m in the flight line for O’Hare so my ears picked up a plane flying overhead which my dream registered as a missile coming in overhead. Then the explosion, we get rocked across the room, and then everything went black. That’s when I woke up.

Fuck, man, what lunatics decided that making ballistic missiles was a good idea?