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Recently, when I was preparing a workshop for leaders at the City and County of Honolulu, I wanted to talk about human needs and our quality of life. I remembered that I had once written about measuring Hawaii’s Gross State Quality of Life in addition to the Gross State Product. Then I remembered where I had made that suggestion. It was in a short book that I published in 1987 titled Hawaii: Looking Back from the Year 2050. This is that short book, republished word-for-word as it first appeared in 1987. 

I wrote the book after serving from 1979 to 1986 in the State of Hawaii Department of Planning and Economic Development. I was the Ocean Resources Manager, then the Deputy Director working on energy and ocean issues, and finally the Director of the Department and a member of Governor Ariyoshi’s cabinet. Those were wonderful years for me personally and professionally. 

It was fun reading the book again in 2020, a full 33 years after I first wrote it. The book includes some of my favorite ideas, as well as a few fanciful notions (e.g. the lecture on war and whales). But reading the book after 33 years was also sobering. Back in 1987, I truly thought that by 2020 we would have made much more progress than we have in fact made. 

However, I believe it is still worth considering many of the ideas and opportunities that are laid out in these pages. It is worth considering them as a way of stirring the imagination and brainstorming to find even better ideas. Governor Ariyoshi used to remind us that we should be working toward our preferred future. We can still do that. 

Kent M. Keith 


November 2020vi 


The purpose of this volume is to stimulate thought about Hawaii’s more distant future—not in 10 or 20 years, but in 65 or 75 years, several generations from now. Although many things which are described in this volume may indeed come to pass, the volume itself is not a prediction. It is simply a description of one possible future. It describes a future Hawaii in which I would be willing to live, but there are other futures which I could also imagine which would be equally satisfying and rewarding. 

Imagining the future is fun. It is also essential. It is essential to think about different futures in order to choose some and avoid others—to define a preferred future and seek to reach it. Also, we may be able to discover ways of solving today’s problems by looking at things from a new perspective—that of our grandchildren. 

This volume began with a speech to the Hawaii Society of Corporate Planners on May 6, 1986. In expanding that speech into the present volume, I have chosen the lecture formal because lectures for general audiences are designed to be informative without being overly academic or technical. 

I have titled these lectures the “Edward Bellamy Memorial Lectures” because one of the first American writers to deal with social and economic futures was author and social critic Edward Bellamy, 1850-1898. His book, Looking Backward 2000-1887, has been deemed to be one of the most influential books of the late 19th and early 20th century in the United States. I would not be comfortable in the world he envisioned, but it is not hard to imagine that an institution might establish an annual lecture series in his memory. 

I have been influenced by the works of many authors,

including Bellamy, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Alvin Toffler, and the contributors to Hawaii 2000, the proceedings of the Governor’s Conference on the Year 2000, which was held in 1970. I have freely borrowed and incorporated ideas from them all. 

If it were really 2050, you would be listening to this on a speech speed enhancer or scanning it on the screen of your armstrap compu-phone; but until then, here is the hard copy. Have fun! 

Kent M. Keith 


October 1987


Good evening, distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen. 

It is a great honor to have been chosen to deliver the Edward Bellamy Memorial Lectures of 2050. Mr. Bellamy’s compassion for the human race and his sense of human possibility have been an inspiration to many people around the world for 160 years. His book, Looking Backward, written in 1887, described what he felt would be an ideal society in the year 2000. It had a great impact on the general public of his day, and was deemed to be one of the most important books written during the fifty-year period from 1885 to 1935. 

I want to thank you all for the honor of your physical presence. I know that it would have been more convenient for you to meet by VideoCam, seated comfortably in your own homes and offices. But I am old fashioned, and I still like to see people in person, rather than on the screen or in holograms— especially when there is the opportunity for group discussion. So again, I thank you for the honor of your physical presence. 

My task as the lecturer is to comment on issues and developments over the past 75 years, and their implications for the future. Even in nine lectures, it will be difficult to cover the many important issues and developments which deserve careful analysis. I can only touch on the bare outlines, and weave a few of the threads. I hope, however, that my comments will be sufficient to stimulate questions for the discussion period which will follow each lecture. 

I think it would be appropriate to begin with an overview of our islands as they are today. I have just had such an overview— 2 

literally— of many of our islands during my trip here today by air.

I certainly enjoyed my trip. I still think that the loveliest way to see our islands is from the gondola of an airship— or blimp, as they used to be called. At one hundred miles per hour, it would have been faster by plane, but the leisurely, smooth ride, with a clear view on all sides, is without comparison. I fall in love with Hawaii again every time I take such a trip, and I take one as often as I can.

Millions of people enjoy viewing Hawaii by airship, cruising with the tradewinds, flying low over our beautiful landscapes and seascapes, eating and drinking in the gondola lounge, or standing at bay windows taking photos and talking with flight guides, while the panorama unfolds below. Airships are quieter and safer than those noisy, shakey helicopters of yesteryear.

I boarded my airship, the S.S. de Heer, at a small landing field in Hamakua. The de Heer arrived this morning from the Davies Dillingham floating city, which is now mining manganese nodules about 600 miles southeast of the Big Island. The de Heer, incidentally, was the primary workhorse in the movement of major structures to the mining city when it was being assembled on the high seas.

As we headed down the Hamakua Coast, I could see the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy on Mauna Kea, now busy as the world’s largest center for astronomical observations. Approaching Hilo, I could see the ponds and facilities of the extensive Matsuura Unagi Farm, where a new strain of eel, Anguilla Matsuuri, was developed by a former State Senator, and marketed successfully by his descendants. They now have a major share of the world market.

We then moved across the Hilo Culture Complex, which is not only an international culture center, but a special place for me. Since childhood, I have enjoyed Time Travel Town, or T3, 3 

as it is widely known. Now that most people can travel anywhere in the world they want to, there has been a great increase in interest in the only places to which we can’t travel directly— the past and the future. Time Travel Town certainly makes other periods of history and other cultures come to life, and allows millions of people to “try on” different futures as well. Putting on the costumes, living in buildings which represent the period and place in question, interacting with a well-educated guide posing as a person of that period— one really feels that one is living in a different time. 

My favorite part of T3 is the Tokugawa Village, complete with castle and rice fields. Visitors interested in court life dress up in kimono and hakama, live for a day or two in palace quarters, attend tea ceremonies, moon-viewing, and martial arts training for the palace guard. Visitors interested in peasant life dress up in straw shoes and hats, work in the rice fields, prepare and eat authentic meals, and learn legends and ghost stories. Both the “courtiers” and the “peasants” attend festivals, visit the village shops, pay their respects to the Emperor and Shogun, and take introductory courses in calligraphy or archery or swordsmanship. Once I took the two-day special Chushingura tour, and got to be one of the famous 47 ronin. 

At any moment, there may be samurai sword fights in the village streets, and visitors have to take cover. These fights, staged by full-time professionals, are quite convincing. As we sailed overhead this morning, it seemed to me that I could see the glint of the swords in the sun, and hear the gleeful voices of children, reacting just as I did, 40 years ago. 

Another of my favorites is the New England Colonial City, a replica of an American city during the time of the American Revolution and Constitutional Convention. As a high school student, my class acted out the Constitutional Convention of 1787, each of us playing the part of a specific historical figure. I was Benjamin Franklin. We gave speeches, caucused, 4 

negotiated, and voted the Constitution into its final draft. I learned more about our Constitution and national government during that week than I imagined possible. The Colonial food was moderately good; the candles were dangerous— I kept forgetting to keep them away from flammables; the buckle shoes, tri-corner hats, ruffled shirts, and spectacles became rather comfortable; but I never got used to the sanitation system.

As a college student I became more adventurous and tried another part of T3, Life on Titan. Titan is a moon of the planet Saturn which appears to have potential as a future exploration base for our expansion through the solar system. Titan is the only satellite in the solar system known to have its own atmosphere. The atmosphere on Titan is much less than Earth’s, and it is mostly ammonia, so it is poisonous. Settlers in space suits could live there, however, in cities built under the planet’s surface. Part way through the two-day simulation, I tore my space suit on a trip outside the city, and was declared dead of ammonia asphyxiation. They allowed me to continue, however, since I had paid the full fee for the whole experience, and there was more to learn.

In addition to T3, of course, there is the Pan-Pacific Intercultural Theater Arts Guild and the Transnational Symphonic Interpretation Society, with their marvelous, justly renowned performances of music and drama; the Merrie Monarch Festival, with its halau’s competing in awana and kahiko styles; the O-Bon Odori Festival; and all the other outstanding cultural events which bring 2 million visitors per year to the Hilo area.

Rain was a major problem for Hilo in the last century. Now, thanks to that orbiting space mirror which evaporates much of the moisture in the sky above Hilo, it only rains half as much as it did 75 years ago. The rent paid to Weather Control for the use of the space mirror is one of the best investments the County of Hawaii has ever made.5 

Floating down the coast further, we passed the Puna Spa, located at our famous geothermal hot springs, which is visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Personally, I don’t enjoy the sulfur smell, but hot springs of this kind are enjoyed by millions of health-seekers in several countries, most notably Japan. 

Looking further south, I could see the Space Launching Center at Ka’u. The Center was busy this morning launching rockets with supplies for the moon. Lunar settlement first occurred only 20 years ago. Today, with 300 lunar settlers living at three stations on the moon, there is a lot of launching to do, and Hawaii is one of three national launch sites. This has meant good business for Hawaii. 

Activities at Ka’u will pick up even more when the Hilton Orbiter Hotel opens its doors— or rather, its airtight compartments— for wealthy space visitors next year. The average visitor can orbit the Earth a dozen times a day, and has a choice of landing sites for return by Shuttle. This may be the ultimate vacation, but as the saying goes, “the cost is astronomical.” 

Coming around South Point, we floated up the Kona Coast, almost to Keahole, where I could just barely see Ocean Science City. Ocean Science City began in 1974 with the establishment of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, and doubled in size and potential with the establishment of the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park next door in 1986. Historians will note that NELH was the original site of Hawaii’s abalone and micro-algae industries. This is also where most of our early ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) research was carried out.

The Hawaii Ocean Experiment, begun by the University of Hawaii in 1986, led to the establishment of the Ocean Exploration Center, a complex of scientists and submersibles, underwater 6 

research labs, and ocean floor visitor centers at Keahole. Many of the world’s new technologies for ocean research and resource development have originated at this Center.

Glancing a little further up the coast, I caught a glimpse of the Ken Kiyabu Memorial Sports Center, and the Virginia Isbell Bicycle Path which is connected to it. The Kiyabu Sports Center has been a great success, especially with the international prominence of the annual Silicon Man Triathalon, which brings thousands of athletes to Hawaii for training and competition every year. The Isbell Path is used by more than 100,000 cycle enthusiasts every year.

Crossing the Alenuihaha Channel, we moved up through Kahoolawe, Maui, and Lanai. Kahoolawe has done exceptionally well with its aloe industry, and prospects for its goatmilk cheese are also good. The West Coast of Maui is now one long golf course, green and open, and known for its “greens” and “Opens.” Maui is a major Pacific data center and clearinghouse for professional services. Lanai’s resort complex has become the State’s highest-priced, most exclusive hideaway for media stars, world leaders, and the generally wealthy. Some of them sign up for experience tours, and work a day or two in the pineapple fields while they are there.

Perhaps the most gratifying change, from the point of view of our ancestors in 1975, would be the present activity on Molokai. Seventy-five years ago, Molokai had the highest per capita unemployment in the State. Today, with tourism, agriculture, Hawaiian cultural living parks, and spiritual retreats, it is a quiet but economically productive place.

One million people per year visit our State for reflection, meditation, and the pursuit of a better understanding of the Divine. Ten percent of these people visit the Father Damien Spiritual Center at Kalaupapa for extended periods. It is now the most active spiritual center in the world. It can only be 7 

approached by mule or semi-submersible, in silence and humility. The work of Father Damien in serving the lepers at Kalaupapa in the 19th century is now known throughout the world, as an example for people of all faiths. 

Incidentally, I also enjoy flying over Molokai watermelon fields. It gives me pleasure to know that the square Molokai watermelon has repeatedly been awarded the Grand Crus Classe at the International Watermelon Tasting Competitions. I am particularly fond of the Pfeil Q-6 Hybrid, which has won so many awards in the last few years. 

The East end of Molokai reminded me of Kauai, which was not visible on my trip. Kauai is still lush and green, due to the survival of sugar, biomass industries, and the development of exotic crops. This lush green backdrop has supported a strong visitor industry, with its highly rated aesthetic experience tours. The island is best known, however, for its media industry. 

And so we approached Oahu, the gathering place, which remains our capital and our largest business center. Visitors still flock to Oahu beaches for sand and surf. But many also come for international business, for education, and for shopping, since Oahu is a fashion leader, and a major jewelry center. 

As we rose above the Koolau mountains, I could see far across the central plains out into the ocean. There, on the horizon line, I could see Oahu’s fleet of floating cities, the loveliest fleet of artificial islands anchored in any ocean. And that is where my airship gently alighted— on the world’s largest 

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