David Bowie predicted in 1999 the impact the internet would have on society in mind-blowing video

7 April 2021, 10:30

David Bowie predicted in 1999 the impact the internet would have on society in mind-blowing video
David Bowie predicted in 1999 the impact the internet would have on society in mind-blowing video. Picture: BBC Newsnight

By Giorgina Hamilton

David Bowie was being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman in 1999 when he told the skeptical interviewer the future internet's impact on society would be 'unimaginable'.

David Bowie is well known as a pioneer, icon and the author of some of our favourite inspirational quotes of all time, yet a video from 1999 means we could also add the title 'psychic' to that list.

The then 52-year-old star was appearing on Newsnight when he made prediction that the future of the internet - which was very much in its infancy - was going to affect society beyond all recognition.

“The potential of what the Internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable,” he tells a baffled Jeremy Paxman in 1999, yet 20-years later it seems his prophecy was incredibly accurate.

Read more: Queen and David Bowie may have recorded two Cream covers, Roger Taylor reveals

“The potential of what the Internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable,” David Bowie tells a baffled Jeremy Paxman in 1999
“The potential of what the Internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable,” David Bowie tells a baffled Jeremy Paxman in 1999. Picture: BBC Newsnight
A highly skeptical Jeremy Paxman says, “It’s just a tool though isn’t it?” Prompting Bowie to reply: “No. It’s an alien life form.".
A highly skeptical Jeremy Paxman says, “It’s just a tool though isn’t it?” Prompting Bowie to reply: “No. It’s an alien life form.". Picture: BBC Newsnight

“I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg...I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying.”

See more: A highly skeptical Paxman then says, “It’s just a tool though isn’t it?”

“No. It’s an alien life form [laughing], is there life on Mars? Yes, it’s just landed here," replies Bowie.

Read more: 10 inspirational quotes from David Bowie

"The actual context and state of content is going to be so different to anything we envisage at the moment.

"Where the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in simpatico it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.

"It’s happening in every form. That grey space in the middle is what the 21st century is going to be about.”

The interview has become an internet sensation, with fans keen to point out David Bowie's extraordinary prediction did indeed come true and the internet started to see a huge surge in popularity just three years later in 2003.

The video comes after another David Bowie interview, recorded in 2007, has been praised for the star's deadpan comic performance.

Read more: Freddie Mercury and David Bowie's 'Under Pressure' a cappella will give you goosebumps

In what would turn out to be the star's last ever recorded interview on the set of TV show Extras, David Bowie deadpans to the camera as he talks about his work as a 'serious actor' and how he 'gave' professional funnyman, Ricky Gervais, many of his jokes.

The interview is interspersed with clips of David Bowie playing the piano and singing 'Chubby Little Loser' to Ricky Gervais' character Andy Millman in season 2 of Extras, a song which later became famous as David Bowie's last ever live performance before his untimely death in 2016.

Ricky Gervais opened up in an interview with Smooth Radio about his time spent with David Bowie on Extras and the star's famous last time on stage.

When asked if 'Chubby Little Loser' really was Bowie's final performance, Ricky said: "It was. To me in Madison Square Garden. He did Extras. I invited him to do Extras after we sort of became friends.

Read more: David Bowie wanted to relaunch Ziggy Stardust from space

"And then to return the favour, he asked me to play a benefit in New York, in 2007, at the High Line Festival, which he curated.

"And I went over, and it was sold out, and they didn’t know he was going to be there. He walked out in a tuxedo, with a little harmonica, and he just went [makes harmonica noise]: 'Chubby little loser…' And the crowd went crazy."