Its interesting how the past looks different from the future. For example, in novels from the 18th and 19th centuries, fatal disease is a pervasive element. Everyone is terrified of cholera, tuberculosis, and typhoid. In modern historical novels about the period, its rare to find a whole slew of protagonists wiped out by disease. Well, except for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Not to be a pessimist, but I'd say "present" and not "future." I remember the big hoopla over the Salk Sabin polio virus (and 50 years later last summer visited the school where I received the sugar cube). But... the warnings over the waning efficacy of our antibiotics are worrisome.
That's a good point. I was meaning the future as relative to the past; that is, if you're in 1814, then 1997 is the future. But that's rather garbled.