"...the people dealing with these new technologies will still be derived from the human stock we're familiar with today."
Underwater mining was tried in ancient times; In the third century B.C., divers extracted copper ore from a depth of 4 m near Heybell Island in the Bosporus. However, modern technology was not really brought to bear on this idea until the mid-19th century, so you could still say that Verne was ahead of his time with this idea.
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