Travelling into the Future
Greece, citizens of various city-states worshipped their own
gods. Communication with the gods was considered important,
and therefore for advice they went to oracles, who are priests
supposedly able to interpret the wishes of gods and the future.
More then three thousand years ago, kings of a Chinese dynasty
had polished bones heated until they were cracked, and these
cracks were considered a sign for the future. Today, many
Hindus still believe in pundits who can read people's palms
and predict the tomorrow. In the future, technology will undoubtedly
reach great speeds and transform our daily routine rapidly;
the present will be the future, and the future the present.
generation is probably the first generation in history to
have messed with the chromosomes and to have violated the
uncharted territories of space. On the ground, they have produced
geniuses who have challenged religion and the existence of
God. In fact, the more we have progressed, the more valuable
time has become: this is evident from the fact that while
European powers dominated their colonies for hundreds of years,
the Cold War lasted less than seventy years. A recent report
showed that the Asian internet industry was just a couple
of years behind Silicon Valley, and that is probably all the
difference between the East and the West.
today are mainly for our children, those who will guide our
civilization through this century, instead of our children's
children, who will lead us into the twenty-second century.
That might sound distant, but we are not too far away from
it, considering the growing threats humans face and the increasing
possibilities that we are creating. If the new century is
compared to a hundred metres hurdle race, to clinch the gold
medal the next two generations must overcome hurdles such
as population, deadly diseases, political tensions, genetic
discrimination, economic crisis and global warming.
we always hope for a better and safer future for the coming
generations, it will be important that we set the foundation
for that. Presently we are forced to look at the future with
apprehension and uncertainty, but our children must not have
to visit oracles for prophecies. Advanced radars, satellites
and smart computers should be able to issue warnings in time
for natural disasters, and cyberspace could connect the world
and form a more united and closer community where discrimination
by gender, race and country will be non-existent. Gene therapy
and animal transplants might extend people's life expectancy,
and at the same time people must be able to expect a lot more
from life: especially with no brutal wars and ethnic struggles.
would definitely be lesser conflicts if today's countries
are replaced by micro-nations. Thanks to the Internet, these
would be non-territorial virtual states with its own governments
and ideas. If most of the world's population can come under
microstates like these, then world wide cooperation might
increase with the introduction of virtual economies; e-cash
can be the new global currency. Our grandchildren might be
the Netizens of micro-nations, and their constitution would
be called the Netiquette, standing for network etiquette.
Netizens might be more accustomed to the virtual worlds than
the real world. This will help people have virtual pets and
partners. Sitting in a fully automated house-cum-office, with
a touch-sensitive computer with virtual keyboards, a person
in Bangladesh might be touring ancient Roman cities or the
deserts of Mars. Virtual games could transform humans into
heroes with realistic conversations and thrilling actions
in mysterious worlds of cyberspace.
would interesting if a hundred years from now our grand-children
might be enjoying brand new films of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger,
solely because of simulation and special effects. Ricky Martin
could still be holding concerts; virtually, though.
grasp of the future could be had by our offsprings through
digital life-forms. The Net's own version of life, these digital
humans could be capable of thinking and deciding. They could
be residing in virtual worlds with different situations such
as global warming, over population, lack of resources and
alien attacks. It would be important that the future generations
to try and learn tactics from these equally intelligent cousins
of ours. But they will not be our only companions: robots
will do everything from cleaning toilets to defending satellites
in space. They could change in shape in order to perform difficult
tasks and adapt to distant planets. They might as well help
our grand-children by building space stations and forming
invincible armies. Household robots can be emotional and helpful,
while battle robots might be strong and destructive.
be the space wars of the future. Satellites will act as surveillance
units while unmanned aerial vehicles will travel at high speeds
above the battlefields of distant planets; unmanned because
high range anti-aircraft missiles might be developed. Submarines
might act as aircraft carriers on the surface. Cyberwars will
erupt with each side hacking and sabotaging supplies and production
lines. Man-made super-viruses will make the 21st century's
biological weapons more lethal . Soldiers will wear intelligent
uniforms which will be bullet and virus proof besides being
able to change its colour by detecting its surrounding. They
will carry laser weapons able to affect the enemy's blood
circulation. All this will make space exploration and settlement
a hostile business.
not, if we manage to contact extraterrestrial beings and they
happen to launch an onslaught on humans. Then, hopefully with
mankind not quarreling amongst themselves, our advancements
in defence will give us the edge on anti-alien wars. However,
whether or not we pick up signals from outer space or not,
space is the future. With overpopulation and lack of natural
resources on Earth, I hope our grand-children will be capable
of living permanently in space. Entire colonies could be thriving
without support from Earth. They hopefully will invent ways
of growing food in space and creating Earth-like gravity elsewhere.
If future generations can accomplish these, then the depletion
of forests and the population boom of today will be nothing
more than chapters of children's history books.
might survive without rainforests, but we will never get them
back once all the trees are logged. Similarly endangered species
of wildlife will go extinct, and common animals of the present
will be rarely seen. To make sure that does not happen, during
the course of this century scientists will have to preserve
these animals and breed them in zoos. I'm sure that even if
these animals are extinct, they'll probably be alive virtually.
They could also be preserved by cryogenics. If this new science
can be perfected by our children, perhaps our grand-children
could revive their ancestors who will probably be frozen in
liquid nitrogen. And they even might resurrect extinct creatures.
of science could appear as a result of mankind's efforts.
Cryogenics will be one, and nanotechnology will surely be
another. Nanotechnology will deal with tiny materials, almost
a billionth of a meter in diameter. If these materials are
used to make everything from electronic devices to space-plans,
they will not only be cheap but also environment friendly.
Since manufactured goods will be then processed at atomic
levels, wastes will be of microscopic amounts. In this way
I hope our grand-children will solve the pollution problem
and revolutionize everything from space exploration to medical
how much progress our children make, they will always have
to deal with nature and its potent soldiers in the form of
germs. Our grand-children will emerge at a time when there
will be no threat from AIDS, and cheap transplants of animal
organs will be widespread. Nanotechnology will develop tiny
chips that might control diabetes and detect cancer. But new
bugs are always appearing, and the viruses of tomorrow will
be resistant to anti-biotics and vaccines. It seems as if
they too are evolving and adapting to current prevention methods.
I hope that the future generation will discover ways to survive
them. If tiny robots that could be inserted into the body
were made, they could act as antibodies permanently. These
might have information on how certain diseases are caused,
and therefore safeguard internal organs. With the help of
genetic engineering, cloned humans could exist just to supply
spare body parts, and the cures for cancer and AIDS will be
available to everyone.
we can influence the future generations, there will always
be a limit to it. Our grand-children will certainly be more
intelligent and superior than us, just as we are to those
of the 19th century. They will certainly have to adapt to
the various obstacles that are already bothering their ancestors,
if they are to usher in the 22nd century with celebrations
similar to our welcoming of the millenium. We can still be
optimistic, and can hope for a better tomorrow, because it
the future generations who are heir to all our inventions
(R) thedailystar.net 2004