“Computer! Take evasive action!”
“Did you say, ‘Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.’?”
“No! I said “Take evasive action NOW!!!”
“Did you say, ‘Hand me the towel.’?”
“NO! TAKE EVASIVE ACTION you stupid piece of…!”
“Did you say, “Take evasive action’?”
[insert loud explosion]
You know, the future isn’t quite how I expected it to be.
It’s 2008: we are living so far into the future, there are days I can’t believe we’re not all wearing baco-foil suits and driving around in hover cars.
I remember watching “Space 1999” as a kid. There was a permanent moon base where everyone wore flares and jumpsuits, and it took a computer the size of a wall to work out calculations your average wristwatch can do before it’s had its first coffee of the morning. And it spoke in a voice that made Stephen Hawking sound like Pavarotti.
According to Arthur C. Clark, by 2001 we were supposed to have space stations we could access via Pan Am flights, and a computer with a soft voice that suffered from existential angst.
For that matter, we’re only 11 years short of the setting for “Blade Runner” and they haven’t even begun to build Replicants or relocate the population to the off-world colonies.
But then what about the past I inhabited? How well would I cope in a world where there were only 3 TV channels, no mobile phones, no Internet, no digital cameras, no home computers, NO BLOGGING???
Somehow the past seems just as alien to me now as the future was to me then.
But the “now” back then seemed ordinary enough at the time, just as this “now” does 30 years later. We have a great ability to normalise whatever our situation is: we adapt, we cope, we forget that it was ever any different.
The technology and the culture may change, but we as people continue to be people. We laugh, we cry, we feel fear, grief, pain, lust, frustration, happiness, sorrow and love.
We are emotional creatures and we all share the same emotions, and yet when we look at other people, other cultures and other times, what we see is the difference.
Yet any difference is purely surface; material; physical.
There was no Eden in the past. There will be no Utopia in the future. The only reality is whether we relate to each other; whether we can feel as others feel; whether we try to connect, or focus purely on the otherness.
So here are my predictions for the future:
1. There will be older people complaining about the lack of respect the youth have and how it was different in their day
2. There will be youth thinking that their parents just don’t understand because the world was different back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth
3. And there will be middle-aged parents feeling intensely frustrated with the latest piece of technology that their children can operate with the greatest of ease.