The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Welcome to the Future

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“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’?”

“Y…”

[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.


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34 comments

michael greenwell said...

2 quick points about that...

firstly, although they may not have built replicants yet they have managed to build republicants and democroids in america. the only difference between them is that they produce different types of toxic waste products.

and secondly, i thought you might like this from douglas adams in relation to your last comment...

"I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:

1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are."

Charlie said...

What I often wonder about is why, with all of the technology we have—automobiles, sports scores on your cell phone, butter already churned and ready for sale at the grocery—people are busier than ever. These inventions were meant to save time for more leisure time and time with the family.

What I am seeing is people living in their own technological bubbles—iPods at work, games and DVDs at home, and text messaging rather than a voice phone call.

Did any of the visionary writers foresee humans that no longer communicate with each other?

Canadian Girl said...

You really pegged it with your predictions, Kim - bang on!

Mary Witzl said...

I remember those great huge computers that filled entire rooms. At the time they looked so cool, but now they look even more ridiculous than manual typewriters.

Last night I was struggling with HTML coding and my youngest, who had been treating me with some disdain because of this, speculated that some day a device might be invented that she would not be able to figure out -- but her kids would. I'm just hoping I live long enough to see this.

Stinkypaw said...

Good one, and you have a future as a forture teller! ;-)

All those gadgets and yet many of us are still not happier then they were in the past, before those gadgets... Funny how things change so little.

Freakazojd said...

Haha - good predictions. ;) And I LOVE the quote posted by Michael.

Eryl Shields said...

Why did your computer need to take evasive action?

Restaurant Gal said...

Is this why both my kids had iPhones (bought with their own hard-earned $$) before I can even contemplate buying one? On the other hand, at least they can show me how to use my newer and better version!

Fat Lazy Guy said...

I think the closest anyone was to predicting the future was George Orwell with 1984 :)

Carole said...

I, too, what to know what evasive action your computer didn't manage. Your quotes are spot on.

PI said...

It's the pace of life that worries me sometimes. No real time to absorb a happening, an emotion, a reflection - no time to mull things over and be peaceful. Seems the only time I get now for serious thinking is when I'm ironing.
I often consider going to a retreat for a few days. Maybe I will.

Kim Ayres said...

Michael - that is a fantastic quote from Douglas Adams, and so spot on!

Charlie - that's because they are not designed to give us more leisure time - they are designed to give us more work time so we can afford the next piece of technology to make our lives easier. Basic economics.

Canadian Girl - the great thing about these ones is they will work at any time, no matter how far in the future (or past for that matter)

Mary - well, if Michael's quote above is anything to go by, give it about 20 years.

Stinkypaw - that's because the most enjoyable part of gadgets is as you're buying them and thinking about all the fun you're going to have. Once you get it home and can't figure out the instruction manual, you lose interest and start looking for the next gadget. Basic economics.

Freakzojd - it is a great quote from Michael :)

Eryl and Carole - I was trying to operate the microwave and the blender with the DVD remote control...

Restaurant Gal - absolutely!

FLG - perhaps, although our lives are not controlled and watched over by governments, but by big business. If they really wanted to find Bin Laden, they just need to check on his supermarket loyalty card.

Pat - I was watching a programme the other night about Buddhist Monks doing Tai Chi (or equivalent) in a monastary high up in the mountains. It looked really appealing, apart from all the steps to get up there...

Christina said...

Happy New Year to you and your family too! And thanks for the birthday wishes. Apparently I am supposed to be matture now ;-)

I am so seldom on FB nowadays (was too addictive) so I am slow at checking back w messages there.

All the ebst to you for the new year!

C

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks Christina - yes Facebook is a little to addictive sometimes :)

Sam, Problemchildbride said...

"I can’t believe we’re not all wearing baco-foil suits"

Speak for yourself. It's the new suburban bling out here.

Tom said...

I have picture at home of me on my way to school and in my hand is a brand new “Space 1999” lunch box.

1. The young people today have no appreciation for lunch boxes anymore, not with their Pizza Huts and their McDonald's in their school cafeterias. I remember in my day...

2. Silvi wants to know what a "lunch box" means, and how come old people like me used to carry around hot food in cold tin boxes anyway.

3. "Why do we still swipe our credit card to pay for lunch, dad? All the cool kids have a little chip in their cards..."

MaLady said...

baco - foil suits and shoes that look like space boots.

Have you ever noticed that in the "future" we'll have much less emotion? As if somehow we're going to evolve out of it...

I agree, there has been no Eden in recorded history, there will be no Utopia, and life is all about love - the kind that deliberately cares for "fellow man" and makes decisions accordingly. Amen, Brutha! :-)

Jupiter's Girl said...

Wonderful piece. Just 15 years ago, I operated a big mainframe that had it's own room, while I shared cube space with 5 others, in a room half it's size.

Now, I have a pc with a flat screen at home. I wish my two teens would relieve me of being tech support, like they are supposed to.

C in DC said...

I fear the day (and I know it'll sneak up on me eventually) when I become one of those cranky people who just refuses to embrace any new technological widget. I had to go buy a new cordless phone for the house recently and was disappointed that I couldn't find one with the features I really wanted.

PI said...

I love mountains and could get quite fond of monks I expect.

Kim Ayres said...

Sam - California - where you lead, the rest of the world follows. It's just a matter of time then

Tom - now I come to think of it, I never did have a lunch box. My lunch would be in a bag inside my satchel, which meant it wasn't unusual to find it squashed and splattered by lunch time.

MaLady - for an Athiest, I can get awfully religious sounding sometimes...

Jupiter's Girl - I'm still the tech support for the family where the PC is concerned, but my son is slowly taking my place with mobile phones.

C in DC - I know - I can feel myself getting awfully close. Even on the web, while I have embraced Blogger and Facebook, MySpace and Bebo remain a mystery to me. I have accounts but can't see the point in them, which is a real sign of getting older

Pat - you might be limited in what you could do with them though...

The Birdwatcher said...

Its the continuity that we need to look for. Thats one of the reasons why we go upto Arbor Low at New Year (or others times when we need a bit of a lift) Its been there for 3500 - 4000 years and presumably people have been coming and using it for what ever reason. It helps me keep things in perspective.

SafeTinspector said...

We're all time travelers, but it seems we're stuck moving at the same rate.

Kuin said...

Hello Kim..loved the piece.

I think your predictions are most likely !! ha

Brave Astronaut said...

Forgive me Father, for I have tagged (you).

Dr Maroon said...

I been ill.

Thanks for the text at new year by the way. It caused much consternation in the Maroon homestead.

Who's this Kim? Why is she texting you on your "PRIVATE" phone? Is she claiming you as the father of these kids? What does she want?

It's the bloke from the internet.

Piss off.

It is. His name's Kim, I told you all this.

Don't touch me.


Only joking. I got half a dozen texts which really surprised me. One of them was arranged into a heart that also spelt hugs or something. Some people have too much time. Remember when the phone would start ringing after midnight? Nowadays you just get all the texts when you put the phone on again. Aye and three bedroomed semi cost 7/6 and the crocer called you "Sir".


1999 had too much crimpylene [sp?]in it for me but was still pretty good, but rubbish compared to Star Trek.


Thanks for the award btw, I don't deserve it but what ya gonna do?

I commented on Eryl's site about the other award, THEN read your comment, which was 100% accurate so I felt the prat you knew I would.


Kindest and best regards to Meg, Maggie, Rogan and to you too

Archivalist said...

Funny how each generation creates its own "golden age," when things were simpler and easier, people more respectful, etc etc. My dad likes to remember the '50s as that time, which, as a comfortable middle-class white guy, I'm sure it was for him.

And "Space: 1999"?! I can do Tom one better -- I used to have the Space:1999 game (the Milton Bradley version. Like Chinese Checkers, only better!

Kim Ayres said...

Birdwatcher - I bet when it was created there was some middle-aged bloke looking in disgust at a bronze dagger saying, "I don'tknow what's wrong with flint - it was good enough for my father and his before him..."

SafeT - I'm moving at a different rate - this past 12 months has taken at least 2 and a half years to go by

Kuin - thank you :)

Brave Astronaut - I'm only one year older than you, son. Going to have to think about that Tag - I've already handed out 2 awards in the last 3 posts

Dr Maroon - back in the days when there was only one phone in the house, and it was connected to the wall in the living room, in full earshot of inquisitve parents, being called Kim had real advantages. Girlfriends were able to call me from home, with their dads in the room who would happily tell them they were going to call Kim, arrange to meet up with Kim, or even go over to visit Kim at Kim's house.

At 14 I finally discovered that my name was a blessing rather than a curse.

Mind you, at 41 it has lost that advantage now.

Glad you're feeling better :)

Archivalist - what a superb link! Nostalgia lives on

SafeTinspector said...

Kim, subjectively that may be true. But I've been along for the ride the entire time and I swear it was only about a week.
But just TRY telling that to the credit card companies!

I wish I had your schedule, I'd be paying that principal off in no time.

Kim Ayres said...

It's not as advantageous as you'd think. It works by moving in extreme slow motion, as though encased in thick treacle. Everyone else appears to achieve far more in much less time, while to me I take far longer to achieve a lot less.

Anna van Schurman said...

When I was younger (like 6) I had a fear of driving. I longed for the day that you put a card into the computer in your car that said where you wanted to go and it took you there. (A card. Hahaha) Then there was KITT. And now there is a Lexus that parks itself. This is a new technology I will adopt no matter how decrepit I become.

MaLady said...

I knew you were an atheist, yet I love the common threads that run through most of thinking humanity.

Kanani said...

4. And a new generation will discover sex and wonder why their parents are so freakin' uptight about it.

Kim Ayres said...

Anna - mind you, if you're looking for a vehicle where you don't have to worry about driving or parking it, then buses an trains spring to mind :)

MaLady - well personally I just want to be the centre of attention and for people to love me.

Kanani - that's probably the truest of the lot!

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