Plugging into the future

Move over Nostradamus. Here comes Peteramus Matthewsilus. I’ve been observing the world over the past (nearly) 60 years, and I am now in a position to reveal what the future holds. Notwithstanding the butterfly effect, I’ve got it all pretty well worked out.

Humans will continue to degrade the environment in their pursuit of economic gain. They do this because they believe material wealth leads to happiness.

The forests will eventually all but disappear, as will a great many of the animal and plant species of the world. We’ll be all right though, because scientists will find ways to manufacture all the things we’ve ripped out of our surroundings and supporting ecosystems.

Cities will exist on shorelines, gradually migrating, as seal levels rise, towards the inner deserts of every continent.

Colonies will spring up on the Moon, and Mars, and other worlds, no doubt. Space junk in the sky will be like plastic in the oceans: we all know it’s bad and it’s growing, but in practice it doesn’t affect us too much.

Petrol cars are being replaced by battery cars which will be replaced by another, perhaps yet to be harnessed power. Numbers of cars, terrestrial or flying, will continue to rise exponentially and it will be important for everyone to own the latest model. Of course the raw materials for these will be mined from the earth or perhaps even the seabeds by people on subsistence wages – or better still robots.

I was in a house yesterday and noticed a wooden freestanding CD rack. “How old-fashioned” was my first thought. “I was nearly 30 when they were invented” was my second. Now, less than 30 years later they are completely obsolete. In any event, before too long we will all access our ‘audio content’ from the ether via an implanted chip next to our ear which will be spliced into our auditory nerves.

This will continue to be infuriating to old farts like me who can conduct half a conversation with a young person before realising they can’t hear what’s being said to them because they are plugged in to some virtual sound source. If you look closely, you can see a small white plug in the ears of people thus afflicted. It surely can’t be long before that little white plug is actually running the human to which it is attached.

So, the world will be very different. I sometimes wonder whether conservationists shouldn’t be so frantic about preserving the old world, which obviously cannot survive. Rather they should perhaps see about how they can improve the new one. Pick your battles. Orangutans have had it. So have tigers and white rhinos. Let’s just make sure our flying cars can make it to the moon and back, and the next model can do it faster. These things will make us even happier than we are now.

Oops, a butterfly just landed on my keyboard and changed everything. Mmm – doesn’t look good. I’ll get back to you.

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