Friday, 12 June 2015

The future has changed, or has it snuck up on the present aleady?

Unfortunately, I was unable to write a post for last week, since I was seriously gassed out by my intern. But I've told myself that I'd work towards making posts more regular, for the sake of all of my non-existent readers out there.

And so, with that cheery note, lets talk about something today.

In books like Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell, The Perfect day by Ira Levin and A Brave New World, the future is portrayed as one where technology has reached incredible heights, but at terrible cost.

It must be kept in mind as well, before we proceed, that these books were written decades ago, in the middle of the 20th Century, when the definition of the computer was vastly different from what it is now. Still, the thoughts and portrayals of the future in those books suggested a confidence, a modicum of self-assurance, that despite the wars, the sufferings and the disparities, mankind would unite itself at some point in the future.

The authors of these works evidently believed that once that happened, humanity would embark on a journey of incredible technological discovery and space exploration. Our downfall, as explained in the books, would be that our innate desire for perfection would cost us our emotions and that, we would rob ourselves of our own humanity, becoming mindless cogs in a larger machine.

Concepts of an all-controlling thought-police, human clones programmed to carry out only the purposes they were mandated for and even a entire society controlled by a computer were discussed as potential scenarios for mankind's downfall.

But now, it appears that the future has indeed changed. It could be that the future of the past has now become the present- atleast to an extent- and our vision for the future of the present has become more reflective of that.

In other words, there is a growing feeling that despite the technological genius that we've seen over the past decade- we've moved from CDs to Pendrives to Cloud storage in the same time span it took for programmers (They were more of mathematical electricians back then) to advance the first generation of computers to the next.

Our science fiction of today, imagines our downfall. No more of the space-ships, the super-intelligent AI, the clones. Tomorrow, we expect the dead to rise, we expect a society of poverty, driven to fight each other to the death for survival.

So the question is, has our vision for the future changed? or have already reached (an albeit disappointing version) the future, and the books of today are merely telling us what could happen next, that is, the future of the present. 

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