In the last half of the 21st Century, earth was in trouble – the environment had been mostly polluted, the ozone layer almost gone, and global warming had reduced earth’s land area by three percent. The earth’s population had hit the 15-billion mark and kept growing. Mars did not offer any hope for habitation – seven pilgrimage ships to the red planet ended in disaster – 236 humans gave their lives in the process.
Earth was the only home for the human race. In 2050, the United Nations approved a “life plan” for the mandatory use by all nations on earth: “people are to live in compact communities of high-rises surrounded by farms and factories where they would work.” All the people are to live “closely together to enjoy the same society and community” – and to conserve space and protect the environment!
And so we move to the year 2101 and take a look at our future life on earth.
Everyone lives in a metropolis – a city made up of high-rise residential complexes immediately surrounded by farms and factories. There are no single-family home subdivisions or sprawled developments. Farms and factories are in multilevel buildings located immediately next to high-rise homes.
The high-rise complexes of homes include shops and entertainment centers. People travel (by foot or bicycle) to and from immediately surrounding farms and factories for work. People walk or cycle to shop or for entertainment within their communities. Some cities have fully automated electric subway systems that take folk from one place to any other part of the city, for free. And the subway systems connect to high-speed electric rail or airship stations for trips between cities, states or countries.
People’s homes are ultra-modern, fully automated. Dirty linen and laundry get shot through tubes into the wash room and into intelligent, self-programming washing machines. Every nook and cranny of the home is automatically non-intrusively cleaned by robots. Every room automatically air-conditioned to feel. Kitchens are fully automated: just pour all the ingredients in a pot and tell the pot what to cook (via you phone or the pot’s controls). Automatic dishwashers take in all dirty dishes and do the work. People can actually program their household robots to do certain tasks once and for all.
All homes are equipped with free wireless Internet – and thus, free TV and home movies (all paid for by advertising), free phone access to anywhere in the world (because of free Internet), and the newest yet: just one device which can be hung down a neck, tied around a waist or placed in a pocket or purse.
Ninety-nine percent of the earth’s population is vegetarian. Hence there are no commercial animal or poultry farms – and fishing is a thing of the past. All farms are organic vegetable. Human beings are healthier, slimmer and taller. Hardly anyone remembers what a cigarette or tobacco is or looks like.
Doctors and hospitals are obsolete. People walk to a kiosk where they hook themselves up to medical-analyst systems and get a super diagnosis: in two minutes flat they learn what they miss in diet, exercise and mental activity and are prescribed the medication or action needed – all in one print-out. For medication, people go to a store; for surgery or other intrusive requirement, they visit a robotic clinic where they are administered, error-free, for free.
Religion is a thing of the past. People meditate and self-introspect in their privacy. No one talks about or brags of his or her inner-self practices – people simply have the habit of trying to be better members of society and live in harmony with their fellow beings, human or otherwise.
Schoolchildren engage in mental calisthenics more than physical sports but are physically engaged through group jogging. High school and college sports are limited to marathons and brisk walking competitions. Entertainment does not include professional sports – entertainment is limited to singing, dancing, the stage and cinema. Boxing is obsolete.
Electric airplanes take off and land vertically and electric trains zip by at 500 MPH. Hardly anyone travels by electric car – not because it is a no-no – but because it is impractical and makes no sense. People are very social animals. Besides, there is nowhere in the country one could think of going without being able to go quickly, cheaply and efficiently via public transit (train or plane).
Would you be happy with this future? Conservatives will fight to the death to keep what we have this day or even to go back a century or so – but liberals and progressives will emerge victorious; and so, whether you like it or not – if you live long enough to see it – you’ll get the future as we describe it.
As Julius Caesar once said, the die is cast. Humankind has no choice if it and the earth are to survive.