2012… the ‘future’.
I’m still waiting for the jet-pack I was promised by implication that we’d all be wearing in ‘the future’ back when I was 9 years old. But here we are–just days away from the future–and no jet-pack. No hover-craft. No waterless-showers or roast dinners that you make by putting a capsule in some kind of re-hydration machine.
Back in the early 70′s, 2012 seemed like an utterly impossible date. Even movies only stretched their imaginations to 2001 (A Space Odyssey). So if we had space travel and computers-gone-rogue in 2001, surely the world (or at least civilisation as we know it) would be well over by 2012.
The Mayans thought so; except they didn’t really—all the palava over the end-of-the-world is greatly overrated. At best the Mayan calendar forecast a shift in consciousness around this time. The end of the world as we know it, not just the end of the world. Apocalypse in the true sense of the word (‘lifting the veil’ ‘revelation’), not an apocalyptic event.
We’ve already had the Rapture-fail this year when one-out-of-six people suddenly didn’t de-materialise and leave piles of clothes where they stood and their friends blinking in confusion. I don’t think I’m up for another cosmic disappointment so soon.
And so…as we approach the dawn of 2012…I wanted to look for evidence of the future here in our present. It may not look like fiction would have us believe but there certainly are signs that the future did come as promised.
I may not have a single, Jetsons-esque robot maid to do my bidding but I have machines to do most of my more onerous chores. As I sit in my office and write, a machine washes my clothes and another would offer to dry them for me if I didn’t live in the world’s most natural-dry conducive city, a machine washes my dishes, a machine slow-cooks my dinner, a machine does my vacuuming without me. Another machine cools me (or warms me depending on my needs), while another helps me to write much faster than I ever could by hand.
I don’t have re-constitutable dinner capsules but I have a machine that can cook in a fraction of the natural time and another one that can freeze-dry and vaccum seal meals for my later re-hydration.
We don’t move through our cities Bladerunner style in levitating hovercraft but someone does, in a lab somewhere, and scientists have managed to replicate genuine levitation and get a gold sphere to rise on its own. Surely hover-craft can’t be far away.
We may not have amphibious vehicles as the movies portrayed them, but we have snorkel-bearing off-raod vehicles and—surely—they’re just as good and just as useless?
We may not be able to beam ourselves around the place at will but entertainment beams to us—streaming movies, games, online entertainment. You’re reading this now because I was able to create something and, effectively, teleport it somewhere else so you could read it. In fact, scientists have been able to genuinely transfer information from atom to atom—and over vast distances like 1m—without any wires or connections whatsoever. Actual teleportation.
We have the internet—god help us all—and it’s every bit as dangerous and amazing as author Orson Scott Card conceived back in the seventies when his characters used the Ansible to communicate on a wirelessly/time-immediate network between planets. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a tangible living entity just like Card’s Jane. At all.
So, while none of it looks like I imagined the future would back when I was nine, I guess we have facsimiles of what we were promised in fictional form. Maybe we’re not doing so badly at all for only a few decades.
It stands to reason that if we only have a facscimile of the techonology of the future then we should only have a facsimilie of the doom of the future. This time next year we may only experience a warm fuzzy feeling in lieu of global shifting and mass extinctions. I’m certainly ready for some new enlightenment on the part of the masses. I think we’ve banged sticks and shouted at each other long enough.
Though a small part of me will be a bit disappointed come December equinox–I was looking forward to watching the apocalypse from 400m in the air on my jet-pack.