Crystal Ball Of Science? Or Pure Fantasy?

Time for a rose-coloured vision of the future. Do I really have a crystal ball or just the pseudo-talent of fantasizing like a teenager?

oilTwo important viral strains were identified in the year 2039. The first, ITOS, had been especially rampant from 1990 to 2009. Lodging itself in specific pathways between the cerebral cortex and brain stem, it was responsible for the urge to create workshops and seminars for white collar workers. ITOS was especially effective because of the action of its companion-virus, SIBS, which over a short period of time made people even more likely to accept untested ideas in education and industry. Since the viral epidemic, billions of dollars and worker hours had been surrendered to motivational gurus who roamed the planet. But once the vaccination program was launched in the spring of 2039, these gurus found themselves in unemployment lines, without even the urge to persuade those ahead of them to let them pass.

• By 2041 the WTA and ATP had merged into one. Women tennis stars were able to compete with men by benefiting from a dense alloy which was used only in men’s rackets to take that boring big-serve out of their game. The ladies’ lighter rackets eliminated gentlemen’s muscular advantage, so that if the latter wanted to beat the opposite sex they had to do so with stamina and finesse, both of which were acquired and not inherited traits.

empathyThe Empathy Assistor was invented in 2043. Using only two consenting participants with a minimum age of 15, for three nights the two people involved would experience manufactured dreams based on each others’ fears, hopes and aspirations. Each person would wake up knowing what went on in the other person’s head and soul as the latter experienced anything from taunting to ice cream, from math to television drama. It was more efficient than any other therapy or method for resolving inter- and intrapersonal conflicts. Like most new technologies in the last two centuries, it was initially vehemently opposed by Neo Luddites but after implementing strict controls and guidelines, positive applications became the norm and potential for abuse greatly diminished.

autismMost autistic people, like most people in general, do not have a special talent. A minority, the so-called autistic savants, have a phenomenal memory for specific things such as music, numbers or smells. As a renowned psychologist had pointed out at the turn of the century, it was as if the rest of the autistic brain was overcompensating for its dysfunctional part. Years after, it occurred to educators that in most people, the parts of the brain responsible for social behaviors—the same ones that are limited in autistic patients— are too active, limiting the average person’s capacity for both logical and creative thinking. Through a combination of mental training, proper diet, self-discipline and psychoactive substances released and controlled by internal computer chips, people in 2046 became capable of turning the loud voices of fruitless thinking into a feathery whisper. On demand, the brain no longer occupied itself with commercial and political propaganda; when necessary, it shut off thoughts of gossip and finances. It then had far more energy to create art and to listen to the sounds of science.

• Education in the year 2031 had become the responsibility of government, industry, parents and teachers alike. No one’s basic education took place in school anymore. The majority of parents either took turns to stay at home with their children or took advantage of the on-site daycare-education centers at work. In the former case, parents supervised the home-schooling of their children who took advantage of online connections to access tutors around the world and who visited community resource centers to use labs, theaters and other resources not available at home. Since industry had finally developed a social conscience, parents had no reason to question the objectivity of industrial education centers that offered practical training for young teenagers who desired it.

• A glimpse of the year 2026: Most states had adopted Vermont’s no billboard law on their highways. Within urban centers, the only billboards found ( and there were never more than 2 per acre ) were those containing useful information such as atomic masses and physical constants. At every major intersection, along with a 911 terminal,there was a 912 terminal, an emergency computer hot line for old and young students stuck on homework problems.