I wonder what it would be like to live in the future? No incurable diseases, bakofoil for clothes, food pills, flying cars and robots with personality disorders (“….Danger Will Robinson….!”) to wipe our bottoms.
Actually, it is here. It is somewhat of an oxymoron, but we are living in the future. As I sit here on a computer with more computing power than the entire Apollo programme put together (actually, much more powerful than even the electronic innards of the Hubble telescope) and a connection at 20Mbits to most other computers around the globe sipping on my energy drink and wearing clothes made from a variety of hard wearing, low maintenance and comfortable materials reading about a possible cure for cancer on the internet as my personal mobile phone rang I have to admit that we aren’t far off a version of the future envisaged by Arthur C. Clarke and his co-sci-fi writers. The flying car, however, is still grounded. But it has heated seats and cruise control so it isn’t too bad.
People, we live in interesting times. Remember back to school history lessons where we learnt about things like the industrial revolution, the renaissance, the invasion of Viking hordes, the Great Depression and the coming of the telephone, the aeroplane or the railway. We live in times equally as fearsome for their technological advancement, and maybe we haven’t noticed. It’s easy to miss when you are exposed to change slowly on a day to day basis.
I remember a world before mobile phones, home computers and the internet. It wasn’t all that long ago. It may seem like forever, but in the late 1990s the internet wasn’t used for online shopping or downloading films and music. It was in some respects more of a novelty that didn’t take off until ADSL broadband turned up and kicked sand in the eyes of all those 33.6 baud modems. To the younger generation: you haven’t suffered until you have tried to download something important using a modem on a crackly phone line. In hell, the internet will be accessed via modem, and will be made of Flash animations and bandwidth eating pop-ups that you cannot block.
The rise of the internet alone is more significant to human history than the rise of the telephone, or even the coming of the railways. Look at how much it has changed, so radically and so quickly. We can now buy everything from our home and – in some cases like film, music and software – have it delivered instantly through a tiny cable. We can communicate with anyone around the globe without paying through the nose for it. We can even transfer huge amounts of information by the same way. Back in even the 1990s communication with overseas relatives was done with the Christmas day phone call via a crackly landline that cost a staggering £5 per minute to make. No wonder we never talked much. Now a good deal of the people I talk to every day live overseas yet I can video call them just like that in real time.
In the news recently is word that cancer may be on the verge of being cured. It is strange to think that in time this serious illness that is terminal for so many could be cured by nothing more than a course of tablets. Far fetched? Well remember this: Black Death, which killed around a fifth of the population of Europe, can now be cured by a simple course of penicillin tablets. In time maybe Cancer will be viewed as the Black Death of the 20th Century. It is amazing.
With all the stock markets in flux and commodity prices and inflation going through the roof, my parting comments will by mostly about the Great Depression and the 1926 General Strike and the Jarrow marchers. I didn’t think it would take less than a century for the same shit to shaft us all twice at the hands of banker-wankers, but it has. History repeats itself because it seems that no-one in charge ever bothers listening. How true.
And finally, I see the Murdoch empire is starting to collapse. It is intriguing just how many enemies Murdoch and his cronies have made pissing people off through the various media outlets that he controls. They say when you climb the tree in business you should treat people well on the way up. Otherwise, when you fall they all take the chance to kick you to see how far you fall. Murdoch pissed a lot of people off, just like the Maxwells did a decade or more ago. There’s a lot of people lining up to take a swing, and to be honest, it couldn’t be happening to a more deserving bloke. Murdoch: you may feel free to sit on my raised middle digit and swivel for what you did to people I knew in my time in broadcasting.