What will happen next? The changes we’ve seen over the years

The past 100 years or so have seen some of the greatest changes the world has ever experienced, some for the
Opinion

The past 100 years or so have seen some of the greatest changes the world has ever experienced, some for the better, some for the worst. Who, living in 1915 could have envisaged, at a time when flying had barely got off the ground (no pun intended), that within the next century there would be aircraft capable of carrying over three hundred passengers, a number that would then have presented problems for ocean-going ships, let alone the aircraft of that era! Or that such planes would be able to fly, almost non-stop, all the way from England to Australia, or that they would do it in little over 20 hours. And this doesn’t take into account the fact that we can now fly to the moon, as well as around the world!

Then there was the discovery of true plastics, which would by the end of the twentieth century revolutionise manufacturing and many other facets of life today (though many would argue that this was retrograde rather than progress!).

These are just a couple of examples of the amazing discoveries and inventions that we have been privileged to live through, out of thousands, if not millions of other ways, in surgery, manufacturing, personal safety, transport and especially, electronics. And it seems that the rate of progress has accelerated as time has gone by, with one forward step leading to two or three more, so that ordinary people can hardly keep up with it.

But it’s this increasing rate of progress which makes me wonder where we are going to go next, so that it can be great fun to just sit back, close your eyes and imagine what you think things might be like in another hundred years.

Some wonderful new phenomena are just about with us already, being carefully tested before exploding onto the general market, like driverless cars and genetically modified foods. But there must be a million other things, not yet even thought of, which we are now capable of producing, if we can only think of them.

Is it possible there could one day be a watch, tattooed onto your wrist, which registers perfect time, through signals from a satellite, or could cars skim about on a cushion of air like a hovercraft, saving rubber and road surfaces? How about ‘Star Trek’s “beam me up Scotty’ mode of travel over short distances, or tubes connecting cities everywhere along which groups of passengers could be shot, in capsules, at very high speed; London to Paris or Melbourne to Sydney each taking something like a minute and each passenger wrapped in some kind of cushioning material to protect them from the acceleration and deceleration. We can already print various body parts, using the newly invented 3D printers, but what if they can be developed to create new arteries or working nerve fibres, so that spinal injuries would no longer confine the victim to a wheelchair?

Maybe one day we will be able to convert the sun’s energy directly into useable electricity, with a small receiver on every roof, without the massive arrays of photoelectric calls to do it the present indirect and highly inefficient way. It could mean free energy for everyone, apart from purchasing the tiny collector, and it could mean the end for power stations, burning fossil fuels!

Controlling the weather should eventually become comparatively easy, though I’m not certain that would be a good idea, nature has a way of balancing these things, which our messing about could easily lead to disaster! One only has to think of cane toads, rabbits and foxes to be aware of what we can do through our own ignorance and stupidity.

Those are just a few very simple thoughts on what might be there for us in the future, but I am confident there are many readers of Starts at Sixty out there, who can think of much more imaginative ideas than I have been able to suggest.

So, thinking caps on please – how far can you see into the future?

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