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Sometimes I try to think of today, 2008, from the perspective of sometime far in future. Like we look back to eh 1600's now. And sit and think about those great chemists and general ignorance. And wonder about how people lived before then.
What was life like before you knew about incompatible blood types? Dangerous. A blood transfusion could cost you your life. What was life like before antibiotics? Or plastic (steampunk nowadays?)? Or before you knew about microbes?
Kind of difficult to imagine, though we have documentary evidence people survived and lived. They tried blood transfusion among relatives to reduce chances of death (ie higher chances of same blood group), washed hands with soap after going to an infected site (reduce chances of microbial infection) etc., but did not know why.

Similarly, centuries from now, people will (hopefully) wonder at a few things. I would hope that there will be advancement in Science and living standards. I would hope, that dystopia will not be true because of the hope-for-the-better nature of human beings.

People will wonder how TB or polio or malaria or jaundice existed
Of how vaccines were so difficult to make

But what I would like are thoughts like:
How did people think "Global Warming" was so bad? It submerged all those overpopulated places and controlled human population didn't it?
How primitive those liquid fuel based cars seem now. What a cloud of smoke and noise!
Oooh! look at all these quaint images they made of the future!
There was actually a time when they didn't have internet? O_o [Though I think this has already come up - they will have a different equivalent of the net then - telepathy?]

But yes, the point is, there will be always some level of progress which will make what we consider "cutting edge" or futuristic seem obsolete and even funny. No matter how much we progress we will still be objects of interest and wonder to future generations.

In some cases the time taken is smaller, and in some others it may take longer. Internet seems to be a game of yesterday but aeroplanes took their own sweet time. But in chemistry, in biology, it may be a while that we catch up with what our preceding generations did. A discovery a year, a pathbreaking development once every so often, a wondrous invention - they seem to have given way to price wars and sterile chambers. To strongly followed processes which kill all chances of true experimentation. Of a battle with competition so strong that patents rule the day and legality and documenting take the time of creative thinking over common small yet unsolved problems.

A time when it is more worrying to have an experimental clone sheep in a lab because of public interest and views and funds, than its scientific points and progress. When making money is so important that you'd rather come out with three different versions of the same drug at higher prices (Statins) than make a technology which could probably address some other disease. A time where progress seems to have slowed down compared to the earlier centuries.

Is that because of a lack of things to 'find out' or simply too much legality and better money to be made from other sources? Will centuries later they look at this time of history as anything except some technological development? Will there be any significant development in Science as we know it - the life saving, people helping kind of science? Or will this time period be remembered as the time for Softwares and Global Warming.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
29th Mar, 2008 21:04 (UTC)
The pace of change of civilization has been so rapid, and constantly accelerating, that one cannot predict what the world will be like in a decade's time, let alone a century or two. And yes- we always reimagine the future in terms of how things are today. Past sci-fi and present reflects this-the grimness of the post 9/11 world has led most current sci-fi to tend towards dystopian futures.
Since computers have grown superfast, thanks to Moore's law, we tend to expect similar advances in other fields as well. This may or may not be possible- take space travel as an example. Where are the floating space colonies and bases on the moon and Mars? We're yet to get out of LEO, and use the same rocket technology as 40 years previously.

I feel the world of tomorrow will be far more homogenized socially, and people will wonder what was so special about 'globalization' as a term. Hopefully we'll have shed prejudices about others in terms of religions and cultures and learn to live more peacefully.
More advances in cloning, nanotech etc might have far reaching social impacts. For example, would genetically engineered people have rights? Will companies start claiming intellectual property on your genes because you took some therapy? These are possible issues to think of- and right now it's pretty hard to even remotely predict how things will be.
31st Mar, 2008 05:09 (UTC)
Re: Interesting...
Interesting thought, but I dont think that "peaceful" living will ever happen as long as humans are the way they are. Even in colonies of 100 they will find a reason for discord. Its but natural. So unless there is some major genetic reingineering somewhere, we are going to hate our neighbours for some petty reason.

But the companies copyrighting genome? Sounds fearfully true :/
31st Mar, 2008 04:53 (UTC)
strangely enough
One thing is how, over the years, scifi has over rated this millenium as a a time for rapid advancement and exploration. Very very few of the developments envisaged by year 2000 and beyond have really taken place. Neither computationally nor otherwise. Heck even space travel is far far behind what was envisaged. I think similarly there is going to be a slow down in our progress across this millenium. Compared to 10,000 BC when we were using woolly mammoths to build pyramids, we havent really evolved that much have we ;)..well at least according to the movies :).
31st Mar, 2008 05:18 (UTC)
Re: strangely enough
Thats what is so interesting. THe pace of development - discovery and growth has been so high in the past millenia, people expected the growth curve to continue upward. But it has more or less become stationary. So maybe over the next century we can expect some of the developments expected? Im thinking - some of the developments at least 30% of those - expected in early 20th century - at least those in sci fi books.

Perhaps this lack of development is the main reason in decline of new sci fi books worth reading.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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