Year 2203, a crisp January morning in Singapore.
At 7:00 am sharp, the nanoprocessor, which is no bigger than a microdot, embedded beneath Manu's scalp just above his forehead sends a silent signal to Manu's brain to gently wake him up. Actually, there is an interconnected net of nanoprocessors—a nanonet—in different locations under his skin. There is one under the skin of each fingertip, ear, elbow, navel, knee and toe. Apart from doing the mundane task of being Manu's invisible secretary, the nanonet is also his personal physician-cum-gym-instructor, databank, ID tag and communicator. It used to be his wallet too until 2200, when at the turn of the century, money was abolished altogether.
It's no wonder that at 95, Manu is often mistaken for a fifty year old!
The nanonet, with the help of millions of nanomachines (nanobots) tirelessly cruising through his bloodstream monitors every aspect of Manu's health every second of his life. The nanonet is essentially a quantum computer, whose input/output are the millions of 'dumb' nanomachines, Manu's mind/brain, and his fingertips. The nanomachines that are all over Manu's body, constantly monitors every aspect of his health and continuously feed the information to the nanonet. The nanonet processes this information and forms an image of the status of his health and well being. At the slightest indication of trouble, the nanonet activates those localised nanomachines to rectify the problem. Most of the problems are fixed by the nanomachines before they develop into serious complications. Since the nanomachines are bio-engineered out of Manu's own DNA, his immune system does not recognise them as foreign and hence does not attack them. In the event of a problem requiring external medication/surgery, the nanonet alerts Manu with diagnostic details and the way forward. The alert could be in the form of messages to his ears or twitches to his index finger. Optionally, the nanonet may also communicate to a remote nanonet of, say, his surgeon and inform him of Manu’s condition. This was what happened eleven years back when he needed a new heart; it was too worn out to be mended by the nanomachines. His heart was harvested outside his body using his stem cells then transplanted to him by a robot surgeon.
Manu quietly got out of bed and softly stepped into the large glass-enclosed balcony. He was careful not to wake up his wife Eva, who was still sound asleep. His house was sailing soundlessly through the sky and was now approaching the Singapore air-space. In a few moments his house would dock into a gravity pad. He was just returning from a holiday in India. He remembered his grandfather telling him before he passed on, that during his early years people used to travel for all kinds of reasons. There was the work related travel, travelling for education, for business, for pleasure and leisure. Now people travel only for leisure, since travelling for any other purpose has become unnecessary and obsolete, with the quantum leap in communications technology and worm-hole transport.
Even leisure travel has had a major revolution since the beginning of the millennium when people used to travel in those contraptions called airplanes where people were boxed in with total strangers for hours together breathing stale air and eating tasteless microwaved food. Since the development of gravity shields, which curiously began in the late 1990s, all homes were gradually fitted out with grav-shields. This not only paved the way for a revolution in human travel but also in architecture since designs that were hitherto structurally impossible suddenly became practical and ubiquitous. With the advent of the gravity shield technology, public travel died a slow death. Gravity shields would not have been so successful if it wasn’t for the parallel revolution in power generation – the cold fusion and microfusion reactors. These reactors, that were initially pooh-poohed by the scientific community in the 1980s as impossibilities, were later developed in the 2060s. This initiated a whole slew of developments due to the limitless quantities of clean energy it offered. Centralised power generation and transmission was slowly phased out. Each home began to have its own microfusion reactor that was no bigger than a small suitcase capable of delivering enough power to meet the inflated needs of a household for about fifty years. Smaller units powered their leisure vehicles like the gravity-shielded sky-scooters. Quantum computing too had a major impact on lifestyles. As portrayed in 20th century science fiction movies, robots evolved into increasingly human-like forms until by the late 2100s it was hard to spot the robot in a household. The human-like robots (androids) did not perform any mundane chores; there were lower grade robots for such tasks. The androids were more like advisers to a household. They were experts in almost all fields of learning right from delicate neurosurgery to micro-economics to religious philosophy. They were highly respected members of the family.
Many revolutions had come to pass in the two hundred years since the start
of the millennium. It is indeed an irony to understand that most of these
revolutions were only possible due to the foundations laid during that turbulent,
primitive, violent phase of human history – the beginning of the third
millennium. To understand the future, let us take a look at the possible (perhaps
not probable) history of that future; the time line of the new millennium.
Here many positive assumptions are taken with the firm belief that man shall
ultimately prevail, progress, and evolve to better future. These projections
are made based on the current trends in research:
Life Sciences: Research on the human genome project underway
Computing: The first primitive quantum computer created in a laboratory by Dr.Isaac Chuang, a researcher at IBM, and his team
Engineering: Research on nanotechnology continues.
Robotics: Primitive robots with pattern recognition skills developed.
Physics: Podkletnov carries out his controversial gravity shield experiment and reports it to be a success, amidst much ridicule and scepticism from the scientific community. Research on string theory hots up. Scientists suggest existence of worm holes. Cold fusion (table-top fusion) experiment a failure.
Political: Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait leads to the American intervention in the liberation of Kuwait.
Early 2000 - 2100:
Life Sciences: Human genome project completed. The first mammal cloned; a sheep named Dolly. Research on stem cells intensifies while debate on the ethics of cloning continue. Viruses mutate into newer forms causing new epidemics. First successful human organ created using stem cells (2030). First successful transplant operation using harvested organ (2032). Idea of the creation of a super species mooted. Debate on Eugenics and the creation of a super species rages.
Computing: Quantum computers become extensively used in cryptography. First quantum hybrids created at the molecular level. Nanonets tried out on volunteers successfully.
Engineering: Nanobots commonplace, extensively used in non-invasive surgery and other applications despite strong resistance from a section of scientists due to its potential to be abused. An international watchdog with powers to regulate research in nanotechnology and ensure that it does not fall into the wrong hands is formed.
City Planning: Water scarcity becomes severe in the first quarter of the century. Coastal cities in the third world opt for reverse osmosis plants to meet part of the water demands. Rain water harvesting gains popularity globally. With growth in communication and home-office concept coupled with problems of urbanisation people begin to move to rural areas from cities. Moderate ocean habitats with gravity shield bases levitating above water appear in several parts of the world (fourth quarter). First colony on the moon. Water scarcity solved by extensive use of air-to-water technology and reverse osmosis plants.
Robotics: Household robots become popular and sophisticated. Robots used extensively in other applications such as mining, construction etc.
Physics: Dr. Rusi Taleyarkhan’s table-top fusion experiment confirmed a success under laboratory conditions. Worm hole transport device a failure. Table-top fusion successful and found commercially viable. Crude gravity shield devices developed (third quarter of the century). Commercial applications of gravity shield devices appear in the fourth quarter.
Other Sciences/Developments: Ocean mining increase tremendously.
Political: Sept 11 terrorist attack on America. America invades Afghanistan and later Iraq. New wars break out in other parts of the world resulting in enormous casualties and suffering. A new global consciousness to go beyond war emerges as a phoenix. With it comes a new resolve to earnestly look at the causes of war and suffering. Global organisation of people sans politics is formed; replaces the UN. Divisions in humanity are blamed for violence. Humanity breaks out of its violent adolescence into maturity by conquering wars. After many years of debate and soul searching, research for the development of a more resilient super-species (cancer-proof and virus-proof), but with a single outward characteristic is finally approved (last quarter). “Fixing the mistakes of God,” “Next giant leap in evolution?” cries many of the global newspapers. Many previously third-world countries like India, China etc. enter into the first world.
2100 to 2200
Life Sciences: Research on the creation of a super-species takes twenty years. First of the new species is born of normal parents who volunteered; the child is named Manu after the first man. The child has grey skin, dark hair and other features, which suggest a racial mix. The child is immune to cancer and all forms of viruses. The child exhibits a high intellect, deep equanimity and spirituality with little trace of individual ego. More such babies are born of parents from different races, all having similar characteristics of skin/hair colour etc. There is tremendous initial resistance. A new virus mutation decimates a significant portion of the global population, but leaves the “super” kids untouched. This causes more and more couples to opt for the “super” kids.
Computing: Nanonets become very sophisticated and miniaturised. One by one, countries pass laws to have citizens embedded with nanonets despite tremendous global resistance due to suspicion and the belief in the invasion of personal privacy. People begin to grudgingly accept nanonets due to the tremendous benefits after assurances from the Governments.
Engineering: Gravity shields and microfusion make tremendous impact on transportation, architecture, construction, space exploration, material science etc.
City Planning: Large ocean and sky habitats sprout up. Mobile homes with a gravity shield base gains popularity.
Robotics: Human-like robots (androids) become commonplace.
Physics: Wormhole transport portals developed successfully; signals next revolution in transportation.
Political: All countries progress to first-world status. Wars become non existent. Crime tapers off due to the installation of nanonets. Countries merge. Borders and barriers come down.
Economics: One of the most revolutionary laws to affect mankind is passed with the advent of 2200—the abolishment of money. With optimal planning & resource management coupled with a tempering of greed, money was becoming increasingly redundant towards the end of the 22nd century. The new breed of mankind became selfless and worked for the sheer joy of working. Advanced robotics ensured an adequacy of goods and personalised services.
Manu looked out into the distance. He could see the spires of Singapore touching the clouds. He wonders: how many more times does he have to see these spires growing up and up and up…? How many more times does he have to make these leisure trips to the same places? His days have become white and featureless like an endless ocean of milk. There is only a boring and eternal happiness in this world of his. There is not even a news channel in the programmes that are beamed directly into his brain. For, with the death of grief and misery, news too died a natural death. Sometimes, just for the sheer heck of it, he would browse the archives and see the tumults of history. Now, everywhere he looks, he sees smiling clones of himself. He sees a future of a bland blissful blankness. Can immortal bliss be so empty? Isn’t death really a liberation? The holoscreen sensed his thoughts and projected an advertisement. “Switch-off in style” the old grey face that appeared before him said before morphing into sand. A brief smile lit Manu’s face before his communicator went active.