In which I answer a random question generated by a website. Here’s this week’s question Feel free to give your own answers in the comments.
If you went into a coma and woke up in the year 2120, what would be the first thing you would want to know?
Well, we’ll dispense with the obvious question first because it probably isn’t going to come up later: How the hell did you keep me a live in a coma for a century, and well past what was the maximum human life span at the time I went into it?
The real first thing I’d want to know would be… everything, although I’d probably start by asking — assuming the coma started before it happened — “Who won the presidential election of 2020, and what happened after that?”
It wouldn’t really influence my opinion of the present world, since a lot can change in a hundred years — in 1920, after all, the second term of an extremely racist U.S. President was coming to an end, and women were only just getting the right to vote on the federal level. Meanwhile, lynching and other acts of racial violence were far too common…
Okay, maybe shit doesn’t change in a century. Well, some things don’t. But on the other hand, comparing the state of technology in 1920 and 2020 is to compare two completely different worlds.
They barely had perfected the ability to fly, and the radio and telegraph were the state-of-the-art in long-distance communication. Meanwhile, we’ve sent people to the Moon and space, probes to other planets and outside of our solar system, while television has been a major medium since at least the 1950s and the internet and our phones have put each one of us, personally, in contact with the entire world almost instantaneously.
Seriously, I think if I explained to somebody in 1920 that I could use a keyboard and screen (or just the version of the screen that fits in my pocket) to chat with friends in cities across the U.S., or countries like Peru or the UK in real-time, their head would explode.
So I can only imagine the state of technology, and maybe that’s the first thing I’d ask. What was the successor to all of our technology? By this point, connectivity may just be implanted and universal, and who knows how far the transhumanist movement may have gotten.
Everyone may have already shifted to a life-like robotic avatar, or just migrated to a virtual existence a la the show Upload. It would explain how they managed to bring me back after a hundred years.
But all of that technology really doesn’t matter, though, depending on the answer to my real first question: Did humankind ever get its shit together and deal with things like inequality, injustice, and poverty; taking care of the environment and providing healthcare, education, housing, and a basic income for all? And everything else?
Solve those problems or make substantial gains in those areas, then okay, I might stick around. Otherwise, put me back in the coma and get back to me in a century.
Honestly, though, I think that humanity will only be around in a century if we do deal with all of these issues, and do so in a profoundly progressive manner. All of our technological advances are meaningless if we stay mired in greed, prejudice, fear, and intolerance.
This planet is not an Us vs Them proposition. There is only an Us, and it’s only in working together — and realizing that there is enough for everyone as long as too much doesn’t go to anyone — that we will actually see the year 2120.
Hell, without changing course, humans may not see 2024.