A Quarter Century Away

Contemplating the Dynamic World

This Monday morning was the same as yesterday morning. At 9 a.m. , 25yr-old Travis awoke to the supple and sensuous sounds of a female voice. "Wake up you wonderful man. I can’t believe how sexy you’re looking this morning and let’s not forget how ambitous and motivated you are in life." The latter portion of this sentence was said in a less mild yet still encouraging tone. (1) Travis lay half awake pondering how people in the 20th century could have put up with bells or buzzers joltingly rocking their subconcious state from a dream-filled slumber. Or the disturbing monotonic ramblings of a radio disc-jockey when he or she feels its necessary to talk between songs or relate the latest news, weather or commercial product. Satisfied with this trivial morning brain exercise, Travis decides to start his day.

Travis entered the shower and stated his name. The water came out as a strong, foggy mist which contained his favorite brand of soap mixed within. After he was done lathering, Travis spoke the word "rinse" and the heavy spraying mist turned to a stronger pressurized water flow. He had to hurry his rinsing because he knew he only had 90 seconds alloted for this stage of his shower.(2) Over the household system, his mother’s voice boomed. "Travis hurry up or you’ll be late for work." Travis hated these home inter-communicative systems. He realized the benefits of having them but lamented for the more traditional methods of families hollering to each other from different parts of the house.(3) At the same moment he was thankful for his parent’s decision not to buy an audio-visual house inter-communicative system. Hastily getting dressed, Travis stopped for a brief moment to inhale the sweet enlightening smell of his aromatherapeutic sweater before putting it on.(4)

Upon entering the kitchen, travis could see that his father and two sisters had already been up and breakfast-fed. Immediately approaching the "Autochef" unit, Travis again spoke his name aloud. The food preparation appliance let out a low electronic humming sound with sporadic, soft noises of objects being mechanically manipulated within this technological servant.(5) As he retrieved his cereal with goat’s milk and scrambled ostrich eggs with toast from his two personalized compartments, Travis agonizingly remembered that it was his turn to ensure that the Autochef received its daily replenishment of the necessary food and other supplies. Knowing that he wouldn’t have time to take a lunch break at work today,Travis grabbed a couple of nutritional supplements from a bottle on the dining table. Noticing his actions, Travis’ father said sarcastically, "One would think that with all the time saved thanks to all of these wonderous technological innovations we experience each day, a person would be able to find time to eat a more healthy lunch".

Travis ignored the remarks knowing that his father was trying to get him involved in a friendly debate on whether the past twenty-five years of this young millenium was an era of societal progression through rapid technological advancements or societal regression due to these factors. Travis’ father is an intelligent man who began his career as an environmental consultant for a global non-governmental agency and has spent the past ten years writing provacative articles for the National Geographic pertaining to environmental issues of the time. Travis’ father was never at a loss for words that condemned the early practices which he and the rest of the world committed against the welfare of the Earth all for the sake of living a more convenient lifestyle. Travis respected the regrets his father had for those times in the late 20th century, However, wasn’t the world’s societies now realizing the harm that had been inflicted upon the Earth through air pollution, agricultural malpractices, wildlife habitat destruction, etc. and most importantly realizing that human beings cannot survive on a planet which they are hostile toward? The answer that Travis’ father would have to that question is "maybe some of us have realized the importance of nature’s sustainability so that human life may thrive. But you have to remember two things, the first is that these reasons are ethically anthropocentric and selfish and secondly it seems were too late. We should have revered the natural environment decades ago. Still today with all the problems we face with environmental issues, that when I was your age I couldn’t have imagined, there still isn’t enough being done to clean up the mess that were in now".(6)

Travis knew there was no arguing with his father because he knew his father was right. Nobody could venture outdoors during certain days and times of year without clothing and head and eye wear made from materials which reflected the harmful ultra-violet rays of the sun.(7) Wild animals that his father could view at the city zoo, aquarium or a circus during his youth were now either extinct or in captivity and protected from commercial exploitation.(8) Travis would sit and listen to his father’s stories about the previous century. They would be stories of intense technological productivity which brought along with it high consumer consumption with total disregard for any of the adverse effects these actions had on the natural environment as a whole. Travis would hear about longer winters and shorter summers, two sometimes three car families, the wreckless disposal of the huge amounts of domestic household waste, massive oil spills in the once pristine oceans and seas and countless other human-induced atrocities against the environment. (9) Today however, Travis had no time to indulge his father. Travis, unlike his father had to go to work at a governmental agency downtown that deals with monitoring the actions of an appointed developing nation’s government. Travis along with several co-workers, are required to investigate and report any potential corruptions regarding the distributions of food or civil repression which may occur within these "little brother" nations. Travis is the only worker in his department residing in Ottawa. The rest of his office staff reside in their individually assigned country’s in order to have full undisputed access to the social issues existing there.(10)

Travis walked two blocks to the nearest solar-electric bus station(11)wishing the whole time that he worked from the home like his mother and father. His two younger sisters were still in the education curriculum and they stayed home as well. Interactive educational classrooms were transmitted to every household that could afford the luxury. The children of poorer households still received education the traditional way; they had to physically travel to an educational institution.(12)

Travis boarded the bus and immediately reached into his carrying bag and fished out his electronic book which contained a story that he downloaded from the television the previous week.(13) It was a classic story written in the middle to late 20th century titled "A Clockwork Orange". Although Travis had a little trouble understanding the "old-style" language of the book, he fully comprehended the theme of the story. He was thankful that society hadn’t regressed into a state of total civil disorder and lack of human volition as predicted in the electronic pages of the book which he was reading. His musings were interrupted by the moaning sounds of a female voice seemingly in the throes of sexual passion. Peoples heads turned on the bus but turned just as quickly away from Travis’ direction once they realized what and where the sounds of orgasmic pleasure were coming from. It was Travis’ wireless phone. Travis was proud of himself for choosing to have the recording of a female in the midst of orgasm to notify him that he was receiving a phone call rather than the common voice notifiers used by most people.(14) Such as : "Someone wishes to speak with you" or "Excuse me someones calling" and dozens of others from which to choose .

It was his mother. "Travis, do you have your chip?" He groaned and replied "yes I do, it’s not turned on." "Well turn it on. We were worried about you."she snapped. He informed her that he would do it right away and clicked her off. Reaching into his carrying bag, Travis pulled out a thin chip about the size of a dime and pressed it to his left shoulder underneath his sweater.(15) There! He thought. My over-protective family can rest a little easier now that they know where I am and that I’m okay.

As the electric shuttle approached closer to downtown Ottawa, Travis could see the traffic congestion up ahead. This was caused by the long delays from cars going through the customs inspections at the Canada - Quebec border.(16) While the bus made its turn off the expressway, away from the traffic snarle, Travis was thankful for two things which stemmed from the unfortunate separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada. The first was that after twenty years of separation, Quebec was finally beginning to establish its own stable economy and secondly,the traffic jams caused by border inspections were not consisting of predominantly fossil-fueled cars. Therefore there was no thick haze of smog that hung over the city during rush hour traffic much like the smog that his father told him existed in cities of the late 20th century.(17) Walking into the building where he worked, Travis read from his compact electronic notebook his itinerary for the day. He had to attend three video conferences. One at noon (hence no lunch break), another at two o’clock and his last at three o’clock which was mainly a quick daily consultation with his immediate supervisor who lived in Bangladesh, the country of which he was responsible for monitoring. The meetings turned out to be routine and rather mundane. He spoke to his co-workers via video conferencing because they were scattered all over the globe. It was easier to realize the plights of a poorer nation if a person was actually living there. Therefore, since Travis was delegated to the domestic branch of this international government agency he had one office on a floor with other offices but these people were not involved with the same projects that he dealt with . Hence, he had nothing in common with the other people on his floor and rarely talked to them. He felt his job was becoming lonely and boring . Travis wished he had a more interesting job like his father which dealt with real environmental issues and ideas that could be expressed without the interference of political beauracracy and correctedness. At four o’clock, Travis was back on the electric solarbus on his way back home. "What a long day" he thought to himself. Then he wondered how people of the 20th century could have put in an average of eight to twelve hour work days without losing their minds.(18)

On the route home, Travis saw the solar and wind power plants located just on the outskirts of the city.(19) Although not very aesthetic, these alternative power sources to fossil fuels were crucial to satisfying increasing consumer demands for energy at the turn of the century. The environmental revolution of 2010 saw a shift more toward these alternative energy sources and a significant abandonnment of traditional uses of fossil fuels.(20) Travis was leaning back relaxing in his seat when one of the electronic advertisements on the ceiling of the bus caught his eye. Bold red letters sporadically flashed their message to anyone who cared to read. "Eat Less! Feel Healthier! Have Even More Free Time!!!" It was an advertisement for a new technological product now out on the market but still very expensive. It was a nutritional implant into the human body that released nutrients into the blood at regular rates or according to one’s personal need’s.(21)

Travis sighed, "this is too much" he thought to himself. Where are the limits to innovation and technologies? For the first time in his life, he was feeling the same feelings his father had felt for years. A resentment towards technology and the helpless sentiments of being trapped in a technologically dominated society. When will technology and economic prosperity surrender their upper hand toward the moral rights of the natural environment? Travis’ readings in university environmental ethics courses sensitized him to environmental dilemmas. Also, being the son of a globally recognized environmental advocate was an obvious influence on Travis’ personal beliefs. His somber mood was broken by the familiar sounds of a young woman screaming with orgasmic pleasure. It was his wireless phone again.

"Travis", he said in his deep business style tone. "Travis, My God! You are not going to believe this! There’s another cyclone coming and the official predictions are that the tidal surge will be an average of 25 feet which means the entire city of Dhaka plus more than half the Delta will be virtually unrecoverable." It was Chad, Travis’ co-worker in Bangladesh. This cyclone would make six in two weeks, the worst typhoon season Bangladesh has faced yet. (22)

After recieving more information about the natural disaster at hand, Travis disconnected from Chad and reconnected to the environmental department in Parliament Hill. At this point he knew the inevitable was going to happen and sadly enough the orders came. Travis was going to have to help coordinate a mass evacuation that would literally displace all inhabitants of the Ganges River Delta and some surrounding areas. Travis was to catch a flight to Bangladesh in less than 12 hours. For the rest of his bus ride home he worked furiously, inputing ideas and recommendations into his electronic notebook. His knowledge conjured many good suggestions as to the implementation of the evacuation itself. However, he was at a loss for any solutions to help ease the social repercussions of a society such as Bangladesh facing fragmentation into different locations of Asia and Europe. Culture shock, discrimination and low class status was the life the Bangladesh citizens would be confronted with in these countries.

When Travis arrived home he headed straight for the kitchen to replenish the autochef with the needed supplies. He started to feel a little ticked off as he began the task. Firstly, he had to programme each of the compartments on the autochef. There were ten in all since there were five members of his family and each had two compartments and each always ate a different meal for supper. Travis remembered the stories his father would tell him of his grandmother making only one meal and the whole family had to eat that same meal. There were no real choices, what you saw in front of you was what you got. Travis was beginning to feel that this whole drive for individual preferences within his society was getting a little out of hand.(23)

His father was engaged in a video conference so Travis headed to his mother’s office downstairs to tell her of his leaving for Bangladesh early the next morning. He saw her sitting in front of her computer screen with her hands encased within cyber-reality gloves and her eyes covered with virtual reality goggles.(24) His mother was a neural surgeon and today she was performing spinal surgery which was being simultaneously transmitted to an operating room in Nairobi where the actual surgery was taking place. Her every move was precisely replayed via two robotic arms wielding several separately usable instruments needed to perform the operation. It was upon a young child of ten years. There were other doctors attending in the Nairobian operating room in case of any unexpected technological failure. Long distance surgery via virtual reality was a relatively new technology, but Travis’ mother was a pioneer in this innovative technology so she was one of a handful of capable virtual surgeons in different parts of the world.

Shortly after he informed his mother of his situation in Bangladesh, he and the rest of his family went to the kitchen and ate their suppers. It was common knowledge that most families within society didn’t eat their meals at the same time. On the contrary, Travis’ father insisted that their family spend those meal times together, it was important for family unity. He supposed that his father was right, but he couldn’t really understand the graveness his father stressed upon this issue. "He’s from the old school.

I wish he would get with the 20’s." Travis often thought to himself. Travis excused himself from the table after his meal and headed straight to his room. He knew he had to go to bed early and get lots of sleep because his next three days would be unquestionably hectic. Upon entering his room, travis said "lights on. Media unit on."(25) After getting ready for bed, Travis plumped down and stared at the images on his viewer screen. To change images from sattelite feeds, Travis simply stated the words "view change" and another programme would be transmitted from anywhere on the globe via sattelite communication. Travis lay awake wondering what it must have been like before the "wireless world" came into complete operation in 2005. Ugly old poles lining the neighbourhoods in a grotesque fashion. Resembling a web spun by a drug induced spider. (26) His thoughts were disrupted by a news bulletin appearing on his screen. The distinguished looking woman behind the desk stated "the manned Mars explorer Glenn/Armstrong has finally touched down on the surface of the planet. This is the first successful of four atempts since 2010 to send human-kind to Mars. This event will go down in history as the most…" Her words trailed off as Travis’ thoughts turned towards appreciation of the existence of human ingenuities regarding technology. Everything was so convenient which made lifestyles in his country and other developed countries so luxurious that people of the world knew nothing of territorial wars. People shared what they had. There was no exploitation and food and welfare and other assistance was internationally distributed and monitored. Sure there was wealthier people than others but that was to be expected in this neo-capitalist global society.(27)

Travis’ eyes grew heavy and he let himself drift off to sleep, knowing that the media unit would disconnect as soon as he muttered the words "unit off". No sooner had he let these words escape his lips when he was jolted completely awake by what sounded like an explosion and the screams of people in pain and anguish. Travis rubbed his eyes and looked around him and immediately realized that he had been dreaming all along. He was in the gymnasium of a bombed-out university. He was lying on a cot with hundreds of other wounded men, women and children. He was in the middle of the Canadian civil war and the explosion that woke him was a heat seeking missile coming from a Quebec fighter jet which destroyed one of the other buildings on the campus.(28)

Travis remembered, it was all coming back to him with a dizzying fury. There was no peace on the planet, no global unity. Every nation was dealing with its own civil wars. The human race had chosen a path of self destruction through the evolutions of their social, economic and technological prowess. Civil breakdown proliferated in all nations of the globe and Travis saw no better times in his near future. Of course the date was the third of december 2025, but Travis’ real world was not the type of world of which he had just dreamt. In this world, travis’ family were dead. They were killed five years ago, casualties of this insane war. There were no convenient, hi-tech lifestyles in existence. No utopian society where people worked on advocating egalitarian methodologies in their attempts at technological and social progression. Certainly the society he had dreamt of was not a perfect society, but who really knows what a perfect society would truly consist of? Nevertheless, any society would be better than the one within which he was now living. His dream was all his own wishful imagination.


1. The technology for having voice recordings from clock radios is already out on the market. I witnessed a television commercial last week from a company that was offering this product. In twenty five years, this technology should be a prominent household item.

2. As mentioned in group 2’s presentation under material lifestyles in the home. I took the idea a step further and suggested soap mixed in the water. Also, with the world’s freshwater supplies depleting at an unreplenishable rate, unless there is technology created to free up most of the world’s suply located in glaciers, I believe that in 2025 water conservation will be a highly critical issue and may even spawn international disputes.

3. As mentioned in the presentation from the group dealing with food, transportation and safety, burglary prevention in the home will be revolutionalized with many added features. The in house speaker system could be one common addition, but not without it leaving effects on the social conditions of families.

4. In group 2’s presentation, they mentioned aromatherapy and its inclusion in clothing. This is an interesting idea, but I doubt its popularity will take-off. However, one never knows.

5. Also in group 2’s presentation was the mention of a kitchen cooking appliance that provided all the conveniences of home cooking, literally taking away most of the chore of manually preparing a meal. I took it a step further and digressed on other characteristics this home "technological servant" might have.

6. I believe that it is human nature to still want more and sacrifice little to achieve it. Although the effects on the environment due to what we’re doing now will be more obvious in twenty-five years, I believe that any human trends toward a paradigm consisting of environmental reverence will be just as complacent then as it is now.

7. Since U.V. warnings are shown daily on the weather networks of today, I think that it’s safe to say that this problem with the depleting ozone will accelerate to a level when people will indeed need protection from these rays to avoid drastic repercussions on their health.

8. As stated in the summery handout of group 2’s presentation : "Wildlife extinction will have increased due to habitiat loss and pollution problems".

9. I thought I would mention his father stories of the 20th century as a time of the past to illustrate the distinctions between today and this scenario of 2025.

10. Downsizing and fragmentation of business bodies, especially in government will continue to almost the level as described in the example of Travis’ employment.

11. Both groups 1 and 2 mentioned the increasing uses of electric vehicles as a measure of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I believe solar technology will play a strong role in this issue.

12. Information technology should be able to move the classroom into the home. However, I blieve that by 2025 it will be in its early stages. His was mentioned in group 3’s presentation.

13. The use of electronic readers as opposed to paper books will be prevalent in the future. Also, downloading information from the television will be as easy as it is done on the internet today. Both of these issues were mentioned in groupn 5’s presentation.

14. This was an attempt at comic relief in the story. It should be mentioned however that this type of technology is accessible today and should be widespread by the year 2025.

15. In an insert magazine of the Ottawa Citizen in early november entitled Canadian Technology, an article by the vice-president of Synervision Inc discusses the possibilities of computer chips being utilized by parents in order to keep tabs of the whereabouts of their children. He goes on to say that these chips would be able to read blood pressure and skin temperature in order to discern whether the user was stressed or troubled in any way.

16. The news today is filled with speculations about Quebec’s separation from Canada.

17. Once again I inserted a contrast of state of the environment between today and 2025 to illustrate possible changes within a future scenario.

18. Group 5 spoke about shorter work days as an attempt by society to alleviate the stresses that come with a rapidly advancing technological society.

19. Solar and wind energy should be generated at an unprecedented rate by the year 2025. This is due to the inevitably surfacing repecussions stemming from the effects of fossil-fuel emissions upon the atmosphere.

20. I believe there is a strong possibility of a silent environmental revolution. This should not be violent but instead be a gradual social paradigm shift toward environmental ethics.

21. Group 1 mentioned in their presentation a possibility for nutritional implants of this manner. Although this seems possible, I believe this technology is far from perfection if it could ever reach that stage.

22. One of the many speculations by contemporary scientists regarding global warming in the rise in sea levels and more intense tropical storm seasons. Hence the plight described in this scenario involving Bangladesh which is a river delta at sea level.

23. I thought I would make this comparison of family tradition that is in danger of being phased out of society due to family members having different work schedules and the increasing simplifications being introduced into the lifestyle of daily meal consumption.

24. Both groups 2 and 5 mentioned the predominance of virtual reality in many sectors of a future society. I decided to embellish a little on this subject by suggeting its use as an application of long-distance surgery.

25. Voice recognition technological applications is in existence today. Its uses for the future are seemingly endless as illustrated in this story when Travis needs to activate the lights for his room and his television.

26. From the same insert mentioned earlier contained in the Ottawa Citizen, Roger Poirier the president and CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association states "The wireless revolution around the world continues its course, forever changing not only the way we communicate, but also the very way we live". Wireless will forever change the structure of telecommunications as we know it today.

27. Within this scenario, there is still a predominantly global capitalist society but changes needed to be done to ensure the good health of the natural environment and subsequently the existence of human kind. Hence the term "neo-capitalism".

28. With all the fears and speculations of a sovereign Quebec in today’s media, I decided to put a twist on the plot of this story. Although the possibilities of a civil war occurring in Canada are remote, one only has to look at the atrocities occurring today in the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia to appreciate the horrific capabilities of a fragmenting society bent toward mob rule and chaos.

Finally, I would like to briefly mention why I put forth two possible scenarios for the year 2025. The unprecedented pace of technology today causes today’s global society to face an even more uncertain future than ever in the history of human existence. It is up to us and future generations to ensure that the benefits reaped from technological ingenuities do not destroy our social structures and ensuing civil order.The line separating a civilized society from becoming a savage one is thin and extremely fragile. We should learn from our past mistakes. Unfortunately however, one of the main things we can say we’ve learned from history is that we do not learn from opur mistakes and that greed and corruption will almost certainly always have a strong presence within all human societies.

© 1997 regamy@storm.ca

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