Out with the old, in with the new is all very well but are we throwing the baby out with the bath water, asks RUKMA SALUJA
Gazing into the crystal ball can be iffy at the best of times. Building on what has gone by to figure out what lies around the corner needs AI, for sure. Artificial Intelligence is everywhere today, be it in so little as the auto correct on your cell phone. Imagine, then, its use on a larger scale and in other spheres.
Building military hardware has shock value and use of it leads to the loss of human life. Artificial Intelligence is insidious but just as deadly as the breakdown of systems at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, showed recently. While not confirmed, speculation is rife that it was a cyber attack. The cost is always human life, human life that is the fodder for megalomaniacal ambition every single time. Saving life falls to medical professionals, and activists, whichever side of the ideological divide they find themselves on. So, the pro-lifers want to save lives in the womb but are happy with advanced warfare technology and lethal standing armies. Saving embryos in the womb takes precedence over stopping insurgencies around the globe.
Women fight for the right to be a part of the millennia-old patriarchy that has bedevilled humankind. The fight for equal rights has led to an attempt to do away with a gender divide. The push to side-step natural biology has resulted in androgyny becoming the buzzword. What one feels defines gender. Feminism demands equality, patriarchy pushes back, but the urge for political survival gives in and so we head to a genderless future. Celebrating womanhood or manhood pushes you to irrelevance and the edges of mainstream thought. Heroes of the past who laid down their lives for causes they believed in are to be cancelled, history rewritten to accommodate new ideologies based largely on feelings. A moment lived can be deleted and undone because it was not convenient for current thought.
And yet a thought released on the internet remains there forever, the digital imprint that can come back to bite you years later when you might have matured from the time you held certain views. Can one then never hold a different point of view? Freedoms, particularly of speech, are under threat, journalists have steadily been losing bite, slowly falling in line with the inclines of political power. When even North America, the bastion of free speech, succumbs to totalitarianism with Julian Assange incarcerated, journalists suspended, however temporarily, by Elon Musk’s Twitter, the future we head to looks like a dystopian nightmare. But as with the frog in the well of warm water turning hot, we too are slowly accepting, and thus mutating into robots. Little is known of North Korea, but what leaks out points to a pliant population. Could that be a blueprint of what awaits us all?
The breakdown of gender barriers puts men on the back foot. Man the bread-winner, man the provider, man the protector has to reorient what has been in his DNA from the dawn of time to match pace with this advanced version of feminism. Dating and relationships come with hitherto unforeseen pitfalls. Relating to each other has to be learned afresh. Grandma’s advice holds water no more. But we can expect big pharma to come up with what we couldn’t imagine. The entire Covid episode was like a giant screenplay, post which even naysayers admitted to what earlier were held as mere conspiracy theories. Master puppeteers hold the strings to the unimaginable.
Could these drastic turnarounds have been avoided if men had toned down extreme behaviour just a little, been more considerate of women, more inclusive? What is this gender-fluid society towards which we are headed? Are oestrogen and testosterone to be tamed to parity, can their functions be diluted to neutrality? Will we become like the pointy-faced aliens depicted by Hollywood’s imagination?
And through all this, nature is making its presence felt rather violently. But we are on a roller coaster ride with no breaks. Geologists will tell you warming and cooling are in the natural lifecycle of the earth. Be that as it may, can we really truly go back to a more natural way of life? Can we really stop using fossil fuels when they have penetrated every single aspect of our lives? The origin and manufacturing of any random household article will give you the answer.
And so, what does the future hold? I’m sorry, my crystal ball is unclear, it’s throwing up more questions than answers.