The future isn’t as bright as it used to be


In the comics of the 40s, 50s and 60s, we were treated to visions of a disease-free future filled with flying cars, jet-packs, boom tubes and technological advances that both simplified our lives and enhanced them. In Superman comics, there were “mento-artists”—artists who conjured up great works of art in their minds and then projected them onto screens for patrons to ogle.

Hard to believe but the 60s series “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” was set in the far-flung days of the late 1970s and early 80s, and we watched with awe as the sea view secretly battled alien plots to take over Earth week after week.

In Space 1999, we had already colonised the moon and were in the process of mining it when it got blown out of orbit.

The second Back to the Future movie was set in 2015 and we were treated to hover boards and flying craft and other tech goodies. Even the first Blade Runner movie was set in the dystopian future Los Angeles of 2019, in which synthetic humans known as replicants are bio-engineered.

The 20/20 vision is what most of us aspired to and represented an optimistic view of technology and the future.

But, now that we’re finally here, the reality we’re faced with is far, far different from what we were promised. I remember seeing a picture a couple of years back of some politician cutting a ribbon when a standpipe was commissioned in a rural district. Really? Another one made a big fuss over a street light being turned on for the first time in a previously darkened area.

It’s the 2000s and we’re boasting about stuff like that? Our roads are still as bad as ever, water supply is iffy at best (and oft-times a dirty mauby-like colour), hospitals cannot cater to the needs of the sick, we’re now being told to not feed the growing homeless population but, instead, use a “nudge along” policy to move them, stray animals are multiplying like, well, stray animals and most of us don’t recycle or even reuse, so garbage pile-ups are the norm, rivers still overflow their banks, Port-of-Spain still floods, garbage still flows freely into our rivers and seas, fish are so polluted we can’t even eat them, rains almost drown us one day and then we have drought the next… but it’s 2020.

Shouldn’t we all be traveling around in flying cars by now?

Hafeez T. Amin