Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Seeing The Future

In an attempt to understand the rise and fall of civilizations, I found lots of literature boiling the subject down to two factors: war and economy. I can't argue against that; most research is written by historians supporting their theories by examples from Babylonians to the Colonialists of Europe. However, while most analysts had agreed to one general recipe, I believe there is a hidden ingredient that proves to be decisive in the developmental trajectory of human civilizations. Whether a civilization crumbles after its first military coup and another develops because of a sudden economic growth, is a trajectory developed not by war and economy but by the strength of a society's pillar, an ingredient so important to the complexity of a society that it acts like a body's immune system: technological supremacy. With technological supremacy, a society could flourish economically, withstand threats, and quickly recover from hard hits. Yes, barbarians have repeatedly crushed civil societies, social decay could have been a reason Rome collapsed and disintegrated, and the economy was the main reason for the creation of the European Union, but without technological supremacy, there wouldn't have been a civil society for barbarians to invade, nor Rome would have become the Roman Empire, nor a united Europe would have had any weight globally more than a united Africa does.

What is tomorrow's technological supremacy if I am to define it today? It is laser weapons, not nuclear or chemical. It is robots, not human, soldiers, astronauts, doctors, mathematicians and physicists. It is genetically modified creatures, not natural selection. It is solar power, not any other earth based fuel.

Laser weapons installed on US warships today, once installed on satellites would easily eliminate targets on Earth in as fast as the speed of light and as precise as a laser beam. No missile would be airborne for long before being hit by a laser equipped satellite. No more mass casualties; this is as precise as targeted weapons could get in this century.

Robots are already performing long distance operations; surgeries in hospitals, landing on comets and traveling to planets, mapping the deepest oceans, and targeting 'enemy' camps from the air or cleaning minefields. With robots, loss from human error would be closer to zero. With robots, discoveries, inventions, and dreams would become much larger.

Genetically modified life is not more a threat to people than current genetic illnesses that people carry from one generation to the other. With genetically modified creatures, humans guarantee optimal nutritional sources of food. With genetically modified humans, humanity rids itself of carried diseases that have devastated almost all societies, and have drained families emotionally and financially. Natural selection will not take us any further. If it was not for the unnatural interference by humans, less creatures would have gone extinct and less would have been brought back from extinction. Humans were a natural force of change in the life of this planet, and genetic engineering is the natural development of humans' power to control life on Earth.

Solar power is the ultimate source of energy in our Solar System and we are getting better at collecting it. From powering homes, businesses, streets, vehicles and transportation, solar energy is the only free energy that has no negative residual on environment. Collecting it in space is much more efficient than collecting it on Earth but transporting the power from space to earth is still a mystery. Once people master a way to beam the energy to ground-based-batteries, there will be no more power generation on any of the planets we live on.

This is the future I can see being defined today.

Step 30 years back in recent history and ask who would have believed laser weapons would become a reality in 2013, landing on a comet would be possible in 2014, or announcing a multi-national plan in 2015 to colonize Mars by 2023 could be even a sane thing to speak of? Then, if no one could have believed it, who made it possible?

The scientists, visionaries and leaders of today are the young people who dared to dream 30 years ago. They are those who had the mind to create and the mind to believe in science fiction.

For the sake of humanity, the civilizations whose developmental trajectory would arch farther are the ones technologically superior. For the sake of humanity globalization could bridge the gap and bond people beyond political borders and spoken languages to eliminate the need for wars and increase the need for collaboration.

Today, science fiction is not a luxury nor entertainment. It is a need for any civilization in the third millennia to arch farther. Those who embrace it will ensure their language lives on and their ideas survive on Mars. Those who don't will watch their culture become buried relics.

Where are the Arabs from all this?

by Nael Gharzeddine

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