It is pleasant, if not profitable, to dream of the shape of things to come. Our ancestors from time to time dream of a time that was full of happiness. But they put the Golden Age back in the past. Sir Thomas More had visions of a Utopia; Morris (19th century poet) of the Earthly Paradise foresaw a rosy future. Today it does not need imagination to look forward to an age when man will enjoy comforts and amenities of which even we have no dear idea in years past. We peer into “the future and look ahead of us.
First, let us think of what our future household will be like. Already the well-to-do in our country, and even the not so-well-to-do in the West, are having a foretaste of it. The housewife will have much relief from the drudgeries of house-keeping chores. With electric cookers and refrigerators, cleaners, washers, and other gadgets will finish her domestic duties while gossiping with friends or listening to radio music or viewing the TV. She will have the whole day to herself,—plenty of leisure to engage her mind, to go out visiting things or even to earn an independent living, if necessary.
When we go to office or factory, there also will be much comfort and plenty of convenience. Every room will be found air-conditioned and one works in an equable temperature throughout the year. One will not have to drudge wearily over the heavy ledger-book, adding and checking painfully and meticulously; there will be computing and calculating machines, the Dictaphone and the teleprinter to save much waste of time of all kinds, to do the mechanical as well as brainwork. Mechanical help will ensure greater speed and efficiency in the performance of all monotonous work. This will reduce the hours of work; bring greater leisure, which will be employed in pastimes and cultural pursuits.
In the school, students will receive help and guidance of a kind that their parents never dreamt of. Books will be cyclostyled or Xeroxed and would not require tiresome copying. Lectures will be enlivened by practical aids. A reader in the library will not only be more comfortably seated but he will perhaps only press a button for a book. The teacher will be aided by various scientific devices in bringing home to his students the lessons of the sciences and the arts.
It may be supposed that as a result of all these diverse mechanical aids, man will exercise his limbs less than before, and the results will be an enfeeblement of the race. But such apprehensions are groundless. On the countrary, man is today physically overworked and undernourished, mentally heavy and exhausted. In the world to come, food and exercise will be nicely adjusted. Man will be more carefree. His amusements will express the joy of life in physical exercise.
Another great improvement will be in greater ease and freedom of communication. Space and time will be done away with telephones and cellphones will be fitted with radio or television; not only voice but also gesture and facial expressions visible will help communication between persons separated by a thousand miles.
Travel by atomic-powered aircraft will rival the speed of all conventional vehicles in overcoming distances; every home will have its fleet of helicopters or moth-planes and people will just hop from house-roof to house-roof when they wish to visit friends and relatives.
There will be greater traffic, but accidents will be eliminated with the help of radar devices, and the nerve-racking noise made by modern transport vehicles will be muffled by the scientific use of pollution. The shape of towns and villages will change beyond recognition.
Towns will shoot skywards in giant skyscrapers; village homes will spread out in gardens and orchards, swimming pools and playgrounds. The skyscraper will be fitted with escalators and cordless telephones and various other instruments of human convenience. People will live in comfortable homes in garden cities. Our descendants in that perfect world will make for Mars or Venus and, of course the Moon, for a change of air.
In the modern society, a labour-saving device means addition to the number of the unemployed. But the future world will not rest upon exploitation of man by man.
Machines will do the work of men when forces of Nature have been mastered and this will increase their house of leisure only. Instead of the seven-hour or eight-hour days, that is now in vogue in factories and offices, perhaps four hours a day will be all that is needed for one’s bread-earning job. Leisure will be utilized for the extension of culture. Man will do less physical labour—but he will concentrate more on mental work.
And if society is able to pool all its intellectual resources for the increase of human welfare, we can easily imagine what vast improvements in conditions of living will be achieved in the years to come. Diseases of all kinds will be bygone horrors. Longevity will increase even perhaps as much as Bernard Shaw imagined in ‘Back to Methuselah’. In the meantime, exact replicas or clones of some animals will be produced. Men will evolve into beings more perfect than ourselves:
And as we show beyond that Heaven and Earth
In form and shape compact and beautiful;
In will, in action free, companionship,
And thousand other sings of purer life.