Carol Oliver: A very different future is near

CHANGE: Carol Oliver on the future: "The biggest changes will come in medicine, transport, entertainment and a new skill I will call living and learning without work."
CHANGE: Carol Oliver on the future: "The biggest changes will come in medicine, transport, entertainment and a new skill I will call living and learning without work."

When I sit down to write, I think about the things that have encouraged my curiosity, made me feel happy, inspired me – and really annoyed me.

Generally, my curiosity continues via my devotion to “futures” programs, where I can imagine my grandchildren living very different lives than the ones we lead now. Swallowing pill cameras that search out the internal enemies (already in use) and zap them (more to come), having major body parts made to measure in laboratories, assessing babies and providing measures to prevent mental illnesses and checking to see who may become a psychopath. In that event, there will be time to reboot their brain and put plans in place to channel their particular skills in a productive way.

Of great interest to me will be education. I suspect the boring learning of information will be put on a small disc or some other thing and each person will have an “info-plant” that avoids the amount of time I had to learn about the kings of England and the constant bickering with France and Spain that went on while people starved.

I suspect people will also be able to ask the info-thing comparative questions, like who’s the worst president of all time and the info-thing will come up with options and reasons. How amusing will that be?

We will be able to dial a dinner menu by numbers on our 3D printers, and it will serve up something delicious.

At the very least, the dishwasher will robotically put the dirty dishes in by itself, and then process and return the cleaned stuff to their spaces in the storage. You will also have options … food by pill, food by cake, food by injection and more.

People in aged care facilities will live longer, be better fed and will have the pleasure of being served by friendly robots, instead of overworked underpaid nurses and carers who can’t possibly manage everything. Note to my children … please let me go before that happens. I would like the sound of my fave music with my chosen “life memory smells” eg roasting lamb, babies, mountain air, sea and sand and screens that play all my ancient family pics.

I think the biggest changes will come in medicine, transport, entertainment and a new skill I will call living and learning without work.

The idea of formal work has dominated our society since the industrial revolution and was useful partly because it created a sense of personal value and meaning in a world where we sometimes struggle to do that. Most importantly, it redistributed wealth so that we could buy stuff.

The consumer economy is essential in a capitalist society. With jobs made redundant by robots, I’m hoping for a major division of profits for workers to keep them as consumers with a wider range of choices.

Owners will have more money – employing robots who don’t require a salary – and they will need to share it for their own survival, and ours.

With more time you could be an artist, a musician, a teacher, a sportsperson. Learn new things that stimulate creativity, thoughtfulness, hopefulness and respect. Learn to spend income on mature age education.

That leads me to the most annoying thing this week. Up on the left near the Wombat Cafe is a treed area that can take seven parked cars.

And what happens? Along comes someone selfish and parks, without thought, in a way that takes up half the space and prevents others parking there. It is a mindless, self-centred and disturbing picture of what goes on everywhere.

Living in a bubble of complacency and self interest, many people behave as if they are the only people on earth. You know how you feel when you are treated badly in traffic, the workplace, at school etc? Well, it works both ways of course.

I can say that in Daylesford, along with many other country towns, the smiles and hellos that are available in the street connects me to the best part of myself and I am more than grateful.