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When Exactly is the Future?




The word “future” often relates to the development of technology. Machines are getting smaller and smaller with every invention. For all we know, the thumb-sized iPhone 23 will be released by the year 2025. When we think of the future, visions of flying cars, jetpacks and self-tying shoes come to mind. And, who do we have to blame for this? Robert Zemeckis, the director and creator of the science fiction comedy 'Back to the Future'. The timeless movie set the bar impossibly high for the future and gave us false impressions; believe me, I was fooled too! Now, a few days in to the year 2015, we sit here in utter disappointment witnessing none of these inventions coming to life. After all, you can't blame us for sulking. We are already back to the future, aren't we? Or are we? When exactly is the future? How will it be evident that we have achieved the epitome of the "future"? Shall we wait for the next Steve Jobs to rise and invent an extremely high-tech device that would put Apple out of business?

Back in the 1800s, when people relied on the old and slow telegraph for communication, an idea sparked inside the brain of a scientist named Alexander Graham Bell. If you have been living under a rock, I am referring to the man who invented the telephone. He saw a future where communication would travel rapidly and information would be delivered with one simple call. Of course, back then, the idea of a smartphone was completely beyond imagination but the novelty of a telephone amazed everyone. “This is it, a device called a telephone will be the future, no more greater invention than this!”. Little did they know, a few hundred years later, people would be permanently attached to their smartphones, and the old home telephone that was once seen as the future lies in historic museums. Isn’t it ironic how what was considered the future then is considered vintage now?

Lets fast forward to the early 1900s, where the world was in a crucial state and dictated by wicked rulers. Basic human rights and freedom of speech were restricted. The people lost hope in change, they lost faith in a better future. They did not hope for a gadget-intensive future, all they wanted was peace and democracy. All the basic human rights that are implemented in most parts of the world now, match their ideal dreams of a future. When the revolution came about, they would chant, “The future is coming! The future is coming!”. Leaders such as Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr. and even Malaysia’s own Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad brought change and turned what seemed like just a dream into reality. Yet, today we still face problems fearfully similar to the ones that occurred before Independence day. Does this mean that the future is shaped only to be crushed back down again for it to reform?

When flip phones were invented, nobody thought the future could get any more developed than that. When x-ray machines were the latest technological advancement in the medical field, nobody would have figured that an MRI scan would soon be devised. So, how long until we get to the future? Are we still waiting for that flying car? Is it a never-ending chase, or are we unknowingly living in it, not realising the future is now, as one of the many famous sayings go?

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