I just finished reading The Englishwoman in America, which was first published in 1856. Isabella Lucy Bird describes her trip to America. How life has changed in a century and a half! She traveled by train, steamer, carriage, and clipper. She talked about the 400 daily newspapers published in the 32 states of the United States. Slavery was still legal in half the states. Neither women nor blacks had the vote. Cholera was epidemic in both Canada and the United States, taking thousands of lives. She had to dip her pen in ink to write her journal.
What would Isabella say in her blog if she suddenly appeared in 2009? The newspapers are almost extinct. We’ve been traveling by car and plane for almost a century, and we can teleconference with relatives in Europe. We have a black president. People text while commuting. We have vaccines for our latest epidemic.
What would the world be like if we were suddenly sent to 2162? Will we transport in nanoseconds? Will the United States, or even countries, exist? Will we communicate instantly with each other via implants? Will we be able to “download” programs that will instantly vaccinate us for new diseases like we do computer viruses? Will the truly amazing changes be, not in the areas of technology, but in how we think about ourselves, our fellow human, sentient beings, and the world? Sign me up, I want to know.