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A LETTER FROM THE FAR SIDE: CHINA'S FUTURE

Date: 4 May 2023, NASA headquarter, Washington

“We have returned to the year 2023, ladies and gentlemen. It is 01:23 in this time zone right now. As we approach the gate, please remain seated with your seatbelt secured and do not remove your virtual reality headset or the cord connecting it to your brain,” repeated the auto pilot. My name is Mohammed Hanafy, and I had the good fortune to be chosen to accompany Dr. Emily Smith, the time travel scientist, on the first human test trip in the "Beyond Imagination" time

machine, which has just returned from a

trip into the future to Beijing, 2123.


It's hard to put into words the range of emotions I've had over the past three days --madness, joy, despair, dread, and a desperate desire to get home as soon as possible. The following is an email I am going to compose to my friend Ahmed about my adventure.


To Ahmed,


Hello, and I pray this email finds you well. Just as we talked about last week before I went forward in time. I'd want to tell you about the special difficulty I had trying to communicate in an utterly foreign environment I've been immersed in for the past three days.


A DAY IN BEIJING


Three days ago, I opened my eyes and found myself in the middle of a crowded street in Beijing where there is a big road dynamic message sign states “恭喜!! 中 國贏得了與敵⼈的戰爭”


Using my electronic magnifying lens, I was able to decipher the inscription as "Congratulations!! China has defeated its adversaries and won the battle.”


Let me surprise you before you jump to conclusions about the density of vehicles Image source: DALL-E and drivers there. Cybernetic robots were exceedingly advanced, so humans and animals were quite uncommon. However, they appeared real since they were digitally made as twins. Autonomous flying vehicles, lightning-fast machinery, bullet trains, hyper lubes, and rocket ships. Imagine a world where everything is digitalized and served by well-trained robots -- I never once saw a customer waiting in line to receive a service.


The questions "Where were the people, and which war was it?" are surely on your mind right now.



To answer your first question directly: Yes, genuine people were hiding out in underground camps and quarantines with masks over their faces as a terrible pandemic swept across China and the rest of the world. Those who are still in good health are either using incredible miniature headsets and wearables to run their businesses and manage their online digital duplicates, or they are at the camps where they are controlling and building the drones, machines, and rockets that are themselves controlled by artificial intelligence.


In response to your second question, Ahmed, you are well aware that China's economy has achieved tremendous strides in recent decades, thanks in large part to the country's increased emphasis on technical innovation and the rapid expansion of its middle class.


China has continued to thrive and increase its influence across the world while the United States has endured political upheaval and economic decline. As China's influence grew, so did tensions with the United States. For several years, the two countries had waged a brutal trade war, with each side placing high tariffs on the products of the other. After the United States accused China of stealing technology and meddling in its politics, the situation deteriorated.


China's answer was to take a more aggressive stance internationally, increasing its military presence in the Pacific and forging relationships with other countries in the region. Meanwhile, the United States had struggled to keep its place as the world's leading power, and its influence in Asia had shrunk significantly.


The announcement of China's intentions to establish a lunar colony was the final straw. While the United States saw this as an attack on its own space program, China was already home to a superpower and was embroiled in territorial disputes with its neighbors. In the future I visited, China had defeated its rivals, established itself as the world's sole superpower, and developed invincible technological capabilities.


As I explored the future, I saw that things were different from how I had pictured them. I saw humankind's tribulations throughout history and into the future.


I was there when the battles, starvation, and devastation occurred. But I also witnessed the grace, love, and hope that sustained actual people. While there were those who were dissatisfied with the advancements made by artificial intelligence, real people still had to deal with issues such as religious intolerance, territorial disputes over natural resources, conflicts over the distribution of wealth, the health consequences of pollution, and so on.


LIFE SNAPSHOT


As much as it broke my heart to see how the war had altered the globe, Ahmed, I had to admit that I was impressed by how far technology had come since 2023.


Many improvements had been made to Earth to make it more habitable and productive. The population explosion meant that there were now more than 12 billion people in the world. However, the planet was able to sustain the booming population thanks to innovations in sustainable practices including vertical farming, renewable energy sources, and effective waste management systems.


There had also been major shifts in the modes of transportation available. Selfdriving electric vehicles powered by renewable energy had made gasolinepowered cars obsolete. High-speed railways and magnetic levitation trains connected cities and countries at breakneck rates, and public transit overall had improved. The wealthy now often traveled by private plane, and flying cars were now a reality.


The year 2131 was a very different time from the early 21st century. With the advancement of technology, the world had become increasingly interdependent. Because of advances in virtual and augmented reality, the internet has evolved into a wholly engrossing experience.


The balance between work and personal life had also much improved. People were able to put in less hours for the same amount of work because of technological advancements in artificial intelligence and automation. As a result, individuals had more time to focus on the things that truly interested them, and they also had more opportunities to travel, explore, and learn — though they did most of these things from the comfort of their own homes, thanks to virtual cities and virtual life.


Significant progress has also been made in the medical field. Due to advancements in medicine, people were now able to receive individualized care and even undergo genetic engineering to increase their health and intelligence.


With the widespread use of precision medicine and gene editing, age-related diseases had become a thing of the past, and people could expect to live into their hundreds. Because of artificial intelligence (AI)-driven diagnostic equipment and robots assisting in surgeries and other medical operations, hospitals had grown more efficient. Doctors are now better equipped to respond to patients' unique medical needs thanks to advances in the field of personalized medicine. In addition, the use of telemedicine had grown, expanding access to quality healthcare for people in more remote locations.


Education


Technology had made it possible to create more individualized classroom environments. Students might attend classes from anywhere due to the widespread usage of virtual and augmented reality in education. Now, more than ever, students can take charge of their own education with the help of AIpowered instructors and individualized study regimens that cater to their specific interests and needs. Most of the schools and universities were long since closed and relocated to historical museums.


The significant strides that had been made in technology, sustainability, and quality of life were all reflected in 21st-century society. As a result of technological advancements, globalization, and advances in medicine, people were able to spend more time pursuing their personal interests.


The world of 2131 was highly dependent on technology and automation, which left it open to cyber assaults, power outages, and other technological malfunctions despite all the benefits of technological progress. Chaos and unrest may break out if there was a large outage.


A Happy Ending


After a long time traveling through time, Emily and I are back where we belong. No one else had experienced the world through our eyes, and nothing else could compare to what we had learned. We understood that it was our duty to better the world by the application of our knowledge and abilities, and we set out to do just that. We understood there was nothing we could do to alter the past, but we could influence their future. We realized the potential after witnessing the possibilities.


The time machine had bestowed upon us a precious gift: a possibility for the future by allowing us to see into the past. Actually, we learned that we fell in love in 72 hours of travel but 100 years of experience, that we are now unique and that we have a responsibility to the next generation, and that we witnessed the future with our own eyes.


We are excited to share with you the news of our upcoming wedding on June 20th, 2023.


I am looking forward to seeing you soon.


Yours sincerely,

Mohammed


__________________________________________________________________________________



Mohammed Mazloum Hanafy


Mohammed Mazloum Hanafy is a certified project manager and digital transformation lead in Road and Transport Authority, RTA Dubai. A futurist, he received his MSc degree in future foresight from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) university, also he got his system and computer engineering bachelor from Al-Azhar university in 2005 (Cairo), he has more than 15 years of experience in delivering IT and digital transformation projects.

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