Once the red light came on announcing that the portal was opened, I decided to take my coloring pencils and my sheets of paper to try to draw what I was about to see. I was a little bit scared, although, for several days, I had prepared myself to face the worst that could happen, when reaching 2523! There were many possibilities, from being attacked by wild tribes as in the Mad Max saga, to finding intelligent systems and robots ready to terminate me at any time...
The portal activated. My heart was sticking out of my chest! I carried a taser gun with me in case I needed to restrain someone, even though I knew it was a false security, in case of a situation of extreme violence. That's why I also had a device in my hand with a button for immediate teleportation back to 2023, in case I faced an extreme situation.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing! It looks like I was in the 1600s, no technology was around me. There was an impressive nature, and everything was surrounded by huge trees and exotic plants. People went through the countryside using something that looked like very rudimentary bicycles, made in an artisanal way. I wanted to communicate with someone, but it was impossible. No one was available. Suddenly, one of the cyclists had a tire down and had no choice but to stop to solve his problem.
This was a golden opportunity to know a little more about the world of 2523.
It was impossible to know if they still handled the same language as of 2023 or if all communications went through the transmission of thought or something like that. So, I first greeted him by making a movement with my hand and then pointed with my finger to the damaged tire.
A man smiled at me and, in an intelligible English said, "It is damaged again. It's already the third time this week." Incredibly, language did not vary so much and, most astonishingly, they kept track of time and its distribution in weeks.
I asked the cyclist if I could help him. He thanked me, but not before asking me who I was for I didn't seem to be from there. “I am Juan Pablo; I am a time traveler,” I replied. And I told him I was there to know more about them and about the world of 2523.
"I'm Carlos," he replied. "I work not far from here on some vegetable crops." Surprisingly, the notion of work and the importance of agriculture had not been lost, which was far from my belief that in the future everything would be artificial, and food would be produced in laboratories.
I asked Carlos to use his cell phone to contact a bicycle repair company, foolishly assuming that mobile devices still existed.
"Cell phones? I think I heard about them in oral traditions, but no equipment has reached us," he said. "They existed a long time ago but not now. Their use is strictly forbidden for citizens because their effects on our ancestors were devastating"... At that moment I thought about taking my cell phone to show it, but I feared his reaction...
So, I told him: “I totally agree with you, since it represents one of the most harmful inventions ever created by humankind.”
"You must not forget," he added angrily, "that technology did us immense harm, and that all new technology is totally forbidden! All knowledge must be transferred from master to apprentice, through extremely precise and regulated rituals. Punishments are very strict if someone learns on his own or tries to invent something. Every invention must demonstrate that it has great benefits for humanity and for nature before being approved."
At that precise moment, I remembered the novel ‘The Masters,’ by Ursula Leguin and the Netflix series, ‘Dark’ (Odar & Friese, 2017).
"That explains," I replied to Carlos, "why you give so much importance to nature and agriculture."
"What about children?" I asked him. "How do they learn what they need to know?"
“Children can do what they like the most throughout their childhood. They have the freedom to select the knowledge that is in harmony with their tastes and preferences." Carlos told me that they use a figure of instructors who guided the children regarding what they should know and learn.
"We will never forget that over 500 years ago, many people died due to different pandemics. At that time, people used to live far from their food sources. So, since 2323, what remained of humanity after the apocalypse, we decided not to make such a mistake again. Now people live in direct contact with nature, there are no large cities, which incidentally represent the focus of many diseases and viruses. People now enjoy harvesting their own food or buying it from their neighbors or local producers, under a logic of collaborative economy, where barter has an important place."
“Apocalypse?” I asked.
"You better not know it in detail because the arrival of the apocalypse will be inevitable, anyway. The legend told us that by 2042, the first symptoms began and then, everything worsened. First came a food collapse, caused in part by soil erosion and severe droughts. Then, political and religious collapse followed because of corruption and repeated tragedies that undermined the faith of humans. Apparently the gods that existed at that time forgot Homo Sapiens. Later, there was a technological collapse, which laid bare our total dependence on systems.”
“In these last 200 years, we have had to relearn everything from scratch... That's why you see this kind of "bicycle" that I have assembled with the few things I can craft by myself. It is not perfect, I know, but we prefer these rudimentary technologies to very sophisticated ones that can destroy us."
This was, undoubtedly, a strong first message that I had to convey to the inhabitants of 2023.
"Another harmful thing that we've eliminated is physical money," said Carlos "The legend says that your people used “things” that they took from cotton as a medium of exchange. Here, things are very different. Everything is done based on cooperation and solidarity, which are the values that inspire humanity at the end of the year 2523. Human beings are neither greedy nor selfish; and people are primarily concerned with the well-being of the whole society.”
I asked Carlos about the types of energy they use. He told me they only use what nature gives to them. I could deduce that all energies were clean and exploited under strict protocols.
"Any use of a given technology is discussed and approved only if there are no negative effects on humans and the environment. Government is based on a selfmanagement system and leaders act as facilitators, so they have no power over others. These leaders are one more among their equals, so there are no hierarchies or authoritarian powers. We are perfect anarchy."
In this regard, I told him that the invention of politics and democracy had undoubtedly been disastrous for human civilization and that I thought it was good that they had adopted a new system of governance.
"By the way, Carlos, I don't see walls or anything that shows what belongs to whom…"
"A couple of decades ago, we decided to eliminate private property. All the lands you see belong everyone. No one owns anything. None of us seeks to take advantage of others. The distribution of land is carried out according to who needs them the most and according to who works them the most. The more effort and work, the greater the distribution. Therefore, there are no huge gaps between those who have more and those who do not. Our society is quite homogeneous," said Carlos. I couldn't stop thinking about Moore's Utopia.
At that moment, by mistake, I smashed the Teleportation button and came back to 2023, to the office of the scientist who had been assigned to my scouting journey. He was a recent graduate Ph.D., who jumped out of his chair upon seeing me, dropping his smartphone to the floor. He told me I scared the @*4pW out of him! And that he was waiting for me in a couple of days.
He turned on the recorder and asked me to tell him all the details of what I had seen. Then, he listened to my story and asked for my impressions and recommendations for humans in 2023:
“We must change our development models, doubtlessly. Businessmen only think about making money and consider that profitability should be above respect for nature. If they could, they would destroy the planet with no remorse in order to make more money. If we want to save the planet, we must leave behind predatory capitalism and move towards post-capitalism.”
“On the other hand, I have some fear about the fact that the absence of technology in the future will be the result of a coercive exercise, something imposed by force and violence. However, it would be great if there could be a society capable of deciding by itself which technology to use. The positive would be the ability to reduce the invasive contact we have with technology today; get away from screens and enjoy much more of the nature that surrounds us.”
"In addition, our ancestors lived from agriculture. In 2523, everyone ate based on what their gardens produced, and their diet was not based on junk food. Obesity is undoubtedly one of the great evils of the 21st century and our ancestors, huntergatherers, had a much more balanced diet than ours. We must return to more natural and healthy ways of eating.”
“While I was in 2523, an absolutely baffling idea came to my mind. Perhaps to save the planet, we must stay confined in our homes for at least two or three months a year, in order to give the planet and animals a break. During those months, the government could give us a subsidy with the purpose of keeping people in their homes and saving the planet.”
“2523 was like being in a new "Middle Ages." We can take it as a new reset for all humanity, without digital technologies, and in which we would have to survive as our ancestors did. Maybe that's what we need, to start everything anew, leaving aside what we know, and that led us to the apocalypse.”
The scientist asked me if I would like to live in that new beginning for humanity, and without hesitation, I told him I would love it! He thanked me for having taken part in the research and told me that the results were going to be consolidated with those of the rest of the time travelers. So, I gave him the drawing that I made during my time travelling.
Finally, he told me that soon we will take part in a press conference with journalists from all over the world. Until then, I had two days to rest, while the other time travelers would come back. He smiled at me kindly saying that I was lucky because some of them don’t come back.
Jean Paul Pinto
Jean Paul Pinto is a Commercial Engineer with 20 years of professional and teaching experience in the building of scenarios, Strategic Foresight and innovation processes. He is an international lecturer in more than 10 countries and a postgraduate professor at universities in Ecuador and Colombia. He holds a Master's Degree in Marketing from the Capitole 1 University of Toulouse, a Master's Degree in Management Sciences (with a focus on Foresight) from the CNAM in Paris and a Master's Degree in Security and Defense from the Institute of Higher National Studies of Ecuador. He holds a PhD in Administration from the Universidad del Valle and is currently developing a prospective process for the imagination and materialization of the future.