jet-mansion

I’m supposed to try to live in the moment, right?  Be in the present. We shouldn’t dwell in the past.

And what about the future?  There’s next weekend and there’s next year and then there is The Future. What might our lives might look like in 50 or 100 years? Okay, I won’t be around, but we still think about it.

To the Best of Our Knowledge (TTBOOK) is a radio/podcast show that orbits a weekly theme with interviews that explore answers to big questions. The show I listened to this week was about Future Possible.

jet-aptFor example, where will we live?  According to Mitchell Joachim, “It would look like a home that would be essentially part of them landscape. Almost no distinction between home and landscape. It would welcome all kinds of critters and creatures on the outside and you can imagine it would be a tree house, unlike nothing you’ve maybe seen before, but at the same time it’s just as if the landscape was folded up for a moment and you could get inside and live there.”

Personally, I would love a treehouse homeT , but I am not sure that is exactly what he means since he also says that “inside would be like any other home. You could put your TV and your couch and plaster the walls, but the structure in the exterior would be made up of loam or mud filled inside these woody plants and vines.”

While I was listening to the interview I thought. “Yeah. I like that concept of housing. Very bio-formalist. I love Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright and others like Frank Gehry are often described as designing “organic” structures (like Wright’s Falling Water House). But, as Joachim says “essentially they are not organic. They are steal, metal, and glass, so the next logical phase has been this new generation which I guess I am apart of is architects taking the computational systems extracted from nature, principles from Frank Lloyd Wright and actually making it a truly organic architecture where we’re really working at the genetic level or we’re working with natural materials and growing them to perform as living systems.”  Joachim, an architect and one of the founders of  TerreForm1, thinks by 2050 most of will be living in urban space.

jet-foodSo, we wake up in our future home. Now it’s time to have breakfast.  For that topic, TTBOOK turns to Jonathan Foley who heads the Global Landscape Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.  We have food insecurity on the planet and the unpredictabilities of climate change and population growth make the future hard to predict.

Foley says that even though “a lot of people want to buy the local and the organic and the farmers markets and all that and that’s great. But I think a more powerful thing you do when you do that is you set examples for other people, especially your kids or your coworkers or your friends. Everybody can have a backyard little garden to grow salad in. That won’t really make a dent in global food supplies, but it’ll help teach people around you and yourself even, how the food system works, how we have to take care of our soils and our plants. I like to think of that as a gateway drug to getting people interested in food and being more healthy, more nutritious but also respecting a lot more what farmers do. We need to reconnect people to the food system and anything we can do to do that is probably a good thing to do at the individual level.”

Okay, I’m not sure what I will be eating in my future kitchen. Probably not a Jetsons meal. But when I finish breakfast, I have to go to work. What will work be like in the future? I am guessing that a lot of us will work from home.

Future Jobs was the segment with MIT management professor, Erik Brynjolfsson. He wasn’t very optimistic. We all kind of assume that the  future is all technology and so is the work.

Brynjolfsson says that “technology is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, and that is, it is actually creating more wealth with less work. The problem is that our institutions, our skills, our organizations, aren’t keeping up, so we’re having a bigger and bigger mismatch between the technology and the rest of society. The result has been that this saving of work has not been evenly distributed. A small group of the population has really won the brunt of this unemployment. They’re not working at all, even though they’d like to. A lot of other people are working as much as ever, in fact maybe too much. The big challenge before us is to reinvent our organizations and institutions to keep up with the radical changes in technology.”


And then the podcast through me a curveball and introduced me to Eduardo Galeano, author of Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History which is described as a modern-day version of a medieval book of days. Each page is a story inspired by that date of the calendar year. He resurrects and elevates some little-known heroes of our world. He feels sadness for the intellectual, linguistic, and emotional treasures that we have all but forgotten.

We get to meet Pedro Fernandes Sardinha, the first bishop of Brazil, who was eaten by Caeté Indians off the coast of Alagoas.

I particularly like Abdul Kassem Ismael, grand vizier of Persia, who kept books safe from war by creating a walking library of 117,000 volumes packed on 400 camels that formed a mile-long caravan.

One of Galeano’s lessons is that the past repeats itself. The past is the future. Albert Einstein wrote in a letter to his friend Besso’s family that although Besso had preceded him in death it was of no consequence, “…for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.” Einstein proved that time is relative, not absolute as Newton claimed.

He might be correct, but we still live in the now, think about, with sadness or joy, our past and wonder with hope or dread about the future.

 

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