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Looking into the future

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Life in the UK has changed beyond recognition in the past 100 years. 100 years ago we were at war with Germany and lessons from that war weren’t learnt; another world war followed less than 20 years later. People now appear to be better off materially. We have better hospitals and heath care; but we still have problems and some are getting worse.

Prescriptions for antidepressants have increased by 25% in the past three years. The number of prescriptions for anti-anxiety drugs has also increased. People in the UK are spending £30 billion a year on alcohol, which seems to suggest we  need more than one drink at the end of the day.

We have a lot of technology now; smart televisions and smart phones. Computers make our lives easier and we have reliable cars. So why are so many people stressed out and depressed? There does seem to be a culture of greed in British society with politicians fiddling their expenses; bankers paying themselves obscene bonuses and getting up to all sorts of dodgy dealings.

How can we make society fairer and more responsible? Is it a matter of leadership? A minimum price has been suggested for alcohol. Is that the answer or should the people who lead the country cut down on their champagne and set an example? Perhaps all those who are in positions of power and responsibility should accept less and be less greedy?

We are small island and travel is important to many people. It is difficult to allow people to travel as much as they like and accept the damage that it does to the environment. Most people don’t enjoy the commute to work and would prefer to travel for days out and holidays. Could we use technology to encourage people to work close to home or even work at home in home offices and workshops?

There has been a shift to so called ‘cloud’ computing. This means applications run on distant servers rather than locally on our computers. I suspect that this has more to do with making money and having power than serving the consumer, but it appears to be a trend. Perhaps in the future, we will all have access to supercomputers via our cell phones and televisions. If we want to be entertained  with music, movie or game, we just ask a supercomputer and it gives us what we want. Maybe we can also use supercomputers to do our work without even leaving our homes? That would require a change in attitudes, improving digital communication and computers that evolve and that can be accessed by everyone.

Will the high tech world still need tradesmen? Artisans to lay bricks, landscape gardens and do all those necessary manual jobs? Some jobs are very difficult to automate, but give a gardener a range of high tech power tools and he can do his job quicker and more efficiently.

The roads are crowded now and people die needlessly in road traffic accidents. Can we encourage people who are healthy to walk short distances and walk their children to school? Can we encourage people to walk to bus stops and rail stations and use public transport, instead of cars? Should we make using a car really expensive or make public transport really inexpensive? Can taxis play a role in the transport system, providing a door to door means of transport without owning a car?

How will food and drink change in the future. There has been a shift to eating out in the past few decades. Will this continue? Is cooking your own food, a dying art?

How will our homes change in the future. We do seem to need homes that use less energy and are easier to keep warm. We need good low energy lighting and cheap energy. Where will the cheap energy come from? Wave power and tidal power could be on answer to our energy needs. There is still a long way to go to making our homes, more efficient users of energy though.

Our biggest challenge in the future is creating a society that is less stressed and depressed. We simply want a society that is happier.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments box.

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