Human beings have been consistent in our search for the meaning of life, the universe and everything, but we’ve also always panicked about what lies ahead. Our obsession with the future has taken us from scientists and analysts, to oracles, astrologers and gods, even State-appointed Ministers of the Future. Only, prediction is really an exercise in imagination — you can go with whoever promises you the best spacecraft and robot, or you can have your own back-up plan handy. There’s an ongoing, raging debate over human evolution, but what no one can argue with is that we’ve messed with our planet in some pretty terrible ways. We probably deserve to be at the brink of being booted out through natural selection. Then again, we can only stand by sheepishly for so long before survival instinct kicks in. Which may explain why Motherland found more people trying to make the future rather than predict it. “We are already X-Men,” Dutch neuroscientist and neuroengineer Randal Koene declared dramatically over Skype to us a few weeks ago, insisting that if we don’t immediately stage an intervention — by self-directing evolution and finding ways to adapt to other parts of the universe — we most certainly won’t be left with a choice. So he’s offering to upload your brain to a computer so you can live forever. Theoretical physicist Ronald Mallett in Connecticut is on the verge of revealing a working time machine so we can rewind or fast forward ourselves the hell out of here, should it come to that. And four guys in India (Team Indus) are warming up for a global race to the moon. In the process, they’ll probably figure out a way for space tourism to eventually mean that you can really have a restaurant at the end of the world, and build a summer palace in a land that’s actually far, far away. (Like Mars, for instance — unreal estate that we’re keeping close tabs on because that might be our next target; a NASA-approved brochure is enclosed.) Motherland spoke to all of them. We’re no experts on it ourselves, so instead of talking about the future, we thought we’d talk to it. To the people who are already there, in an attempt to identify the accelerators, the balancers, and the stories and patterns that are driving them. We then rounded up the future of this country — the “Millenials” — and spoke to them as well, to see how they think, and which direction they might take when it’s time to suit up into superheroes that save the world. Turns out, they’re sharply tuned in, pissed off, and ready to do whatever it takes. Putting this issue together involved a lot of conversations with the curious minds featured across the pages that follow. Besides space races and extinction, neuroscience and quantum physics, we also talked of growing babies in external wombs and flowers in space, reversing extinction, finally looking at alternative energy sources, and finding solutions for clean air. We’re still wilful creatures, we’re trying our damnedest. Only, this time around, we seem to be rejecting everything that got us here in the first place. We’re hitting pause on our own unstoppable, frenzied madness to take over and Win, wiping out whatever comes in our way. Just like it’s no longer about survival of the fittest, but of the most creative; it’s also now about achieving greatness through goodness. Finally weary of the greed, the brutality, the division, destruction, and control that has driven us for so long, it looks like we may be headed for a revolution of the soul. Ravina Rawal
Motherland is a bi-monthly magazine with a focus on contemporary and emerging Indian cultures.