Saturday 21 September 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'A message to Ireland in 2121'

The 2021 census will include a new ‘time capsule’ feature. Stock Image
The 2021 census will include a new ‘time capsule’ feature. Stock Image
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

The 2021 census will include a new 'time capsule' feature, whereby people will be allowed, for the first time, to write a confidential message for the people of the future on their form. This handwritten content will be stored in a 'secure warehouse'.

This is, presumably, to keep up with the times and add a kind of a Twitter vibe to the census. Presumably, it will aid in "engagement", which is crucial these days, and it will also possibly encourage people to get beyond their normal 3.5-minute attention span in doing anything. So the hope is they won't get bored with the census form after six questions, get distracted by a breaking news alert on their phone and then somehow end up watching skydiving dogs and Ted talks for the next eight hours, forgetting the census completely.

Here's an example of what you might like to write:

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"Hello, people of 2121. Are ye actually still there? Did ye survive the climate? Or was that whole thing over-exaggerated? We kind of hoped at the backs of our minds that Trump and the Healy-Raes might be right. Or maybe ye are all robots now? Or half robots? Is it all self-driving cars at your end now? Did the electric cars ever take off at all? Back here in 2021, we're supposed to be shifting over to them. But they're very dear and there's nowhere to plug them in, so we're all hanging on to see if the batteries will get better. To be honest, most people are just thinking they'll drive their current car into the ground for the next 10 or 20 years, while we see how things pan out.

"So, what happened with Brexit in the end? You wouldn't believe the fuss we're having about it right now. You'd swear it was the end of the world. Sorry. That's an insensitive thing to say to someone in the future. But then again, if the world has ended in the meantime, you won't be reading this, because you don't exist. But then again, if you're reading this, you do exist.

"So did the Children's Hospital ever get finished? How's the traffic around it? And the parking? All fine, I'm sure. What could possibly go wrong, sez you. And the broadband? All good? I assume broadband-dissemination technology hadn't changed by the time we had finally agreed on a plan and finished digging trenches all over the country. Technology has changed a good bit here in recent years, but we don't see it changing much in coming years around broadband. We are humankind at its best. We've perfected broadband technology as far as it'll go now, so we're going to invest big in the current tech. You'll always need wires, as the inventors of headphones used to say.

"I assume women have taken over by completely by 2121. Well, you know what? They're welcome to it. And let's hope they make a better fist of running things than the men did."

Sunday Independent

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