The future: convenient, disconcerting

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webmaster | 08/08/13
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Last week, as we were driving home from a vacation in Bodega Bay, Patty and I listened to a report on the radio about fast-food workers in New York walking off the job. These unskilled laborers earn $7.25 an hour. If one does the math, it becomes apparent that this wage puts them below the national poverty threshold. And, they live in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.

I expressed the opinion that it is pretty amazing that such jobs still exist. The basis for my speculation is that for years Japan has been issuing work visas to Indonesians who are needed for that country’s fast-food industries. Because Japanese really don’t like foreigners in their country, I assumed that their scientists would have been working on a way to automate the industry’s operation. According to George Ritzer’s “The MacDonaldization of Society,” much of the process of preparing the food is already mechanized.

Then, the day after I had resettled into my house, “The Futurist” magazine showed up in my mailbox. Editor Cynthia G. Wagner gathered 41 (count ’em) authors to write about things that will disappear from society by 2030. Surprisingly, fast-food workers were not specifically mentioned. However, here are some of the changes that the authors addressed.

Languages

Today, there are roughly 6,000 languages in the world; by 2030, there may be only 3,000. English will dominate, especially in the world of business. Even now, Dutch may be dying out. In Holland, children take 12 years of English as they go through primary and secondary schooling. Also, some languages are so similar that they might merge into a common language. A couple of summers ago, before I went to Italy, I purchased a course in Italian on a disk. However, when I was in Italy and could not remember how to say something in Italian, I tried Spanish. It worked. For example, if one inquires about another person’s health in Spanish, he or she would say, “¿Como esta?” In Italian, it’s “Le come sta?” ...

 

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