Inventing the future

Samir Sobhi
Saturday 22 Feb 2020

It has been said that the best way to predict the future is to invent it –– something which is now being done in Egypt

Led by the US and Russia, the world has been searching for humanity’s future. Efforts to explore outer space have been made since the 1960s when the first astronauts landed on the moon. There are now plans to send humans to Mars and explore other planets. 

Scientists have been exploring the central questions of the evolution of the universe, and it may be that some of their dreams at least are on their way to turning into reality.

Modern science now deals with sub-atomic particles. Newspapers headlines give priority to news related to scientific discoveries and modern technology. But at the same time last-century notions like international legitimacy and the New World Order have become less common in the 21st century. 

Older ways of life are disappearing as globalisation imposes its laws worldwide. The term refers to processes of removing the barriers between countries, allowing the group of capitalist countries that already control much of the world economy to search for new resources and markets. Globalisation has turned the world into village without borders. The world’s population is becoming part of one world society.

However, globalisation has many opponents who view it as depriving people of their national belonging. For them, globalisation violates deep-rooted traditions, customs and religious doctrines. It has become a way for the strong to control the weak, and smaller countries have not been able to escape its impacts. 

It has imposed itself through political influence, economic pressure and media penetration. Some have described globalisation as a new form of colonialism that in time will eradicate the world’s cultural diversity and local wealth. Globalised companies like the US food companies McDonalds and Coca-Cola have spread worldwide, investing in enormous projects in many countries. Globalisation could be a struggle of civilisations, with survival going to the strongest. Could such a struggle eventually move to other planets?

During the period of European expansionism in the 16th and 17th centuries, a group of mainly English adventurers started the experiment that has now become the United States. They crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Europe, heading towards what they thought of as their new homeland. Their target was to usurp this land by force, regardless of the legitimate rights of its native inhabitants. They wanted to tame the land and those living upon it. 

In doing so, they took control of the richest continent in the world. Their descendants later returned to the old world of Europe and invested their wealth and imposed their influence. This is the American experiment in a nutshell, and this is the logic of American power. 

Egypt is related instead mostly to Asia and Africa because of its religion and language. There are strong ties linking Egypt to Africa, due to the role which the River Nile plays in bringing water from the south. But Egypt has its own priorities and successes, now seen in the new momentum and national renaissance covering all aspects of life. Egypt has the expertise, whether at home or among Egyptian expatriates abroad, to construct a country that will flourish in the present century.

By 2030, Egypt will have completed its mega projects in the Suez Canal Zone and the New Administrative Capital. Projects to reclaim the desert using water from natural and artificial wells will have been finished. Tourism will have recovered.

The US computer scientist Alan Kay once said that the easiest way to predict the future is to invent it yourself. And this is exactly what we are doing.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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