Friday, September 19, 2008

Malaysian Superheroes: Rubber Ridley

For those of you who went to school, you guys must remember HN Ridley.

He was that crazy 'mat salleh' who told everyone who would listen, that natural rubber is the future for Malaysia.

He went about, carrying 'biji getah' in his pockets and told the colonists that rubber is the future.

He even made popular the 'herring bone technique' of tapping rubber. Before that, rubber sap was harvested by simply wounding the tree with a machete - 'kaedah takik'.

For his ideas, the people called him Mad Ridley or Rubber Ridley.

Years later, I had an inkling as to how this man - one of Malaysia's first superheroes - might have felt.

I have begun meeting people at night - well after office hours, mind you - trying to convince them that certain technologies are the future.

What is today exotic will be the norm tomorrow.

If someone had told me, in 1993, as I lined up to a payphone to call my parents every Saturday night(was in a boarding school), that one day almost everyone in Malaysia would have phones as small as cigarette packs, I would have told them to stop smoking whatever it is they're smoking.

If I had any idea that processors could be made of prisms, fibre optics and photons, I would not have pressed my father to purchase a Pentium-S CPU at 133Mhz.

The future WAS today. The future WILL BE tomorrow. The future is now.

And they will call me Mad. They will call me Rubber. That sounds kinky. Yeah.

I envision a nation, a whole world, governed by scientists. By logic. By science. Not by emotion, but by pure common sense.

Maybe one day, there would be no concept of money. Of rank and hierarchy and of race. People work to better themselves, and to be of contribution to society.

Marxist, you say? No. Roddenberry-ist. Shatnerism. The society seen in Star Trek is my utopia.

Where replicators can change matter into energy and back into whatever matter you would wish. WIthout an explosion, of course.

Where holo-decks would fulfill any fantasy you would have. Or could ever have.

We now see these technologies today. At least, the grandfathers of these technologies.

There are now motion sensor hologram keyboards. The same technology for the Nintendo Wii will be as ubiquitous as a PS/2 or USB connection.

The laptop of the future could be the size of a telescopic pen.

Simply set it up, turn on the power, and hologram keyboards are coupled with hologram displays to make for a VERY lightweight computer. Data can be stored in crystals, which has more capacity than magnetic disks and tapes.

Thought-controlled robotic arms are in development in Japan and the States. One day, we might see exo-skeletons for paraplegics and quadriplegics. And say goodbye to getting MCs if you break your leg.

There are highways in the States that take control of your car so that it can regulate the speed and distance with each other and making sure everything is run as efficiently as possible.

Imagine making it on the LPT from KL to Kuantan in under 1 hour, at speeds of 200Km/h - 600 metres separating each car. The technology is already here. Today.

Tomorrow's technology would be solar-powered flying cars regulated by computers on stacks, following the routes of traditional highways. 16 stories of cars, bumper-to-bumper, 20 miles long, travelling at over 100km/h, managed by a box as big as a man.

Human genome research will allow the harvesting of body parts to prolong life to upwards of 170 years. Even though, with obesity, this current generation will be the first in human history to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

With all this on the horizon, what the fuck are we doing? Nothing. Because we are scared? Because we are stupid?

Scared of what? Of science? Of reason? Of logic?

Never in human history have we had so many things under our control. Planes that fly itself. Farms that self-regulate. A fully-autonomous life. With us having nothing better to do, we get at each other's throats. Naturally.

Anyway, call me mad. Call me Rubber. It is not in you that I put my trust. People are idiots. But I have faith. In the future.