The Malta Independent 3 December 2021, Friday

Festive season - a ride on the travel machine

George M Mangion Sunday, 27 December 2020, 07:58 Last update: about 12 months ago

This is a fantasy trip which magically flies us to New Year’s eve in 2050.  Upon arrival, we wonder how times have changed on our tiny archipelago.  

Luckily, the economy has trebled during these thirty years having discovered gas in offshore waters and started exporting it to Europe via two gas underwater pipes. Our GDP has reached and exceeded that of Singapore, even though our pharma companies and gaming sectors have waned and only a small proportion of the largest gaming stalwarts remained using our fiscal advantages since games have now become personalized due to the amazing speed of 10G bandwidth.

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To the traveller’s surprise, one observes how during the lapse of 30 years, past traditional attributes which endeared our lifestyle have morphed into an inimitable ecosystem - one that appreciates fully the value of time use and meaning of life.  

Our cities and villages have seen a metamorphism which saw tighter control over exploitation of ODZ land and a complete ban from the use of the honey coloured stone for building.  Writing this article on New Year’s Eve in 2050, I ventured to ask about progress in the working conditions of low-income workers.  My satisfaction came to me as a pleasant notion that tangible affluence was manifest by the islanders due to the change from cheap labour policy.  

Again, I discovered that more investment in R&D reaching 3% of GDP has helped increase the sophistication of our educational facilities.  Without bragging, one can now boast that our four international universities and technical colleges compete with Harvard and MIT in the USA.  These knowledge factories attract talent.  Changes in demographics has led the community to achieve a higher standard of wellbeing, less work leads to increased leisure time and flexibility over time use.  

There is a shift away from corporate employment towards family businesses, from multi-national brands towards local producers, and from large manufacturers towards local 3D printing, given that workers can use their creativity to work in small clusters.  

I visited a look-alike Silicon valley in Ta Qali, which housed many start-ups and was proud of two international Unicorns.  As can be expected in 2050, our national leaders have yielded to pressure from social groups pushing them to remove discrimination in the beneficiaries that ought to equally share benefits from the trickledown economy. 

It means that in theory, no more the rich add to their bounty and the poor sink into the poverty hole.  One example in use, is the successful experiment in allocating a basic income level for everyone in society.  This is a different concept away from the old C.O.L.A mechanism and takes a more representative sample of everyday expenses. 

The basic pay is automatically increased by 5% to 10% annually while production targets are leveraged upwards.  Surely, fellow time travellers who have just landed in 2050, notice a level of tranquillity given that society has matured to enjoy an alternative identity beyond work. Now, public education is focused on achieving higher grades in science, innovation and maths subjects.  But it is not a rose garden - a sad situation reflects our lethargy in combatting climate change which in the Mediterranean has seen sea levels rise prodigiously with extensive damage to homes in Cottonera, Sliema, Msida and Marsa.

Moving on in our travel schedule, islanders told us how in 2030, the island invested heavily in alternative clean energy sources and exploited its abundance of offshore natural gas-all thanks to heavy investment by foreign investors.  Most of the natural gas is exported to Sicily for conversion into LNG.  This source of income has filled our state coffers like never before and the government made sure that an independent posterity fund is created to account against any future calamities.  

Tales of corruption over abuse of state funds misallocated from gas sales were skirted away not to upset the vision of travellers.  Instead, kudos were showered on the merits of state-of-the-art technology.  Friendly robots work all day with house chores such as cleaning, cooking and organizing.  Functional algorithms in robots (fifth generation) can recognize human speech and respond to it or do specific tasks around the house. 

Smart phone apps that interact with one’s home are commonplace and kids can handle the grocery list and book its delivery by drone.  Busy housewives can remotely check the temperature of the refrigerator, turn on the oven, or start the dishwasher.  

Most houses have indoor gardens which use hydroponic containers powered by LED lighting instead of sunlight to grow plants such as tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, onions, garlic and beetroot. 

Moreover, homes of the well-to-do have walls endowed with nanotechnology that can project outside views or a real-time scenery from the beach or live sport events giving the inhabitants a holistic feel-good experience.

Walls display movies, collateral information, environmental information, data about public transportation and weather schedules.  They will empower homes into a dynamic atmosphere by lighting scenarios matching to the time of day, the mood of the user, their health conditions. Travel by autonomous vehicles take away the hassle of parking while most families can afford hydrogen powered SUV’s.  

Gone are the days when blackouts are blamed by the state utility on occasional cable outages linking us to Sicily.  Homes can now generate a good part of their energy needs and power themselves independently of the state utility. Nevertheless, sadly in 2050, there are still pockets of the workforce who cannot afford to buy all technological advancements.

I was amazed at the extravaganza of home entertainment systems.  These combine augmented reality, virtual reality with mediated reality movies and voice-controlled television.  On one occasion, I was shaking hands with a virtual Elvis Presley singing Mama Likes the Roses.  Eager to notice, how the high heeled in Madliena, enjoy interactive home entertainment systems that intensify convivial fun, making it more sensual than ever before.  At such a residence, I was invited to book for a trip to planet Mars as the waiting list for travellers was getting longer by the hour.  As can be expected, a gem of living in 2050, includes longevity as a result of improved healthcare and better welfare benefits. With increases in life expectancy and the prospect of a larger number of older people, this requires a careful approach how to plan our leisure time.  

Social exclusion can be deadly in such an environment.  In conclusion, the visionary trip may be an eyeopener to many readers impressed with a high standard of living yet Malta still suffers from sporadic diseases and natural disasters due to climate change.  Again, its closet harbours other demons such as state corruption, plundering of national assets for the benefit of the Illuminati, poor governance and rife cronyism among party apologists.  

My final question - are you still keen to take a ride on the time machine?

A prosperous New Year to all.

 

The writer is a partner in PKFMalta, an audit and business advisory firm.

 

 

 

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