In The Year of 2525
In the summer of 1969 a song was released by Zafer and Evans. The song’s lyrics tell of a disturbing possibility in mankind future as technology becomes a large part of all our lives. The song titled, “In the Year 2525” reached the top of record charts.
In the second chorus’ lyrics, the songs writers predict in the year 3535, people may not think for themselves, but their words and thoughts may come from a pill. Those words infer the authors believe 1500 years from now, things will be far different. Or will they be? A large part of modern medicine is chemical based medications. Through the wonders of medicine, problems with the human body can often be solved with a pill. The only problem, that miracle of medicine comes with a cost not everyone can afford. If a pill to save your life cost ten thousand dollars a month, can you afford not to purchase the medication?
Recently, you may have seen a TV commercial promoting a pill that helps older people retain their memory. Does it work? Those who promote its effectiveness believe it does. Scientists all over the world are researching a cure for Alzheimer’s and other debilitating mental diseases. With improved technology it is likely in the future, science will find ways to delay onset of the disease and someday find a cure. That cure may be a pill or gene therapy. But, will that same pill guide the thoughts of those who take it? Will it affect what they think, do and say?
Another line in the songs predicts that in the year 5555, our arms will have become so weak from lack of use, they will hang by our sides. The lyric implies that mankind will become so dependent on technology; physical movement may be unneeded. This lack of using our arms and legs may already be of concern today. Six decades ago, many industrial jobs were physically demanding. Today, new computerized automation has eliminated many physical jobs. Jobs worked by people who took pride in a hard day’s work for their pay. Labor intensive jobs that helped to build our country since the industrial revolution are now being lost to automation or overseas countries. Machines that were promoted to make work place jobs safer and easier, have in fact replaced many of the people who once worked those jobs. Perhaps when Zafer and Evans wrote the song, they foresaw the growth of technology and the possibility for our lives, if unchecked.
Today, school children are being taught technology to better prepare them for our computerized world. Skills they will need to function in the ever increasing electronic age of man. It is true that technology will make our daily tasks easier and faster, but at what cost? Small hand held devices require only thumbs to instantly correspond with others. These devices are a far cry from the days when pencil and paper were used to pass information to the next person. If this trend continues, perhaps in the far future, thumbs will be the dominant fingers on our hands. Zafer and Evans, I’ll bet never saw that coming.
Do you remember in school when the girl who sat across from you in class, hand wrote a note asking if you liked her? She folded it neatly and passed it to you when the teacher was looking away? Today she could send you an electronic message as she sat next to you? Or, just as quickly she could have sent it to you on the far side of the world. Either way, it only required using her two thumbs.
In the year 6565, the song envisions those future generations will pick their children through medical technology. Some believe that picking physical traits in their children is something they would like to do even today. Someday, you may go to the internet and pick a son or daughter and choose their hair color, height, and intelligence level. Somehow that removes the wonder of mankind. Design your children and it takes away who we are and maybe even who they will become. On the other hand, what if you could prevent a physical or mental problem before they are born, would you want technology to do that?
Zafer and Evans song did not touch on one of the greatest challenges mankind will face. They perhaps did not foresee how your life would be monitored every day. Our lives have become part of the world wide information network. There is almost nothing that you do in a day that is not collected in the electronic network we take for granted. Go grocery shopping and the network knows what you purchased. What if that network shares data with your life insurance actuarial? With that information, an algorithm could calculate your unhealthy food choices into a risk factors for your coverage. Add fuel to your car and another algorithm calculates how many miles you travel. Today, most vehicles are connected to satellites. You may not have chosen the service for your car, but in all likely hood information about your driving habits is being recorded. Farfetched, not really. Just stop and think about how many times a day your life intersects with the internet.
I wonder, what lyrics could the songs writers have included if they could have foreseen the past year. “In the year 2020 mankind is still alive – will mankind survive his unseen threat. – Or will mankind pretend it is not his concern?”
The assumptions in the song go far beyond what man can do in our world today. But stop for a moment and think back to when the song was heard on the radio in 1969. How many of the medicines that help us each day were unheard of and people suffered waiting for a cure. Today, the wonders of a small pill can save a life. Back then computers filled large rooms and the average person could not even figure out how to turn it on. Today, a single pocket device has far more technology and power than the computers that first traveled to the moon that summer long ago.
In 1969, my generation wrote their ideas and dreams in longhand and pondered the lyrics of the song that made its way to the top of the charts. Today, fifty two years later some of the songs farfetched lyrics are perhaps not so far away. Man’s greatest gift is his ability to think and dream about tomorrow and wonder what lies beyond the twinkling stars. If someday those dreams of what lies beyond the distance stars must come from within a pill, we may have traded technology for our dreams, as we look Through the lens.