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A bright future?

  • Published at 10:43 am March 9th, 2018
  • Last updated at 03:55 pm March 9th, 2018
A bright future?

My son has environmental studies as one of his “O” Level subjects, but he doesn’t like it very much.

He says he doesn’t enjoy the very basics of the subject; he would be OK if they were teaching him more practical aspects of the environment.

I advise him to study the subject as best as he can, as by the time he comes out from university, the environment is going to be one of the biggest businesses in the world. No business will be sustainable without being environmentally-friendly.

Then we discuss some potential future businesses. I tell him that if we can buy bottled water these days, we can surely buy some bottled air in the future.

Some companies have already started marketing bottled oxygen in some cities, where the quality of air has deteriorated. My son is intrigued. As a business student, he becomes more interested.

I describe to him how air or oxygen companies will be selling home solutions of oxygen-generating devices inside our homes. The outside air will be so polluted that we will need fresh oxygen at night in order to recover from the hazardous air we would be inhaling during daytime.

For quite some time, I’ve been telling him about the growth of the internet, the internet of things, and robotics.

He asks me: “Baba, have you heard that we already have robots in Bangladesh? They are serving at a restaurant in the city and a telecom company has imported some bots.”

I say: “Yes, baba, there will be more of these in the service sector.” Very soon, I tell him, the world will be swarmed with service bots and IoT-based chips.

So, there will be many robot-makers around the world and, at the same time, there will be thousands of robot mechanics in the vein of mobile phone and electronic goods mechanics.

Initially, Bangladesh will import all the robots and chips when we go for IoT-based ventures, but there will also be many bot and chip-manufacturing companies who will set up their plants here.

“You know, your mom and I will have a chip installed in your schoolbag when they start selling them in Bangladesh.”

The chip market is going to be huge, as our cities, workplaces, homes, and vehicles are going to have billions of chips attached to them.

He becomes quite amused when I explain to him how a chip can monitor not only our mobility but also our state of physical well-being.

Having said that, I remind him about privacy protection in a very complex cyber atmosphere. Once we start creating smart homes, factories, and cities which will be operated through billions of chips from individual accounts, privacy will become more important.

Our data has to be protected so that the system doesn’t break down and our own privacies are well-protected. This is where, I explain to him, the privacy protection firms will be making money. This business is already in place, and it will only get bigger in the future.

More intrigued, I see he already understands that the media, especially the entertainment media, has become quite a big business now. He wants to know: “How far will this business go, Baba?”

I tell him: “Now, you’re used to watching movies either on YouTube or Netflix or iFlix. The next big business will be holographic theatres, where you don’t have to worry about dimensions; you’ll find movie stars performing live just in front of you.”

I explain to him how water is going to be the next oil, and how nations and regions are likely to fight big wars in the future over water

I come back to his subject. I ask him: “Do you know that sea-bed cleaning is bound to be a big business one day, which may be very soon?” I try to engage his mind with the environmental issues again. He thinks and asks: “Tell me more about the seas and water.”

Water is certainly going to be very expensive in the future. I explain to him how water is going to be the next oil, and how nations and regions are likely to fight big wars in the future over water. I try giving him a few examples from South Asia.

My son is very fond of cars; while moving around in our family car, he keeps counting other brands that are plying on our roads.

I question him: “Do you know very soon we’ll be driving electric cars in Dhaka?”

He nods and says that his teacher has already told him. However, his teacher didn’t tell him that car charging stations would then be a big business in our country, and we’d have to generate electricity through other means.

The traditional ways of generating electricity will then be exhausted, we won’t have any more gas or coal to fuel the power stations. We may have to turn towards wind and solar.

The wind and solar power plants seem quite neglected these days, but they may be the only power sources in the future.

“Baba, what will happen to our kitchens then? How will we cook if there’s no gas?” I’m glad he asks this question.

“There may not be any kitchen in the house, baba. We may have to purchase all our meals from the online food stores.” He doesn’t seem to like what I tell him.

I add: “Do you know our food resources are also being exhausted? We are finishing our meat and fish resources? Do you know that in a few places they have started growing meat in the laboratory?”

He didn’t know that. His heart sinks when he thinks about the future of living. He gives me a blank stare and asks me: “Do you think I’d get all the answers if I study about the environment more?”

I notice an interest about the subject in him and I say: “Yes, indeed, baba.” I also promise him more discussions like this soon.

Ekram Kabir is a story-teller and a columnist.

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