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Expiring Humans

December 26, 2020

It’s the festive season and I can hear Falguni Pathak’s ‘Kesariya Rang Tane’ with its dhol beats and the cheerful dancing, with groups of people swaying and twirling around in circles.  It’s a joy to match steps with the beat and see everybody else do the same and enjoy together. Then slowly the beat starts pacing up and the crowd enjoys it even more trying to match steps. As the beat paces, half the crowd gives up not being able to catch up with the rest and takes a break to get some air.

Interestingly, I see a similar sequence in the pace of living in the world. I saw my grandparents lead a life which was a lot more leisurely with very few products to enhance their living. My parents’ generation had a scooter, a car, kitchen equipment, telephones and music systems – all that aided the experience of living. The pace of life seemed to have a certain rhythm to it, though slow during the 1950’s and a little faster in the 1970’s, with various products making their presence. The pace seemed inclusive among a large population still enjoying the rhythm of life.

Products have quickly moved from aiding to enhancing and in present times we have been creating immersive products moving quickly towards responsive products. There has been a steady increase in pace of inventions and new products.

Has this pace of development impacted the experience of living?

I think yes. A large part of humanity feels choked and pressured by the constant need to upgrade. Mobile phones, social media, apps, possibilities of working and learning from anywhere, unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, so on and so forth has drastically evolved into a different world compared to 30 years ago. The pace of life has quickened with an increasing number of products to participate in our ever complicated life. The advancement in technology has been tremendous creating new areas of work and new skills to acquire in the process. Work moved from simply having to deal with people while working to dealing with technology which has been helping us perform our duties. Technology shall be working hand in hand with us in the future- from performing job responsibilities to decision making. Human ability shall be compared with technology and eventually white collar jobs shall be replaced with technology in its various forms. This was a phenomenon that was witnessed after the Third Industrial Revolution where several factories were automated and robots took over many factory workers responsibilities.

The pace of development in the present is driven by velocity, scope and impact of systems. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historic precedent. With such rapid development and changes in the market a workforce with a certain acquired skill and knowledge which used to be relevant for their lifetime earlier are now relevant only for half their lifetimes. This is the large chunk of the population who I would equate to the ones sitting out after a few rounds during the dance from the analogy early on. It is like people trained to run a 100m hurdle are asked to compete in high jump and ones trained to high jump are pushed to perform in pole-vault.

What do these people do when their skills expire before their time? Is this going to be the rise to a new age of post work education where people consider going back to university to upgrade themselves? What is more alarming is the impact of this new norm on social structure, as in a family as a unit and its relevance in world building.

Humans do not like equating themselves with animals – too crude you see! Animals take what they want and leave what they don’t – humans can’t do that. There is an inherent greed. With this pace of living, I believe there are going to be worlds emerging within worlds (or environments within ecosystems) with new set of beliefs, philosophies, ideologies, alternate industries, engagements and communities for expired humans – worlds (or ecosystems) which aid living to ecosystems that only enhance living and not create immersive or responsive experiences – specifically catered to the pace at which one wants to live life. Unfortunately, all of these worlds will have to co-exist impacting fashion, arts, architecture and food.

Thinking of food, I decide to make pasta for dinner. I open my fridge, pick up the pasta sauce and check the label…………to find it has expired………. 

I smile and think to myself; what a world to look forward to…….

Hariesh K. Sankaran, Associate Director, School of Interior & Furniture Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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