I can't help wondering what people will actually make the effort to go and see in a hundred years time. What are we creating now in terms of engineering marvels or wondrous architecture that our grandkids' grandkids will pay money to visit? Compared to the places we went on out recent tour of England, what will be worth visiting - or even still be there - in the twenty-second century?
Yes, I know stuff like the Pyramids (and Stonehenge here in England) have been around for a lot longer than 100 years, as have most cathedrals and the natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon and (on a somewhat smaller scale) Cheddar Gorge. It's probably safe to assume that people will still be making the trip to visit these and other similar sights a hundred years from now.
But there is so much relatively recent history that attracts millions of visitors each year, but seems to capture only a brief instant in time. In particular, here in England, the incredible feats of the Victorians and Edwardians who changed our landscape and created the forerunners to many of today's architectural and engineering achievements. You only have to look at the railways, the canals, bridges of all kinds, the iron steamships, the factories and mills, the huge country houses and palaces, and the wonderfully landscaped estates and gardens.
So what will we leave as the epitaph for our own brief instance of time? What have we created in the last hundred years that deserves to be part of our heritage? Will people in 2110 walk around a cruise ship marveling at the five swimming pools and luxurious dining facilities? Will they stroll along abandoned motorways/freeways reminiscing about the cars and trucks that used to thunder up and down them all those years ago? Will they stand in abandoned departure lounges wistfully remembering the gaily colored aircraft that used to ferry people to foreign destinations?
And what about architecture? Will any of our fabulous suspension bridges survive for 100 years? Will our modern houses and commercial buildings be worth visiting in years to come? Have we really built anything that will astound people in the future with its daring use of materials and leading edge construction methods? Or, alternatively, seem as quaint and picturesque as an "Olde Worlde" country village?
And what about monuments to our technologies? Maybe people will peer into the derelict clean rooms of our semi-conductor factories and be amazed at the massive size of our silicon chips. Or stand in the tunnels of the CERN accelerator in Switzerland and hear stories about the search for particles that their kids now routinely create in school physics lessons. Perhaps they'll visit the now deserted motor car plants and be appalled at the working conditions that prevailed. They might even organize tours of our neglected hospitals and listen in horror as the guide explains the medical procedures that were common in the twenty-first century.
Yet, somehow, I don't see it. I wonder if there was a special period in time when things were changing so fast and with such incredible impact that we cannot even come close to now. OK, so we've changed the world dramatically in our own time with electronics and networks, and our knowledge-based economies. Maybe all we'll have for people of the future to visit is massive datacenters, and lots of pictures and videos on the Internet...