Last year I submitted a story from the future to a challenge launched by XPrize and Ana Flight on 14C website, a very creative place to explore.
26A, earbuds in, mouth open, leaning against the window, shifts in her sleep;
8E, halfway through the first episode of “Westworld”, is slightly confused; and
19A coughs – almost a non-cough as if simply pretending to cough.
ANA Flight 008 then passes through a temporary wrinkle in the local region of space-time, experienced inside the cabin as a barely perceptible bout of turbulence. Beverage service continues, uninterrupted. The in-flight movie glitches, and then resumes.
As the Boeing 777 descends through the clouds for its approach into SFO, only a few of the passengers (mostly in window seats) suspect they have arrived at the wrong destination. Which is incorrect, sort of. They have arrived at San Francisco International Airport on June 28, 2037. The wrinkle has transported them 20 years into the future.
Your story should be presented from the perspective of one of the passengers on this flight, the passenger seated in Seat 14C – this does not necessarily have to be first-person perspective. The story may begin on the plane, or when your character steps off the flight at SFO, 20 years in the future. The best stories will spend more time out in the world than on the plane.
The anthology is meant to show how exponential technology can positively impact the future, even as a subtle backdrop to your story. One way to do this is by imagining a world in which all the currently active XPRIZE competitions have been successfully awarded and are shaping the future. You may opt for another approach, keeping in mind that the underlying tone should be a hopeful one."
Beautiful, isn't it?
So, I said to myself, let's give it a try. I am not the best skilled word phraser when it comes to Science Fiction genre, but I have a few visions about the future, maybe not all about a so close future, but why not?
Here it is.
The Voice in my Head
June 28, 2017
ANA Flight #008 Boeing 777
Boarding open 4. 58 AM 25º
Sunrise in Japan It is the first time I leave a place at sunrise. Not any place, but the one of the rising sun. I have to steal this moment.
The rising of the sun always meant for me God's invitation to watch and listen together upon His masterpiece. Side by side. A moment to stay still and make yourself one with all the seen and unseen that surrounds you. A time to come, not a time to go. For me it always meant the opening scene of an extraordinary new day here on Earth, a vital part of the film of my life, a film where I am the master of my faith.
What thoughts will I have today? What are the signs of the day? What are the things and people that will cross my path and will intersect with my reality? What choices will I make?
The relativity of time always fascinated me. It gets intense when flying between the corners of the world. I leave today and I will reach there yesterday. It feels insignificant. Maybe it is. Once in the plane, life always turns from real to dreamlike during these journeys through the air. Moments when there is nothing else left to do but falling together.
It is a spring like weather. 25º. Perfect for me. A tall woman winds her up with a Japanese fan. She might be of northern origins, used with the lack of light and warm, uncomfortable with what is good for me. A man wears warm clothes. Maybe he is living in some tropical island somewhere, used with an overdose of wellness, wondering in his mind: how can these people stand the cold? He may easily think we lack sensitiveness.
They keep calling us on board, it is crowded. I placed myself the last in line.
I have never lived such a bright early morning. Why wasn't I born in Japan? How would the Japanese version of me would have been?
I am afraid that crying baby will be my neighbor. All this is too much for such a vulnerable creature.
That little girl with her long dark hair reminds of myself long time ago. Her wide open blue eyes recording with restless curiosity each new reality she is taken in by her tutors will shape many of her choices. Flashes from this particular day will haunt her adult life from time to time. And mine, too. The greatness of the airport, the flying machines, the amplified sun rising, the voice of the unseen woman calling us to get in, passengers faces betraying their emotions, worries and pieces of their lives, the way people emerge with the latest technologies, that business man's hot apple pie and its smell that reminds me of childhood in the countryside, the Asian people resembling so much with each other in our eyes, as if God decided to mask diversity in this part of the world as a way to defeat shallowness.
I always believed that all the great innovators of the world followed the signs from one point forward, simply because there was nothing else to guide them once they crossed the lines, nothing familiar, nothing known nothing yet proven.
We are surrounded by synchronicity. Maybe magic happens when you start following the signs.
My own ticket is the proof of a very interesting question mark. Look at the digits. Sum them up. They are fine tuning with my favorite one: 8, with me.
Date: 28.06.2017 = 2+8+6+2+1+7 = 26 = 2+6 = 8
Flight number: 8
Time: 4:58 = 4+5+8 = 17 = 1+7 = 8 888 + my 8
Plane model: 777 (= 7+7+7 = 21 = 2+1 = 3 → half of 8 if designed)
Temperature: 25º = 2+5 = 7 777 + 7
Does it mean anything?
They always told me I entered this world in the wrong time. Not necessarily because of my ideas, but mostly because of my eyes. They always said they feel they travel when they look into my eyes. People. Friends, family, lovers, strangers.
I am not much of a futurist, only 10-20 years ahead of my time. That's close enough, I often told myself. All I need is to find some bridges or to build some to look more digestible to people, to adapt, as they say, to build my means for survival where I am now. To finally do what I am supposed to do, to fulfill my potential, to create the worlds in my head. Happier worlds. To have a chance to honor life at my best.
Anyway, that's all I can get from my ticket. If in love with numerology or labeled with schizophrenia, maybe you can see much more.
I constantly believed in the possibility that people labeled with mental illness are people from the future, people who can help us adapt when we get there. All their hallucinations, multi-dimensional viewing, their rebellion and inner revolutions, their incapacity to adapt to a primitive time like ours, their pain of not being understood, seen, but mostly of being suppressed for being who they are. Some of my closest friends, some of yours.
Some scientists from Switzerland discovered recently 11 layers in the brain and some perfect constructions happening with each decision we make. We know nothing about ourselves. When did we?
This Japanese sun can heal everyone of everything. It is so close and so complete. Watching the sun rising always made me feel like home, no matter where in the world I was.
I am in. Up in the air. The sun surrounds us here in the clouds as if we died and reached the heavens. Rising together at the same time. Blinded by its strong light. I wouldn't mind for such beauty to take my sight away.
Close your eyes. Let yourself in its hands. Let its light heal your wounds and confusions. Maybe the healing happens instantly or much faster when so close to the light. Just be.
Well, my fear turned to be an intuition. The green eyed crying baby sits next to me.
He is restless. I don't know what to do when babies are around. They are mirrors of all our disconnections. His freshness reminds me of a love poem I once unraveled from my heart. I whisper it to him in my thoughts. His green emerges with my blue into an Aurora Borealis kind of light that settles in between.
your love for me
bloomed in your heart.
it warmly melted all my walls,
it softly lighted all my darkness,
it tenderly woke me up,
and then it took my breath away.
A silent disturbance reminds me we're still up in the clouds. He slowly closes his heavy eyes. Excluded from consciousness, I slip into my dreams.
June 27, 2037
ANA Flight #008 Boeing 777
Landing 10.55 AM 65º
What place is this? Have we found the lost Atlantis?
I hear a calming voice in my head. It reminds me of someone very close, but dead for quite some time.
“Don't be afraid. You haven't died and reached the heavens. At least not yet. You are the 5th plane that gets lost in the twists and turns of a time loop. The good news is you are in the right place. The bad news is that you are in the wrong time. Or maybe not. You can choose to go back. Departures for ANA flight 008 to San Francisco for June 28, 2017 start in 30 days. Until then, we hope you'll get the best of your time here. The voice in your head is not a hallucination, it is your guide who will lead your way. Welcome to San Francisco!”
That's a lot to digest.
“Yes, it is.” the friendly voice replied. “Many planes get lost in time since exponential technologies went viral into the world and we hacked time traveling codes. Be happy for landing in such a close future. Many planes landed 1000 years ahead or behind. We fixed some major errors in the meantime.”
Well...you know, I had some plans. I will lose my job, my home and everything I worked for in my entire life. Who'll pay for this?
“Don't worry. You'll be compensated. We have learnt in the meantime to recycle everything. Everything. Nothing gets lost.” It's 65º outside. Is this real? “Yes.”
Did we screw it up with climate change?
“Well...yes. In a way. As we couldn't change the realities, we change ourselves. Better equipped, we can better tackle this problem further. We developed a device to be implanted in the human body. It helps you adapt instantly to the environment conditions and to the machines.”
I don't want this device in my 20 older body overnight. At least not yet. I need time to process all this.
“If you want to wait in the plane for 30 days, this is an option too”.
The green eyed crying baby and the blue eyed curious girl are like fishes in the water. Children never question their realities, they just go with the flow. It is the first time I want to go back to being a child again. To reconnect to all my possibilities. Where did it all go?
“I heard that. It's doable. But are you sure you want to start it all over again.”
Can you read my thoughts? Is this legal? What do you know about me?”
“All the data you generated since your birth in all dimensions of your life. It all started as a self-therapy tool. Don't you want to know how it all started?”
I am not sure. How?
“Your hesitating curiosity caused your main problems, but also your greatest successes. You started it, next to a few others who lived in various corners of the world. Each of you was part of a great solution to a critical problem. Depression and other mental disorders were pandemic at the time. Remember?”
“What do you mean? I wouldn't have invade people thoughts like this.”
“Maybe. But the exponential growing led to more possibilities than you could imagine at the time. In the winter of 2016 you came up with this idea of collecting all the data you generate to instantly identify behavior patterns, heal yourself and better navigate in the more and more and fast changing world. It was another crowdsourcing challenge you engaged in. You haven't got an award for that one, but you left this seed idea behind. Then things went crazy. A stand alone industry and market formed around it.”
Yes, I remember that one. I never imagined it will end up a mind reader. I always thought all non-awarded solutions get lost in the black box model of open innovation.
“Well...it seems not. Collaboration improved a lot since then. Talking about that, would you like to see what else you generated during your problem solver life?”
Yes, please. It's WOW to see that we were not been insignificant. Our breed of crowdsourcing problem solvers. Many of us spent a decade having nothing but an internet connection and a vision higher than ourselves. By the way, what happened with We Are Solvers platform? Did it survive?
“Let's get out of here first. Do you remember that dream of yours when you discovered you can fly?”
Yes, it never left me.
What do you mean?
“We've accessed endless layers of the brain and in the meantime we've also learnt how to use some of them and how to activate what we considered super powers back then. We are still learning. We thought flying and driverless machines are the next best thing, but in the meantime we realized there is no other greater technology than the human being. We were blinded by ourselves.”
How to do that?
“Accept the possibility you can fly. Simple as that. Just tell yourself: fly butterfly, fly! Hahaha”
Wow! This is ...Oh my God! You weren't joking, were you!
“No. Not at all.”
This is exactly how I felt in that dream. Free. Happy. Powerful. Hopeful.
“It is exactly how you are. Now let's have a ride! Let's start with having a look at the world first.”
San Francisco suddenly turned into Milan, Italy as if it was just a layer, not a whole city.
What did you do with the architecture? All the futurists imagined a world of skyscrapers, of vertical and suspended cities. I was terrified of the idea of living in such a uniform and non-personal world. This is God's grace insinuated into the world. How did you do that?
“An eccentric billionaire woke up one morning with this idea of saving the best of the history and culture of humanity. A sentimentalist. So he took it to the next level by using the exponential technologies and people alike. He created a global organization dedicated to the restoration and revival of the best parts of our past, from architecture to books and everything that can cross your mind. Why shall we disconnect from the best parts of who we were when we can integrate them now? Why shall we live from memories? This is what he said. The rest is history.”
How come we are in Milan now? Where is San Francisco?
“Here, but in another layer of the reality. The more dimensions of the brain we discovered, the more realities we could create. When you left Tokyo yesterday morning we believed virtual reality and augmented reality are the greatest breakthroughs of this century. We were wrong. That was just a modest beginning. You see, exploring new territories and traveling changed a lot. We brought it all in the here and now. It's 99% the real thing. For the rest of 1% you have to just go there and experience it with all the versions of yourself.
This means you could also create new cities and countries, new planets, new realms to explore, to date in, to...Oh my God! Or is it too far?
“We are working on it. Cinematography and arts stepped in on this one. Creativity was a crucial skill needed. A new era began for creatives. All the worlds they have created in the movies and downloaded from their imagination are now possible to be explored and experienced by any of us. Not just observed. We didn't emerged with the machines, as we previously believed, we used them to emerge with each other, with each other's worlds
Tell me more!
“Now you don't just watch a movie, you can experience each character's story and pathway. You play in it. In networks if you wish, or in groups of friends. Cinematography and gaming industry emerged in a very high degree with the help of new technologies and AI. One time you can wear the protagonist shoes, the next time you can play the antagonist or just be an observer present in the film. You can touch and feel, you can even kiss your idol. In case you ever had this fantasy. Hahaha. You can influence its plot and characters choices and capabilities. All you need is imagination and the possibilities are endless. You can't imagine what industries and markets were born around the entertainment area.”
What about the people? The growing unemployed or underemployed? The orphans? The disabled? The mental ill? The depressed?
“We got it all wrong with the mental ill labeled ones. They were the future, we were the past. Their imagination, sensitivity and high intelligence helped us build a vital part of the new world. But more importantly, they helped us reconnect our minds with our hearts, to be happy again. From the time you come, you have to admit it....we were quite lost, highly disconnected from ourselves. Another eccentric billionaire woke up one morning realizing the potential that lies in the mental ill labeled community. We needed all the imagination available for what we've created in such a short time and the innovation programs, accelerators and incubators were far from being enough, they were ancient approaches. He lived a personal story with a schizophrenic and that story led him to wonder: how come the nutters are so intelligent and creative? This is a goldmine as workforce.
And what did he do?
“He gave them all the tools, educated them about their mechanisms and let them free to do what they want with them. He planted the seed of a thriving global community and network of nano and micro social entrepreneurs. They become both the creators and the first beneficiaries, they turned into stand alone individuals who are now designing parts of the world and solve some of its most challenging problems.”
What about the orphans? The disabled? The poor?
“There is not such things anymore. Or at least not at the magnitude you know. There are plenty of technologies that turned disabled into fully functional individuals. They teach machines human intelligence and they can fly, like you can now. No one is disabled nowadays. The blind can see, the deaf can hear. Social entrepreneurship exploded with exponential technologies and that solved most of our greatest humanitarian problems. We started here, in the States, there is a lot of work to be done all over the world. But with what we have now, all solutions will go viral and almost live.”
“You know how. You were part of it.”
“Do you remember that tweet from that Sunday morning?”
“When you published your first guiding book 'Rise Above The Crowd' on Amazon, the next thing you did was to log in to Twitter to follow its icon, Jeff Bezos. The magnitude of Amazon and the exponential possibilities offered to one individual fascinated you. Do you remember it? It happened right before the Tokyo flight.”
God, it seems so far.
How to solve common good problems in real time? he asked his fans on Twitter. I had an answer to that question since 2010. Or at least the beginning of an answer. A vision. I also wrote a short and fast article on that one: “When a titan steps in and asks this question, as a serial awarded problem solver you cannot just watch from the sidelines. It's one of the best opportunities you'll get to make your voice heard and give away your best vision. What if he is really listening?”
“Well...he was really listening. Your tweet: 'Design a scalable operational platform to solve problems live and in real time. Serial awarded problem solvers at the core of the human resource employed.' influenced change. He integrated all the good ideas he received and began a global movement to address social and environmental problems in the here and now."
Why wasn't I part of it? I prepared all my life for such mission.
“That I cannot answer. We didn't quite solve all globalization problems. There are still limitations, things that stand in between our countries, in our way. He has a lot of work to do on this one, so my advice is to expect the unexpected. Then, who knows what your path is? What I know is that your We Are Solvers platform became a talent recruiting hotspot for daring and eccentric projects. Many solvers got what they asked for: the extraordinary job.”
What about love? Relationships? Emotions? Are people better, happier?
“You know. You played a small role also here.”
“Yes, with your romance storytelling platform Let's Have Words. How did you put it? Cinematic love stories. Inspired from pictures. Reimagined for life and films."
Ahh...my relationships revival project. But I've just started it and I am moving in slow motion due to my struggling context.
“Well...we are 20 years later now. It led you where you wanted. Your concept about creating new cinematic love stories inspired by romance photographs from all around the world, from all times and cultures; from both movies and real life did its job. You used crowdsourcing to go exponential with it at the time. Then, the new technologies just took it to a brand new level.”
“What you hoped for. More people to fall in love, to rediscover the beauty of life and of relationships. On the background of the new world rising, people needed more fresh and positive stories to reconnect. To themselves and to each other. To be reminded. You recycled lost memories and feelings, lost emotions. The things of the heart. Others did the same in their own way in various corners of the world. You are a sentimentalist.”
So it seems. You know, at the beginning of 2017 I realized I have no other options available but to design my own purpose and meaning. To be the master of my faith. You give me hope. I thought I won't live long enough to see it happening, to escape poverty and struggling to win my day.
“The 30 days are over my friend. Keep the hope alive. You'll get where you want and far beyond. You are walking on the right pathway.”
30 days? Are you joking? It's feels like a few hours. There's a lot to be seen and understood. I have endless questions to ask about endless things.
“In a twisted and paradoxically way, time lost its meaning. The only time available is the one that allows us to fulfill our potential. We don't waste time anymore. We are not just consumers anymore. We are creators.”
One more question please. What about death? Do we still die?
“Theoretically yes. We have not yet found the secret of eternal youth. For the moment we just tricked it. We can travel in time and start over or continue in new dimensions of reality, in new layers. If you can avoid instant death, you can choose to do that. We are still working on this one. Now, let's get back to your plane. If you want to continue life from where you left it, now is the time.”
One last question, please.
“Just one. Hurry up.”
Am I still struggling in 2037? Is this me now or there's another version of me here, an older version?
“There's the both of you.”
Can I see myself now? Can I meet myself?
“Well..that's a tricky question. Yes you can, but a choice must be made in such scenario.”
“If you meet yourself here and now, you won't be able to come back.”
But you've said we can choose to stay if we wish.
“Yes, but you'll be 58 years old and all the main life choices are already made. You will continue life from here and now and make new choices, but... You cannot change the past from here. Only the future. Still, if you want this, you can have it.”
Will I remember this experience when back? I would not give up to possibly the best next 20 years of life, even if it's a hard life. It's still youth. It's still beautiful.
"Yes, you will. But you'll need to be realistic. People of 2017 are not yet prepared to hear your story. They'll diagnose you with some mental disorder and you'll miss the best of what's about to come, you'll miss your destiny. You have to play it low and do what you do. Solve problems, write books and films, and do the jobs you need to do to keep yourself on track. Mask your extraordinary experiences, turn them into stories and films for people to read and watch. Your time will come. Trust that.”
I choose to come back and to live my days one by one. Thank you for your guidance. This was extraordinary. It gives me hope for one thousand lifetimes. I still think I am dreaming or something. Still, not meeting myself is a temptation very hard to resist.
“Resist it and thank yourself. I am just an AI who learnt from you. The more you'll be, the more I'll be. And no, you are not dreaming at all. Fly now.”
Goodbye, my friend.
“Good bye!...And one more thing. Trust your dreams. Both night dreams and daydreams. It is how we ended up here!”
“Ladies and gentlemen, the ANA flight 008 is about to depart from 2037 to 2017. Please take your sits. Don't be afraid. The journey will last less than a moment.”
It is early morning. The sun is rising. I am coming home. The plane is half empty. The green eyed crying baby and the blue curious girl are not in.
Did I make the right choice?
Download PDF version of the story here.