Why we’re not on Mars

Warning: this is a rant. I’m not really irate, I just want to get a sort of personal theory off my chest.

Apple have just brought out the iPhone X. I’m not against that per se, and in fact I’m using a previous model to write this post, but it brings up some issues.I’ve just realised how many strands my rant has. Please bear with me, or don’t, I’ll never know.

I’ll start with the grand announcement by Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, that the iPhone X represents a revolution in technology that will shape the next 10 years just as the original iPhone did. Twaddle. The original iPhone was a revolution. Remember having to press a number button three times to get the letter you wanted? Remember Snake? Well the iPhone changed all that. Many others, in fact all others, have followed in its wake. The iPhone X gives us talking emojis and by the looks of it dinosaur animations in our videos. Essentially the modern equivalent of cave paintings. I wouldn’t call that revolutionary. Steve Jobs, RIP, was a visionary and truly pushed the boundaries. Apple is now a behemoth with shareholders who demand dividends and growth, not revolutions. So, essentially you have a The Emporer’s New Clothes scenario. The moral of the story? Don’t believe your own hype, you’re not as good or bad as you think you are. True innovation is just that, not just a new iteration.

Next up I’m going to get a bit serious and introspective, which might come as a shock because I was trying to be ‘funny’ in the first paragraph. Smartphones and a whole load of other technology is made with rare earth, the mining of which is almost entirely done in developing countries with varying degrees of concern and laws over the labour force used – including child exploitation. Apple is trying to stop but to be frank, we have to be aware that our phones directly contribute to human suffering. This isn’t a jab just at Apple but all tech firms and us all in general, as with so many things we’re either naive of or don’t really care about the consequences of our actions and buying/consuming habits. Sorry but it’s true.

Which, brings me neatly onto my last (fairly long) point. Why are we not on Mars and why are we still doing terrible things to one another? Standby, here comes my theory. The reason, or one of the reasons, that we are not living on Mars or at least in world peace is because some of our finest minds are working on better selfie cameras and talking emojis rather than the phase 3 rocket booster that will get us to the red planet without dying.

OK, I’m being dramatic but what if we, as a planet, had something to get behind other than cat videos, facial recognition, and the Kardashians’ Instagram feed? I know I know, I’m being a romantic, so shoot me (that would be ironic) but consumerism just burns itself up, and wars are a self-licking lollipop. Yes, a lot of innovation has come from the battlefield – radar, microwaves, duct tape, nuclear power, the internet, loads of medical advances – but all in the pursuit of blowing each other up. If however, we discovered that there was a huge meteor on its way in 20 years and we couldn’t blow it up a la Armageddon with some help from Bruce Willis and really did have to get into space, sharpish, just think what we could achieve.

Parting note. Buzz Aldrin struggled a lot after getting back from the Moon saying something along the lines of “Once you stand on the moon and put your hand out and cover Earth, life isn’t the same again.” I believe he and other astronauts have said that world leaders should be taken into space in order to appreciate how small and delicate a place it really is, in order to get along better. Sadly that field trip hasn’t happened, I’ll keep you posted.

Right, romantic hypothesising over. Normal service will resume tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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