Tamil New Year is Here; Come Predict The Future With Us

14 April is Tamil New Year. It’s time to read the almanac and predict the world’s future, as per tradition. 

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Tamil New Year Makes much more astrological and astronomical sense than the Julian New Year. (Photo: iStockphoto)

Most states in India celebrate the new year around the same time. To me, the Tamil calendar makes more sense than the Julian calendar.

It also holds personal significance.

The day, 14 April this year, marks new beginnings and makes me wonder about the future and my place in it.

The Day is here, so here’s the ‘traditional’ New Year almanac.

As part of tradition, the almanac is read and events of the coming year are predicted. (Photo: iStockphoto)
As part of tradition, the almanac is read and events of the coming year are predicted. (Photo: iStockphoto)

To Predict is to Imagine. And That’s a Good Thing

Predicting the future isn’t necessarily the domain of experts. In fact, some of the most startling predictions have typically come from science fiction and fantasy writers and even ordinary people. Each of them, having given a lot of thought to their present, flew with it to a distant future. Predictions are not the stuff of guesswork. It’s creativity at its intuitive best.

Snapshot
  • Isaac Asimov (sci-fi writer): Predicted the use of Big Data to predict future trends (Came true 70 years later)
  • Jules Verne (sci-fi writer): Man on moon (Came true 104 years later)
  • Roger Ebert (Film Critic): HD TVs, on-demand content (Came true 30 years later)

End Disclaimer! Now, I believe we’re moving towards what I’d like to call the AUM age.

Tamil New Year is  Here; Come Predict  The  Future With Us

Brett King, in his book of the same name speaks of the near future, where our experience with technology and services will be seamless. We will be logged in and online wherever we go and whatever we do. Services will be tailor-made for an individual (as opposed to a random customer), as will the product.

The line between virtual and real will blur, as tech <b>on </b>your body (wearable) will give way to tech <b>in </b>your body (embedded, nanotech) (Photo: iStockphoto)
The line between virtual and real will blur, as tech on your body (wearable) will give way to tech in your body (embedded, nanotech) (Photo: iStockphoto)
Tamil New Year is  Here; Come Predict  The  Future With Us

I don’t mean “World Peace” or ‘one big happy’. Here are two scenarios:

1. Universal Identity – The question ‘where are you from’ will no longer have a single word answer. Eventually, all races will mingle into a single ethnic group. No more racism or caste-ism! I’m sure we’ll find some other ‘ism’ to fight over soon enough, though.

2. Unified Field Theory – Over the last twenty years scientists across the world from diverse fields (quantum physics, psychiatry, philosophy and biology) recognise consciousness as a thing. This could pave the way to the theory of everything. The dominant theory of consciousness is that it is one of the fundamental building blocks of the universe. Like space, time, matter and electricity (which joined the trio much later) every atom in the universe is replete with consciousness.

As race and ethnicity merge and mingle, the idea that everything is connected finds a scientific voice. (Photo: iStockphoto)
As race and ethnicity merge and mingle, the idea that everything is connected finds a scientific voice. (Photo: iStockphoto)
Tamil New Year is  Here; Come Predict  The  Future With Us

As in empathetic. In an augmented world, if a company is to survive, it needs to understand exactly what the customer needs. Alternately, I as an individual, live in a world where everything – from technology to language to jobs – become obsolete in a matter of months. The smartphones we use are three times more powerful than the ones used to put a man on the moon. LOL is already going out of fashion. And loan officers, financial advisers and call-centre execs will soon be replaced by algorithms less prone to mistakes and powered by Big Data.

Survival in such a world requires a different culture of learning and adaptation: Design thinking. While its definitions vary, the common factors are empathy, starting with a goal, approaching it through divergent ways and arriving at a solution through prototyping or multiple iterations.

Design Thinking is being touted as the next big step in corporate culture. But, even the most serious proponents are still only figuring it out. (Photo: iStockphoto)
Design Thinking is being touted as the next big step in corporate culture. But, even the most serious proponents are still only figuring it out. (Photo: iStockphoto)
The Good News
Unlike ‘thinking out of the box’ or ‘lateral thinking’, empathetic design thinking can be systematically taught in both K-12 and higher education.

Then again, adapting to change doesn’t necessarily mean slapping on every possible device and suffering from withdrawal symptoms if you can’t use those devices for five minutes. It’s the ability to move beyond the temptation of seeing every new tech trend as a step closer to a dystopia, where we’re all robot batteries.

The future is not what it used to be.
Yogi Berra

For now, I’m happy to be riding the wave, though holding on pretty tight!

(Vikram Venkateswaran is a freelance writer, TV producer and media consultant. Headings, titles and captions are his kryptonite. He just moved to Chennai and hopes the city likes him and is nice to him.)

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