b) In pairs, change the words of the poem so that it reflects your 'bare necessities'. Then read your poem to the class.
2 Work in small groups.
a) Look at the photos and say whether these inventions have had a
good or bad effect on people's lifestyle. Think of arguments that
give different points of view about each invention.
b) Discuss the following:
•Have our lives always been improved? Have we become too passive?
•Are we too dependent on technology? How dangerous could it be?
(';)a) Listen, then read the interview with a theoretical physicist for his views on the future and pay attention to the words in bold. Consult a dictionary.
Interviewer: Life is change, and the only thing that's certain about the future is that it is uncertain. So what does the future hold for us? A step forward in humanity's striving for perfection? A general nervous breakdown
as the environment changes faster than we can adapt to it? We asked
Clark Frinton, a theoretical physicist, for his views . Clark, are you optimistic about the future?
Frinton: Generally speaking, yes. But we have serious problems to solve, and I don't think we will have solved them all by the middle of the century. Our prime goal must be to ensure our survival , and I think, there are two main problems we need to solve in this respect: ensuring enough energy and food while preserving our environment. To take energy first, at the moment we are largely using fossil fuels that pollute our environment
and contribute to the global warming that could lead to rising sea levels
and to the depletion of the ozone layer that lets in solar radiation that could endanger mankind's existence. The present alternative is nuclear
fuel, which, while not directly polluting the environment, contains untold dangersfromradiation-remembertheChernobylandFukushima nuclear power plants catastrophes . Therefore, we need an alternative source of energy. I think the future lies in fusion1 power.
Interviewer: But as I understand it, it takes more energy to initiate a fusion
reaction than the process actually produces.
Frinton: Yes, that's true at the moment, but we're making progress. If we can solve that problem, then we'll have unlimited cheap power, and we should reduce the greenhouse gasesand global warming. We may even be able to heat our houses and power our cars in this environmentally-friendly way.
Interviewer: Clark, you mentioned energy and food. What about food?
Frinton: Well, considering the expected increase in population, I think, our only answer is the greater use of genetically modified food. To feed the extra billions, we have to develop new methods of growing crops and increasing yields.Farmers will be using synthetic soils, and new forms of micro-organisms, plants and animals will become commonplace.Soon we'll be seeing fields of identical sheep, genetically engineered for their meat or their wool, if there is space available.
Interviewer: But if we interferewith the genetic structure of the food we eat, might we not also interfere with out own genetic structure?
Frinton: That's theoretically true, and GM food must be thoroughly tested.
But my belief is that we will be able to produce safe GM foo . and that most people on this planet will be eating it as part of their normal diet.
Interviewer: So we'll be eating perfectly straight bananas to save packing space.
Frinton: And buying milk that will
never go bad and which contains proteins against illnesses as well.
Interviewer: What about society? Do you see major changes there?
Frinton: Well, I see major changes resulting from advances in robotics and the Internet. To take robotics first, robots and other automated machinery will be commonplace in the factory, agriculture, building
and construction, undersea activities, space, mining and elsewhere. This will cause us to completely redefine1 the concept of 'working class'. In addition, soon more shopping will be done over the Internet than in shops. There will be a huge increase in 'labour saving' devices and a consequent reductionin the need for labour. This could also mean a
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• to become commonplace
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considerable increase in our free time, allowing us more time to be with our friends and families and to pursue2 our own interests.
Interviewer: Might not this lead to massive unemployment? How will people earn their livelihood?
Frinton: That's a good question. There will certainly be a change in workplace. Many people will be working from home through the Internet, and there won't be the need for offices to be situated in city centres or a need for schools, for that matter, since education could be performed via the Internet. I suspect that the majority of jobs will be short-time contract work with a resulting lack of job security.
Interviewer: And there could be an increase in the gap between the haves
and the have-nots in society, which could cause social unrest.
Frinton: True, but there should be an increase in democracy through the developments in communications. Voting via the Internet could become routine, so the ordinary person will have more of a say in political life.
Interviewer: But what about the 'info-poor', that is, the segment of the world's population without access to information?
Frinton: Well, new technology is always expensive at first, but then prices fall. Only the very wealthy could afford radios, telephones and TVs when they were first introduced. Now everyone has them.
Interviewer: But don't you think that those in power will use developments in technology to suppress their populations?
Frinton: On the contrary. I believe that governments will have less control over the thinking of their populations. Again, largely through developments in communications and especially the Internet. In fact, I can see the day when, as the world's population logs on, users will create 'cybernations' of highly-informed people sharing mutual ideals, and national boundaries will become irrelevant'.
Interviewer: One final question. Will we be able to cope withall these
changes? In Darwinian terms, can we evolve fast enough to keep pace withthe rate of progress?
Frinton: Well, I believe that it's
precisely the ability to adapt that has allowed humanity to evolve to where it is today. And, despitethe changes, we'll still be going to the toilet in the morning, falling in love,
having our hearts broken, dealing with our ambitions and frustrations 2 ,