a colony in mars.
If they’re talking about it already, it will happen. When the technology is available, someone is already doing it somewhere.
A forward-looking man that he was, the idea of technology always enchanted Papa. He was the one who bought the first musical instrument to his family, when he was younger. It was an accordion. The same way, he was into pro-sumer video when it first came out, and owned a complete set of Betamax shooting gear with all the lighting and tripod it required. When the consumer changed to VHS, he swapped his set into VHS.
Before video, he was into black and white photography. He developed and printed his shots himself. This was how he did nude photos of the family. There was no way he could’ve given that negative to a complete stranger to develop and print; “a complete stranger” simply didn’t exist in the small town where we lived. Closer to the end of his life he became very interested in tattoo technology and repeatedly asked me if I ever thought to get a tattoo. I discovered too late that he might have wanted it for himself – I would’ve encouraged him strongly. But it was only after he died that I found out he always asked my brother Zeno if (tending toward why) he didn’t want to be a tattoo artist.
Unlike anyone else’s dad with tattoos who might turn out to be a rogue dad, Papa wasn’t a rogue dad at all. He was a very responsible, typical first-child and even sometimes uptight – although he used to say he wasn’t angry, he just naturally had a loud voice – pharmacist. I benefited from that when I had my very lows as a child, and the insomniac in me yelled out.
He was one of the first 400,000-odd users of the ZX-81, and therefore so were we, his children. Looking back, it was quite amazing that he bought that computer through mail order. He had such an access; was it perhaps from a foreign magazine that he subscribed to? I will never know. Back then we didn’t even own a fax machine yet, although around the same time I remember I was an avid user of ham radio, connecting with adults around the area without adult supervision. I can only imagine what Papa had to do to send the money – perhaps he saved especially for it for quite some time. To be fair, though, the IDR-USD exchange rate was bearable back then, before Soeharto left the mess of 1998.
But to think that he always said he was happiest when growing up amongst the exoticised bare-breasted men and women in a village in Bali in the ’40s, a little boy chewing opium to soothe his toothache, sleeping on gunny sacks on the earthen floor of his family school dorm that doubles as a coconut plantation, shitting into rows of long holes in the ground in the morning with all his fellow cousins to fertilise the soil, bathing with everyone else in the river giving way to the snakes at noon! – what a life his must’ve been.
There was a software called Eliza running in our ZX-81. Eliza basically asks you questions, and you answer. The idea is that over time, Eliza will know you quite well and be able to comment relevantly, even suggest something. Although that never happened, as a little girl I was fascinated by the concept of it. So Papa told me a bit more about what he knew about Eliza. He said, this kind of program would be really good for troubleshooting. I imagined a broken spaceship, of course, running Eliza, and Eliza kept asking questions of what might go wrong, and how dis and dat is supposed to work, et cetera, et cetera. And maybe one day Eliza will come up with a solution.
Papa also told me that they say, one day there will be a supercomputer, big as hell, and you can ask it any questions you want, and it will have the answer. I guess he was telling me about the Multivac – I haven’t yet read Asimov at the time. I think he might have told me this when I was about 10. So you can imagine what I felt when 1995 came, 13 years later, and I used the Yahoo! search engine for the first time. Google didn’t even exist back then, and now, 20 years after I first used Yahoo! search engine, “googling” is what I do at least every 5 minutes.
In 1995, when I was still dreaming about buying my first Hi8 camera, I also remember there was talk about a new, amazingly compact technology called the miniDV. It would’ve made digital video editing seamless – something unheard of when Papa was young. Then miniDV came and went, and here I am dealing with SD and miniSD cards, and needing more and more storage space.
This is why I have faith that somewhere out there someone is actually cloning humans, and that in 20 years there will be a Mars colony. If they are talking about it, it will happen, and it might be happening already even if just a trace of the technology is currently available. Such is the power of language. And the same way he asked me about the tattoo, if he was still alive now Papa might be asking me if (tending toward why) Zeno didn’t wanna go to Mars. And I would strongly encouraged Papa to sign up – but only because it’s quite obvious that age-wise there was no way he could compete with me. Go Mars One, may be the force with you.