Michael Rogers

I’m spending my summer writing in the farm country of Sicily, a place that usually seems very far from the future. It’s the land where ancient Greek myths lurk in the landscape and the local language, still widely spoken in lieu of Italian, is the oldest in Europe.

The other day I was talking to a young friend, Fabio. Fabio deftly uses all the latest tools of technology to promote his agriturismo business, but keeps them in a clear perspective. “The future,” he told me over a lunch of pasta con limone, “is sometimes the past.”

Fabio offered an example: when he inherited his grandfather’s citrus orchards they had fallen into disuse. Cheaper fruit from Spain and Morocco and Egypt had flooded the European market. But then organic food became popular and Sicily proved to be the gold standard for organic; most farmers there had never used chemicals in the first place. Now Fabio’s lemons are profitable again.

In a similar way I suspect that as artificial intelligence and robotics remove the human element from more and more of what we do, we will find skills from the past become more relevant again. The resurgence of handcrafted goods and food is one example; the art of conversation is another.

When we use new technology to reshape how we work or live, we shouldn’t forget the value of what has come before. As Fabio learned: sometimes the future turns out to need the past.

By Michael Rogers

If you’re interested in reading more by Futurist, Michael Rogers, here are more intriguing stories.

Email From the Future is a short story about the first-ever time travel visit to the contemporary world. Only it’s not really a visitit’s communication, because what we’ve discovered, later this century, is that we can time-shift information, but not physical matter. This 5,000 word short story is available as a PDF—Email From the Future—or else as a Kindle short at Amazon.

 

 

Many readers of Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks have written to Michael Rogers to ask about the original Rolling Stone article referenced in the book. As Rebecca describes, back in 1976, as a very young science writer, Michael was the first to locate the Lacks family and explain to them Henrietta’s remarkable role in biomedicine. This is the story of how that happened.

This booklet describes his efforts to find Henrietta Lacks—within the particular opportunities and challenges of journalism in the Seventies—and also includes the text of the original 1976 article. It’s available on Kindle at Amazon.

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