In the decade since VICE UK started, the world around us has been constantly mutating with the kind of manic, unpredictable intensity of Nicolas Cage in pretty much any single one of his movies. For example, if you'd have told me ten years ago that America would welcome a black guy into the White House, that we'd be able to have conversations with our mobile phones, or that the career of Katie Melua would enjoy the stratospheric rise and crushing fall that it did, my brain would have imploded in on itself in a thick smog of astonishment and confusion.
That got me thinking about what the world might look like in 2022, after another decade of advancements in science, technology and everything else that impacts how we live. Will the 2009 mephedrone craze be fondly remembered as our summer of love? Will Stevenage be the new Dalston? Questions as vital and profound as those could only possibly be answered by people with the insight that positions of power and importance afford, so I called up Unesco's assistant director-general, Hans d’Orville, in an attempt to understand what the world is going to look like in 2022.
VICE: Hi Hans, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. So now that a few states in America have legalised medical marijuana, will everybody in 2022 be chilled about it?
Hans d'Orville: I don’t know. When I was at university in the late 60s it was a very real issue, but in 40 years not much has happened, with the exception of a couple of votes here and there in the US. I don't know what will happen and it's not really something we're dealing with at Unesco. My own opinion is my own opinion on that.
Do you think we'll make contact with aliens by 2022?
I don’t think so. I think the excitement about UFOs has died away a bit and seeing as we haven't seen anything in the last 60 years, I don't think we'll see anything in the next ten years. Also, I think the chances of seeing what’s happening on other planets is going to be smaller after scaling down the number of space programs because of governments' financial difficulties. There’s no reason to think space travel will be a growth industry in the future.
What about world peace? Will anyone still care about it in 2022?
Absolutely. I think world peace will be one that stays with us, but you have to look at what constitutes peace. People are becoming ever more sensitive as to what constitutes peace – it’s not only peace between countries, it’s how you deal with peace in your community, with your neighbours and with multiculturalism. If you’re able to respect other people, your life will be much more peaceful. Many more people see the multiplicity of the peace dimension and are very happy to engage in that, so I’m absolutely upbeat on peace.
Good. Do you think, in 2022, government policy will be decided via a telephone voting system like on The X Factor?
A public call-in vote? I don’t think so.
Alright. Scientists have predicted that we'll be running dangerously low on internet by 2022, who will America invade for more cyberspace?
I don't know. I can't assess what's happening and even if the internet as we know it will still be there in ten years. I read somewhere that we'll get an internet two and an internet three, which will work entirely differently. I think we'll see developments in technology that we couldn’t even dream of.
But you can’t see global conflicts breaking out over it?
Well, today you have cyber-bullying, which is a conflict on the basis of individuals. You could theoretically have cyber-bullying between states, but you’re still dealing with quite an elitist group of people. Are they representative of the entire country? That's the question.
Will everyone look like this in 2022?
There’s a lot of furore around the media and fashion industry objectifying women, will thongs be banned by 2022?
I don't know – it all depends. If it's in a country who have a big economic stake in the fashion industry, I think it would be difficult to get them banned. And if you have certain countries refusing a ban, your chances of a global ban will also be reduced. So I'm not sure on that one. There was a big controversy 15 years ago about the fashion industry making models look like they had a drug problem and there was a call to the industry to self-control, so we might see more ethical behaviour. I'm not sure how that one will play out.
There’s also a lot of debate about the rise of China and its effect on geopolitics, is it true that everybody will be Asian by 2022?
How could that be? You'll have India becoming almost the largest country in the world, so if you put India and China together you could say that there will potentially be half of the world's population in Asia, but you'll still have billions in the US, Latin America and Africa. But you will have a preponderance of Asians, that's true.
Obama’s recent presidential campaign relied heavily on popular culture, could you see TV shows becoming any more culturally significant?
That I don’t know. I must confess I have never watched a cooking show on television, I haven’t found time to do that. But if the cooking show is as important as the impact of McDonald's advertisements, then yes, I think you could induce people to eat less fat stuff and eat less hazardous stuff and eat more healthy stuff. Maybe you need movie stars or music stars to do it if you really want to stand a chance at changing attitudes, and it's not only in the US, it also needs to happen in other countries, including China.
What do you make of the whole debate about Christina Aguilera's weight and the public statements she's made about being proud of her curves? Will that carry the same significance in 2022 as it does now?
I really don’t know what weight that is. I don’t know the details about it because I’m not watching it, but maybe if you have a prominent person involved in such a debate it could still be relevant. It all depends on who’s following it – is it just the fans? Or will it have a big impact on public debate? I just don’t know.
Do you think that cyber punk will be the subculture choice for the world’s youth in 2022?
Cyber punk? I don’t know.
Have Unesco had any involvement with cyber punk?
Not that I know of. You should see what Unesco is. Unesco is an intergovernmental organisation primarily dealing with governments, then we’re dealing with NGOs and the private sector and so on. We’re not engaging with something like cyber punk. Cyber punk would be something new and completely unlikely for a government organisation to look into.
Fair enough. To finish up, will anyone still be wearing skinny jeans in 2022?
Wear whatever you want. Wearing skinny jeans is part of your culture, part of your identity. I don’t know why you should or why you shouldn’t, it’s an individual choice for the individual.
But will skinny jeans stand the test of time? Will they still be relevant in 2022?
I don’t know. Maybe people will be wearing baggier jeans than ever before. Then maybe they'll go back to skinny jeans. I think fashion trends have a habit of coming and going.
You're right on that one. Thanks for talking to me Hans, it's much appreciated.
Not at all. Whatever you do, do it well. I don’t know how you'll use this, but I’m sure you’ll do it right.
Thanks, Hans, you're very kind.
Follow Aleks on Twitter: @Slandr
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