Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Lack of Knowledge

Devdatta entered the new realm and took a whiff of the fresh air.

“All around, the air is swirling transparently. I cannot believe it.” Devdatta said taking in as much air as he could.

“Gemma. Tell me which time-line we have entered?” Devdatta asked his AI.

“It is 2016. We have reached the right spot Devdatta.” Gemma replied. While most people used OPU (Orderly Programmed Unit) AIs as they were more in control and standardised, Devdatta had created Gemma from the scratch.

There were two reasons for this. One, most OPUs were created by some company or the other and therefore lacked customizations. Second, what he had plans to do was illegal at best and catastrophic at worst. The OPUs would be of no use to him as they are all tracked.

Gemma also was more advanced and was probably ahead of the other OPUs by a decade.

‘A man who can make a time machine can surely create a good AI.’ Devdatta thought smugly.

Gemma immediately connected to the internet and tried to download as much information about the present world.

“You were right Devdatta. This is the year where they have finally developed the tools required to protect the Earth. They are also talking about climate vigorously. This year will be the turning point and if you can inform the people about the climate change, the world would change indefinitely.” Gemma replied in the voice of Devdatta’s ex-girlfriend.

He had lost a lot in his quest to save the world. His girlfriend and their daughter were the biggest loss in this. He hadn’t talked to them in two years but he hoped that once he had changed the world for the better, he would be with them again.

‘Surely Aabir would understand. She has to.’

“Okay Gemma. Tell me about the group of scientists that are most well known right now. I believe they must be the highest authority here as they are in our times.”

Most people thought that politicians ruled the world. It was as far from the truth as it could be. Devdatta found out when he was inducted in the Guards of the Earth. A group of seven scientists are chosen to make all the prime decisions. Most people thought the world was a democracy and the political system on the outside shows presidents, prime ministers and countries but go a little deeper and everything is ruled by the scientists.

“I have tracked the seven most influential scientists who can be the potential rulers of the earth.” Gemma said and started listing the names along with their addresses on Devdatta’s watch.

“Its time to amend this generation’s lack of knowledge about pollution.”

— —

Dr. Shako had never been much of a humanitarian. Yet, he was disappointed by the meeting that had just occurred. He had thought that this time, the funding would be approved for his research in renewable energy. He was so close to ensure that the world would be a cleaner place. However, it was decided that there were more important things to worry about.

“Apparently, the world can handle itself while we continue to make profits.” He murmured and started tallying his research notes with those of other scientists in the field. He still had enough funding to last a couple of years but he will have to be frugal from here on. No more field tests. This would slow down his research to a crawl but crawling is still better than no movement.

“Hello Dr. Shako.” A man said to him, making him jump.

“How the hell did you come in?” Dr. Shako asked.

“Oh, I let myself in. I needed to converse with you urgently.” The man said smiling.

Dr. Shako looked at the man up and down and frowned. He was wearing a weird combination of torn jeans and shirt made up of threads. It felt that he was trying to look younger than he was — probably trying to be hip. Dr. Shako decided.

“What do you want?” Dr. Shako huffed.

‘First the funding and now this. I should just blow up the funding and go to the Caribbean.’ Dr. Shako thought and closed his laptop to listen to the man.

— —

Devdatta was amused to look at Dr. Shako. He was an old guy with the vigor of a 20-year-old person. He was definitely a leader even if he was trying to hide the fact.

“I want to warn you.” Devdatta said, adding the dramatic effect.

“Warn me. Why?” Dr. Shako looked thoroughly confused.

“The planet is in jeopardy and no one knows about it, except me.” Devdatta said.

Dr. Shako got intrigued.

“Tell me.”

“I have come from the future and the future is grim. The oceans have covered most of the masses and we only live in either the mountains or in waterproof bunkers. Most of the energy we get from the sun is blocked due to the polluted atmosphere. Almost all the land animals are dead. So are the plants. Our carbon reserves are gone and we have rationed energy. In fact, for all our technological advancement, we only have electricity for 6 hours every day for each person. The total population has also fallen. There are only 1 billion humans left and our population is declining even further. The world has forgotten about happiness, joy or comforts.”

Dr. Shako’s face became white listening to the ordeal. He was still skeptical about the man’s honesty but why would someone play a prank on him. Few knew him and those who did, were not the prankster kind.

“I know you would not believe me. But let me show you.” Devdatta told Dr. Shako enthusiastically and poured a holographic figure on the wall from his watch.

There were graphs, sheets and videos running simultaneously on a 200-inch screen. That equipment confirmed Dr. Shako’s doubts. No current technology is as advanced.

The videos showed the pitiful state the world was in and it wrenched Dr. Shako’s heart.

“How does it happen?” Dr. Shako asked.

“Humans. The pollution keeps on increasing and no environmental steps were taken. If we would have known earlier, this would never happen. Thus, I have come to make sure that the world changes for the better.” Devdatta said passionately.

Dr. Shako looked at Devdatta incredulously. After a few seconds, he started laughing.

“I know it seems unbelievable that pollution can destroy the world, but it can.” Devdatta said realising that the people of this time period would not understand the concept of environmental destruction.

“No… Its… not… cough… cough… that…” Dr. Shako said unable to control his laughter.

Devdatta stood there confused.

“Which time period you are from?” Dr. Shako finally asked.

“Around 300 years from now.” Devdatta replied honestly, still confused.

“Ahh.. I thought you were from 50 years or so ahead telling me about some war that is around the corner.” Dr. Shako said.

“But this is several times more destructive that any war. Surely you must understand this.” Devdatta said a little exasperated. He did not know how to make Dr. Shako understand the severeness of the issue.

“Of course, it is. I know. My whole life has gone in the research of the effects of pollution.” Dr. Shako said.

“What!” Devdatta said.

“Yes. We have known about the pollution problem for over two decades now. In fact, this decade has seen several researches on the matter.” Dr. Shako said.

“But then, you mean to say, the world already knew about the effects of pollution.” Devdatta asked.

“Let me show you.” Dr. Shako said and opened a word file of his research.

“””

My calculations show that if we go at the rate we are currently going, we would destroy the planet in less than 200 years. Even our current efforts would help us stretch the time by only around 100 years or so. Thus, either we change the whole system radically, or we ensure that we learn to live underwater.

“””

“You had already calculated this. Then, why didn’t you work on this. Did the other scientists disagree with you?” Devdatta asked incredulously.

“Almost all scientists agree on this. But the governments won’t agree on this. They have corporate pressure too. Thus, we are stuck with minor changes only.”

“But scientists are the supreme leaders. How can government overrule them?” Devdatta asked.

“Your knowledge of history is a little lacking my friend. At least right now, scientists can barely order around their assistants, let alone the governments.” Dr. Shako said.

“You mean to say that everyone knows and no one is doing anything?” Devdatta finally asked.

Dr. Shako smiled and nodded.

“Why the smile?” Devdatta said ruefully. He had just realised that all his efforts have been vain. His dream of changing the world just shattered. The world didn’t want to be changed.

“At least my calculations are correct.” Dr. Shako said smiling.

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