Nr. e21 - POOR YORICK 2022, MAT

We may look at various artefacts in the Museum from a not-so-distant future: the year 52022 CE. Poor Yorick, then, lived some time between 1000 CE and 3000 CE; our dating procedures cannot be more precise.

Because of books (carbon-based-documents) that made it to our time, we know that our Yorick was not the fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy described around 1600 CE by a man named Shakespeare. Ours must have lived shortly after that, around 2000 CE, in a period called the Anthropocene. That period came to an end for reasons that are not yet clarified, but the Museum is investigating. For instance: the years 2020 and 2021 were times of a pandemic. A virus and its mutants killed millions of people but it was not the end of humanity, as we are still here. 2021 was also the year in which for the first time all countries agreed to phase down the use of coal to keep climate change under control. But in 2021 the burning of coal (and oil and natural gas!) increased again, after a small drop in 2020 because of the pandemic. Information and communication technologies soared in those years: a company named Apple (yes: apple …) became the most profitable company in 2021. (Its profit was similar to the gross domestic product of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country with 84 million people in those days). Yorick’s skull shows how humans, or at least some courageous types among them, started to mix with technology. He himself used disks for enhancing his memory: they slid somewhat awkwardly into his skull and were to be switched on with a button. Poor Yorick: further research shows that memory disks were rapidly superseded by miniature Si-chips, and people after him could make less invasive interventions to enhance their capacities.

We know from books that during the Anthropocene most of the information and knowledge became stored in such chips (silicon-based-documents). So far, and despite great efforts, we have not been able to extract any information from those Si-chips. This is why we are unable to clarify how the Anthropocene ended: a pandemic? climate change? nuclear war? At the Museum we currently work with the hypothesis that we are unable to extract information from Si-chips, because that information is no longer there! It must have been wiped out by some cataclysm of cosmic proportions. That was the beginning of the end of that civilisation of our ancestors, who had become way too dependent on the information in those chips.