I age but I don’t feel any older. It’s still the same me looking out at the world. That said, I have been here a few years now. 45 years to be exact. I know how I am supposed to behave. There are particular cues for appropriate behaviour at different ages. Society suggests we all should behave in certain ways as we get older. I hope that the future me is a good person.
Under normal conditions I am probably middle aged. But life isn’t normal nor linear. In fact our technological break throughs are exponential. If I considered a future based on the linear growth of the past I could be half way through my life cycle. If I consider a faster future I could only be a quarter way through. A lot depends on things to come. So much depends on our future and the future is unknown to us in the present.
All things considered, it is clear that we will make breakthroughs in life extension. These break throughs are likely to happen in my life cycle. So chances are, I will be alive for a lot longer than society expects right now. During the next ten years, we will visit the moon and put humans on mars. We will find a solution for climate change because we have too. We have no choice but to act. There are incredible things coming. I have a lot longer to experience this world and I am hopeful for the future. I am confident of our ability to improve our technology. But what about our humanity?
Science fiction often presents two diverging visions of our future – the utopian Star Trek and dystopian Blade Runner….
One future is clearly abundant. Let’s call this the “Star Trek” future. Resources are abundant, people have roles but do not work for money. The class system is gone and so is the profit motive. People generally live in peace.
The other future is darker and society still has issues of scarcity, poverty and climate change. Corporations dominate society and the class system is still very important. There is conflict. I call this the “Blade Runner” future.
Despite all the break throughs and advancements in technology, what I can’t work out is, which future is it? Blade Runner or Star Trek? When do we start wearing pastel colour robes and planting gardens in our cities?
Let’s explore the evidence? For a “Blade Runner” future to eventuate we need to make sure corporations continue to dominate. They need to profit and remain powerful. More importantly any abundant resources created through exponential technology need to remain in the hands of a few. People need to remain poor and believe in scarcity. In a Blade Runner future our climate problems have only got worse. This is a future built on discrimination and greed.
In a “Star Trek” future, resources are abundant and shared. Technological breakthroughs have not been monopolised for profit by a few but shared with society for the benefit of all. In this future everyone has access to the same standard of education. People move to roles that fit with their passion and talents. In this future the climate challenge has been resolved. In the Star Trek future, humanity has take a greater interest in equality.
It will be hard for many of us to let go of the need to strive for more. More money, more houses, more profit. When everything is abundant, money will deflate, food, housing and education will be plentiful. As we transition from scarcity to abundance we must strive for a more moral world.
Every day our timeline twists and turns towards one of these futures. The future we choose will not be defined by a single moment or decision but rather millions of small but compounding democratised decisions. We must believe in ourselves and our ability to be better. As we advance our technology, we must educate ourselves and build a better humanity. Our future hangs in the balance. Our future is in your hands.