A Recovering Apocoholic By Rod Matthews While I have said on a number of previous occasions that it is a fool’s errand to try and predict the future … we seem hell bent on trying to do so. Some people seem to be rather good at it and have turned it into a bit of an art form. Check out these resources:
Global Trends 2025 http://www.aicpa.org/research/cpahorizons2025/globalforces/Pages/Global_Forces.as px Global Millennium Goals to 2050 http://www.millennium-project.org/millennium/normscen.html The Great Transition http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/1140 And the astonishingly ambitious Millennium 3000 Scenario http://www.millennium-project.org/millennium/m3000-scenarios.html
Excited and concerned According to Tali Sharot1 when I look into the future I’m more likely to be optimistic about my personal future and pessimistic about the future for people in general. As I was reading the resources it was hard to not fall into this preference. I also found, as I was examining the resources, that I had the very human response of being both excited by what we stand to gain and concerned for what we stand to lose. So using this excitement and concern as a framework: I’m excited by:
When you view the statistics of life expectancy from a distance2 there is an overall trend towards longer life. Baring specific circumstances for specific geographic areas, it is only reasonable to suggest that this will continue.
Sharot, Tali, http://www.ted.com/talks/tali_sharot_the_optimism_bias.html Filmed Feb 2012, Posted May 2012 , TED2012 2
Life expectancy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy This page was last modified on 15 October 2012 at 11:22
The increase in life expectancy and reduction of disease and sickness, could actually lead to a drop in the population as people feel less need to have more pregnancies to maintain a certain sized family.
Science and technology will result in the large scale availability of low cost energy sources that are renewable and non-polluting. As well as resulting in a cleaner environment it will also reduce the need for wars over resources.
The focus of education will move from literacy and numeracy to higher level learning. This will reduce ignorance, bigotry, suppression and inequality.
Molecular manufacturing requires fewer resources so we will experience a massive increase in efficiency of use of resources and a massive reduction in waste associated with both production and product obsolescence.
As molecular manufacturing, genetic engineering, biology and technology converge, perhaps we create life and become gods!
There will be a reduction of crime and increase of virtue as we develop new policing technologies.
Increases in technology and lower entry costs for communications and travel will result in a move toward cooperation and reduced racism as we become aware that our prosperity is linked to their prosperity.
Another exciting prospect is the likely shift from the self-expressive values of the late 20th century to more sacrificial and global values.
I’m concerned about:
The loss of jobs, skills and opportunities for certain sections of society whose jobs become replaced by technology. For example: 3D printers could mean a dramatic reduction in manufacturing jobs; the publishing industries, like news, books and music, are still grappling with what their new business model will be; recruiters can be replaced by websites like linked-in and perhaps even presenters and educators can be replaced by new technologies. The question here becomes what will people do for a living, and more, what will this new underclass do if they cannot do constructive work?
Over the years the town square has evolved. It provides a place to meet with others, trade, converse, etc. What will become of the ‘Town Square’ or ‘Market Place’ as the way we shop and meet, challenges the modern day town square?
Molecular manufacturing means that some computers, equipment and machines are so small we don’t know what they are doing. We will lose a degree of control and privacy.
This loss of privacy and autonomy could be increased due to an increase in policing technology.
An increase in racism could become the case as space becomes even more of a premium as the population grows.
Even though I believe we will make a transition from self-expressive values to sacrificial values as outlined in the work of Dr Clare W. Greaves,3 what concerns me is the sort of events that the world will have to endure to make that shift.
Both Excited and Concerned by:
The debate around the laws and public policy of advances in new technology always plays catch up to the technology itself. This is a double edged sword. Firstly, it slows the availability of the new technology and yet the discussions are critical to ensure we are able to govern the way technologies are used. Stem cell research could result in the eradication of some terrible diseases and slowing the research seems inhumane; and yet allowing research without a governing framework could lead to more pain, discomfort and inhumane suffering. Either way the discussions always make for interesting and thought provoking debates. Another less extreme example of this is the current debate around the private use of drone aircraft.4
The impending and probably inevitable move towards a cashless society is another double edged sword. It will dramatically reduce the ability of criminals to carry out financial crimes and will increase the ease of shopping and banking. The drawbacks will be around privacy and personal security. On top of that there is a double edged sword for those who have a certain interpretation of the chapter of Revelations in the Bible.5
Graves, Dr. Clare W., From The Futurist, 1974, pp. 72-87. Edited with embedded comments by Edward Cornish, World Future Society. http://www.clarewgraves.com/articles_content/1974_Futurist/1974_Futurist.html 4
Foreign Correspondent, 2012, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-03/foreigncorrespondent-rise-of-the-machines/4236436 Posted Mon Sep 3, 2012 9:23am AEST 5
The Bible, Revelations Chapter 13 Verse 17.
That globalism could become as deep rooted as nationalism once was. There is the distinct possibility that as we increase our global consciousness this will increase the need for a world government / United Nations government. This is both exciting and frightening. Exciting to think of its implications in terms of a reduction in armed conflict and concerning as to what it will mean for bureaucracy and red tape.
So in summary, the resources have increased both my concern and enthusiasm for the future of human kind. In the words of Matt Ridley, author of ‘The Rational Optimist’6 I am a recovering apocaholic. I believe that the human race will continue its challenge between our ingenuity to destroy ourselves and our genius at solving problems. Our greatest assets are our ability to solve the problems we face by: Working with others Swapping ideas Specialisation and Divvying up the workload. Increasing the interconnectedness of a growing population that is becoming more and more educated will exponentially grow the mass and velocity of ideas and solutions. I believe that it is this velocity and mass of ideas that will allow us to solve many of the problems we face and continue our journey. … And that could just be the optimism bias in action …
Ridley, Matt, 2010, “The Rational Optimist – How Prosperity Evolves,” Harper, United States. 6