The Future is Unwritten

I think about the future, a lot. How can I not? Never before was so much as stake. Sure, there were plagues, but plagues are easier to control now than ever. Yeah, there were volcanoes, but they were localized and took out, at most, a city or two. Sure, there were meteors but … wait, no but about that; they wiped out entire populations. Okay, once before was so much at stake, and it wiped out the dominant life on Earth. Small consolation.

Although it’s fun to try, it’s hard to predict the future. I mean, some futures are easy to see. It was easy to see the presidency of Donald Trump was going to be a disaster, and it is. It’s easy to predict the Warriors in 4. It is simple to predict that Ludo will, in some capacity, amuse and infuriate me today. Some futures are, indeed, written.

Much harder to predict is how the world is going to change in the decades to come, with the rush of new technology. It is such a hopeful and frightening time to be alive. We are experiencing rapid change today that was the stuff of science fiction just a few years ago. It seems as though anything is possible.

My vision of the future tends to come with a degree of optimism that many find amusing. Some have called me naive. But I always hope for the best. Why not? With so much unwritten, and every possibility in play, hope rewards us so much greater than despair. There are studies to show us the physical and emotional benefits of hope.

I’m aware of everything that can go wrong. I know of man’s long history of avarice and pride. I know that egalitarianism is a dream, and that most prognostications degrade humanity into dystopia.

Yuval Noah Harari introduced me to a darker future last week. His dystopian vision prepares us for the possibility that inequality will get worse. Much, much worse. And, if the past is any indicator of the present, he is right.

The history of mankind is a history of brutality. The powerful have always exploited the powerless. Used them up. Hate, in history, has proven far more powerful than love. And perhaps the only force that has proven more powerful than hate is greed.

In Harari’s vision, the rich and powerful do not just control all the resources, they horde them entirely. In an age when the common man is not needed to work in plants or fight in wars, the elite have no use for them at all. They simply let the “useless class” die.

But this does not have to be our fate. Although humanity has shown an overwhelming willingness to accept their plight, to muddle along through their days in masses and trust in rotten leaders to guide them, it does not have to be that way. We can change the future.

To avoid the dystopia of Harari’s vision we must evolve. Technology is automating so many of the things we exploited humans for, in the past – for work and for war. We have to stop thinking in terms of exploitation now. We need to make certain that the benefits of advancing technologies reward everyone. Not just the few. Not just the greedy. Everyone.

We are on the verge of the biggest transition in human history. We are on the verge of becoming all but obsolete. Advances in science are threatening to do to humanity what an asteroid did to T-Rex. But humans, I think, are more than tools or warriors; they are not born only to work or fight.

I resist Harari’s vision. I see a future of egalitarianism and enlightenment. A future where we break through the tangled web of (mis)information and peer through the guises of our leaders, finding a future for mankind that is hopeful and, dare I say, utopian. I see democracy, unity, and association. I see reason for optimism.

Anything else would be unthinkable.

12 comments on The Future is Unwritten

  1. As always, Tom…Wow…..I love the truth that comes from your writing and its not just your truth, its the truth for all of us and yes, we all need to come together & make a difference. Thank you for your sights on all of this, Tom….I love & miss you always & hope to see you soon…

    1. Why, thank you, my dear! Let’s start that coming together right now with a pinky swear. Are you with me!

      Have a wonderful day, kiddo. Love you!

  2. I don’t find your vision to be naive at all. If there weren’t a significant number of people who remain hopeful about where we’re headed, no one would be motivated to work towards such a goal. However, in the possible but unlikely scenario where the wealthy and powerful few have no further use for anyone other than themselves, I’m quite certain that those wealthy and powerful few would be in for a very rude awakening. Power is not power if you have no one over whom to wield it. Wealth is not wealth if you have nothing upon which to spend it. And lavishness is not lavishness when you have no one to whom you can compare your lifestyle. To a man, they’d all commit suicide within a few short years of finding themselves the sole stewards of the planet. But again, I don’t think it will come to that. Great post, Tom!

    1. Thanks Paul! If you get a chance read the Harari article linked, it’s a doozy. He addresses your argument (if I recall) in saying that although, historically, those in power needed those without to wield their might, in the future they might not. I don’t think he addressed their sullen possibilities, though … an interesting take!

      But I’m with you. Ain’t gonna happen. The future of mankind is, can be, a bright one. Ignorance may still hold reign, and it achieved a mighty victory in November ’16, but (by and large) we are evolving. Transcending, if I may. The best is yet to come. I believe it.

  3. Paul is correct. For the sake of balance, there has to be those who see both sides of a future. It’s gotten a lot harder to be an optimist these days. I know I am commenting on older posts, so it’s even harder at times since you published these.

    1. So true. Even I find myself, some days, failing to see the longer, greater vision. These are terrible times, and the Doomsday Clock people moved us another 30 seconds closer to midnight, just a few days ago.

      But, this isn’t the end and, until it is, there is still hope.

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