Why this idea, that any state is not a good state unless there is growth, expansion, re-design...change?
It is deeply embedded in the human psyche to see any situation as mere momentary balance, just waiting for the inevitable change to happen.
The one constant is always.... change.
However, for the larger scale of human lifetimes, change for change sake is not a worthy mantra. Sometimes stasis, the actual opposite of change, may be the harder achievement, the trickier challenge and yet the nobler cause.
The lengthy quest as we meander through the years is in my view really all about quality of life more than just riches, honors or power.
And there I question the role of society-at-large for me in my own private day-to-day cycles: I am not about to wait for any 'new world', no matter how 'brave', to guide my path towards a fulfilled life.
That differs from some of the learned brains in this distinguished forum:
Straightforward answers are found in these pages: Climate catastrophy, extra terrestrial life and asteroid collisions are interspersed with solutions 'from the lab': meddling with genes, conjuring up super intelligence and nano-technology, waiting for the singularity of hard A.I., fearing insurgent robots or clamoring for infinite human life span.
Big themes, well said, but somehow...I end up shrugging my shoulders.
Is it that the real future has always turned out unimaginably different than any of the predictions ever offered ?!? That all the descriptions going past a decade or so have always missed the core nature of the changes by a mile?
That all the descriptions going past a decade or so have always missed the core nature of the changes by a mile?
My thesis summary: No need to go the far future to talk about change.
We are smack in the middle of it, and have been, for quite a while.
This decade, aptly called 'The Zero Years', already changed everything. The towering collapse of once hallowed personal freedom like mail, phone or banking secrecy was the mere start.
Where global priorities like Aids research or space travel were allocated budgets in the low billions, we now poker casually with ten trillion to prop up one industry after the next. The very foundations are quivering.
It's not about politics - simply: no one foresaw the magnitude of change ten years ago that we are finding ourselves in the middle of right now.
No need for an Apophis meteor to blast the planet.
But the theme "Change has already happened" can be positive as well.
It is a near impossibility to define quality of life, a deeply personal set of values, judgements and emotions. But in recent years there have been breakthroughs, a new sense of empowerment, a new degree of functionality for our tools: Research is now immensely powerful, fast, cheap and enjoyable, it used to be a slow, painful and expensive chore. To have the entirety of Britannica, Wikipedia, millions of pages of writings of all ages, find answers to almost any question in seconds, view them on a huge sharp window-to-the-world screen: a pure joy to "work".
Images: memories can be frozen in time, at any occasion, in beautiful detail, collected by the hundreds of thousands.
The few cineastic masterpieces mankind produced, among the wretched majority of trashy abyss, one can now own & watch, rerun & freeze-frame.
Music: all I ever cherished at my direct disposal, tens of thousands of pieces. Bach's lifetime oeuvre, 160 CDs worth, in my pocket even! Consider that just a few generations ago?
A perfect cup of tea, the right bread with great jam,
the Berlin Philharmonic plays NOW, just for ME, exactly THAT
....and will even pause when I pee!
What more does anyone need ??
Billions of our predecessors would have spontaneously combusted with "instant happiness overdose syndrome" given all these wonderful means,
and I am not even mentioning heated rooms, lit at night, clean showers, safe food, ubiquitous mobility or dentists with anaesthesia.
To change everything should really equate to: let's bring this basic state to the billions of our co-inhabitants on this dystopic dirtball. Now!
An end to the endless, senseless suffering is the most meaningful goal. Yes, indeed, let's change everything.
Will I see that in my lifetime? Well. I'll see the beginning.
And there is an optimistic streak in me, hopeful about the human spirit to face insurmountable challenges.
Photonic solar paint that gathers free energy on any surface; transparent photovoltaic film to make every window in any house or vehicle into a steady energy source; general voltaics with 90% efficiency...
Splitting water into hydrogen with ease ( and then hook that to power a desalination machine which can feed the water.. ; )
Transmit power wirelessly (as MIT finally did, following Teslas cue).
Thin air "residual energy" batteries powering laptops and cellphones nearly infinitely.... all that is very close and will make an enormous difference - not just in Manhattan, London and Tokyo, but also in Ulaanbaatar, Irian Jaya or the Pantanal.
No need to invoke grand sweeping forces, momentous upheaval, those armies of nano-tech, gene-spliced A.I. robots...
Let's embrace the peace and quiet of keeping things just as they are for a while. Bring them to the rest of the planet.
Taking the time to truly enjoy them, milking the moment for all it has, really watching, listening, smelling and tasting it all....
that changed everything.