We live in an interesting, crazy, scary time. In the last century we’ve moved from most people living in rural areas producing food for their own use to nearly everyone living in major cities and depending on others for their own survival. Our mode of transportation has progressed from horses and carriages moving less than a handful of miles per day to motorized, high tech vehicles that can cross half a continent in the same time period. The knowledge we have access to has exponentially increased from the printed media we once relied upon to a nearly infinite amount of digitally available information via the internet. Things are so different from what they were just a short time ago.
It’s easy to look at the future and wonder what will come next. What will be the next great invention that completely changes our lives and revolutionizes how we do some basic task? There is a great deal of hope in that particular thought, and I spend a great deal of time thinking about the various possibilities that might crop up in our near future. Technology almost always makes our lives better and it’s easy to see a future where there is nearly no undue stress because we’ve figured out ways of mitigating it.
On the other hand, it’s hard to look at human nature and have much hope at all. As technology advances and is supposed to be solving our problems for us, we figure out new ways to make our lives more difficult. The problems of the past may have been dealt with through automation or some other form of advancement, but there is no technology that can resolve the issue of one person trying to get what they want at the expense of someone else. As long as there are a finite number of resources available to us, this will continue to be something we deal with.
This is where I start becoming more pessimistic about our future, because as we progress in our technological ability we are also progressing down a road that reduces the importance of individuality in favor of the group. Our nation was founded on the idea that each person has a right to forge their own way and live their own life the way they see fit, but as technology continues to grip us ever tighter we are seeing a push by many to erase individual identity in favor of ideological agendas. It is no longer up to the individual to decide what we want; we’re apparently not intelligent enough to make decisions on our own.
What it really comes down to is that human beings are very arrogant creatures. We have mastered the world as we know it, at least as far as our understanding of mastery allows us to conceive. As the dominant species on the planet, we are convinced of our own superiority in every fashion, and this naturally bleeds over into our dealings with each other. We aren’t content to be the highest animal on the food chain; we have to compete with each other in our selfish need to get our own way.
Many people look to the future and see utopia, but I have difficulty seeing us ever reaching that state of existence. No matter how far our technology advances, as long as one person has something that someone else wants, or one group is acting in a way that another group disagrees with, there will be conflict that results in the subjugation of the weak to the strong. I suppose that’s fine if you’re on the strong side, but it isn’t so great for those who are forced to change everything on a whim.
I haven’t given any specific examples in this article, not because I don’t have any, but because we each have our own idea of how the future could be great, and also not so great. Society seems to be moving in a direction that many find amazing, but I struggle to see the benefits of the path we seem bent on walking down. There doesn’t seem to be any way to avoid it, but perhaps we can hold out hope that other options will present themselves before we’re stuck living in a world we can’t reconcile with.
What do you think about the future? Are we heading toward a great and amazing existence, or are thing taking a turn for the worse? How do we deal with sweeping changes that are in conflict with our values? There are a lot of questions on the other side of the blank wall that is the future, and we can either sit back and wait to see what happens or start doing something about it. The question becomes: what do we do?
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