Director and screenwriter Paul Schrader, who has worked on such classic movies as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and American Gigolo, recently had a dire prediction concerning humanity’s future. He told The Hollywood Reporter:
I don’t think we as a species will outlive this century. The world is going to be fine. We’re not.
Schrader was at the Venice Film Festival promoting his new movie First Reformed. In the film, Ethan Hawke plays a priest who has a crisis of faith after encountering a depressed father-to-be; the man in question wants his wife to have an abortion based on the fact that humanity has no future.
And this seems to pretty much sum up Schrader’s point-of-view as well:
We’ll be evolved…There will be a post-human species, which we’ve already seen in bits and pieces already. Carbon-based intelligence is now giving way to silicon-based intelligence, and eventually carbon-based intelligence will be seen as a period of history on the earth.
Of course, this is a real shit-sandwich for the carbon-based intelligence…but the silicon-based intelligence is like:
One could ask what business some non-sciencey Hollywood guy like Schrader has making such pronouncements on the future of humankind…but he did write Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, so presumably he does have some insight (however dark) on the (post?)human condition.
Personally…I feel like there are probably many factors at play that will eventually lead to humanity as we know it fading out as the century progresses. And I think some of that will be due to the AI & increasing cyborg “enhancement” of humans…some of that will be due to the unforeseen effects of CRISPR-type genetic tampering on a large scale…and I think the humans themselves (rather, an increasing portion of them) will be evolving themselves into something that will appear to be more and more “post-human” in general nature.
This type of speculation, certainly, is somewhat on the depressing side. Many of us (not me) really want to carry that “continuity” we’ve observed from the generation of our parents and the parents-of-our-parents. You know: who is going to inherit the family silverware? Will Junior take the name of his grand-uncle? And so on. All with this backdrop of the American Dream, this place with Property, Status, Cars, and Stability.
But as Schrader points out, that’s been kind of fucked by his own generation:
For me, it’s kind of easy, because I’m a product of the most frivolous generation on the history of the planet, this baby boomer generation. We have lived in the cone of affluence and ease, of leisure time. And no one in the history of the planet has had it easier than we have, and we responded by fucking it up.
The other side of the coin here (and maybe it’s just the same damn side, but you know what I mean) is…what if there are rich and powerful and influential people from the Boomers and Gen X who actively embrace this post-human future and secretly fetishize a “controlled” post-apocalypse where there are more technological/scientific resources for them to “stay young” and “live forever”…and a lower population to boot?
Which is to say: is there a “premature” encouraging of “giving up,” especially in regards to Millennials and so forth…the “humans are a cancer on the Earth” gambit…because the Boomer mentality (which has spilled over to Gen X) doesn’t want to let go & feels the only way to hold on to what they have is to reduce the future “playing field” of humanity? That there is almost this “refusal” to cede to the next generations?
Just a thought.