I had the idea this morning to “summarize” my beliefs regarding Futurology—what I’ve been researching and writing about for the last couple of years. This is pretty long and comprehensive, but might provide you with some insights and/or springboards for your own research.
- Our Highly Immanent Future: Major leaps in technology and space exploration will probably be implemented far quicker than the general public expects. The public are largely not being educated about the immanent quality of these changes and as regards to how these changes will impact their day-to-day lives; though a good deal of that information is readily available if they cared to know. HOWEVER, the problem is convincing the public to care about seeking that information out. Rather than the tactic of suppressing information from the public, The Powers That Be (government, corporations, media etc.) merely have to encourage a populace that simply doesn’t care to know. Therefore: the “secret information” is in plain sight, but it is largely rendered “impotent” by a populace who are too distracted, jaded, and tired to want to get involved. (the relatively recent phenomenon of “CIA Secret Files Available To Public” is an example of this) And part of the motivation to “distract” the public is because these Powers That Be don’t really have a workable strategy yet to deal with the changes that are coming.
- Mass Unemployment Due To AI: Because of the implementation of the aforementioned technology, there will be a significant global unemployment problem that will probably reach its “perfect storm” somewhere around 2025. Not enough is being done to stress to the public the seriousness of this situation. Not enough safeguards are being put in place. Numerous important people in the world of technology have warned about this happening, and they are in a position to know.
- The Self-Driving Car “Conspiracy”: Automated vehicles will probably be implemented as an everyday way of life far quicker than the public expects. The eventual transition to driverless vehicles is something both the corporations and government want (at least in terms of the U.S.). While the safety of the self-driving vehicles are touted as the main reason for the transition, this can only really be achieved if all the cars and trucks on the roads use this technology (eliminating “human error”). Thus, there will be a gradual, mandatory “phasing out” of human-driven vehicles, causing a major paradigm-shift that the public is not prepared for.
- Accelerated Space Exploration: The time-table for further space exploration and space colonization will be significantly quickened, in a way that will stun the public.
- The Coming “Space Economy”: The push to mine asteroids and moons for precious minerals will accelerate within the next five years. The wealth that will be generated by these endeavors will be mind-boggling, and essentially turn world economics upside-down. There will also start to be serious conflicts between nations over who “owns” various “space land.”
- Preparing The “Space Pioneers”: The need for willing humans to go out into space—for exploration, mining operations, and even colonization, will be greatly increased. The idea of the “space pioneer” will be increasingly romanticized in the media and entertainment, and will be seen as a viable alternative for the person made “redundant” by the massive unemployment happening at the same time (this is key) due to AI. But the safeness of this travel will be somewhat exaggerated, with the level of risk (in terms of radiation and other effects) both not fully understood and possibly suppressed.
- Our “New” Dinosaurs: Various large herbivores such as elephants, hippos, and rhinos will be “virtually extinct” within the next ten years…lending these animals who are still so familiar to us the weird “aura” of being like dinosaurs and other vanished lifeforms.
- The “Real” Jurassic Park: But at the same time familiar animals are going extinct, extinct animals like the Wooly Mammoth will be “recreated” in labs. These will not be exact replicas, but done by splicing DNA with pre-existing creatures. There are, of course, risks to “reintroducing” such species into the world, including threatening pre-established ecosystems and introducing new viruses and so on.
- Vanishing Livestock: With the rise of artificially grown meat & high-nutrient Soylent-type food products, and increasing discouragement of carnivorous behavior (for health, the environment, and so on), there will be a significant reduction of demand for meat harvested from livestock. But with the decreased market for farm/factory meat also comes a decreased “need” to maintain such livestock. So paradoxically: there will literally be less cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and so on; and this will start pushing animals like cows into the “vanishing large herbivore” category.
- The “End” Of Ownership: In contrast to the culture of previous generations, we will be “owning” less and less physical possessions. And what we do own will increasingly be more disposable OR things we rent (that which has been possessed over and over again). This “end of ownership” will coincide with an end of physical currency and the rise of the implantable chip as a manner to track finances. In a philosophical sense, this will dovetail into the increasing tendency to not “relate” to our own bodies and physicality, living more in the neural/digital space.
- “Second Cities”: As sea levels continue to rise, weather becomes more unstable, and other factors both “natural” (earthquakes, volcanoes) and “unnatural” (fill in the blank here) impact the world, there will be a phenomenon called “second cities” in which land will be designated for a “second version” of a major city in case the first one goes tits-up. For example, you might have a “second San Diego”—a place where, in case of a disaster, businesses, government buildings, and other things relocate. And there wouldn’t have to actually be a disaster for this relocation of the city to take place…it could also be a preemptive move. Some residents might be relocated as well, but that would not be guaranteed.
- The Wombless Womb: The “endgame” for human reproduction is to get the developing fetus out of the human womb completely (this is already being done with sheep) and into an artificial unit; once that is achieved, humans need not be directly involved in the reproduction process outside of the donation of sperm/eggs (with even these being artificially manipulated to reflect the ideal spawn).
- Fleshless Sex: The future of sex is intricately tied with the eventual “end” of reproduction as we know it. Sexual practices will predominate that increasingly remove other humans and/or actual body parts from the equation. This will include highly-realistic sex with robots and direct neural stimulation (most “virtual reality” at that point will be based in direct neural stimulation as opposed to VR headsets and etc.). Along with this will be an increasing “disgust” with flesh in general, as if it is something dirty, fragile, and increasingly obsolete.
- The Rise Of The “Post-Human”: And the “endgame” of this rapid acceleration of technology and invasive genetic alterations will be the rise of a “post-human” race. These “post-humans” will comprise those who have cybernetic enhancements, medical enhancements, DNA enhancements (via CRISPR), and “natural” evolutionary traits that have become more dominant with every generation. There will definitely be an economic component to this, in that in order to be “post-human,” one would have to afford the enhancements; one would have to pay for the cybernetic eye or “designer baby” or stem-cell intervention that could offer “eternal youth.” This then sets up a very visible situation of “haves” (physical enhancements, extra longevity, etc.) and “have nots” (who don’t live as long, who may still have to have babies without the use of surrogates or artificial wombs, etc.). But complicating this is the presence of this “new” (probably not that new, but certainly accelerated) evolutionary strain of humans, ones who are more “intelligent” (and this is a very relative term), “empathic” (again, the exact definition here is up for debate), and just “different” than ordinary humans.
- “Earth Exodus”: Where is ALL of this leading to? The eventual migration off the planet, not in thousands of years or even hundreds of years, but maybe no later than within the next hundred years or so. And this might be “accelerated” by what would be perceived as a direct threat to the Earth that might not destroy it, but certainly make it harder to live on (temporarily or permanently). What we would see in the “Second City” movement would be replicated but in off-world form, with entire countries. But by that point, so much of society will be dominated by “post-humans” and AI—and so much of human consciousness will be operating in a “virtual” realm, interacting directly with a digital/neural interface—that for many, the transition will feel “seamless.” And what we see in the “new” evolutionary strains in humans is actually preparation for space migration (as Timothy Leary pointed out so many years ago).
As an addendum to all this—especially the last three points— I want to point out that it doesn’t “have” to be this way. For example: we, as a species, can consciously decide that the benefits of technology/medicine/DNA enhancement/increased longevity should be extended to all people—not just those who can afford it. We can choose to treasure our humanity for what it is, and keep “enhancements” that drive us further and further into a “post-human” scenario at bay. We may achieve the technology for artificial wombs, but decide that traditional births from human wombs have medical and even spiritual benefits that could never be replaced. We can make it a point to hold on to intimacy between humans rather than falling into a sea of endless direct neural stimulations within ones own brain. And we could choose to synthesize these new technologies with a “grounding” within nature.
Also, there are other spiritual/esoteric/”weird” aspects of the future that I anticipate, but I felt wasn’t appropriate for a discussion strictly about futurism. I only wrote here about the things that made “logical” sense to me based on all the reading I have done on the subject of future science & technology. And there’s a lot I could write in terms of the sociology of the future…though it gets pretty dicey, in my opinion.
Anyway—that’s it. Brave new world!