Vox Populi 3 – The Realistic Future

Posted by on October 13, 2010 in Thoughts | 4 comments

Welcome to the third in the series of “Vox Populi” articles on my blog, where I ask for your feedback and thoughts on a given topic. Hope you enjoy these short topical pieces, and please leave your feedback in the comments.

Topic 3: The Human Future

I tend to see myself as a slightly pessimistic Extropian, but with my pessimism based in realism. However, I still think we need to strive forward, and I do have some moments of optimism too.

Michio Kaku has a lot to say on this subject. In one interview by George Noory, the interviewer says something along the lines of “It always seems like a race between self-destruction on the one hand, and Type 1 Status on the other.” I tend to agree. We are racing toward self-destruction, but at the same time are making advances toward the longevity of humanity and the planet at the same time. Which will win? Well it really depends upon a lot of things.

However along with my pessimistic extropian ideals comes a healthy dose of optimism, but only when I see the “ifs” than need to be satisfied. For instance, nuclear fusion, solar power, geothermal and wind-power, if harnessed in the right combination could result in an inexhaustible source of energy for nearly free, and with this would allow us to leap forward on a technological scale without further damaging the atmosphere with carbon based pollutants.

While we make advances in medicine, we also negate common causes of death, which leads to lower mortality rates from given diseases. Humans can now be fertile well into their forties (but not always successfully). If we cure cancer we could stop a certain form of suffering in humans. But by giving people a longer life of  better “standard”, we also allow for more people to be born, thereby increasing the possibility of population growth.

Religion has played a role in the views of the future also, and there are several things I would point at to illustrate this. One of the problems with religion and belief is that the doctrines of religious belief stand in opposition to the very real need humanity has to face about our future. There are even those who believe that The Rapture is a very real thing, that the faithful will be swept up into heaven, and all the heathens and non-believers will be left behind on Earth to fend for themselves, abandoned by God. What sort of incentive does this give one to strive for betterment of humanity? To give up on striving, and to place your future in a god is like having no want for the future at all, except for the false future of the afterlife. “The Rapture is not an exit strategy.”

Catholicism’s ban on abortion and contraception is counter-intuitive to viewing the needs of the future, as well as allowing for the spread among the world’s poorest people of HIV/AIDS. And it is precisely the places where the poorest are denied birth control, that there is a very real need to curb population growth based on very real resource shortages.

Religion is one of the main reasons I tend to err on the side of realism, for religion is irrational and disruptive, and sometimes dangerous, and is not going anywhere any time soon.

The main problem that I see with optimism is this; if we move blindly forward with an optimism that suggests that everything will be ok, we are denying the reality of the situation, and may ignore many of the realistic problem we face.

What do you think about the future? Are you optimistic? Do you think the extropian idea of the exponential betterment of humanity is possible? Is it even feasible?

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  1. I had to look up Extropian, tho I’m familiar with Transhumanism.


    I really agree with you when you say

    For instance, nuclear fusion, solar power, geothermal and wind-power, if harnessed in the right combination could result in an inexhaustible source of energy for nearly free, and with this would allow us to leap forward on a technological scale without further damaging the atmosphere with carbon based pollutants.”

    To me, it’s a combination of ignorance and self-centred interests (eg big corporations) that keep progress in this area down.

    I find myself with a mix of optimism and pessimism. We have the potential to either grow wonderfully, or kill the entire planet in the next century, and who am I to predict which will happen?

    I’ll comment on religion in a separate post, to keep this short :)

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  2. As for religion’s effect on our future views…hmm.

    I agree, I don’t like Catholicism’s ban on contraception, but that’s not because I’m concerned about population.

    And yeah, although it was never part of my world, I wonder how many fundy christians think about “the rapture” and don’t care about the world? Me, I grew up into an intellectual evangelicalism which promoted Environmentalism and care for the earth. They do exist, honestly! :)

    I also wonder about other religions’ take on the future. The stereotypical “spirit is all that matters” Hinduism has a very “whatever happens, happens” view of the world which is not that helpful when passionate growth in a particular direction is required.

    I’ll shut up now ;)

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  3. To suggest that “PEOPLE” make “RATIONAL DECISIONS” is “PATENTLY RIDICULOUS.” Consciousness is an emergent phenomenon, and society is emergent on emergent. The delusion that we can alter our own future behavior, as well as the delusion that we can alter the behavior of others is part and parcel of “BEING HUMAN.” It is highly likely that Humanity will achieve something like “THE SINGULARITY” within the next 50 years. Nothing we do can accelerate, or impede, the course we are on. Buckle up baby, we’re in for a heck of a ride.

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    • I’m not sure why you’ve used quotations and capitals to make your point. However I’d like to ask you, why is it ridiculous to suggest that:

      a. People can make rational decisions, and on what scale are we talking; individual or group?

      b: Humans cannot alter their path, since all of human history has been forged by the actions of humans, and thereby has been caused by these?

      I agree with you that the future will be a bumpy ride, but I think this period of transition and increased awareness is necessary if humanity is to make any kind of change for the future.



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