Somebody posed questions the other night – wondering what someone from the 1990’s would think of 2017. Would they be appalled (or enthralled) by the state of the world?
We need not go that far back …
I’m not just going for a laugh here at expense of people named Trump or Republicans – they’ve got their own worries. I doubt they have time for my brain-candy distraction.
My thinking, let’s not look back. Instead, let’s look forward. What will the world be like in 500 years?
Golf will survive, ‘The Old Course’ in St. Andrews will be renamed ‘The REALLY Old Course’. Trump will, at best, be a historical footnote under ‘para-normal aberrations’.
Not 20 years, not 100. Think 1,000. OK, let’s compromise – think about 500 years from now. (da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa in 1503, Henry the 8th ascended the throne in 1509, Beethoven’s 5th symphony was 1808, Machiavelli wrote ‘The Prince’ in 1512, Martin Luther started the Reformation in Germany in 1517, Francis Drake circumnavigated the world in 1580 … just for context on how much change we’ve seen in the last 500 years).
Difficult to imagine when we grasp that most of what we know as ‘state of the world’, economics, health, science, literature and all art is contained in the last 500 with most everything we know coming into existence and understanding in the last 200. And we know that each decade of change and new development has shifted economies, occupations and culture enormously. We are quite used this kind of thinking: ‘10 years from now 80% of the jobs and commerce will involve things and companies that don’t exist today”. And I’m not sure 10 is the right number because we have ‘electric cars, driverless cars, drone pizza deliver, bitcoin and block-chain’ here already … it bogles the mind what mining ‘big data’ and ‘machine learning’ will deliver. It will be lots, fast, radically changing everything.
All of which might not impact third world peasantry …
But seriously, do we see that last much longer? Surely poverty, oppression, disease and life-span and infant mortality will be the huge-breakthrough areas, right?
But what about little things that start out as just ‘interesting’ new things, some very expensive (lasers) or very cheap (Velcro) when the first burst on the scene. But they didn’t burst. They were largely unknown and not seen as especially valuable by most people who knew of them. Today, thousands of products with innocuous beginnings have transformed everything. A hundred years after the Wright brothers go airborne, we can send people to Mars. We can’t get them back … so maybe we should populate Mars with people we don’t want coming back. Maybe we should tell ‘the Donald’ that he can brand the first hotel there …
When Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock shocked everyone in 1970 as breakthrough thinking, I wonder what he would say now, what he would predict in 500 years. In 1,000 …
We’ll likely all be gone (some will choose the freezer with their fingers crossed), but our progeny will be here. The climate will have changed. Technology, knowledge, work and health will change beyond our dreams, weathermen will predict things more reliably than economists and last season’s ‘duds’ from the world of fashion will be on the clearance sale table at 90% off to make way for ‘what is new’ for fall. If fall, as we know it, still exists.
I wonder what won’t change?
That, for me is the deeper discussion. Women will, eventually, lose their fifth (baby) toes – an evolutionary adaptation to footwear fashion. Otherwise, we’ll be anatomically the same – but will be care about each other the same way, will we experience birth, childhood, middle-age, aging and death the same way in 500 years? How we’ll spend our time is incalculable, but I wonder who we will care about, what we will care about? Lets assume – in 500 years – that war, disease, poverty and pollution will have been ‘long ago solved’. New frontiers might be outer space, ocean depths and that most elusive of quests – what it is that women want. That aside, I wonder what caring will look like? Will love flourish or be an ancient relic of unenlightened times? Will music exist? Will Darwin (as genetic science allows us to have perfect babies, ‘survival of the cutest’ might make a good bumper sticker), Einstein and Hawking be revered or long-ago in the dust bin, disproven by some Silicon Valley 12-year-old with a lap top?
Will the world be a happy place?
Will we be kind and creative, loving and thoughtful?
What will matter?
What will we argue about?
Will employment rates, GDP, political popularity or crime rates measure ‘quality of life’? Do they now?
HI Mark, I too love that feeling that occurs between two people when you know the ‘truth’ was present in a meaningful way for them or yourself. ‘spin tiny threads into strong rope’…nice image!, SF, Lethbridge – P.S. - Where is the Gusta weather report?