A Positive Vision of the Future

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“Hope over despair” indeed.

It’s exhausting to see people I respect wasting their time arguing about whether global warming is caused by mankind, or even whether global warming is real. Or to hear them arguing about which religion has a better set of values for people to live by or which one is the one their country is based upon.

The fact is that if we want to survive and live happily and successfully in the long run we must stop such idiotic bickering and make some changes. Our population growth and our way of feeding, housing, energizing, and transporting that population is simply unsustainable in the long run – regardless of whether population stays the same or grows or even shrinks a little. We’re absolutely doomed if we don’t change our ways of living.

But I said this was a positive vision. Ahem.

The positive outlook for humanity is clear. We must reduce the impact on our environment made by the processes of human life even while we enhance the quality of that life. We’re definitely making progress on both fronts.

Can we avoid Armageddon? Of course we can. Biblical and other religious and doomsayers’ predictions have a consistent habit of proving to be completely wrong.

But we must change our ways. The article linked from the photo above has a lot of hope to offer for ways we can and will change.

Did you know the world is getting richer and there are fewer poor people today than ever per capita?

Some countries are emerging from poverty. Education is on the rise.

We’re all to be blamed for not realizing the truth, actually. But our sources of news are driven by economics, which means they have to live and die by their ability to sell newspapers, magazines, online eyeballs, advertisers’ products, or whatever. This leads to what Nicholas Kristof calls in this op-ed piece a true selection bias that leads directly to a corresponding bias in public opinion.

We’re making progress in our quest to uplift all of humanity. It’s just not considered real news to report that this is the case. And it isn’t, really. The process has been been a slow, painful climb whose progress isn’t exhilarating so much as it is tedious to watch. Except, of course, by those who benefit from that progress: poverty stricken countries, decaying inner cities, and moribund agrarian populations that couldn’t make any progress against commodity market price reductions.

The idea of farming, mining, and other ancient and labor intensive jobs as ways of life is slowly dying and being replaced with automation, economies of scale, and higher technology solutions to creating society’s base materials. We’re now seeing populations whose leaders are forced to turn to other means to keep the gravy train going for themselves. Formerly ruthless dictators of countries filled with abject poverty are seeing the writing on the wall and inviting education and investment to enrich their countries so they can get even richer. This last bit is a negative side effect of this progress, and it will eventually have to be resolved. But for now it’s not such a bad thing that some asshole at the top of a poor country sucks a little of the oxygen out of the room if everyone else gets some too.

We need to see what’s true and not just what’s reported. It would be very helpful if world economic progress were something that was studied and encouraged actively rather than as a passive side effect of famines, forced migration, capitalism’s endless search for new markets, and the like.

Making profits is great as long as it isn’t carried too far on the backs of the wrong people. When those backs finally break and the profits stop flowing, there are those who seem to wake up and realize, “Hey. We could invest in those people just a little and get a great new cash cow out of it in a few years!”

Well yes. Let’s do that then.

Create the Future and Tell the World What It Will Be

“Let’s not only watch or follow trends, let’s lead them” http://prsm.tc/0v2lQP

This is like the old saw “The best way to predict the future is to create it” or the inimitable Steve Jobs’ version which goes something like “Users won’t know what they want until I show it to them.” Yes, I can tell you Jobs certainly was like that.

But the fact is that neither ground up creation of the future nor riding along and trying to predict the swerves is a complete strategy. You have to do both in just the right proportions.

Science fiction is the art of doing this on a fairly long time scale.