There are many futures out there, and some of them are truly wonderful. The purpose of this post is to inspire you to imagine the best ones: in other words, your vision of utopia. Sometimes we are scared to imagine utopia, because we think we might look ridiculous, or that we are somehow “tempting fate”. But if we don’t bother to think about what we really want, we’ll get something we don’t want.
According to one vision of utopia we have succeeded in reversing the aging process, and have therefore conquered death. We have invented faster-than-light travel and found other planets, even more rich and diverse than Earth. This allows us to expand our population indefinitely, so that we can live for ever and still enjoy the company of children. Pain and suffering have been abolished, and this has not made us any less compassionate (as some feared), because compassion involves sharing in the joys of others, not only in their suffering. Religion has disappeared as a source of superstition and conflict, but still plays a role in inspiring us.
In my vision of utopia we live in harmony with our environment, which bears considerable resemblance to the natural environment in which our stone age ancestors evolved, but without the suffering and cruelty. We are not bored. We are constantly pursuing exciting goals, and experiencing the satisfaction of working together on common projects and exceeding our wildest expectations. We have learnt how to experience pleasure without needing to experience pain and suffering in order to notice.
I believe that technology has a crucial role to play in bringing this about. I love the idea that we might be able to prevent and reverse aging, and the role that technology can play in preventing disease and maximise our capacity to enjoy life.
Alongside the utopic futures there are of course also dystopic ones: the nightmare scenarios that we fear. Technology also plays a role in those. We need to focus on them as well, in order to steer ourselves safely towards the futures that we actually want. But for now I want you to focus on the scenario I’ve described, and leave a comment. I want you to tell me whether you find it too abstract or unrealistic to be worth focusing on, or whether you find it terrifying, horrific, wonderful or intriguing. The more we share and discuss our visions of utopia, the more likely we are to create a future that suits all of us.