A vision of the future

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.

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About Peter Wicks

International consultant. I bring clarity to complex and confusing situations and identify the most promising solutions.
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11 Responses to A vision of the future

  1. mbbrown says:

    In many ways you’ve already described my utopia so as far as broad visions go I have very little to add. Instead I’ll focus on some of the finer details of my future vision.

    I would like to see human communities become smaller. Living in huge metropolises as we do tends to breed alienation and disconnects us from our natural and human community. That being said I think the movement towards denser populations should continue to minimize our ecological impact. Though I’m hesitant to put a number on my ideal community size I imagine so where in the range of ten to twenty thousand would be ideal. Small enough to avoid the problems I mentioned but large enough to create a vibrant community expose the inhabitants to a diverse set of ideas.

    Of course if we do move into smaller, denser and likely more isolated communities we run the risk of segregating ourselves. A solution to this would be to encourage travel to ensure people are continuously exposed to different ways of thinking. Perhaps living for a few years in a different city once one has reached a certain age could be considered a right of passage.

    As for the cities themselves I would love to see the ideas o permaculture take hold, creating urban environments that integrate with their environment. This is not only for the functional reasons of designing cities as a closed system with the ecosystems around them, thus benefiting both environments, but for aesthetic reasons as well (how cool would it be to live in a city that seemed to grow out of a mountain side.)

    I could probably keep going but I think I’ve said enough for now. Before I go though I will say that though faster than light travel would truly be amazing as far as I’ve heard its a physical impossibility. Shame really.

  2. peterwicks says:

    Many thanks for this! I like this idea of smaller communities, although there’s also something about the “buzz of the metropolis” that many people, including myself (sometimes), find exciting. Perhaps we could somehow combine the two?

    A word on faster than light travel: quantum “action at a distance” and closed timelike curves (i.e. wormholes) in relativity provide some clues as to ways we could overcome the apparent impossibility. What we can’t do is to exceed the speed of light simply by accelerating (i.e. building more powerful rockets): the structure of spacetime just doesn’t allow it.

  3. mbbrown says:

    I too enjoy the buzz of a vibrant city. I used to live in a downtown and loved it, to the point where every time I plan to move I try to get back there. Combining greater population density while reducing total population size might be the proper way to go, giving us the best of both worlds.

    To continue with thought on specifics I would love to see individual cities and communities become self- sufficient. Not only would this be more ecologically friendly by not requiring goods to be transported hundreds or thousands of miles but would also foster development and a sense of connection with the local community. Some things could be accomplished with present or near future technology; greenhouses or “farmscrapers” providing locally grown produce, renewable energy like wind farms or buildings covered in solar cells taking whole cities off the grid. Others are probably decades off if not farther such as nano-factories allowing local production of consumer goods. This would of course have the added benefit of making human society more resilient to disturbances by decentralizing so much of the necessary infrastructure of our economy.

    I can’t comment on culture or education without coming across like a left-wing elitist but I’m going to try anyway. Instruction in logic and critical thinking skills, on there own and not part of another subject, should be mandatory for anyone coming through the school system. More importantly though we need a shift in the way we view education from something performed for a few years in our youth to a lifelong journey that never truly ends. Part of this will come by making education more affordable, something which the freedom of the internet is already beginning to accomplish. On the subject of human intelligence enhancement I will stay mum for the time being accept to say that I support and encourage it.

    Culturally I would like to see a movement away from the winner take all mentality that seems to infuse so much of society, or at least American society. Not that competition is bad. Quite the contrary, competition can drive us to perform at levels we never thought possible. It is simply important to remember that what is important is not the victory but the struggle.

    I must say I’m enjoying this little exercise. 🙂

  4. peterwicks says:

    It’s fun isn’t it?! As I said in my original post I think it’s really important to imagine scenarios that we DO want. With our stone age brains we always tend to focus on what could go wrong, and while that’s valuable and important if we don’t make an effort to think about what could go right it tends to lead to paralysis and defeatism.

    There’s much I like about your vision of self-sufficient cities and communities. I’m aware that there are various movements aimed at promoting these, although I haven’t been directly involved in any of them so far. Admittedly I like interconnectedness as well, so again it doesn’t have to be either/or, but we do urgently need to build in some resilience to our frighteningly fragile ecolo-econo-geopolitical system, and this kind of idea strikes me as a very promising step in that direction.

    I also like the idea of teaching logic and critical thinking skills as independent subjects, and I would also add mindfulness to this. I think it’s great the way positive psychologists have managed to take the best of religious traditions such as Buddhism and put them on a firm scientific basis. I’m convinced that as mindfulness techniques catch on we will be able to solve a lot of seemingly intractable problems very quickly, and hopefully deal with some of the serious systemic threats we are currently facing.

    On human intelligence enhancement, and enhancement more generally, I think one of the more important obstacles is the “weirdness” factor, and this is another reason why it is important to imagine scenarios that we like. In my view it’s entirely reasonable to worry that an enhanced future “me” is not actually “me”. I don’t think this is a scientific/objective issue so much as a psychological one: to what extent can I identify with a future self that is significantly different from my current self? It seems to me that imagining positive visions of the future is an excellent way to overcome this, helping us to close the gap between what we consider desirable (“utopic”) and what we can most easily identify with.

  5. Burt says:

    Peter,

    Here is my answer to your utopia question that I thought you’d divine instantly:

    THE FUTURE IS NOW

    We all live in the utopia/dystopia of our own device – we live in our perfect world that we create. Everything is totally fair and equitable and each gets what he deserves. I live in my utopia and I challenge everyone else to live in theirs.

    With that in mind let’s examine the utopian desiderata from my worldview.

    For the 1st Vision.

    We have succeeded in reversing the aging process, and have therefore conquered death.

    Just because the aging process may be reversed, it doesn’t follow that death has been conquered. Deaths by suicide, accident, or the many diseases that are not age related are not accounted for. There are/may be good reasons for humans not to live forever; it depends upon our raison d’être. The aging process will still continue, only sans the debilitating effects of aged body components. We have a hard time learning now, there is no reason to believe that more time will ameliorate our psychic progress.

    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

    Super-luminal travel is physically impossible for anything that has mass and if it were possible, then once the speed of light barrier were crossed, what ever crosses that boundary would in effect be travelling backwards time. (If time actually existed – which it doesn’t!!!) The only way to travel to other dimensions is via inward focus of consciousness. What we are calling the universe is a projection of our consciousness and exists in that dimension – there is no there out there, it’s all in here.

    Finding other planets more rich and diverse than Earth raises the possibility of the problem faced by the Israelites when God ceded them the Land of Canaan. In order to occupy the land, they first had to drive out its inhabitants. Assuming a planet capable of sustaining human life, it already must have had an evolutionary process sufficiently mature to have at least plants populate it. If evolution acted the way it is purported to act on Earth then one could extrapolate animals and sentient beings which might object to an alien invasion plundering their resources but wait: It’s OK to violently dispense with any objectors because it is for the greater good of our many and so as long as our technology is beyond theirs – no problem let’s expand indefinitely.

    We can live for ever and still enjoy the company of children. Pain and suffering have been abolished

    With all this living forever the children won’t remain children for long (perhaps with the reversed aging process, we’ll remain children forever) and maybe they won’t enjoy the company of old farts. Pain and suffering exist as feedback mechanisms to illustrate out of balance conditions and give us a chance to correct them before they become intractable.

    Religion has disappeared as a source of superstition and conflict, but still plays a role in inspiring us.

    Religion is the operating system of human beings. As long as there are individual and group belief systems, there will be religions with their attendant superstitions and conflicts which will persist because they are tools that we create to learn lessons.

    For your vision:

    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.

    Living in harmony with the environment is a noble goal and laudable and not that difficult if the population is small and resources are plenty – each of us is a microcosm with as many resources as we require so it is not hard at all. Living in a Stone Age environment is not a bed of roses, I have lived that way and most of the time is spent on survival alone. Technology is what allows large populations to survive and the depletion of finite resources is a mass concern. Suffering is, as I mentioned earlier, a biofeedback mechanism and cruelty will exist as long as there are dramas in which those who fear others/people or animals seek to mitigate that fear by acting cruelly toward them. There are also those who cooperate with those active participants so that the error of their ways might become apparent.

    I understand that this is your wish list and not something that is realizable due to the nature of physical existence and humanity’s role in it. It is obvious that many human beings are not yet capable of mastering the necessary preconditions that are required to bring about a brotherhood of man. Human consciousness is at all stages of development at once in physical reality which is precisely why there is a physical reality for consciousness to stage its dramas. If consciousness has evolved (and I don’t mean TOE) to the point where there are no more lessons to be derived from physical reality, then physical reality will cease to exist. Why would anyone want to live forever? As we need sleep to refresh ourselves so that we are at our best while awake, so do we need a period of reflection between physical existences. The reason we want to live in utopia is because we fear physical life as we find it and so aspire to what we believe would be an ideal existence without understanding what our purpose is and that we already have the tools at our disposal for a perfect life.

    Peace,

    Burt

  6. peterwicks says:

    Thanks Burt.

    You’re right that reversing the ageing purpose doesn’t in itself mean that death has been “conquered”. We’d need to eliminate the other causes of death as well.

    By contrast I don’t agree that my vision is unrealisable. Nor do I agree that my wish to “live in utopia” is motivated by fear. It is rather motivated by hope, and by a dislike of certain aspects of the world in which we currently live.

    In addition to the challenge I have presented you with on the utilitarianism thread, I also present you with the following: have you ever told someone who is currently suffering significant adversity (such as illness, disability or the premature loss of a loved one) of your belief that everything is totally fair and equitable and each gets what he deserves? If so, I invite you to tell me about your experience; if not, I invite you to do so.

  7. Burt says:

    Peter,

    Not much time to reply.

    Your worldview is sensible from a naïve realistic POV and assumes that what you see is what you get, i.e., we are here by virtue of evolutionary processes, essentially a fluke of the universe and as Hobbes opined: the natural state of man is: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, (until our consciousness en masse shifts away from violence) and short (comparatively – less than 100 years). Given such an untenable state of affairs, it is no wonder that one would long for a utopian existence.

    Again why would one want to live forever? Death is welcome to many and those who are at peace with themselves and the world do not fear it. It reminds me of the children’s tale of the man who captured death in a magic sack so no one was able to die. This went on for years and people begged the man to loose death so that they could die and escape their misery so he obliged and was the first victim of death. Eternal physical life is desired by those who fear death for whatever reason. Any excuse involving not wishing to die is fear based.

    Your dislike of certain aspects of your world needs examination as to why you dislike them. I’ll bet all of the dislikes are motivated by fear of what could happen if they were more prevalent or pronounced and hope is hope because one fears that the status quo will prevail but hopes it won’t.

    Yes, I have previously proffered my belief that everyone is responsible for his conditions and that for whatever personal reason they have for manifesting whatever adversity that is currently plaguing them needs to be ferreted out and addressed. As you can imagine that didn’t go over well with those who believe it is bad luck or God that causes their misfortune. As I become more diplomatic and understand that most do not share my beliefs, I present them in the abstract and refrain from upsetting individuals in emotional extremis. OTOH with those who entertain the idea that they bear the responsibility for their experience I work with them to see if we can discover why they created whatever ails them.

    I have mentioned to both you and Hank Pellisier that I don’t foist such admonitions upon those who are in emotional distress because it is callous to disabuse them of their beliefs no matter that it is their responsibility for their reaction to such information. Most people have precious little clue about what motivates their actions or the psychological implications that accompany them.

    Gotta run, Peace

    Burt

  8. peterwicks says:

    I don’t necessarily believe our existence is a fluke of the universe. I think Hobbes way overstated his case in describing the natural state of man as solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. The fact is that we are ultrasocial animals, and (a certain type of) solitude is more of a modern phenomenon than a natural one (if by “natural” one means pre-technology, or at least pre-advanced technology). Poverty is a relative concept. Obviously average life expectancies in developed countries are much higher than they were in the stone age, but to regard the natural state of man as essentially miserable is to make the same mistake as Siddharta Gautama: it ignores the extent to which our habitual emotional states are genetically determined and tend to “revert to the mean” relatively soon after good and bad experiences. (This is in my opinion one of the most fascinating and important research areas in empirical psychology.)

    I also don’t believe that “what you see is what you get”: my whole experience of life so far tells me that there is ALWAYS more than meets the eye. On the other hand, with this caveat I do generally try to base my beliefs on what DOES meet the eye, and notwithstanding my comments above what meets my eye is close enough to Hobbes’ dystopia for me to want to change it. Hence my determination to imagine – and encourage others to imagine – utopian, i.e. better, futures, and then try to bring them about through practical action.

    I don’t disagree that fear plays a role in making me want to live for ever. I don’t see fear as the Great Evil that you seem to. I see it as part of the equipment that natural selection has left us with, because it helped our ancestors to avoid getting killed before they got round to reproducing their genes. (By the way, if evolution is just another story, how DO you explain the great many commonalities of basic biology that we share with so many other species. Why do we have appendices, why is the limbic part of our brain structured along the same lines as those of reptiles? The reason why I believe this theory is that it provides such a beautiful, simple explanation for a great many phenomena such as these. It truly is, from my perspective, a compelling narrative.)

    But there are also positive, non-fear-based reasons why we might wish to live for ever. After all, life can be fun. The reason why we have (to some extent, and more or less grudgingly) come to accept death is that we have thus far lacked the technology to do more than put it off. But there is nothing in the fundamental laws of physics or biology that rules out the possibility that we will indeed be able to reverse the aging process at some point, and as we deal with the other causes of death we could potentially increase our life-spans dramatically. On a strong AI view (about which I’m personally ambivalent) we could even back up our minds. As I’ve noted in a previous comment on this thread, the most serious problem I see with this kind of scenario (apart from technical ones and the various dystopic/existential threats that could prevent it happening) is the “weirdness” factor: how far can we / should we identify with an existence that is very different from the current one, in which (for example) there could be several copies of “me” floating around and no unambiguous way of deciding which is to be considered the “original” me.

    In a way I see your position as a taking an extreme view on precisely this question: essentially you are saying utopia is here and now, there is NOTHING wrong with the present, and therefore nothing worth changing. In your words: “we live in a perfect world that we create”. Anything that you might otherwise be tempted to see as imperfect (including your memories of the past) you rather see as some kind of teaching or admonition. You have a set of moral rules that you try to follow to the best of your ability (and see any deviations as teachings for your edification).

    And yet you do, presumably, plan for the future. I guess you brush your teeth in the morning (why? out of habit? or to stop them going bad?). I’m sure you take many such precautions, plans vacations, romantic dinners, or whatever. So you DO imagine little “utopias”, as we all do, and try to bring them about (sometimes successfully, sometimes less so). And you also, I’m sure, imagine dystopias from time to time, and take steps to avoid them. All I’m really suggesting is that we should take this same commonsense approach in determining together what kind of futures we want to aim for, and which ones we want to avoid, as a species.

  9. peterwicks says:

    One little addendum to the above: it’s not the imperfections of the present that make it “untenable” or, to be more precise, unsustainable. Miserable situations can be quite persistent. With this in mind it’s not so much that I want to change the present. What I want to do is to steer myself, and consequently others (with whom I believe myself to have a shared existence) towards the best possible futures. I also regard this as urgent, because of the very “singular” moment in the history of humanity in which we are currently living. We live at a time when our population and technological means have reached a scale where we are drastically and rapidly changing essential features of the planet on which we live, while the pace of technology accelerates to the point that the one thing about the future of which we can be certain is that it will look very, very different to the past. My conviction, based on the evidence of what I see, is that without consciously directed action we will drift inevitably towards VERY dystopic futures, involving precisely the kinds of emotional extremis in the presence of which you don’t even dare to state clearly your beliefs. If instead we imagine some utopias, and flexibly agree (to the extent we need to: we don’t need to agree on everything all at once) on which ones to aim for, then the future could be really wonderful. I also find that this type of exercise, which I also apply (more parachially) to my personal affairs, has the effect of enhancing the present.

  10. Burt says:

    Peter,

    It took 3 hours to write this.

    it ignores the extent to which our habitual emotional states are genetically determined and tend to “revert to the mean” relatively soon after good and bad experiences. (This is in my opinion one of the most fascinating and important research areas in empirical psychology.)

    You probably won’t be too surprised that I don’t place much stock in genetic determinism (hardwiring) for anything other than superficial (i.e., physical phenotypical) characteristics. I believe we choose physiogenetic potentialities as a framework from which we will approach physical existences e.g., being born with physical disabilities. I don’t believe the brain or DNA generates our minds or emotions, rather the opposite: Our minds (consciousness) generate the states by inducing the electrochemical changes that cause our neurons to produce the state. Otherwise we would be unable to control our emotions and freewill is an illusion (which I reject).

    I don’t see fear as the Great Evil that you seem to. I see it as part of the equipment that natural selection has left us with, because it helped our ancestors to avoid getting killed before they got round to reproducing their genes.

    I don’t see fear as an evil – I see it as an incredibly powerful motivator in humanity and the evil that most people believe is innate or the actions that would be described as evil result from the fear in the “evil doers” and their misguided less than ideal attempts to mitigate that fear. We know that I don’t buy the Dawkins “Selfish Gene” theory so do not view any phenomenon as being naturally selected for by the “survival of the fittest” canard.

    (By the way, if evolution is just another story, how DO you explain the great many commonalities of basic biology that we share with so many other species. Why do we have appendices, why is the limbic part of our brain structured along the same lines as those of reptiles? The reason why I believe this theory is that it provides such a beautiful, simple explanation for a great many phenomena such as these. It truly is, from my perspective, a compelling narrative.)

    The commonalities are actually common due to the way higher life forms are built in to the framework. We are all similar because we create the physical environment to reflect our own image as well as each individual species creates their framework in cooperation with with our and their consciousness. I agree that it is a compelling narrative and appears to provide a simple solution and it is a great “Just So Story” and is far more in line with a scientific explanation than is Creationism. The fact that it so “obvious” and so simple is why it is so difficult to challenge. Everyone buys it (except those with a religious bias) and it seems incredibly stupid if not downright insane to question the basic mechanisms so those who do have legitimate questions about holes in the theory are dismissed out of hand. Most consider it settled science and not worthy of investigation to satisfy the musings of those too blind to see how simple and obvious it is.

    There are transitional gaps in the fossil record which show that a species appears, remains relatively stable for the time it was extant and disappears from the record. Stephen J. Gould was troubled by these gaps and invented the theory of “punctuated equilibria” to account for the missing links. Dawkins vehemently disagreed with Gould and their debates are legendary. In any case the gaps are there and no transitional fossils the gradualism school demands have yet been found. If evolution actually works as advertised then there should be a continuum of transition with new species arriving frequently. This is not the case – what is the case is that people take evolution as a fact and structure their evidence for it in a “begging the question” fallacious circular argument. They assume any existing phenomena was selected for and has provided an evolutionary advantage and is therefore hardwired. I don’t dispute that there may be change within a species due to mutation and genetic drift and because of the fuzzy definitions of genus and species classification, a species may be defined as “new” but as I said before no one has observed bacteria mutating into anything other than antibiotic resistant varieties – merely bacteria with different properties. No one has observed any kpcofgs links except in their minds.

    But there is nothing in the fundamental laws of physics or biology that rules out the possibility that we will indeed be able to reverse the aging process at some point, and as we deal with the other causes of death we could potentially increase our life-spans dramatically.

    I agree – but a lifespan is a lifespan and an entity’s consciousness (the portion focused in physical reality) needs the equivalent of sleep (removal from physical reality) to reflect on its progress during physical existence. There is also no reason that the species as a whole cannot emend the process and extend the “waking period” as we learn to extend the species’ potential with prosthetics, electronics and medicine (especially close to my heart – pun intended.) It still assumes that humans are meat automatons essentially without purpose in an indifferent universe.

    On a strong AI view (about which I’m personally ambivalent) we could even back up our minds.

    Marvin Minsky has quite the imagination – he assumes our minds are emergent from special arrangements of electrical patterns – each of us with the different “special” arrangements that create our unique personalities and in principle with enough information, digitizable into discrete states by sampling at a high frequency (like a CD). Even if it were possible, the copy would only be a record of how our personality manifested itself during the sampling period. If one were to “overwrite” our mind with the backup just as in a computer our mind would be replaced with the static state as the copy will not experience until it is integrated in oneself.

    This is again the exact opposite of how it really is but close in many ways. Our consciousness created the electric patterns that constitute each personality and this pattern transcends physical reality, space, and time. The pattern is not we, we are the pattern. I wouldn’t waste too much time worrying about copies of ourselves floating around and what is the substrate that supports the “floating”? Even fields require a substrate and generator (that is fields that originate within this physical dimension.) I have a pretty good idea that fields fluctuate in and out of our physical dimensions.

    In a way I see your position as a taking an extreme view on precisely this question: essentially you are saying utopia is here and now, there is NOTHING wrong with the present, and therefore nothing worth changing.

    Not at all. I am saying that utopia is here and now. There is NOTHING wrong with the present per se. It is the framework within which we have chosen to challenge ourselves to be better entities and anything that we want to change is worth changing – that’s why we’re here. The NOW becomes more ideal as we change those things that we believe are less than ideal always winnowing and refining. This increases our value (to ourselves) as conscious entities. The problem is that we don’t realize that these less than ideal situations that we wish to change are reflections of ourselves and to use less than ideal means to “correct” these situations may appear to be acceptable to utilitarians, their nature has been corrupted for expedience and a temporary “good” is all that has been achieved – at what cost? The cost is what I will call Bad Karma (a loss of value added) to our overall personality consciousness.

    In your words: “we live in a perfect world that we create”. Anything that you might otherwise be tempted to see as imperfect (including your memories of the past) you rather see as some kind of teaching or admonition. You have a set of moral rules that you try to follow to the best of your ability (and see any deviations as teachings for your edification).

    The world that we create is the world that serves our purpose for our own edification. I don’t see anything as imperfect in itself, it is my understanding and beliefs about these putative imperfections that transmute them into what they represent in my reality. One note on memories: Memories as they are currently construed are not memories of the past, they are created freshly every time that they are recalled. They mutate and are added to and subtracted from with each recollection which is one way the past may be changed. I do see deviations from UM as opportunities for edification and do not berate myself for lapses, I just intend to do better in future.

    And yet you do, presumably, plan for the future. I guess you brush your teeth in the morning (why? out of habit? or to stop them going bad?). I’m sure you take many such precautions, plans vacations, romantic dinners, or whatever.

    Of course I have a loose concept of future projections, I brush my teeth to stop them from offending others and keep them healthy I notice that they suffer if I don’t. I live my life spontaneously as a jazz player, playing the changes as they come (my wife does not appreciate this approach – especially the recent changes that I’m playing.

    So you DO imagine little “utopias”, as we all do, and try to bring them about (sometimes successfully, sometimes less so). And you also, I’m sure, imagine dystopias from time to time, and take steps to avoid them.

    I do try to bring about ideal changes by serving as an example to others – many times successful, and many times not so. I am able to imagine dystopias by following logical steps that may be likely to end in less than ideal circumstances. This is something I try to arrest within as few steps as I can by focusing elsewhere as according to my beliefs – what one focuses on is what one will eventually manifest.

    All I’m really suggesting is that we should take this same commonsense approach in determining together what kind of futures we want to aim for, and which ones we want to avoid, as a species.

    As long as the approach is in line with UM and not Utilitarian, I’m all for it.

    My conviction, based on the evidence of what I see, is that without consciously directed action we will drift inevitably towards VERY dystopic futures, involving precisely the kinds of emotional extremis in the presence of which you don’t even dare to state clearly your beliefs.

    Your addendum is as fear based as any statement I remember you making. The emotional extremis that prevents me from stating my beliefs is to be compassionate to those who are already suffering even though they are responsible for their plight they don’t believe they are on the surface and when they are in that state of mind, they aren’t likely to understand why I believe as I do. I believe that on an inner level, everyone is aware that they are responsible for whatever drama in which they are playing – just as I take responsibility for my current situation. I assume everything will be well and I will amend my ways to avoid repeating the drama.

    Peace,

    Burt

  11. Lori Rhodes says:

    Hi Peter,

    With reference to the second to last sentence in your post, “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.”, I find it’s all of the above and interestingly enough, Dr. Martine Rothblatt and her spouse, Bina Aspend Rothblatt, have also given this a lot of thought and why they founded a transreligion for these technological times, Terasem Movement Transreligion, Inc. The present and future technological revolution is very much part and parcel of this organization (a sister org to the Terasem I work for). I won’t attempt to sell you (or anyone else) on this organization, but for those who appreciate this blog, the one these comments follow, might wish to visit the the following site and judge for themselves: http://www.TerasemFaith.net.

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