Two New Years Wishes, one asks: How can we beat the other guys? The other asks how we can become a less conflict ridden and more cooperative species? The first wish we are already quite familiar with, from politics to movies. The other can seem less realistic and more touchy-feely but in contrast with the first it’s clear it should be seriously considered.
A matter of vision.
There were visionaries of yesteryear who saw mind-augmentations rising from what was seen as simple calculators, networks creating webs around the globe and beyond, as well as of a media above and beyond what we could experience on paper or even on television.
These visionaries saw not into a set future, they saw deep into the potential of the human mind.
Over time however, implementations have evolved in ways analogous to biological evolution, at least illustratively: Much of what became entrenched early–for a myriad of reasons–became the scaffolding for future development. There has been no grand plan and not much in the way of medium sized plans and small plans don’t connect very well.
What we have ended up with are the big titans of Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and so on and they look to us as much a part of nature as any mountain, but even mountains fade over time. In 500 years these companies, their products and their ways of working will seem as arcane as how we view Gutenberg’s press today. That’s a long way into the future you might say but look back and think of IBM which was insurmountable just a few decades ago in the space of computing, only to be blown to dust by Microsoft. Think of how you expect these companies and the technologies we use daily today to be viewed in a much shorter timeframe–10 years. Will we have rectangles in our pockets to connect us to our friends and information? Maybe, but I see your imagination stutter at the very thought that I might have the gall to specify how we will work in 10 years based on how you have seen the last 10 progress.
So my New Years Wish is for us to simply develop a deeper perspective.
What are we developing our technologies, cultures and societies on? Are we simply putting another brick on the mindless morass we have accumulated over the last few decades, or will be developing our future based on bold thinking and bold dialogue?
It is one thing to be a genius visionary and see a way forward when there is no implementation to obscure the mind; it is a different exercise entirely to re-vision a future with minds clouded by implementations we use everyday. Yet we must not allow ourselves to continue to sleepwalk wherever basic market economics take us, uninformed user preferences dictate, or academia deem we study based on a citable past. We must revisit the ‘ancients’ and try to understand what they saw–without prejudice–and question this and wrestle some control of our intellectual future. For this we need not be visionary nor do we need to be genius. We simply need to take this task seriously.
The future doesn’t need us, it’s coming whether we are ready or not.
Will we leave to the future fancy neon-typewriters and weaponised social media to divide us?
Or will we take responsibility for our freedoms, the only way true freedom can be achieved?
What is the grandest challenge our species can take on without the motivation only being to defeat someone else? What is the greatest collaboration we can tackle? What are the loftiest goals available to us? Can we come together in useful competition and collaboration to somehow augment how we communicate, learn and listen?
In an era of divisive politics and concerns about the very viability of our species on our origin planet, will we continue to build walls or will we start to work on how we can get along better, how we can flourish?
It’s not a small challenge, it’s the biggest challenge we can set ourselves and it is one which will define how we see ourselves–our vision of ourselves. Whether we do it. Or not.