Catalysts of Change
It is probably safe to say that the ‘brave new worlds’ of the coming decades will be profoundly affected by technology, which may be more evolutionary in scope than the word ‘development’ might suggest. However, this technological evolution will not take place in isolation of other factors that will undoubtedly affect the future, which we might initially characterized in terms of social, political and economic change. Of course, even these additional changes will not occur in isolation as environmental impacts and resource scarcity may also act as catalysts to yet further change. So, if viewed as a composite of all possibilities, accurately predicting the future may be somewhat of an impossible task, especially in terms of the impact of unforeseen technology. However, despite the probability that long-term predictions may be doomed to inaccuracy from the outset, we will start by trying to characterize the complexity of the task as the sum total of the ‘human ecosystem’ , as simplified right.
While the human ecosystem has been around as long as homosapiens, its scope has become increasingly complex in just the last few hundred years, such that it may only be possible to extrapolate trends that may then point us in the general direction of future developments. However, before we proceed in this speculative undertaking, it might be useful to cautiously reflect on the work of others who have attempted to predict the future, while anchored to their own earlier time and place in history. British author Aldous Huxley wrote his futuristic allegory ‘Brave New World’ in 1931, which was a time when British society was still recovering from the aftermath of the First World War when many long-held social norms were being questioned. It was also a world that had only recently abandoned the economic stability of the gold standard and economic depression was spreading from the US. However, it was still a ‘brave new world’ in the technical sense of the expansion of electrification, transportation and communication, where cars, telephones, and radios were being made possible by industrial automation. Against this backdrop of profound change, Huxley’s novel then extrapolates the ideas of reproductive technology, sleep-learning and psychological manipulation onto some potential ‘futuristic’ society. In this respect, Huxley’s work was possibly much more forward looking in its technological scope than Orwell’s novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ , although both were possibly more orientated towards the socio-politics of totalitarian control, albeit different in nature.
But what has this to do with today’s reality?
While recognizing that Huxley’s work is fictional, it might be seen as an allegory of what might happen to the reality of our world in the future, for there are some obvious parallels to be drawn. We now live in a world that is weary of global conflicts, irrespective of whether being political, economic and religious in scope. We might also recognize that economic instability has now become magnified by the abandonment of any pretence that printed fiat currency has any intrinsic value beyond being a promissory IOU, which is continuously being eroded by inflation and rising debt. Finally, we might recognize the extrapolation of yesterday’s industrial automation now taking shape in the form of AI automation that may have even more profound implications on humanity.
So how do Huxley’s predictions compare against the reality of today’s brave new world?
First, it possibly needs to be highlighted that Huxley’s work was set in London in the year 2540, such that its predictive accuracy might be immediately questioned. Therefore, it might be a ‘safer-bet’ to assume that the accuracy of any prediction will be inversely proportional to its projection in time, such that most futuristic predictions will be limited in both scope and accuracy.
So, is there any point in making predictions?
In the context of the discussions to follow, predictions might be better described as a ‘safety-precaution’ by which some of the many potential disasters that may be waiting to happen might be avoided or, at least, minimized. While there is no certainty that any of these potential disasters will ever happen, the probability still exists, such that being forewarned is to be forearmed. In the wider context of the Staged Evolution discussions on the Mysearch website, the remainder of this discussion might be seen as an extension of earlier postings covering finance , economics , politics , population and human evolution. While none of these discussions are necessarily optimistic, the overall question being tabled is whether any of the arguments are necessarily unrealistic?