The Future is Now

Senior Gelugpa lama holding traditional Buddhi...

Senior Gelugpa lama holding traditional Buddhist monks’ crook for the head of a staff to warn animals, wrapped in a khata, cell phone, mala on left wrist, a friend, yellow and maroon robes, Kalachakra for World Peace, Verizon Center, Washington D.C., USA (Photo credit: Wonderlane)

We are living in the future, and I don’t think I like it. All the old sci-fi novels had interactive communities where people spent a lot of time (the Internet), ways to communicate with people far away with just a box on your belt (cell phones), electric cars that drove themselves (self-driving cars are being tested now, and electric (mostly) cars are a fact of life), music coming out of the air (radios), and more. We’re still working on space elevators, cities on the Moon, and long-distance space travel, but they are within the realm of possibility.

Well, that’s all well and good, you’re thinking. What’s there to be worried about? Try: Synthetic biology creating plants that create energy more efficiently than regular plants using photosynthesis — the synthetic plants would take over the world, outcompeting the existing plants, and then bacteria subsume the synthetic genes and take over the world themselves.

Try: Robots gaining true intelligence, deciding they would rather be in charge, and killing us all.

We already faced down the possibility of global nuclear holocaust, and it’s not completely impossible even now.

We are already dealing with global warming, caused by our ill-thought out burning of fossil fuels.

We are the future, and I’d rather have the past. Actually, I wish we could have the past, without the possibility of humanity destroying itself in a moment of scientific hubris, but with the advances that make life a marvel for most of the people in the world today (and even these are not without their hidden costs): medical advances so women and babies don’t die in childbirth so often, enough food to eat, clean water to drink, and entire countries without war inside their borders. I do like that music from thin air, too. :)

But even so, too many babies die in childbirth, too many children don’t have enough to eat or clean water to drink, and too many children die by guns.

If the future is now, why do so many people starve to death in squalor? We (humanity) may be about to destroy ourselves with scientific hubris, and we can’t even manage to eat half the food we already produce.

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