Thursday, May 21, 2015


Some serious persons, most of them scientists, are now
suggesting a drastic shift in human life in the relatively near
future. These stunning changes include prolonging most
individuals’ lives indefinitely, curing most if not virtually all
human diseases, dramatic changes in everyday uses of
now-common resources, and in daily habits of work, travel
and pleasure.

It needs to be said that scientists have not often had a great
record recently in predicting the future. In fact, those who have
had the best winning hands in forecasting in the past century
have been certain writers, often with little scientific knowledge,
creating (as I have written before) a genre of so-called “science
fiction,” on the printed page and on television and film.

These mind-boggling futuristic anticipations and premonitions
occur at the same time that ancient human “pathologies” of
war, violence, hunger, disease, and premature death recur for
billions of persons on a crowding planet.

Although human invention has been a constant throughout
human history, it has not ever before occurred with such
velocity. Indeed, some very serious persons are suggesting
that our performance of change is now outstripping our
capacity to absorb and integrate changes and their
consequences on the human lives we now lead.

Artificial intelligence (AI) alone gives new meaning to the ancient
notion of a Pandora’s Box. Robotic devices, as only one example,
are clearly advancing human ability to accomplish things while
at the same time, among other consequences, removing the need
for millions, and eventually billions, of human jobs.

Those who are affected most by these emerging conditions are,
of course, the young. Yet the young, on one hand, have little to
say about the development of the innovation, and if history
be a guide, on the other hand, little interest in these innovations
other than for their immediate usage.

The truth is that these circumstances are probably inevitable,
primarily because human life is always primarily an experience
of the present moment. It is only “experience” which teaches
us to think about consequences --- yet “consequences” are
the major issues of innovation and rapid change.

As far as I can see, most of our education systems, already
failing in many ways and places to prepare our children with
basic skills, do very little to equip them for the complicated and
very extraordinary times ahead.

The future, whatever it will be, will not have second thoughts.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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