What I seem to have been groping for in the last post was a view of how quickly technology is already changing reality and how it is going to continue to change us in the future. Inevitably someone else was doing the same thinking as me, but doing it far more eloquently – and, unlike me, coming up with some answers. The Guardian has been looking at predictions about the future made by the Edge Foundation – “some of the most interesting minds in the world”.
There’s some really thought provoking stuff in the article, but the contribution I liked most was this one – mainly because alone among the chaps (and they were all chaps) quoted, this is the only one to suggest that no-one’s really got a clue about what’s going to happen:
The snowball has started to roll and there is probably no stopping it. Will the result be a utopia or a dystopia? Which of the novelties are self-limiting and which will extinguish institutions long thought to be permanent? Will universities and newspapers become obsolete? Will hospitals and churches go the way of corner grocery stores and livery stables? Will reading music soon become as arcane a talent as reading hieroglyphics? When you no longer need to eat to stay alive, or procreate to have offspring, or locomote to have an adventure-packed life, when the residual instincts for these activities might be simply turned off by genetic tweaking, there may be no constants of human nature left at all. Except, maybe, our incessant curiosity. (Daniel Dennett)
Which proves nothing much – except perhaps that Aldous Huxley was the most accurate futurologist of all time!