Speculates about the social and political reforms needed to bring about lasting global peace and prosperity.
What kind of future are we blindly marching towards? If humans are just another stepping stone along the path to a greater evolution then will we eventually lose our value and be superceded by something new?
Some writers portray a bleak future where the despondent masses are treated like cattle, having become an unwanted burden to the techno-military elite. Others see humans searching like rats for scraps in the ruins of cities in the aftermath of economic collapse or nuclear war.
Our future will be what we make of it. However, if clear thinking and careful planning can overcome the destructive potential of blind greed, then perhaps we can look forward to a rewarding future.
Peace and prosperity
In the industrialized world, computerized machinery is slowly improving the productivity of farms and factories. Powerful computer software is gradually taking over routine office tasks, leading to major improvements in business productivity. Farms, factories, businesses, and even government departments are being driven by economic forces to become increasingly automated.
At the same time, the world economy is continuing to grow more productive and efficient, and the overall standard of living is continuing to improve. Energy production is becoming cleaner, and new recycling methods are improving environmental sustainability. Business profits are growing higher and many workers are continuing to enjoy higher pay, fewer working hours, and longer holidays.
The United Nations and its subsidiary institutions like the World Trade Organization and the World Court are continuing to become more effective as the remaining dictatorships are transformed into democracies, as cooperation between the nations is being secured through treaties and agreements, and as the barriers to international trade and travel are gradually removed.
National economies are slowly merging into a single worldwide economy as suppliers are being found through Internet websites, and as financial institutions become increasingly connected by global networks.
As new technologies improve the quality of education, and as the idea grows more acceptable that evolution is compatible with God, the traditional priesthoods will become less hostile to science, future generations will be less receptive to fundamentalist teachings, and the threat of any future religious conflict will fade away.
When computers and robots begin to demonstrate their full potential then the world economy will surge ahead, reaching unprecedented levels of prosperity, producing a massive surplus of material wealth which will flow across national borders and benefit everyone in the world.
India and China now have free birth control, and one day every woman in the world will be able to enjoy the luxury of choosing when to have children. With a stable world population and a booming world economy, the wealthy nations will be able to relax their borders, no longer needing to fear a massive migration of people from underdeveloped and overcrowded countries.
As robots continue to replace factory workers, powerful computer software will soon begin to replace office workers. All of the secretarial, financial, administrative, and managerial tasks of business and government will slowly become automated, and eventually most ‘thinking jobs’ will be done by inexpensive computers using artificially intelligent software. There will be fewer and fewer job opportunities over the course of the next century.
In democratic countries, the growing numbers of unemployed will have the political power to demand higher welfare payments, free health care, affordable housing, and other benefits. The wealthy may not like having to pay for the permanently unemployed, but unless the growing numbers of unemployed can afford to be consumers, then the drop in demand will lead to a fall in production and the loss of even more jobs, and the shrinking world economy will spiral downwards into a devastating depression.
Once machines are capable of designing and manufacturing improved versions of themselves without human intervention, then the rate of technological advancement will skyrocket. Those who own this technology will gain an unchallengeable monopoly in every market. The vast majority of people will become unemployed and the free market economy will begin to fail.
The entire world is going to need to change its way of thinking and become much more mature and responsible if we are going to have any chance of surviving the challenges ahead. We still need to avoid nuclear war, develop cheap clean energy, end the dictatorships, educate the fundamentalists, industrialize the poor countries, save the global environment, and stabilize the world’s population.
But if we can overcome these difficulties, then the world economy will continue to become increasingly automated until production reaches maximum efficiency, and then everything will be free and nobody will have to work for a living any more, the machines will do all of the work.
When all of the social, political, and economic problems of the world have been solved, and peace and prosperity have prevailed, then nobody will ever be threatened again by hunger, disease, or war.
Eventually, the borders between nations will dissolve away, and the Africans, Americans, Arabs, Asians, Europeans, and Jews will all become citizens of a single worldwide democratic union, free to travel the world in safety and live wherever they want.
Material wealth will no longer be important to us when anything that anyone could ever want is free. Life will be like a permanent holiday, and every person in the world will be able to spend their days enjoying good times with their family and friends, and pursuing their dreams, interests, and desires.
Whether we like it or not, for better or for worse, assuming that we can avoid mass destruction, even if it takes another thousand years, then this is roughly what our future will look like, and any attempt to stop it will only result in disaster. The only justifiable complaint that we can have is that when we no longer need to worry about how to satisfy our material needs and desires then we will be faced with a new problem - what to do with our freedom.
Most scientifically minded people already understand that the evolution of intelligent life has probably occurred on countless other planets throughout the universe, like seeds that grow and then blossom into trees whose branches spread and yield astonishing fruit, spreading life and consciousness throughout the cosmos, possibly for the accomplishment of some unknown purpose.
The exploration of deep space and the colonization of other planets is something that intelligent machines will be better adapted for than humans: able to survive extreme conditions; needing little to sustain them on long voyages; able to replicate not only their bodies but also their minds; and able to synthesize new life forms whenever they are needed, both mechanical and biological life forms that will be perfectly adapted for any environment or task. Humans will merely be space tourists.
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