Saturday, 28 November 2015

A Lazy Person's Future

In attempting to write up a credible follow up to last time’s blog – on the possibility of eliminating ‘Syndrome Evil,’ I’ve been delving into various, technocratic dreams for the future.

And boy, are they exhausting.

In the future, apparently, we’ll live forever, have chips in our brains and get twitter feeds directly into our neocortex. We’ll all be impossibly beautiful and perfect, that is if we haven’t already had our consciousness uploaded onto a data cloud.

Once in the datacloud, we’ll set about dismantling the planets, creating Matrioshka Brains (don’t ask) and forming a massive Dyson Sphere around the sun. And eventually, our machine-descendants will colonize the galaxy and then the Universe, recreating this current era as a simulation, which we might be living inside, anyway.

This all sounds rather a lot of hard work.

The question many of these guys never seem to ask is what it will be like living in this amazing future. I’ve got one way of simulating it. Spend all day (24 hours) at your laptop/tablet, drinking lots of strong coffee laced with sugar. Make sure that you simultaneously answer every tweet, work at a spreadsheet and simultaneously play something like candy crush saga. And never stop.

And then see how you feel.

Oh, but of course, we’ll be engineered to love/cope with the speedy life, won’t we? We'll never feel tired, or lousy, or depressed again because we'll have a little mood button. In other words, we'll be machines and not human beings.

My vision of the future’s quite different. If I was asked to picture an ideal life in, say, 2600, it would be predominantly rural (we’d have solved the population problem and rewilded much of the Earth).

I might live longer or be less subject to the infirmities of a human body (we'd have advanced medical technology), but I wouldn’t live in a machine worshiping culture. Work -- the boring jobs -- would be largely mechanized; at most, I’d have to do four hours a day for five days a week.

And the work that I did do would be genuinely useful, and not simply to profit someone else or contribute to ‘economic growth.’ The rest of the time would be spent on creative projects, personal development, community, being kind, social life and travelling around the rewilded areas of the Earth.

Cities would be far more pleasant in this future: much greener and less overpopulated. Poverty would be gone, and the prevailing ethos would be towards quality of life rather than the accumulation of wealth.

But the most important thing, is that there would be quiet, time, and peace in my future. And cats, of course. Definitely cats.