A Future Based on the Past

In order to predict what will happen in our future, we look at how we can describe our present, how we got there from the past, and then extend the trend lines we can observe into the future. One way to do that is to break out some categories of ethical concern. Ethics dictates that we should prioritize issues that deal with immediate survival, then move on to efforts to sustain our survival and finally focus on areas where we can enhance our survival. Here are a few of those areas, broken out by category:

SURVIVAL:

  • Health – our overall health as a species has been steadily improving for many centuries. The expansion of medical understanding will insure that this trend continues.
  • Famine – starvation was once common place and is now rare. Modern agriculture will eventually eliminate this as a threat.
  • War – the willingness to use violence to settle disputes is waning at the same time as our technology rapidly grows more deadly. This area is a wild card.

SUSTAIN:

  • Water purification – our ability to purify water from many different sources is increasing and will soon eradicate shortages of drinking water everywhere.
  • Energy production and storage – energy production technology is exploding and so is our ability to efficiently store surplus energy.
  • Medical breakthroughs – advanced medicine can wipe out entire classes of diseases and produce medical drugs that work wonders.

ENHANCE:

  • Longevity – we are on the verge of radically expanding our life span and maybe even being able to reverse aging.
  • Standard of living – worldwide standard of living is soaring and this trend will soon be reaching into areas that have been chronic pockets of poverty.
  • Networked communications – both humans and computers are exchanging more information all the time and the trend will continue to accelerate.

The greatest threat to all of this is the possibility that rogue states and/or terrorists, who have little sense of restraint against using extreme weapons, may get their hands on such weapons and use them.

The greatest positive potential is the possibility that exploding intelligence resources can expand our understanding of ethics at the same rate as we solve problems and develop new technology.

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