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    Thread: Does anyone hold a positive very long term view of society?

    1. #1
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      Does anyone hold a positive very long term view of society?

      Does anyone here hold a positive view on the way society is headed in the very long term?

      By very long term I mean in the range of 40,60-90 years? I ask this with a bias to western society, but I am talking about the world as a whole. The influence of the US is in terminal decline, and like Rome before it, the only reason it hasn't collapsed already is because of last minute panic borrowing which is only buying a few decades of time.

      I also mean socially, not just economically. Marriages are failing, families are broken and depression is at unbelievable levels, what kind of world would we live in if the 30-50 million on prescription meds in the US alone had them withdrawn? Of course in Europe the situation is very similar, although pharma companies don't have quite the same influence here as they do over the pond. Given it's extremely unpopular foreign policy, many might champion the fall of American influence in the world, I also hold disdain for it, but would a totalitarian china be any better? That is under the foolish assumption that china itself would survive were the US to collapse.

      Things continue to deteriorate, not too rapidly for too many to notice, but deteriorate nonetheless. Job security, community cohesion, wages, quality of life for the majority all continue to gradually decline.

      So does anyone here hold a positive view of the long term future? If so, why would you given these trend to the contrary?

    2. #2
      Xei
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      Yes, I'm optimistic. This is based simply on looking at the actual long term statistical trends rather than anecdotal pessimism. Populations everywhere are steadily becoming more secular and more socially liberal. They're becoming more educated, more democratic, and richer. Technology is getting faster and more efficient.
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    3. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Yes, I'm optimistic. This is based simply on looking at the actual long term statistical trends rather than anecdotal pessimism. Populations everywhere are steadily becoming more secular and more socially liberal. They're becoming more educated, more democratic, and richer. Technology is getting faster and more efficient.
      Well my pessimism is based not on anecdotes but indeed the long term statistical trends that I've cited. You say that populations everywhere are getting more secular which may well have been true over the past 40 years but I think that's now reversing. Whereas some Christians are abandoning their faith, Muslims are taking their place in Europe, so this society is not getting more secular as a whole. Even some of the more moderate Muslim states are drifting towards fundamentalism.

      It's true that many developing nations are improving their educational standards, but in the west standards are falling and some country's education systems are abysmal.

      As regards to countries becoming more socially liberal, this is hardly true in Most of southern Europe, France, and some others (although personally I see that as the only light at the end of the tunnel.

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    5. #5
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      Yes - I am optimistic.

    6. #6
      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by Thatperson View Post
      Well my pessimism is based not on anecdotes but indeed the long term statistical trends that I've cited. You say that populations everywhere are getting more secular which may well have been true over the past 40 years but I think that's now reversing. Whereas some Christians are abandoning their faith, Muslims are taking their place in Europe, so this society is not getting more secular as a whole.
      No, you did not cite statistical trends, you cited anecdotes. This is what citing statistics looks like:



      Source: BSA survey.

    7. #7
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      I hold an extremely positive view of the future. First off things are improving all across the world. Quality of life is vastly improving for everyone, poverty is down, war is in decline, and violence overall is in decline. Inequality is an issue, with the differences between people growing in some areas, but overall everyone's life is improving, though not at the same rate.

      Also technology is greatly improving, and spreading all around the world. Knowledge is spreading, and it is improving our life and people are healthier because of it. Things will keep on improving and I think in 100 years we will have wiped out poverty and hunger as well as having cured nearly all diseases.
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    8. #8
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      My main source of optimism is the spreading of knowledge and technology too.
      Especially understanding the workings of the human mind and how to make better use of it, and how to deal with personal and social problems and hold-backs.
      LD spreading into common practice belongs there as well in my view, actually.
      I hope for synergistic effects - esp. over the internet - maybe virtual reality will be refined and usable, too.
      I do expect significant progress towards longevity within my life-time - and hope for solutions concerning over-populations at the same time.

      And - to be honest - an outlook into the next hundred years is not exactly long-term in my view.
      What about a thousand years - or what about 10.000 years?

      My favourite novel - Anathem by Neil Stephenson - was to a big extent inspired by a project he is part of: The Long Now Foundation.

      The main project is building an iconic clock - ticking away for the next 10.000 years.
      The initial inspiration coming from Daniel Hillis, for those having heard of him:

      "When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 02000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 02000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium."
      They are now digging into a mountain and building the big one - here a finished small prototype:



      Do check this out for lots of detail-pictures and explanations - it is beautiful: Clock Prototype


      Another core project is a long-term library project (Rosetta Disc, Long Viewer..) - and organizing lectures and seminars and and - around this sort of perspective.
      Going into it like this is slightly off topic now - I am aware of it - but I am a great fan of this project - Brian Eno by the way being among the founders, too.

      Here how they see human-perspective time-scales:


    9. #9
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      I have to agree that describing the "very long term" as a period less than one human lifetime is one of the lesser symptoms of an inherent shortsightedness in the OP's viewpoint. If you can't think in terms of at least seven generations, then stop worrying about the future because you have no conception of what it is.

      Anathem is probably my second-favorite novel, behind Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller... (less obviously relevant to the discussion), but I wasn't familiar with The Long Now. I'll have to look more into it.

      Honestly, I'm fair to middlin' regarding the near future. There will be growing pains, including all but an end to privacy as an inevitable result of communications technology (already largely the case), and there will be further economic upheavals. The impact of such events will be better distributed and more closely watched, however, because of those same technologies and the global interconnection they bring. There will be fewer warzones, but also fewer backwaters where those who chafe at civilization can go unmolested. The future won't be anyone's utopia. The more idealistic you are, whether Right or Left or some truly oddball splinter, the less you'll probably like it. The trend is no trends: more complexity, more diversity, and no narrative winning.
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      If you have a sense of caring for others, you will manifest a kind of inner strength in spite of your own difficulties and problems. With this strength, your own problems will seem less significant and bothersome to you. By going beyond your own problems and taking care of others, you gain inner strength, self-confidence, courage, and a greater sense of calm.Dalai Lama



    10. #10
      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by Taosaur View Post
      If you can't think in terms of at least seven generations, then stop worrying about the future because you have no conception of what it is.
      If you believe you can think in terms of at least seven generations, then stop worrying about the future because you have no conception of what it is.

      Seven generations ago would have been before oil or electricity technologies (that includes communications and transport), the second industrial revolution, universal suffrage, the emergence of the middle class, the Origin of Species... you think you could have envisaged 2013 from that standpoint? No.

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      Yeah - sure - I do not foresee a purely rosy path towards utopia, too.
      I just feel, with so much pessimism - I want to put emphasis on some positive things.
      But I truly am optimistic - if not for my lifetime.
      The following generations might of course also hold some very nasty upheavals.
      Themed around a process of equalizing geographically, for example.

      The problem with ever receding privacy can be thought very much further - towards our very minds becoming vulnerable to right out intrusion. There are very fascinating experiments being done.

      One example is an experiment, which demonstrates, how a nerve impulse for moving a finger can be sent from one person over the internet to the other person, who then actually moves that finger.
      Another more directly connected one was about reading peopleīs actual thought-contents with imaging techniques. If somebody is interested - I look for the links - maybe it was OneironautZero, who posted them initially..?

      I could imagine substantial cultural impacts, in the wake of - maybe the way to full technical telepathy.
      Then finally all the shared dreaming fans will get what they so very much desire:
      As a side effect there would probably also be a full on lucidity-like (or superior*..?) virtual reality.

      Oh - as an afterthought - there might follow accessibility to an "afterlife" as well - if you do not mind to reside in a shared simulation..

      *Before somebody cries out - purely by having the input from other people - it would be expanded in a way..
      But please access with me knowing I access a virtual reality..

    12. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      If you believe you can think in terms of at least seven generations, then stop worrying about the future because you have no conception of what it is.

      Seven generations ago would have been before oil or electricity technologies (that includes communications and transport), the second industrial revolution, universal suffrage, the emergence of the middle class, the Origin of Species... you think you could have envisaged 2013 from that standpoint? No.
      That's kind of what I was getting at. Focus on one or two pet narratives ("The Muslins is taking over the world1!11") and expect that tree to grow to heaven, and you'll almost certainly be wrong. Also, generations are generally measured in about 20 year increments, so seven generations ago would be just about the time all those things were emerging.
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      If you have a sense of caring for others, you will manifest a kind of inner strength in spite of your own difficulties and problems. With this strength, your own problems will seem less significant and bothersome to you. By going beyond your own problems and taking care of others, you gain inner strength, self-confidence, courage, and a greater sense of calm.Dalai Lama



    13. #13
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      If you believe you can think in terms of at least seven generations, then stop worrying about the future because you have no conception of what it is.

      Seven generations ago would have been before oil or electricity technologies (that includes communications and transport), the second industrial revolution, universal suffrage, the emergence of the middle class, the Origin of Species... you think you could have envisaged 2013 from that standpoint? No.
      I agree, if you mean by envisaging to think about it and assume to be correct.
      Your post is an answer not to me, but to Taosaur - I missed your post, by the way - I had an answer-window open, while you posted, it seems.

      So it might not fit - but I find thinking in the sense of speculating thus far might be good for opening up perspective.

      A very long perspective might lead to ideas - close to envisaging - of developments, that are much closer to us than expected possible - as a side-effect.
      Science Fiction would be missing out on a lot of ideas, were this perspective not taken into account once in a while..

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      Very long term: yes. As a world force I don't think anything can get in the way of humans anymore.

      Short term: We might go through some very rough patches when our resources are fully depleted and all ecosystems are on the brink of destruction. I suspect there will be a huge loss in population at some point purely because I think developing countries will grow out of hand , unless we act soon.

      As a side note, Muslims in Europe are far from devout. Just like most European Catholics, most Muslims don't strictly follow their religion anymore. Now with the up rise of girls like malala who fight for human rights it's only a matter of time before things even out.
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      Quote Originally Posted by dutchraptor View Post
      Very long term: yes. As a world force I don't think anything can get in the way of humans anymore.

      ..
      The above depends on the solution to the Fermi-Paradoxon.
      Who knows, who is out there, and why we donīt know about them..
      Or do you mean earth-bound organisms?

      What do you mean by world-force?

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      Quote Originally Posted by StephL View Post
      The above depends on the solution to the Fermi-Paradoxon.
      Who knows, who is out there, and why we donīt know about them..
      Or do you mean earth-bound organisms?

      What do you mean by world-force?
      By world force I meant the combined force of human ingenuity in times of need (Or something like that). When I said anything, I really meant "Most predictable things". Things like disease, pollution, crazy weather, world war. Humans are hard to eradicate, we lasted this long, I'm sure we can last longer.
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      Yes - whatever catastrophe - life has survived - we should be able to manage that as well on our planet.

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      If we subscribe to the belief that history repeats itself, and that we will continue to make the same mistakes that we always have, then we're in big trouble. Back in the day, pre-WW2, people used to think that technology was the answer to a brighter future. They thought that scientists could lead the world to a technological utopia, but eventually we all found out that the technology was being used for war, for killing hundreds of thousands of people.

      I believe in a positive future for society, because I believe in humans. It may be a little naive, but I believe that we can take the other path. I believe that we can solve our problems with dialogue rather than killing. I believe that we have the potential to use new technological advances for the benefit of humanity rather than for new ways to kill each other and ourselves.

      I think that it is pretty well known that we have grown a little bit too big for our britches. Our technological prowess has surpassed our love quotient and at this point, any day could be the day that we destroy ourselves. I think that the key to a positive society in the future lays in developing a level of spirituality or at least good sense to match our powerful technologies, so that we will be truly responsible enough to have them.

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