I was pondering the state of things a while ago and I attempted to derive some logically sound conjecture regarding 'the future'. It struck me that our world is going to change pretty profoundly sometime in the next few decades. Here's my reasoning:

  1. Technology continues to advance. Some reckon that the speed of the advance is increasing with time (ie technological progress is accelerating). Either way it is true to say that over time the average human has more power over his/her environment than his/her parents.
  2. It is the nature of the universe that it is easier to destroy than it is to create. This is the nature of entropy, the second law of thermodynamics. For example, it is easier to burn a house than it is to make one. Similarly offense is always easier than defense: it's easier to fire a gun than to dodge a bullet.
  3. There continue to be crazy people in the world. There are some who are ignorant, or misinformed, perhaps even carefully lied to in order to stoke fierce hatred etc. There are also unfortunately some people who are just nuts.

Thus we are entering a time when the average crazy person will have available an ever increasing amount of destructive power. It is only a matter of time before we either suffer the consequences of such a state of affairs, or we start to see administrative attempts to circumvent this problem. There are 4 possibilities:

A. They fail. Crazy people raise hell.
B. They attempt to block or suppress technological progress.
C. They attempt to control access to technology.
D. They get rid of the crazy people.

If A happens, then it could be anything from a few isolated holocausts before the problem is solved right up to the extinction of all life on the planet, maybe the destruction of the planet itself. Maybe worse. Most likely is that ordered civilisation will crumble and we'll be set back about 500 years.

If they attempt Plan B (ahem) then they will fail. People innovate like they procreate, there's no way to prevent it. They could slow it down, but that would simply push science and technology underground (which would be kinda cool really). C would also fail because, well, it's usually the people in power who are the most crazy anyway. Would you really want the most dangerous technologies exclusively in the hands of the government? (err... that's what we have now... eek!). Ultimately such attempts would lead to dictatorships which would, of course, fall.

Finally D, which would be executed in several ways. The bad way to do it would be to wage 'war on evil' (like we're doing now), spending resources and lives on trying to progress destructively, which is, of course, an impossibility. This method makes it easy for power hungry dictators and 'religious' leaders to villify those who are so inadequately 'helping' them. (Like what is happening now.)

A better way might be to shift a large proportion of the military budgets of some rich nations over to a sort of militaristically-organised, non-militant reconstruction force, which would march into a war-torn country armed with tools and construction materials, and start rebuilding civilian buildings. See this node (the one by NightShadow) for details. In all liklihood locals would gradually join in the effort, and people would volunteer from all over the world. Many people join the military to see the world. What better way than to do exactly that whilst constructively helping, and not having to shoot anyone. Sure it'd be dangerous, people would get killed, but it'd be nice to be truly the good guys for a change eh?

Hopefully the world would get the message, few regimes or religious indoctrinal policies could stand up to that kind of positive influence, the politics of militant parts of the world would cool and set, gradually societies would gravitate to less dictatorial governments, maybe democracies, but it wouldn't really matter. Eventually violence would be limited to extremist terrorism and crime, and those problems could then be concentrated on with all the money left over from the now dissolved global military budgets.

Of course if all that goes off without a hitch then all we have to worry about is the impending 'AI singularity' that we transhumanists love to speak of so much. Will we be able to transcend into posthumanity? or will the developing AI wipe us out like the bugs we are? Will we even make it to that point, or will disputes over the danger of spawning an intelligence in a technological substrate with the potential therefore to evolve infinitely beyond our own capacity for intelligence and wisdom lead to wars and destruction the like of which no human has ever dreamed possible? Will humanity in whatever form last out the century? Tune in next week to find out, same bat time, same bat channel...

I forgot to mention bird flu...

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