In the beginning was Windows 95. We are now in Year 23 of a 40-year (not 40 day) planet altering, life repurposing, technology infused deluge. A great flood of robotics, artificial intelligences, bio-coding, pharma-induced healing, the digitalization of perception, the merging of daily life into screens, sparring abundances, competing algorithms, and the connecting of all people to all things will transform all life and living on this planet.
The flood comes in 2035, that’s when the past will no longer be readable and the future becomes fully writable.
Here are the global meta-trends that will shape the start of the new of everything, the final years of the self, the brief period before all become part of the machine or jettisoned from all that comes next.
1. TRIBAL WANDERERS
The past is rapidly becoming more unknowable than the future. We are like Adam and Eve, more aware of what’s to come than what’s come before us. This new reality will lead to a transformative break in human values. It will also create a permanent wandering class.
No home, new modes of work, play, crafting, interaction, and the connection of all places and things to all people will lead millions, maybe billions, to forever wander the land, seeking friendships, seeking answers, a willful freeing of their mind and liberation from place forever altering our culture. Hop inside the (autonomous) bus and drive! And sleep and eat and play and learn and share.
Caution: We have constructed economy and government based on the self, which is vanishing, and the local, which is being made irrelevant.
2. OUTSOURCING THE RATIONAL
Atheists are on the wrong side of history. Just as we outsourced our labor to the machines, now we are outsourcing our thinking, our calculating, our rational tasks. As a consequence, we are becoming more spiritual, more creative, and yes, more irrational, free to nurture and unleash all our thoughts, impulses, desires, fears, hopes, aggressions.
Belief in magic, religion, in spirituality and God will accelerate and deepen because of, not despite of, the rise of big data, machines, robotics, electronics, computing and artificial intelligences. We become what our machines cannot. We do what can’t be outsourced. Faith is our future. Spirituality is our expression.
3. DIFFERENTLY ALIVE
Everything we make from this moment forward will be aware, sensing, responsive — alive. How are ((humans)) differently alive?
Answering this — legally, culturally, politically — will tear apart everyone and from everything.
There’s more. With everyone and everything connected, in real-time, and always, and with the spread of bionics, nano-machines, processors, the very notion of ‘self’ will be transformed. You are never you, forever.
4. HACKING MORTALITY
Hacking mortality will become the biggest industry of this century. We will not live forever but those that come next will live for probably decades longer than us. Great for them, less so for much of what we’ve constructed. All the systems, institutions, wealth, rules and culture which now exist, all of which are dependent upon most of the world dying by or before age 75, will themselves die off. The notion of economy, jobs, and savings will be a distant memory, poorly understood.
Caution: many of the radical life extension efforts will prove deeply repugnant. Prepare to fight them. They are unholy.
5. THE FUTURE HAS ARRIVED ONLY IT’S EVENLY DISTRIBUTED
What becomes of commerce — and power — when we all have as much as we need and are each only a screen swipe away from the leaders of nations and the guardians of conglomerates?
What is your standing? Your source of power? Your desires when everything is within reach?
Remember the “science fiction” story of the little girl who accidentally gets hold of one of the world’s two tablets, tablets which contain the world’s knowledge? In reality, tablets are already available to over a billion people — with the price dropping steadily.
6. THE FREE-ING OF EVERYTHING
Soon, everything will be free. Literally, everything that matters will be free and freely available. Food, healthcare, entertainment, transportation, energy, gadgetry, connectivity, you, me, our creativity, passions, darkest thoughts, where we lay our head.
You will pay for things, but not with money, often not with work, not as we perceive the notion.
And when no money needs to exchange hands, ever, because the price — of everything — is effectively zero and trading our expertise, our attention, our companionship, right down to the millisecond is all that’s needed, every existing locus of power is obliterated. Where will power come from? What of your self worth?
7. CONSUMPTION IS DEATH
God bless the child who’s got it all.
Even the really fat ones.
Know this: We are fat, obese, and sedentary not because of cars or technology or industrialization or suburbanization or laziness but because capitalism is a fierce, never-tiring always-learning meta-system which discovered that money could be made in selling food and leisure and kept getting better at this, and better and better, and better.
Capitalism knows our desires better than we understand our limits.
But having consumed our fill, puking it out, consuming all over again, retching, repeating this process, year after year, generation after generation, the vomit of consumption a toxic force upon our planet, we — the takers and makers and learners of capitalism — have finally constructed an alternative path. We can live full and exciting and interesting and private or communal lives entirely without having to embrace consumption. You will never again be defined by your possessions.
8. VALUES EQUAL PROFITS
Soon, we can get anything from anyone, anywhere at anytime. Businesses will respond to this by differentiating themselves with the only thing they have remaining — their values. Their opposition to gay marriage, their warm embrace of sustainable food practices, their rejection of the profit motive, their deep, abiding faith in Jesus Christ. Values will determine their customer base, their margins, their market. The purely profit-based corporation will whither.
In the next stage of commerce, your values will always be on display and often exchanged in place of cash.
9. THE INSANELY GREAT AWAKENING
As we alter our bodies, our minds, upend society, reconstruct awareness and deconstruct all that came before, including markets, capitalism, value, power, wealth, influence and experience, there is a right path forward.
We just don’t know what it is.
We will seek out God.
We are eager to believe.
A great awakening is upon us.
10. THE PAST IS MORE UNKNOWABLE THAN THE FUTURE
It’s all not working, nothing is how it’s supposed to be. We have never been more empowered, more capable, more angry, more empty, and we sense, the fear and revulsion and excitement of it always on display, that the very idea of human, of person, of self may soon vanish forever.
We will soon scarcely even understand those before us.