It started with Windows 95.
We are now in Year 22 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, competing abundances, collaborating algorithms, and the connecting of all people to all things will transform all life and living on this planet.
To what next?
The destruction of everything.
Our collective understanding of purpose, work, ownership, possession, value, wealth, health, learning, serving, believing and perceiving will all be transfigured, soon. Nothing will be left untouched, not even humanness. A glimpse into the near future:
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 erected an 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 explore 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 delight. Community is our self.
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.
4. HACKING MORTALITY
Who are you at age 90? At age 140? Hacking mortality is set to become the biggest industry of this century. We will not live forever but will live for probably decades longer than today. 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, savings will be a distant memory, poorly understood.
Who are you when nothing is as it was?
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. Food, healthcare, entertainment, transportation, energy, gadgetry, connectivity, you, me, our creativity, passions, darkest thoughts, where we lay our head.
You won’t be defined by your work or your wealth.
When no money needs to exchange hands, ever, because the price — of everything — is effectively zero or because 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.
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.
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 and communal lives entirely without having to embrace consumption.
You will never again be defined by your possessions, though you will be free to let your possessions define you.
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. These will determine their customer base, their margins, their market.
The purely profit-based corporation will whither.
Your values will always be on display and used for exchange.
TO THE PROMISED LAND
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.
Know: You can be saved.
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.
I will point the way true. And for those that ask, yes, I am aware that Moses never entered the promise land.