“In the year 7510
If God’s a coming, He oughta make it by then
Maybe He’ll look around Himself and say
Guess it’s time for the judgment day”
Sounds wise, but can we trust these words given that the person proclaiming them only achieved fame once?
I say, yes.
One hit wonders remain curious things, as they cause us to wonder what semi-famous, partly-recognizable musicians must do with all the remaining days of their life, with everyone wanting that one song of theirs played over and over and over again while they, even if they are somehow always decent and tolerant about this, are forever unable to replicate that lottery-like success that propelled them into our collective consciousness, but we also wonder how white hot fame can be achieved by someone — only once — because the relentlessness of the machine that is capitalism is always seeking out, always maximizing return, always copying whatever works, and we simply expect this consensual metaverse to throw off enough data so as to ensure that if anyone does it once, they’ll certainly have the tools at their disposal to achieve at least a second go-round on the fame-success wheel, but no, one-hit wonders remain, like a frozen moment in time or a flower that emerges from across the cultural landscape, delivering joy, briefly, and then gone forever. Curious.
In 1964, the duo of Zager & Evans wrote their only hit song — In The Year 2525.
It became a hit, in, fact, in 1969.
Ripples require time to reach the shore.
This is how I feel about several core technologies now radiating towards us. We won’t fully realize the sum total of their transformation of human form and thought and movement for at least another 17+ years.
The flood comes in 2035, that’s when the past will no longer be readable and the future becomes fully writable.
It began 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, sparring abundances, competing algorithms, and the connecting of all people to all things will transform all life and living on this planet.
The past will then become more unknowable than the future.
That means that together, we can and should build a new way of living with our creations and can and should embed our values — the right values — into all that comes next.
What comes 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, shortly. Nothing will be left untouched, not even humanness. I predict the next 17 years will foster the following global trends:
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 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. Connectivity is our self.
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, 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 won’t be defined by your work or your wealth.
You will pay for things, but not with money, often not with work.
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 know 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 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. 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 used for exchange.
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
“But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight, so very far away, maybe it’s only yesterday”
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.
We will not be like them at all.
We cannot go back.
Let’s recall the wise words of that musical duo from Nebraska, what were they called again, Zager & Evans, and that one song they had.
“In the year 8510, God is gonna shake His mighty head. He’ll either say I’m pleased where man has been or tear it down, and start again”
God came early.