I found this article a few days ago and thought it was quite interesting on many different levels. Discussing the future is one of the most fascinating things in my mind, what is even better is how horribly wrong we always seem to get it. Still though that never deters us, humans, from trying.
While reading anything I always have a degree of skepticism on almost everything I read, especially when it is all doom and gloom about the future like this article. I am not saying that what the article states could not happen, but I think many of these predictions are on some level an overreaction at best. Regardless let’s take a look at what we have.
Virtually anyone will be able to create their own pandemic – Not sure why this one is number 1 on the list but whatever. In the realm of possibility I think this one is going to be toward the bottom. Although the article did make some convincing points about how the gene sequencing for some of the most deadly viruses ever are available on the internet, available to anyone. That is somewhat disturbing, but even though that info is available, I find it extremely unlikely that it matters. I am sure there are exact and very detailed instructions out there on the internet about how to enrich uranium and create a nuclear weapon, yet we all know that that process is extremely difficult. I would imagine that creating a super virus would be similarly difficult and would take a team of highly skilled and intelligent engineers, and if that is the case I find it hard to believe that they would be doing this for evil purposes. I am not saying this could never happen, just somewhat unlikely, seems more in line with a movie plot than real life.
Authoritarianism will make a comeback – This one is quite interesting for a variety of reasons. The world we live in is very chaotic and recently a very scary place. It seems to be becoming more and more terrorized by radicals. I am not sure that something like this will happen with whoever gets elected in November, but I could see things certainly changing down the road if global terrorism keeps rising. I think in first world countries there could be a restriction of rights to counter act the terrorism that is going on. In a world where terrorism is rampant people want to feel safe again and I believe will gladly give up some of their freedoms to achieve that level of comfort and safety. This could take a variety of forms as I will discuss below, but also includes the ban of any and all firearms. While at first glance this may seem like a good idea for the near future, the real question is what happens down the road. In almost every country where a violent totalitarian dictator has taken control one of the reasons they are able to stay in power so long is because none of the civilians possess firearms or the means to overthrow the dictator. Think North Korea, no civilian has a gun and the government is in complete control of the entire populous without any fear of an uprising. The only possible threat is a military coup, much like the failed one in Turkey last week, but that can easily be put down with the public execution of those who are defiant. North Korea seems to do that on a somewhat regular basis. So I think that this could be a very real possibility for our future although I do not know how many years of global terrorism it would take to get to this point.
Privacy will become a thing of the past – To me this one is already here and is here to stay. I mean almost all of our lives are digitized in some way. Almost everyone you know has a Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. I bet you could find a somewhat random person and within a few minutes be able to answer some basic, and in some cases very detailed, questions about their life. What I think may change about this in the coming years, if it has not already, is that this invasion of privacy is voluntary. Meaning that the individual puts their own life out there for everyone to see. You have to post on Facebook or write the Tweets. I wonder if there is some secret government organization like the NSA that is just compiling tons and tons of data on every citizen for national security purposes. While this does not really bother me, I am sure there are some individuals that will feel that this is a true invasion of privacy. But to me I am of the mindset that I have nothing to hide, so looking into my life would be relatively boring and a waste of resources. However, using those same resources could help catch a suspected terrorist and potentially save lives. So for that reason I am not totally against this, but I think there is a fine line here when traveling down this road. As I mentioned above this is one of the basic rights that I would be willing to give up if it were to perhaps catch would be terrorist. I would not mind that someone is listening to my phone calls or monitoring my Tweets, as I said I have nothing to hide. But I wonder if there would be a point where these things would be censored, and that is something that I am not willing to give up, freedom of speech.
The effects of climate change will be irreversible – I think this one is probably right, but no matter which side of the fence you are on with the Global Warming debate I think we still need to do more research. There are numerous articles that state that much of the so called hard data that has been used to solidify Global Warming was in fact manipulated to come to that result. That in and of itself is very alarming. So because of this I cannot say that this is in fact true one way or the other. But I also think that we could potentially come up with relatively cheap technology that could slow down these effects or possible begin to reverse them. So I think this is a very bold statement at best. But if I am trying to stay positive this could be a good way for us, humans, to advance our geoengineering technologies which could intern help us to be able to terraform a planet in the future.
The antibiotic era will end – This one is possible the most scary because I think it is the most possible in terms of what could truly happen. I have seen on multiple occasions that this is becoming a real problem. Our overuse of antibiotics is making bacteria and viruses evolve at an alarming rate and they are becoming more resistant to our antibiotics. My only counter to this is that nature is very strange in the way it works. For the longest time we thought that plastics would take eons to degrade, that those plastic Coke bottles would sit in a land fill for hundreds if not thousands of years. Recently scientist discovered bacteria that actually eats plastic. So for that reason I think that as certain antibiotics become less effective I think new ones will be discovered so that we will always have a slight advantage over any pathogen. If we begin to lose that advantage we could use the 3D printing technology discussed in the first point to create our own synthetic antibiotic. That technology would work both ways and this point was briefly touched upon in the article. So I think this is a problem, but we have technology in place that could keep us one step ahead and give us that small advantage that we can exploit.
We’ll never make contact with aliens – As much as I hate to say it, I think this is correct. I would love to wake up tomorrow and see that we have made contact with an alien civilization from outside our solar system. Sadly I do not think this will be the case. There are just too many obstacles for our civilization or another to overcome to make this happen. BUT I will say that if you use Gott’s Copernican Principle which states that there is a 95% certainty that our civilization will approximately last somewhere between 5,000 more years and 7,000,000 more years, then I will say that our odds are greatly increased. As during this time we could possibly have the technology to overcome many of those obstacles that seem impossible now. Plus it could give time for tens perhaps hundreds of civilizations to become technologically intelligent. But I would still have to say that we will probably never make contact with aliens, bummer I know. It just seems too improbable, and right now that is really all we have, probabilities.
I still want to be positive, as it is just a matter of time in the universal sense. How long will we last vs. how long will someone else be out there, and when if ever will our civilizations cross. The more time each of us have the greater change we will have to run across one another, but for now I have to lean slightly toward it may never happen.