The day we finally grow up

The world is changing fast. Wave after wave of accelerating technological change is leaving society and governments struggling to adapt. Our past could never prepare us for the journey we are about to embark on and the truth is that from here on in we shoot without a script.

While we all long for a better tomorrow, very few of us have the courage to try to imagine what the future might actually look like. Bound by conventions and by fear of ridicule, most of us dare not to dream or speak about the deep future, instead we choose to focus on the short-term future, which is safe and generally agreeable.

Futurists everywhere, I applaud your courage. Even when you are wrong, you contribute more to the future of our species than your critics ever will.

Even though collectively we choose poverty of imagination as the default mode of thinking about the future, here we stand on the verge of profound societal changes that cannot be stopped and cannot be reasoned with. We are witnessing the dawn of an age of technological wonders, of technology so advanced that it is itself indistinguishable from magic.

Take a minute to admire the computer monitor in which you are reading these words. Maybe you are using a modern LCD flat panel or maybe you are using an old CRT tube. Either way, old or new, appreciate its beautiful complexity with millions of connected parts that are able to convert a symphony of electrons, bits and bytes into the perfectly weaved tapestry of light required to carry my words to you.

Now consider for a moment the most complex devices we possessed a mere 200 years ago. How does your computer monitor measure up to it? Do you even know how your monitor really works? What about your computer? Your cell phone? Would you be able to design any of these devices from scratch? Do you know anyone who could?

We came a long way in a very short period. Now try to imagine what miracles of science we will witness in the course of the next 200 years. No matter what you think you know about the future, I assure you that if we don’t destroy ourselves, the best is yet to come.

Like Martin Luther King, I too have a dream.

I dream of a world where people are once again thrilled about the future.

I dream that one day curing death, understanding the human brain and traveling to the stars will be seen as urgent challenges that must be conquered at all costs.

I dream that one day scientists will be considered celebrities and that each of us will be measured not by how much capital we have accumulated but by how much we have contributed to the future of our species.

I dream that one day all nations will unite in the war against ignorance and superstition, the true enemies of all sentient beings.

I dream of the day humanity finally grows up.