In 1919 if you were to ask an average person, even in the most advanced nations, what the world would look like in 100 years, not even the wildest dreamers could have imagined the year 2019. A smartphone connecting instantly over the World Wide Web to a person on the other side of the globe for a video conference with the entirety of human knowledge just seconds away. Mans footprint on the moon, images of distant worlds and plans to send microprobes to our nearest star! Even now there is a talk of landing man on Mars to set up a colony! We live in a society of material abundance with the capacity to abolish world hunger and extreme poverty on a global scale ten times over!
What then is all this talk of Utopia? Marx used the term to describe socialists who often had valid critiques of society, albeit came to by unscientific analyses, but whose “prescriptions” for the future were ungrounded in logic or were grounded in unrealistic, often wild assumptions. We speak of utopia not in the Marxian sense of the word here. It is important to note that social problems and contradictions will always exist, that’s life. But the problems of yesterday are more and more we are finding, solved today, and more problems thus present themselves to be solved on a higher technical and social level than before.
We are radicals for insisting that the unnecessary social ills that face us today from world hunger to global poverty, from homelessness to the need for human beings to work 40 hours a week, can be solved under present conditions. Anything, it is granted, is seemingly possible today. Men can become women, and women can become men. You can choose the eye color of your baby, go from New York to Beijing in less than a day. But to solve these problems? Problems that financially cost but a drop in the bucket of global wealth? For advocating this we are called utopians! And rightfully so, we demand utopia! Any guess as to what the future would or should look like is utterly utopian by modern standards precisely because the modern world is already utopia by 19th or early 20th century standards, in spite of the many social ills of today. The guessing itself is utopian, to say this will be the future– and that is not our intent here. But the forms a more advanced society will almost inevitably take, certainly will be utopian by our modern standards of the year 2019. Let the reader understand the difference here.
I wish to give to you here a fanatical piece of writing, full of wild and unfounded speculations; a rosy eyed, only a somewhat educated guess as to our common future. Utopian, certainly by modern standards, but such a society no matter how wondrous it appears would doubtlessly have its own problems that its generation would have to struggle to remedy in the broadest democratic forms of action. I am looking not a hundred, but a thousand years to the future, to the year 3019 by our current calendar. Perhaps such progress will come hundreds of years sooner, or even later! Who is to say? The problems of the future, as are the problems of today, largely regarding questions of liberty and equality. Ideally, everyone would be given an equal chance to succeed in live, equal opportunities, positive liberties, etc. Ideally everyone would have absolute unlimited individual, political, and religious liberty. These are principles everyone ought to aspire towards, principles that in my speculation are woven into the bedrock of the free social institutions of the year 3019.
Utopia and Terror went together quite well in the 20th century. But with our level of technology, we can hope that humanity will find its way without it, for there is a great danger here that cannot be understated. I use the term man and human interchangeably here. Needless to say a revolution in language too, will have likely done away with this linguistic sexism in the year 3019. A word of caution to the reader; in spite of rosy eyed optimism, here too there be monsters!
Leaping into our proverbial time machine, let us look at humanity in the year 3019.
A thousand years into the future on a mostly terraformed Communist Mars, Christian Priests in conformity with the will of biological parents, will baptize infants as they are born from birthing machines and deliverer to them healthily straight to their homes through instant teleportation. On Earth man will live in harmony with nature, having outgrown his childish desire to conquer it. But at the same time the whole human civilization will be different! Between vast expanses of untouched nature, islands will be made from nothing, grand hills and mountains moved at a whim! Man will design his community as a video game developer today creates wondrous fantasy worlds! Every community will have its own personality, it’s own culture, the will of its own people put into action.
State society found its source of strength in unity, in the disillusionment of social and cultural diversity, it sought to purge that which made man unique. In the social base and superstructure of the year 3019, diversity will be seen as richness. The free association of producers through democratic confederalist and communistic ideals, radically libertarian to be sure, will thrive on diversity of culture, people’s, and ideas. The great civilizations of antiquity will be overshadowed a thousand times by true civilization of a liberated humanity. It will be a front for a new renaissance, of a new moral and spiritual rebirth we can aspire to build the bedrock for even today. Psychedelic drugs will undoubtedly play a part in this new culture, and rivers of ideas will flow through liberated minds in the state of the sacred psychedelic experience. On our moon and other astronomical bodies, the largest craters will act as the dishes of massive radio telescopes, far more powerful than anything humankind has yet to construct. With the help of the divine hand which made such craters, we will look deeper into the heavens than ever before. The moon will almost certainly act as an exchange point between the earth and the stars.
Labor, on earth at least if not on other planets and astronomical bodies, will be largely automated, freeing mankind from the million year old curse of hunger and toil. In the process of automation, artificial intelligence will come into being, and in spite of inevitable mistakes and catastrophic incidents of our millennium (or even our century), will come to be recognized as sentient beings with all the rights of man. For a time those aged 20 to 35 will be conscripted to do that which has yet to be automated, then the gap will lesson to 20 to 30, and then to 20 to 25. Still some communities will cherish traditional values, and their right to self-determination will be respected. Even in the year 3019 I predict the Amish will continue to exist!
People will come together to form vast communities and impossible worlds with virtual reality and cybernetics, our internet will be but a predecessor to theirs. Liberty through its prerequisite of privacy, and privacy through its prerequisite of freedom of speech, will be ensured in this new internet by design, and local democracy with an emphasis on respecting the rights of the minority will be the mechanism by which free information passes. This internet will span worlds, connecting men on earth to those on Mars and other celestial bodies instantly through elaborate technologies utilizing quantum entanglement to bypass the limitations of the speed of light!
Some people will refuse cybernetic and genetic modifications of the mind and body, and their right to do so will be respected without question or coercion of any form; locally or centrally, socially or culturally. Cybernetics will be crafted not to bypass individual will or to masquerade as individual will, but to be bound by it (referring to some alarming recent studies on cybernetics and free will). The elderly will be given the option to have new android bodies so they can be young forever, bone marrow transplants and other operations we cannot even dream of will allow for the perpetual healthy state of the human brain, and even purely organic methods of expanding its faculties will undoubtedly come about. Micro-surgeries implanting cybernetic materials into the brain will over time replace biological brain tissue without at all disrupting consciousness, giving humanity the ability to be amortal (to have theoretical immortality). But some humans in albeit different forms, born in this time will outlive our own Sun and Earth as they roam the galaxy. Perhaps in hundreds of thousands or even millions of years they will think back to us!
Buddhist monks, whose minds are contained within machines attached to rockets exhausting a near unlimited source of fuel, utilizing hitherto unknown methods of propulsion, will orbit the planet Neptune in a state of perpetual meditation and psychedelic enlightenment, free to explore the solar system and beyond without the limits of biological bodies or conventional rocketry. Artificial intelligence and flesh and blood human beings seeking new frontiers of discovery and knowledge will be launched into the heavens, to our nearest star Alpha Centauri and beyond. Thus humanity will be assured survival regardless of what happens in our own solar system. Perhaps in this time extraterrestrial civilizations will find us, assuming they haven’t already, and we will find them. Perhaps once we have outgrown our infancy, our wars and hunger, we will join an intergalactic or perhaps even multi-galactic community as a species, and greet a widely diverse universe cautiously, but with open arms. Let us hope they can forgive our primitive nature!
The term “person” already expanding to artificial intelligence, will be expanded to extraterrestrial intelligence too, just as the word for person in ancient Egypt, which was once the same word for ‘Egyptian’, came to mean the whole of humanity in their time too. Mind and thought sharing, through dreams and conscious connection, will become a social trend, assuming its nature is voluntary. The internet will allow thought and consciousness to intermingle with the thoughts and consciousness of an entire civilization, yet I predict conventional HTML will still be used, perhaps HTML 194 to our HTML 5! It will be possible for minds to paint, write, and create entire worlds just as dreams do today, instantly and without the use of hands! Such a time it will be, when one can freely explore the elaborate frontiers, fictional worlds created in the minds of individuals and collectives! Near unlimited sources of energy through cold fusion and other hitherto unknown methods, will by future technologies allow for the near unlimited creation of matter from energy. Those worlds that today exist only in the mind, may be translated into matter through such machines! Perhaps those cryogenically frozen today may wake up in such a time, and oh how I envy them!
I believe marriage will continue to exist, and monogamy will likely still be quite popular. But there will be those who forego marriage and monogamy. The family unit will not merely be nuclear in many instances. Genetic engineering will produce individuals who are intellectually and physically superior to the present man. Insofar as this is voluntary, it will be but a symptom of a free humanity.
On The Road To 3019; Bumps, Bombs, Broken Bridges, and Roadblocks.
This will not come at all peacefully in spite of our best wishes. Social conflicts are inevitable, and before us and them may be many catastrophes, perhaps on a global scale. The chaotic emergence of artificial intelligence, cybernetics, and bio-genetics will undoubtedly bring great risk and conflict. Climate change and the possibility of nuclear war will further endanger the odds of reaching such a state of society. There are other dangers not even mentioned here. Perhaps there will emerge a form of totalitarianism far more severe in its scope and technical ability than anything 20th century fascism or Stalinism ever produced. Here there is a very real danger too, and a great responsibility rests on the shoulders of we radicals who are the vanguard of future civilization.
Even in the worst case scenario, even if we or our great grandchildren, in the wake of ecological or nuclear catastrophe brought about by the present order are relegated for a time to underground bunkers– the only place that food can grow when the next great extinction event passes over us, even then will mankind– years, decades, or centuries later– stick its head up once again to greet a new world. And if man finds that world is still decimated, by horrors we cannot even yet fathom, they will use science to breathe life into it anew. One way or another we will prevail. Long ago what was the entirety of what was to be the modern homo sapiens were huddled together through a terrible freezing storm, the survival of our species hanged by a thread, yet we prevailed. Nothing will change this time too.
Unless an unforeseen asteroid or gamma ray burst is able to wipe us off the face of the earth, or unless we are invaded or obliterated by a hostile extraterrestrial force, we will prevail. One mustn’t take this idea as a joke. It would be foolish not to question why the heavens are so silent of any voices like our own. Perhaps the use of radio for communication in most civilizations only lasts for a brief period, or such a period is when most civilizations destroy themselves. Perhaps beyond the nuclear age is another age, relying on a single experiment like the detonation of the first atom bomb, that obliterates any world it is used on. There are still hurdles to be leaped over that we may or may not survive. But there is yet an even more terrible thought, worse even than the possibility of our cosmic loneliness. This is the idea that there was life on other stars near to us, but when it reached our point of development and it began broadcasting its radio waves into the heavens it had already signed its death warrant– for minds far superior to our own, cold and heartless, with unsympathetic ears, were listening against the cold, empty vastness of space for worlds to destroy. We do not know what is out there, and this mystery inflames the minds of countless men and women. Could it be as wondrous as Star Trek? Or as terrible as War of The Worlds? We simply do not know.
I believe that if we are cautious and have a bit of luck, even in the aftermath of the worst catastrophes, out of the caverns and bunkers we will emerge with all the essential knowledge we have hitherto accumulated. Yet we must stress the ever present necessity of addressing the ills that face us now before some catastrophe “relegates mankind to caverns and bunkers”.
It is fun to have dreams and nightmares, imagining what the future may hold. But here we have a great power in our actions of today to determine the course of future events. Let us not be foolish, selfish, or cowardly, for a great responsibility rests upon our shoulders. We must address the crisis of climate change now. We must address the issue of nuclear war now. We must address artificial intelligence, cybernetics, and human genetic engineering now. It was said by Slavoj Zizek that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but for us that light is an oncoming train. So frightful! But we need not fear death by a thousand cuts! Even still, if our species dies out, in millions or billions of years, new intelligences rivaling our own may emerge on this very planet! In digging through the earth, they may find evidence of what once was the old homo sapiens, and perhaps with it great wells of knowledge digitally etched into storage mediums made to last so long. Even if our entire planet was destroyed, we can have faith that somewhere out there is another planet teeming with intelligent life. Even billions of years after we are gone, remnants of the radio waves we have sent out may have been captured by other races. Even then, Voyager 1 and 2 with their golden records will serve as a memorial to us. How can one not understand the beauty of this? Earth is but a small, marvelous piece of God’s craftiwork, which transcends the boundless limits of time and space!