Today I’m participating in a meeting called Optimistic Futures, organised by the Service Innovation Lab, InternetNZ, and Victoria University – three organisations with which I have an association.
Here is my own broad vision for what I’d like the world to look like in 2070.
We have solved the big, wicked problems.
- The environment is clean, thanks to a greatly increased focus on sustainability, personal accountability, and relentless scientific research with its application to new technologies.
- Clean energy is so abundant that it’s too cheap to meter. We figured it out.
- Money no longer exists, and there is no deprivation or inequality of any kind. People share willingly, and nothing is privately owned.
- Warfare is a thing of the past, confined to the history books. Violence is completely absent.
The most highly valued attribute is reputation, which is based on one’s sustainable contribution to the betterment of society. Individual reputation is automatically tracked and maintained by algorithms. Nation states no longer exist as such, but local rules and culture, as mediated by citizens, determine these algorithms. Although most critical things are abundant, access to scarce resources based on your reputation – what you’ve sustainably contributed to society.
Everyone is connected through brain implants that not only network people to each other, but to the vast storehouse of information available across the planet and system. Not only is everything knowable, everything is as good as known. You don’t need to Google anything any more, you just ask in your mind, “What are the population demographics of Burundi”, the question goes out to the network, and the answers come back directly into your head. Education and entertainment take place through these connections as well.
The biggest visible difference between then and now is the concern and love that people display for each other and their environment.
People work, but with so much done through automation, much less of what we call work today is required. In fact the meaning of the word “work” has changed. People view “work” as an opportunity to contribute to society which they willingly want to do, rather than an obligation.
Government just happens. There’s little need for explicit interactions, because they happen in real time.
Maybe 50 years is too soon to expect to be able to bring this about. But maybe not. The devil is in the details. It may look like science fiction today, but through the actions of individuals like you and me, we can start making our own contributions to the sustainable betterment of society. And if we all did that, this future would bring itself about.