Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Can We Imagine the Far Future -- Year 3000? (我們能不能想像長遠的未來 -- 3000 A.D.?)

Can We Imagine the Far Future -- Year 3000? (我們能不能想像長遠的未來 -- 3000 A.D.?)
[創意組織 ]

Can We Imagine the Far Future--Year 3000?

TRY imagining what the world will be like in the year 3000. Some serious thinkers are starting to do just that. But can our minds even project that far? How will we work, play, propagate, communicate, worship, wonder? What forms of bodies will we have? What will our cities look like? How many nations will there be? How long will we live? What technologies will be available to us? What about family, business, government, education? How deep into space will humans have ventured? How many people will live on Earth? How strange will it be? Most of us don't know what we'll be doing a year from now; why then should we care about what our descendents will be doing a thousand years from now? It's fun to speculate, sure; but envisioning the year 3000 may be more than an idle exercise or mere amusement. Our time-traveling futurists explain.


Edward de Bono, the author of more than fifty books on thinking and creativity, teaches new ways of thinking to diverse groups around the world. Edward foresees abbreviated, high-speed language; he also expects a world of all women and no men--or is he playing with us?

Dr. Bart Kosko, the author of The Fuzzy Future, is a professor of electrical engineering at USC. Bart presents his vision of "Heaven on a chip," along with other startling opinions.

Graham Molitor is the author of numerous articles and books on the future and coeditor of the Encyclopedia of the Future. How can Graham forecast details of the next thousand years so confidently?

Dr. Bruce Murray, a futurist and former director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is a professor of planetary science and geology at Caltech. Bruce stresses communications and considers how humanity may join "the galactic community."

Dr. Gregory Stock, the author of Metaman and The book of Questions, is the director of UCLA's Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society, Greg believes that we are now in an extraordinary evolutionary transition, which he views with excitement and optimism.

ROBERT: Graham, you're the chief spokesperson for the World Future Society and the author of an upcoming book on the next thousand years. Considering the unimaginable advances in the last hundred years, how can you be presumptuous enough to predict the next thousand years?

GRAHAM: The answer is simple. All of the recorded history of humankind--and even prehistory--is nothing more than an evolutionary, step-by-step march down a path of progress, and the ideas that shape tomorrow cast long shadows and leave lots of footprints in the sands of time. The path may meander, but it has a certain sequence through which it passes and which is easy to discern. There are many ways of conceiving, tracking, and timing trends that are inevitable but not foreordained.

ROBERT: Aren't you ignoring discontinuities?

GRAHAM: Discontinuities simply indicate that people haven't done their homework.

ROBERT: We'll be challenging that later. Bart, you've stated that our brains--which you politely call "meat"--don't communicate very well, that brains are just nature's first flimsy attempt at using meat to compute, and that biology is not destiny. Are electronic chips our destiny?

BART: I don't know that [present-day] electronic chips are, but some sort of chips--I'd guess maybe plastic. Our three-pound brain is definitely a marvel, perhaps the greatest marvel of natural biology, but from an engineering point of view it's a fiasco. In this coming century, we'll be re-engineering the brain a piece at a time, initially with implants and other supplements and ultimately engineering an outright replacement. There's no question that in the distant future we'll play the music of the mind on instruments different from the current ones. So, yes, chips are our destiny.

ROBERT: Bruce, you're president of The Planetary Society, which is the largest public-participation organization concerned with space, and you're a leading advocate of space exploration. A thousand years from now, where will humanity be in space?

BRUCE: Well, of course, we don't know in a narrow sense, but we can envision the possibilities. Certainly the limitations of the corpus that we carry around with us will have been overcome in many ways, on earth as well as in space. But how far out into space we go as corporal beings is anybody's guess. I'm a geologist by training and a fairly conservative person, so I have a hard time seeing much beyond Mars. But the potential is enormous, whether we go physically or robotically.

ROBERT: Greg, you're a biophysicist who studies the impact of technology on society. Your book Metaman sees the merging of humans and machines into a global superorganism. You're an optimist about the next thousand years. Why?

GREG: I'm optimistic because I think the prevailing view--that we're out of balance with the natural world and heading toward some sort of deadly reckoning--is absolutely wrong. Modern technology is a very robust development, of extraordinary evolutionary significance. I think we're in the midst of an evolutionary transition as significant as the one that occurred when single cells joined together 700 million years ago to form multicellular organisms. Things occurring now are unprecedented in the history of life--space travel, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence.

ROBERT: And this show.

GREG: Well, I don't know about this show, but this is an extraordinary moment to be alive as observers, participants, and architects of the future.

ROBERT: EDWARD:, for decades you've been showing the world how to think more creatively, how to break the bonds of traditional thinking. Are we seeing the year 3000 too simplistically, almost as if it were just the year 2000 on steroids?

EDWARD: The answer is yes. In 3000 perhaps the biggest difference from today is that there will be no more men. Females can have female children, without any need for men. In about ten years, we'll find the hormone cocktail that women can take to have female children. There'll be no need for men at all.

ROBERT: Will the world be a better place?

EDWARD: Oh, yes. And this show will be archival material. Women will take it out of the video store and say, "Look, those are men; aren't they funny?"

ROBERT: We can go even further than female and male. How about carbon systems versus silicon systems, biological life versus robotic intelligence? Bruce, you've thought some about this.

BRUCE: Yes. What's going on in our own lifetimes--the extraordinary development of computing and communications, things that operate in silicon, with capabilities similar to those of human beings--these are some of those footprints in the sand. The Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton was probably as good an explorer as any that ever lived, but with the computational and communications tools we have today, to say nothing of the biomedical ones, Shackleton's reach can't compare with ours. Clearly, we live in a time of human-machine fusion. The pictures we have of Mars, say, come from machines (silicon) but make sense only to people (carbon). When we see Martian landscapes with our own eyes, in real time, we're somehow transported there. And that's just the very beginning of this extraordinary period, which is at most only a few decades old.

ROBERT: Bart, take us out to the end of that period. Give us your rendition of Heaven on a chip.

BART: What is Heaven? Heaven's a place where you can create worlds at will, and the ideal Heaven is where you run the whole thing yourself. The current means of getting to Heaven involve various supernatural systems for which, at this point, there's no scientific evidence. So I think we can reduce Heaven to an engineering project, which we're doing. The demand for Heaven is great--witness the desire of every human heart, from the people who built the ancient pyramids to modern society, to live beyond one's biologically allotted time. Our plan is ultimately to transfer human consciousness from the brain to bits of information in a computer chip, or some other kind of computational medium, so that just by thinking--that act of volition--we'll be able to create our own personal world. And I think the first stage of Heaven will be the sensory world, and beyond that I think we'd hit a higher, spiritual plane.

ROBERT: So we download our personalities into silicon, into electronic chips enormously more sophisticated than anything imaginable today, so that we can then live as hardwired, superdense circuitry, virtually forever?

BART: Just take the example of your past. You can't remember a great deal of what you did three years ago. But if you had the detailed richness of that experience wholly embedded in a chip, you could not only relive it at will, you could edit it at will, modifying it thousand of times in innumerable creative ways.

GREG: Maybe you wouldn't want to.

BART: Maybe you wouldn't want to.

ROBERT: But you could. It's all about options--that's Bart's vision.

EDWARD: The emphasis on machines and chips is a possibility. But there's so much more to do with what I call human software. Human language at the moment is incredibly slow and primitive. One of the things I've been working on is a language that's twenty times as fast as normal language and could go up to fifty times as fast. Human-being-to-human-being communication, with no chips involved. We're below the potential of our biological systems, way below. We're stuck in old-fashioned, crabby ways of using our minds.

GREG: We have two processes going on at the same time: our biology is becoming determined by design and more mechanized, and our machines are becoming more complex; we're breeding complexity into them so that they're becoming more lifelike. And so which side will win is really-

ROBERT: Is this a competition?

GREG: Well, it's not a competition, in that there's a symbiosis and we have all sorts of machine extensions. But the ultimate question is, What will become the central core: expanded human biology or transformed intelligent machines?

BRUCE: I'm a little concerned about the drift of this conversation, because it sounds kind of technocratic--the world as seen by a bunch of physicists or biologists or electrical engineers--and I don't think we all feel that way. I certainly don't, because there is the intuitive dimension and the moral [and existential] issues of why we're here--and these issues aren't going to go away. None of them
are affected by technology, though the questions and answers may become more complex. So I think we ought to separate the issue of what form our humanity will take--separate that issue from the power we'll have, intellectually and otherwise, through the use of our machines.

ROBERT: But the technocrats' argument is that their high-tech world becomes so powerful and so dominant that it simply overpowers moral or existential issues.

GREG: Humanity is being ripped free from its past.

ROBERT: Free from the constraints, superstitions, and intellectual hypocrisies that shackled humanity for thousands of years. This is also part of the technocratic argument, and I use the term non-pejoratively; it's also the humanistic argument. And I'm not saying that it's all true or good, but there is surely some truth and goodness there.

GREG: There's going to be a tremendous loss. It's going to be a traumatic time that we're moving into, because such change does not come easily. We have a huge population being torn free from their past, and that will produce stress.

EDWARD: There are things that we can make available to masses of people to help them make better use of their brains. We just haven't made any effort to do this. We put billions into space travel; if you put that amount into developing human software for the brain, you could transform the human race.

GREG: Take an example. If you could extend the human life span, if you could double it, would you do it?

EDWARD: I don't think that's so important. The better use of what we underuse is what's important. It doesn't matter whether you live long or don't live long.

BART: Edward [De Bono], we're talking about a thousand years from now, not a hundred years from now.

EDWARD: In a thousand years, we could communicate in ten seconds what now takes thirty minutes.

GREG: So what?

EDWARD: We could communicate much higher concepts, better ideas, more human languages.

GREG: That's all we get for a thousand years?

GRAHAM: Let me go to a different level here. The man-machine interface and biotechnology--all that will work OK, but the real key when you're looking ahead a thousand years is to take an anthropological look at the biometrics of human development. If you trace back to our earliest ancestors and project forward, the average weight for an adult male by the year 3000 is likely to be 180 to 210 pounds, which means a bigger biomass to feed.

EDWARD: What's the basis for that? How do you get that?

ROBERT: Aren't you just extrapolating--projecting what might happen in the future based on what did happen in the past?

GRAHAM: Nothing wrong with linear progression. It's not extrapolation--there's a difference. There's a continuous thread of development that ties together human height, weight, life expectancy, cranial capacity--all of these things--so that you can make some judgments about the future of the human species.

EDWARD: But within one generation, we could halve human size. Then you'd have about four times as much space in the world, eight times as much food. How do you do it? There's something on the surface of the cell that absorbs growth hormone. We can produce antibodies so that it won't.

GREG: Anybody here want to be half his size?

EDWARD: We'd have four times the space, eight times the food.

GREG: You can say we'd have four times the space as a society, but what individuals would want to be half their current size? None!

ROBERT: A fundamental issue--open to challenge--is Graham's thesis that we can forecast the future based on some sophisticated methods.

BRUCE: I don't know what the world or the solar system are going to be like in a thousand years--much less our descendants. What I do know is that we're living through an unprecedented period of time right now; our parents did, to some extent, and our children certainly will. It happens once in the history of the world, when the population saturates the earth, when humans become a perturbing force on the planet, changing it as a consequence. It happens only once, and we happen to be living in that period. And so that's the big news. We're going through a cultural transformation, a viewpoint transformation; that's why I don't go along with taking some kind of average pattern for the past and trying to project it forward. It's obviously not going to work. Everything goes off the scale if you're just projecting linearly.

ROBERT: You've talked about humanity maturing and, in your words, joining the galactic community.

BRUCE: Right, right.

ROBERT: Do you mean this metaphorically, or do you think there are literally other civilizations out there waiting for us to grow up?

BRUCE: I mean it literally, but of course it's intuition. I cannot imagine, out of all the possible habitats for beings like us throughout the universe, that there's just one success and we happen to be it. But that's a possibility; it can't be ruled out until we get definitive evidence [of alien intelligence]. I predict we'll get that evidence within fifty years.

BART: But even without extraterrestrial contact, humans will tend to expand exponentially in all directions. We're surely going to conquer the solar system, and once we've done that we're going to conquer--

BRUCE: Who's the enemy?

BART: By "conquer" I mean taking it over, controlling it, living on it. I think the first [space colonists] will be the conquistadors of science--and then we'll get beyond that. Maybe it'll be robots or their intellectual offspring that will venture farther out into the galaxy. Whether we find any alien life or not--and it may be better if we don't--humans historically do tend to expand their sphere of habitation, in a mathematical sense, very quickly.

GREG: The real question is, How are we going to deal with so deep and profound a transformation? It's going to be very, very challenging to all of our institutions--to everything that has gone before.

ROBERT: A thousand years, this incredible time of transition, is really a very short period, cosmologically speaking. The universe, it seems, will stretch on for thousands of billions of years and still, cosmologists say, it won't even have reached adolescence [current estimates are that all the stars won't burn out for about 100 trillion years). That's the deep fascination.

EDWARD: And just the last hundred years have seen unimaginable change.

ROBERT: That's the point.

EDWARD: So another thousand years is not a short time; it's a long, long time.

ROBERT: Sure, it's unthinkably long on our personal timescale, but it fits between single heartbeats on the universe's timescale. We just can't imagine it.

GREG: It's boggling even to look out a thousand years, because most of the changes we're speculating about will take place just within the next century.

BRUCE: Let me try a different cut at this. I wrote a book once--it's a rare but not valuable book--called Navigating the Future. I wrote it back in 1975, and I looked at a range of extreme scenarios, the outermost situations I could imagine--the idea being that as you imagine maximum shifts you can get deeply inside of the present. And it turned out that there was a natural structure that emerged. One was what I called the crunch--the exponential-growth model we're now living through, with uncontrolled changes and social dislocations. And then you have to believe that something happens after that, which I called the "afterward." However these forces are resolved, pleasantly or not, the model levels off, because it's physically impossible to keep growing like this; the instability would tear the biosphere apart. So what all this says to me is that the key to the future is governance--that is, how humanity learns to govern itself.

BART: So government is destiny?

BRUCE: Not government, governance.

ROBERT: I have a specific question. A thousand years from now, how many nations will there be in the world? These are your choices--orders of magnitude--one, ten, a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand?

EDWARD: Ten thousand.

BRUCE: Probably a federation of a hundred and fifty to two hundred. Or zero, because the concept will have disappeared. I'll give you zero.

GREG: I agree. The idea of nations is being transcended and there will be all sorts of levels of control, from local to global.

EDWARD: Like the human body.

BRUCE: Governance will be distributed in many ways. For example, your letters move around the world, and airplanes fly around the world, without any one polity being in charge. There are agreements, for these and many different functions.

BART: Bruce, you don't have mail on Sunday. You have this crude merger of church and state and it still exists at the height of the information age.

BRUCE: So big deal.

BART: The power lust is so strong in humans--about ninety-eight-plus percent of our DNA is identical to that of chimpanzees--that as we increase computing and communication power [and its ubiquitous dominance of humankind], that power lust is going to go right along with it, and the outcome may be one big world government. If government can rule you, it will rule you; that's always been true throughout human history.

EDWARD: But if you look at the human body, there are billions of cells; each one is autonomous, has its own energy, is affected by certain hormones, yet they all work together. I think we'll separate into thousands of little nations, where there's a city, a village, or an autonomous region. There'll be some system of communal communication--like the bloodstream carrying hormones--but each unit will be self-sufficient and capable of managing its own affairs.

GREG: I think the real kinds of questions for a thousand years from now are, What will humans be? How human will we be? Will we even be human?

ROBERT: Genetic engineering is so powerful and the acceleration of technology is so dramatic that those are legitimate questions.

GREG: We're at a point where we need only a few decades to seriously alter our own genetics. How, then, can we even imagine where we will be in a thousand years?

BART: Humans are political animals--that's a polite way of saying we love power. I wish I could share your optimism here, but from the evidence of the twentieth century and what I've seen of the past, I can't.

GREG: This is the longest period without a major international war between major powers--

BART: As we tape this show right now, there are something like forty wars going on in the world.

GRAHAM: There are some hundred and sixty armed conflicts.

ROBERT: One could argue that there's more turmoil today than ever before. But I'm tired of war; and since we've already dealt with the future of love, so let's go to the future of work.

EDWARD: Work is going to be interesting. Already in the United States there are more people employed in the fast-food industry than in the whole of manufacturing.

BART: But fast food is manufacturing.

EDWARD: Fast food is a service industry.

BART: It's hamburger manufacturing.

EDWARD: It's a service industry.

ROBERT: And I'm trying to get agreement on a thousand years from now?

EDWARD: The point is that all of our manufacturing production will be automated and robotized. A few people will be involved in service industries. In the European Union, it's estimated that within ten years one percent of the working population will be employed in call centers, just sitting there taking orders for sweaters or hamburgers. In other words, we're going to end up like the [ancient] Greeks, whose greatest joy in life was writing vindictive speeches about one another while slaves did all the work.

GRAHAM: Edward's right in his vision but wrong with his numbers, and that makes a difference when you're projecting the present to forecast the future. Two hundred years ago, over ninety percent of the American workforce was involved in agricultural or extractive industries. Today, the number on the farm is down to two percent or less, and even so, seventy to eighty percent of many of our crops are exported. We have this prodigious output, thanks to our technology. The same trends will continue. All our basic needs--food, shelter, clothing, education--will be satisfied in a thousand years.

ROBERT: Are we forgetting reality? Maybe we should invite Dr. Pangloss to join us. Bart, what do you think about all this optimism?

BART: Well, I'm an optimist, despite my pessimism about human nature. I think in the end it will work out, which means that most of us will achieve some kind of Heaven in a chip.

GREG: It's important to remember how long a thousand years really is. The black death--the bubonic plague--killed forty percent of the population of the known world in the fourteenth century. That seems a distant shadow now. So even if humanity has to endure severe trauma in the next couple of centuries, it won't have a large impact ultimately.

EDWARD: I think we'll sit in corners letting designer drugs stimulate our pleasure centers, hallucinating, while technology does all the work.

ROBERT: That would be an awful world.

EDWARD: It will be an awful world.

BRUCE: I see a somewhat different trend. Hominids, as distinguished from other animals, have been toolmakers. Man the toolmaker--that's what has led to both the good and the bad. And what are the tools? First they were mechanical, then they made use of various energy sources, then--

EDWARD: Language, language, language.

BRUCE: Language, actually, was developed in response to these tools--writing, too. My point is that the key technology that runs through all of this is communications. Humans, in essence, are a communicating organism. We started as a very dispersed species, became more organized in cities, and then came mass communications. The invention of the printing press brought books to large populations. Then, in this century, radio and television completely changed the psychology and social setting of most of the world's people.

ROBERT: And now, of course, the Internet.

BRUCE: And now we're on the verge of what I think is a millennial kind of event--interactive communications and education. The former stuff has all been one-way, blazing out at you. Now it's becoming interactive, two-way: the Internet itself is bottom-up, self-organizing, self-adapting, very powerful. Society is undergoing profound change in response to the Internet. What's ahead a thousand years from now, with even better communications, more miniaturizing? I see human society much more together, with an almost literal planetary consciousness--and I hope we'll also be communicating with other societies elsewhere in the universe.

ROBERT: Greg, in a thousand years will we be having regular communications with alien civilizations?

GREG: The real question is, Why haven't we had it to date? If life is as present in the universe as many imagine it is--which seems reasonable--consider this. Our galaxy is only a hundred thousand light-years across, so if an intelligent species were to take even a thousand years to move out just one light-year [and colonize], they would [geometrically expand and] fill the whole galaxy within a hundred million years, which on a universal timescale is a very short period. So why no contact? The most obvious possibilities are either that (1) such an advanced species is already here but are so transformed that we can't recognize them; or (2), they're staying home watching TV--meaning that virtual realities have become so compelling that it's not meaningful for them to expand into the universe, because there are much more interesting and entertaining things going on at home.1

{FOOTNOTE}1 There are other possible explanations why there has been no alien contact. For one, the development of intelligent life--as opposed to organic chemistry or even simple life forms--may be so exceedingly improbable that there might not be another example in our galaxy or even in the communicable universe. For another, it would take several billion years for a technologically adept species to develop--witness our own evolution. There would be no reason to suppose that such other civilizations would have developed more or less at the same time we did, either. They may have arrived in this area before our solar system formed (unlikely, but possible). They may arrive two billion or five billion years from now, by which time we hopefully will have gone somewhere else.

EDWARD: What you're saying is, If they're stupider than we, they can't communicate; and if they're more intelligent, they don't want to.

BRUCE: No, I think you're missing the real point. Assuming that there are alien civilizations and they do wish to communicate, the last way they would do it would be to send a spaceship with someone or something inside of it. The most efficient means of intergalactic communications is by some kind of electromagnetic signal--not just radio or infrared, maybe something else. That's the obvious way to communicate.

ROBERT: You haven't found any signals yet.

GRAHAM: But we're looking, though our methods are still primitive compared to all the possible--

BART: It's too soon to say.

BRUCE: Yes. This is the great exploration. If we continue the search for a hundred years and still don't detect any alien signals, then maybe we are alone. Within a hundred years, we will have imaged Earth-like planets of nearby stars and tracked billions of frequencies from all over the universe. And if out of all that there's nothing, the answer may be that we truly are alone, and then there may be a biblical return.

ROBERT: You'll be applying to a seminary?

BART: I think Greg made the key point here, which is our fascination with entertainment and what I see as the movement toward becoming high-tech couch potatoes--whom we'll inevitably call "chip potatoes," not to be confused, of course, with potato chips. Our consciousness just may be in such chips, and once we've been uploaded, we can communicate directly with other consciousnesses in other chips. Right now, minds can't converse directly with each other, except by means of crude verbal vibrations, because skulls get in the way. It will be very different when we've been uploaded into a chip in some form and complex collections of chips interact. At a minimum, it would be like allowing the ants crawling around in an airplane to have a sense of what the airplane is and how they all fit into the global economy. I just don't think we can accommodate those kinds of thoughts in our three pounds of [cerebral] meat right now.

EDWARD: Why would we want to communicate? You communicate because you think someone is going to tell you something useful. Well, we'll have all our material needs taken care of technically. You communicate because it's going to give you pleasure. If we can stimulate our pleasure senses directly, why should we bother to communicate?

BART: For example, there's never been a multi-authored symphony. It requires just too much focused, concentrated thought. I think there'll be all kinds of collectively created art and science and other things. It's just not physically feasible to do that now.

GRAHAM: Let me suggest a statistical dimension. Our galaxy, relatively minor on the scale of things, has an estimated 200 billion to 450 billion stars. There are something like 100 billion galaxies in the [observable] universe. Many of these individual stellar systems may have up to twenty or thirty planets with lunar-type satellites and asteroids. The statistical probability of life elsewhere is so enormously probable that--

ROBERT: But that makes the question--Where are they?--that much more compelling. We should also differentiate between the probability of life and intelligent life.

BART: The volume of space is so vast--just as the volume of the ocean is much vaster than the surface, because it's in three dimensions rather than two--that we haven't begun, in any statistically interesting sense, to search it. On the other hand, there may be nothing to search for.

ROBERT: Is speculating about the next thousand years more serious than merely an evening's good fun?

BRUCE: I think it is. It's also fun, of course, because it's unlimited. But we're in this enormous transformation, and things that we do or don't do in our own lifetimes will have very far-reaching effects. For example, in a thousand years there may be no natural world left at all. There may be no primitive languages recorded any more. The past may be completely gone. That would be a tragedy; we might have a stable world, but we wouldn't have a rich world. So why we worry about these things is to be sure that we act as visionaries in this present period of time. We're consuming like mad, bulldozing everything--

BART: And innovating like mad to balance it.

ROBERT: Do you really care about what will happen that far in the future?

BART: Sure I care! But we're innovating at a rate that seems to exceed our consumption.

GREG: And these images of the future reflect back and alter the present--which is a problem. Some of the current images, which suggest that we're moving toward some sort of a reckoning, that our development is not robust, that we're out of sync with the natural world--these sorts of images are very destructive. I don't think that's the case at all.

EDWARD: What we forget is that millions of years ago the dolphins met in the sea and said, "Look, why do we want to go back on land? We've got to support our own weight, we've got to make tools, we've got to learn new tricks to survive, we're much better off where we are." In other words, a decision that development is not necessarily the best direction to go.

GREG: But to act as though that's a decision, an intentional decision, is ludicrous.

EDWARD: Why? Why?

GREG: I mean, we're embarked upon an evolution...


GREG: Because dolphins didn't sit around in a huddle and say, "We're going to stay in the water because--"

EDWARD: How do you know that? How do you know that?

GREG: We're essentially caught on a treadmill: our technologies are creating all sorts of problems that can only be dealt with by our technologies.

ROBERT: What happens to traditional religion over the course of this new millennium?

BART: I would argue that religions will survive the onslaught of science. There'll be great competition among them. If I had to predict the winner a thousand years from now, I'd pick Buddhism. People like how the Buddha enjoyed life--feasts and all that-and then broke through to the other side.

ROBERT: Fast forward a thousand years for predictions. What characterizes human life in the year 3000?

GRAHAM: Economics is the linchpin that holds society together. I think it'll go through five phases. Communications will dominate for twenty years, and then it'll be the recreation-entertainment industry complex. Next will be life sciences; beyond that nanotechnologies, the manipulation of atomic matter. Along the way, energy, including solar and nuclear fusion. Finally, extraterrestrial contact at around the year 3000 as we move out into the universe.

BART: I think some safe predictions are that English will be the dominant language of the solar system, if not beyond. We'll have conquered death, solving the engineering problem that it really is. So if you die it will be by your choice--or the choice of the government that runs your computer. You [or they] can flip your switch on or off at will. And, as I said, I think we'll have achieved some form of Heaven in a chip. Whether you'll want to stay there is another matter.

EDWARD: Back to what I said in the beginning. No men; women sitting around bitching and taking designer drugs.

GREG: I think the dominant trend is going to be diversity. I don't know what shape humans will take, but a transformation will occur. And when those future beings look back, they will see that the very basics of their lives are being laid down right now--by genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and space travel.

BRUCE: Communications. The essence of individuals will be their ability to communicate with an enormous array of entities, many of which we can hardly imagine.


If in the year 1000 the smartest people had predicted what the world would be like in the year 2000, it would have seemed a joke. We think we're much smarter today--more in tune with the universal music of truth. So we now imagine the year 3000. Life spans of hundreds of years, with homegrown body parts and chips for brains. Abundant, clean energy from the sun and a safe, inexhaustible source of power in nuclear fusion. Computers doing all the work--unobtrusively, thank you. Colonies on a greened Mars or perhaps on planets of nearby stars, with intergalactic ships heading out into the great beyond. Who knows? But what I find more fascinating is that we humans seem compelled to imagine the far future. We are beings who comprehend time and its flowing passage, who project our mind's eye and envision epochs long before our births and long after our deaths. That such a time-sensitive, self-aware being exists at all somehow makes me wonder about the far future. Could something unexpected, really unexpected, occur before the year 3000? I'd give it--just a hunch here--a three out of ten: thirty percent. I guess I won't be doing this show, but that would be expected, wouldn't it? One wonders whether Y3K will find humanity any closer to truth.

Editor's Translations:

EDWARD: In 3000 perhaps the biggest difference from today is that there will be no more men. Females can have female children, without any need for men. In about ten years, we'll find the hormone cocktail that women can take to have female children. There'll be no need for men at all.
[在3000 或許跟今天最大的區別是已經沒有男人了。 女人能生女孩子, 不需要男人。 在大約十年內, 我們將發現婦女能採取有女性孩子的激素雞尾酒。 將來根本需要男人。]

ROBERT: Will the world be a better place?

EDWARD: Oh, yes. And this show will be archival material. Women will take it out of the video store and say, "Look, those are men; aren't they funny?"
[噢, 是。 並且這個節幕將來就會變成檔案材料。 婦女將來會從錄影商店借出來說, "妳看, 那些就是男人; 他們是不是很滑稽?"]

-- Bevin Chu

Explanation: Can We Imagine the Far Future--Year 3000?
Illustration(s): Edward de Bono, Bart Kosko, Graham Molitor, Bruce Murray, Gregory Stock, Robert Lawrence Kuhn
Author(s): Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn
Affiliation: CLOSER TO TRUTH (CTT)
Source: http://www.closertotruth.com/topics/technologysociety/201/201transcript.html
Publication Date: N/A
Original Language: English
Editor: Bevin Chu, Registered Architect

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