Looking ahead

We can always look back on a rosy past where the shops were clean and tidy, the streets were swept daily and the trains ran on time. Back then we thought that the future would be more of the same but with hoverboards and flying cars – always provided nobody fired off any nukes and we didn’t run out of food.

I was up at my mum’s the other day, rootling through old black and white photographs. Now the thing about old photographs taken when you were standing around in shot looking at things is that they act as a spur to memory of what the world was really like. According to my memory the photographs were taken in places where houses were either cold or smelled of crappy town gas and coal smoke and were still cold. Where shops didn’t stock the things you might actually want and instead sold underwear made of wool. And where steam hauled railway service were rusty, dirty and unreliable. Oh, and when you came home from anywhere you always smelled of cigarette smoke because everyone smoked.

The thing about the past then is that although we know what happened in it, we filter out the crappy stuff and add some sunshine to make ourselves feel better I suppose. When we look backwards we think of stability.

When we look forwards however, we have a tendency to take a view of extreme pessimism. In the last week alone I’ve been informed by otherwise rational people that law and order will break down in five years, that travelling outwith one’s local area is essentially suicidal and nothing matters anyway because the world’s money supply will collapse.

The saying, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future” once attributed to Yogi Berra is now thought to be Danish in origin. This doesn’t lessen the importance of the advice that I’m about to ignore.

So here are three hostages to fortune that I think will make the world a better place over the next decade:

  • Our ability to accurately diagnose infectious disease, cancer and conditions will improve exponentially – the sheer grunt power and increasing affordability of computing technology has begun to enable diagnostic tests of exquisite precision that will allow physicians to cure you before you get sick
  • Technology to establish identity and predict patterns of behaviour will allow freer and easier travel and financial transactions which will enable closer collaboration and trade. Yeah, there’s privacy and safety issues but they’re resolvable and the benefits are huge.
  • Increasing prosperity will allow millions to choose where and when they want to work and who for. Long hours and inflexible conditions will wither as people are presented with multiple options of where and how they can work.

Let’s see what happens.

Posted on: 3rd September 2018 by Ivor Campbell

Into his fourth decade of search Ivor has a voice with stories to tell, observations to make and the odd picture to share. Mostly related to the day job.

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