For centuries or even millennia, people have dreamed of Utopia. It’s understandable of course. Who wouldn’t want a better life for themselves and others?
The technological singularity seems to hold out a tantalizing possibility of a Utopia here on Earth sometime in the twenty-first century. But hold on a minute. Get real!
It’s all too obvious that humans simply aren’t equipped to build a Utopia or even to live in one. We just can’t handle perfection. We’ve evolved to live in an imperfect world – one that’s not really suited to our needs. When you’re made out of dirt, perfection is always going to remain out of reach.
Humans do manage to achieve greatness from time to time. But then we mess it up.
We discover how to split the atom, then spend the next 60 years pointing nuclear missiles at each other and shouting “You’re an idiot!” – “No, you’re an idiot!” We launch the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit but have to patch it up with duct tape to get it working properly. We build a global computer network that enables instant communications and then devote half of it to advertising Viagra and the other half to showing Gangnam Style videos.
If humans were invited to a meeting of intergalactic intelligences, then we’d turn up late in a used spaceship, borrow someone else’s pencil to take notes, then blow a raspberry at a crucial moment in the discussion. Everything about human society is cobbled together at the last minute and held together with sticking plasters.
Even if we had a Utopia, it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste. Someone would still be writing rude words over the walls. After all, one person’s Utopia is another’s Dystopic nightmare.
In my opinion, it’s time for us to grow up as a species and admit that Utopia is never going to happen. Even if the Singularity arrives as predicted it’s going to create just as many problems as it solves. Every opportunity brings a new problem and every silver lining has a cloud, if you look hard enough. And with increased leisure time and longer, healthier lives, there’s going to be plenty of time for looking.
We could have abundance, immortality and super-intelligence and still wish for things to be different. The truth is that being human (or transhuman) means spending the rest of eternity blundering in the dark, cobbling together and muddling through. Personally, I wouldn’t swap it for anything.
About the author:
Steve Morris is looking forward to the coming Singularity, but can’t help wondering if lawsuits, patent disputes and health & safety legislation are also accelerating exponentially to a point at which they will negate any technological advancement. When not worrying about this, he reviews tech products at S21 and rambles aimlessly at Blog Blogger Bloggest.