Brain Parade, the Third - Future Shock
"It was once said that Science Fiction is the only antidote to Future Shock. Do you think the predictions of Future Shock that were made back in the 70s have now or ever will materialize?"
Future Shock is an undeniable truth that accompanies human advancement. Arguably mankind has advanced more in the last 50 years than in the previous 5000. And it will become harder for some people and societies to adjust to even greater potential changes. It is entirely possible that we are staring down the barrel of a technological Singularity. If we play our cards right, we may soon see more Future Shock than we ever have before. But that is not a bad thing. In essence Future Shock is a measuring stick for our success. If we aren't seeing a marked increase in Future Shock, it means we're doing something wrong. In the existing model, less Future Shock means less progress... less future.
South Korea seems to always be living 5 minutes in the future; The elderly using e-mail, robot border patrols, the highest level of broadband penetration in the world, Internet cafe deaths, etc. But their neighbors to the north, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea live in a throwback state of starvation, oppression and information control. If some how you brought down the DMZ and North and South Korea pulled a German reunification, you would have half a country in Future Shock.
Already we are starting to see whole industries succumbing to Future Shock. Take a look at Big Entertainment. The RIAA, MPAA and their brethren are attempting to litigate and lobby an end to progress. They cant cope with a changing world where their failed business model is simply no longer viable. If that's not Future Shock, I don't know what is. The telcos are following suit, trying to ban municipal WiFi and choke VOIP. More and more businesses and politicians are operating in a constant state of Future Shock, trying to stem the tide of progress to avoid a future which is to them unfathomable.
But progress doesn't stop. More information is exchanged, and in a more free way, than ever in human history. Areas of research and technology are advancing at speeds previous generations wouldn't have thought possible. Thanks to Moores law, we sequenced the human genome years ahead of schedule. As the rate of technological innovation accelerates, we will see more and more dinosaur cultures and industries swept over and replaced with new paradigms. The displaced and disenfranchised future shocked will become an even more visible permanent fixture than they are today.
That being said, we can reduce the amount of Future Shock by exposing people to new ideas. We can get people thinking outside their established boxes and really examining the possibilities inherent in our future. But whether we use science fiction, the transhumanist movement or media buzz, there are always going to be those that simply can not deal with the sweeping changes that the future will bring. This isn't something we should mourn. It means that we are growing. Becoming more than we once were, both as a society, and as a species. We should embrace Future Shock and invest in curbing this unavoidable side-effect of the human condition.
There you have it, the third and final installment of Memepunks' contributions to this particular batch of Brain Parades. If you want to know what some prevalent authors, pundits, and bloggers think about future shock, set your dials to the Meme Therapy Future Shock Brain Parade. Once again, it has been a blast blogging along side the fine folks of Meme Therapy, their particular combination of big ideas and great minds always keeps us coming back for more. Kudos Meme Therapists, and blog on.