No one knows what the world will look like in 2050 — we just know that it will be very different. Is there a way to prepare?
If somebody describes the world of the mid-21st century to you and it doesn’t sound like science fiction, it is certainly false.
We cannot be sure of the specifics; change itself is the only certainty.
Let’s take a trip to the future/tomorrow
1. Sustainability of the Liberal Democratic System
Philosophical ideas adopted from the 18th century such as the concept of free will, continue to be foundational parts of our economic & political systems. Liberal motto examples✌
- Customer is always right
- Voter knows best
- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
- Do what feels good
- Follow your heart
Economy (for a long time)
The last line of defense has been “this is what the customers wants.” Who are you to tell the customer that they are wrong❓ The ultimate authority in the economic field are the desires of the customers. After all, if they represent the free will of human beings which are the highest authority in the universe — what they wish for should be abided by….
Politics (for a long time)
“The voter knows best.” Free will was always a myth and not a scientific reality. Scientific processes in nature
- deterministic processes: a system in which no randomness is involved in the development of future states of the system. A deterministic model will thus always produce the same output from a given starting condition or initial state.
- random processes: systems and phenomena that appear to vary in a random manner (e.g. the path traced by a molecule as it travels in a liquid or a gas can be modeled using a random process)
- probabilistic processes = combination of deterministic and random
Randomness & probability do not mean freedom. Choices are not independent — they’ve never been — especially considering that genetics, hormones, social, cultural factors among many other come into play. We don’t choose these.
From a practical perspective, free will may make sense. Since “no one knows you better than you.” But that privilege no longer exists. External corporations (such as those referred to in Social Dilemma or governments) have/will have privileged access to what’s going on inside me and you.
Before, the data that was being collected on us was based on external actions. Skin outward — which pictures we like, who we meet, what we eat etc. But with brain computer interfaces and other such emerging technologies running our world by 2050, brain chips may become normal. Hence external corporations could have access to what’s going on inside — technically knowing us better than we know ourselves. Our devices, like smartphones which are now only an external limb are likely to be inside us.
Humans are no longer a black box. Free will no longer exists. Others will have more access to your triggers, what’s inside you, and how you work than you do.
Technology is not deterministic — it doesn’t have just one use — it can be a force for good change or destruction. Information collection from within the body.
- Good: use that data to develop personalized treatments, predict disease early to counter it, ethically advance the human species…
- Bad: brain hacking, memory erasing, behavior control…
I’ll see you on the side that’s the solving the world’s biggest problems — using technology as a force for good🌐
💡Technology can be used for good. An AI system that gets to know the consumer in order to protect them and not in order to make them click on products and buy them? Yes — I’m working on it👀
2. Engineers Playing God?
The definition of God and what they mean to people is very different :
Type 1: Cosmic Mystery
Why is there something rather than nothing? Why did the big bang take place? What is human consciousness? There are many things we do not understand about the world and some people choose to call these mysteries by the name of God. God is the reason there is something rather than nothing. Main characteristic: we know nothing about him/her/they/them/it, there’s nothing concrete.
Type 2: Concrete ‘Truths’
Chief characteristic is that a lot of concrete things are known about that ‘God’. It is known what he/she/it/they/them think about female dress codes, food, sexuality, origin, politics etc. And then the cosmic mystery is spun into play, and the outcome is beliefs such as because of the big bang woman can’t wear x clothing and men cannot sleep together. And those connections have no clear relation.
Religion (answers) VS. Spirituality (questions)
Spirituality: Big questions that lead you to go into a quest looking for an answer wherever that may take you
- What is humanity?
- Why am I here?
- What is the meaning of life?
Religion: Someone coming and telling you that x is the answer & you must believe it, and if you don’t there is y consequence.
Spirituality is now more important than it has been in any other time in history because we are now forced to confront spiritual questions whether we like it or not.
Throughout history we’ve had the small amount of people who were very interested in the big, spiritual or philosophical questions of life. And most other people just ignored them and went along with their days.
Now engineers must tackle spiritual questions.
Example: Building a self-driving car — by default you’ll have to deal with questions about free will.
The engineer programs the self-diving car➡ The car is in a situation where two kids jump in front of the car to grab their ball, and the only way to save the two kids is to swerve the car off the bridge. But if the car does that then it kills the sleeping passenger in the back seat of the car. What should the car do?
Now whatever we decided for such questions will actually happen. Whether or not it’s ethical and consensus has been reached, the car has been programmed to take x action. The decision has been made and the action will be followed.
Agreement that is reached in terms of philosophical questions may have very little impact on actual behavior because we act based off our gut instinct. Because even if you agree than in terms of theory, x is the right thing to do, in practice you will react from your gut not your philosophical theories. The extent to which your philosophical theories influence your gut reactions is a different conversation.
But with the self-driving car, if you program the algorithm to kill the driver & not the two kids or vice versa, you have a mathematical guarantee that this is exactly what decision the car will take.
Hence we must be careful about coming to a conclusion to what the ‘right’ answers to such aged philosophical questions are, if and when we want to put the self-driving car on the road.
This is reality:
In the middle of town, there is a large concrete building divided into many identical rooms, each room equipped with rows of desks and chairs. At the sound of a bell, you go to one of these rooms together with 30 other kids who were all born the same year as you. Every hour a different grown-up walks in and starts talking. The grown-ups are all paid to do so by the government.
One of them tells you about the shape of the earth, another tells you about the human past, and a third tells you about the human body.
It is easy to laugh at this model, and almost everybody agrees that no matter its past achievements, it is now bankrupt. But so far we haven’t created a viable alternative. Because of the increasing pace of change, you can never be certain whether what the adults are telling you is timeless wisdom or outdated bias.
We are constantly being told what to do. The right way. What should be done. If you know what you want in life, technology can help you get it. But if you don’t know what you want in life, it’ll be all too easy for technology to shape your aims for you, taking control of your life.
To succeed at such a daunting task, you will need to work very hard at getting to know your operating system better — to know what you are and what you want from life. This is, of course, the oldest advice in the book: know thyself (💡hey I’ve already written an article on how to build a strong sense of self!).
But this advice was never more urgent than in the 21st century, as Yuval says ~ unlike in the days of Laozi or Socrates, now you have serious competition. Coca-Cola, Amazon, and the government are all racing to hack you. Not your smartphone, not your computer, and not your bank account; they are in a race to hack you and your organic operating system.
In such a world with overwhelming amounts of false news at our fingertips, the last thing a teacher needs to give her pupils is more information. They already have far too much of it.
Instead, people need the ability to make sense of information, to tell the difference between what is important and what is unimportant, and, above all, to combine many bits of information into a broad picture of the world.
To Zoom Out🔎
4. Reinventing Ourselves
We need to build flexible, portable tents rather than stone houses when it comes to our ‘identity’. Stone houses are rigid and always stay in the same place, whereas foldable tents can be picked up & transferred anywhere irrespective of time, place, and external conditions. Tents can adapt but stone houses cannot.
Our identity should be very flexible — perhaps we shouldn’t even assign ourselves one at all. An identity after all is a construct. Constructed for the physical world. For you. For others. What if we had no identity? We just exist. We observe. We are here and now. Growing.
To keep up with the world of 2050, you will need to do more than merely invent new ideas and products, but above all, reinvent yourself again and again.
TL;DR: the ability to deal with change, learn new things, and preserve our mental balance in unfamiliar situations — to become antifragile & emotionally intelligent — will be vital.
“There are many very intelligent people who don’t know themselves at all — at that’s a very dangerous combination” ~ Yuval
But one cannot reinvent themselves or proactively grow without understanding themselves first. Self-awareness is key to do that — and it’s not as common/easy as it sounds. Given that children today are over-socialized (yes, over-socialized, not under-socialized) it is in spending time in solitude, observing your thoughts as they come naturally…asking yourself why it actually bothers you so much when your computer restarts automatically…
that self-awareness heightens. And over time you’ll be able to truly understand your evolving self.
It’s a consistent practice — and I’d recommend starting to meditate daily. It’s no ‘kumbaya’ (in Kevin O’Leary’s words) — you’ll realize that after binging this thread (Meditation — The Art of Doing Nothing) by Naval Ravikant 🔑
Regardless of where we’ve been and where we might go, Naval Ravikant and I would like to remind you that…
“Life is going to play out the way it’s going to play out. There will be some good and some bad. Most of it is actually just up to your interpretation. You’re born, you have a set of sensory experiences, and then you die. How you choose to interpret those experiences is up to you, and different people interpret them in different ways.” ~ Naval Ravikant
We cannot predict the future but we can influence it🌍