Adventure used to involve people taking up personal challenges – taking calculated risks that involved an element of danger. And putting their body under some kind of skills or fitness test. We got fitter. We increased our life skills. We even built our confidence. Now, many of us watch a handful of (overpaid) celebrities do all that. Or worse, play a computer game where the game characters have the adventure, at the expense of us developing life skills.
Parents, teachers and guidance counsellors are in a cold war with entertainment companies. Thanks to marketing hype, the ambition to be somebody and do something is getting relentlessly hijacked by entertainment. Since ultimately we’ll pay a high social price for that, can’t governments wake up and tax entertainment companies far more heavily to compensate?
When will the masses realise social media is both angel and devil. It’s good for exchanging ideas and refining our views. It’s good to rediscover long lost friends, separated by geography. But it’s bad to give a running commentary on how we’re feeling at any given moment.
Who taught the youth that all their meaning should come from computer games and reality TV? If self reliance and life skills build progress, then the one industry with a brilliant future ahead of it is life coaching. Maybe we now need life coaches in schools alongside the educators?
We used to take chances. Now computer systems allocate them to us.
When did the life skills of the group mutate into the lifestyles of the wannabe famous?
Is there a future for romantic love between people? As the apps of meaning, respect and mental health quietly die, what’s replacing them in the version upgrade?
The obesity epidemic isn’t just about lifestyle choices. The real concern is people feeling worse about themselves and eating to compensate.
We used to look to our parents and people we directly encountered as role models. Now it’s the rappers, club footballers, movie stars and super-hero characters we see from a great distance.
Car-crash TV used to be watching noble characters in cop shows and medical dramas save lives and unite, in spite of style and value differences. Now car-crash TV is watching shallow, self-obsessed, celebrity wannabes kill time in a big brother room, on a stage, on an island, in a jungle, or on a chat show.
Education and Work
Students stay at school longer, then graduate to do what? Make better and more informed decisions. Decisions on the things that AI can’t or won’t yet do.
People concede that they need the extra education to understand analysis. Year 14 Maths is compulsory.
Jobs open up reconciling and debugging AI systems, until such time as they merge. Counselling, drug rehab and mental health jobs prosper.
Politics and governance
Politics between 2020 and 2030 becomes largely concerned with social wealth distribution. Taxation and investment decisions are reformed.
Political referendums become more prevalent as the technology to host them becomes more cost-effective, but then disappear as governance identifies that issues can’t be resolved piecemeal, but that wholesale ecosystem policy reform is needed.
Hedge fund AI resources are harnessed to government policy making? How? Indirectly via consulting firms and higher education computer resources. Governments commission most complex policy problems to be solved using AI. AI resources are rented as needed to deliver the output.
The serious and super-complex problems become resolved by groups of AI’s acting together. Monitoring systems progressively merge.
Trade becomes less physical movement and more trade credits for the IP on items exported and imported between countries.
AI performs increasingly more of the services that currently occur between people.
Most financial currencies consolidate to align with the half a dozen large trading blocs that emerge.
Celebration of human endeavour is highlighted, tapping the human need to cheer the underdog. e.g. music contests, the Olympics and sports leagues, even as AI controls more of our functioning World.
Basic healthcare receives priority attention. People are actively counselling about healthy lifestyle choices.
Junk food and confectionery companies sponsor medical research into fat cell inhibiting medications and finally succeed, making their profits soar.
Mental health counselling aided by AI diagnostics achieves a quiet revolution, creating a happier but more aware society.
The day AI takes over human medical research, is the day we surrender control of our destiny.
Flash trading of financial futures is split-second trading on our own futures.
Gene therapy (GM that removes cruelty and indifference) was never needed so desperately on a mass scale, as when there is human suffering, rainforest deforestation, ocean pollution and global warming.
Politics and credit – the art of stealing opportunity from the future to buy votes and gadgets in the present.
The borders we sit behind are insignificant compared to the technology, fame and entertainment we seek.
Are people basically divided into two broad camps – the ‘fake it til you make it’ (the marketers & promoters) and the ‘keeping it real’ camp’?
‘Fake it til you make it’ is about projecting confidence, whether real or illusionary. It’s downside is arguably in making our social groups less cohesive and less real. ‘Fake it til you make it’ can be spectacularly successful – politicians, singers/rappers and A-list movie actors being examples of this. Ironically though, politicians campaign to solve real problems, rappers rap about their gritty own life struggle to success, whilst successful actors choose to star in movies that often have themes of real strength from overcoming adversity of some kind.
Some pioneering cultures have a phrase about ‘keeping it real’. Others talk about ‘keeping your feet firmly on the ground’ (unless you work for the weather service, the airlines, the navy, NASA or Virgin Galactic).The ‘keeping it real’ camp includes support groups, social workers, therapists, counsellors, teachers, coaches, trainers and assessors of all kinds. This camp arguably advocates that ‘struggling to succeed is simply walking the journey’ is what life is about and that being honest about this struggle helps us to build important bridges with fellow human beings. In the world of entertainment, reality shows are in theory about ‘keeping it real’, although programme directors inevitably choose hyping the truth over the reality, if if means improving the viewer ratings in a competitive industry.
What about in the field of design – which camp do designers fall into? Steve jobs said ‘Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.’ In product design, great and successful designers don’t tolerate fake. They are obsessed with building amazing, perfection and excellence. In contrast, fine artists can excell at illusion in their art, folling the viewer’s eye into almost believing the two dimensional is actually the three dimensional. Or that the World shown within their art reveals a far more beautiful perspective on the World outside. Musical artists and actors generally want to create real. It’s the marketing staff of their companies that want auto-tune, edit and airbrush.
Whichever of the two camps a person falls into, perhaps real performance is still the key goal and ambition the driving force. Oscar Wilde famously said ‘all of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars.’ Life arguably isn’t about ‘suffer in silence’, ‘know your place’ and ‘mustn’t grumble’. It is about ‘be the best that you can be’, ‘dare to dream’, ‘give yourself a break’, ‘learn from your mistakes’, ‘recognise the perfect parent does not exist’, ‘respect yourself’ and ‘strength through adversity.’
Lastly, somewhere along the line, as we switched from selling the products of our labour to selling the services of ourselves, the ‘fake it til you make it’ mantra started to dominate, in business, in our romantic lives (as singles) and increasingly, everywhere else. How do we jolt ourselves out of that mantra?
In my experience, it’s the small tributaries of the river, the overlooked pockets, and the unexpected that offer the most value. Whether you’re a traveller, a student, an explorer, a researcher, or an investigator, what is fresh, what’s genuine and what is original, is the stuff outside the mainstream and off the beaten track. Another aid is in joining up our unexpected insights from one ‘tributary’ with those of another. And by holding two opposing ideas or concepts in your head (as a traveller, reflecting on what you see through local values and through your own cultural values is an example of this). In some ways, stating all this is blindingly obvious, but in others, it’s revealing a pathway to the sublime & subtle.
We make progress as a species, as a culture and as individuals, by pushing our buttons. By pushing our boundaries, making improvements and gathering new insights. So far, we’ve done this faster than any other species, except perhaps viruses. And it’s been high-growth-off-a-high-base too.
Is human love more advanced than the love shown in other species? It’s hard for us to see, even when as researchers and nature filmers, we’re looking hard. The love an animal mother shows for its offspring, given its mental and sensory capabilities, is probably just as valid as human love for other people, given our own mental and sensory capabilities. And arguably, we’re more prone to cruelty and indifference than other species too. Especially since our awareness of the World (and the Universe) is so much greater.
Finally, is it wrong to let our children get bored? On the list of wrongness towards children, I doubt it figures in the top ten, although you may disagree. However, given the direction the World is going, we’re going to need to maximise human creativity like never before.
Like for many things, the earlier you start, the more proficient you can become. Perhaps already, we provide:
-too much of too few types of entertainment and
-entertainment without mental challenge,
to the younger generations (and ourselves). As an aside, we arguably produce too much content that simply feeds our basic emotions and prejudices too.
Technology that encourages people:
-to screen out the complexities of life that we should not ignore,
-to screen out the information we need, to make informed decisions with, as parents, as voters and as citizens,
isn’t something to be applauded and worshipped. Instead, we should be critical of it and demand better. All of us, including our kids need to become those critics.