Thoughts on the future.
The main factors that will affect the future will be population size, climate change, technical advances for the production and transmission of usable energy and political power groupings.
Some definitions are called for: short term is the next 25 years, medium term 25 to 100 years, long term 100 to 500 years and very long term over 500 years
As the understanding of fusion power gets nearer we have to consider how it will affect the world. It seems reasonable to assume that even in the medium term it will be possible to generate electricity by use of fusion power, thus making it cheaper and cleaner for those with the knowledge and investment to do it. Transmission of electricity without the use of cables and the necessary voltage transforming equipment may take longer, while wave form energy transmissions could be possible theoretically, it is going to be harder to convince the public that saturating the air, with high values of electromagnetic waves, is a good thing. We already have many artificial waves of energy permeating our minds and bodies, as well as some naturally occurring ones. Adding electrical transmission waves in the quantity and power necessary may prove a risk to health.
We also know that advances are being made in artificial intelligence and in robotics.
Climate change is a fact of life, part of the natural cycle of the earth. Climate change was occurring before humans evolved and will continue long after we are gone. No United Nations agreements will change it. No amount of tax manipulation will change things by any significant amount. The old stories of his subjects believing that King Canute could order the tide to stay out, come to mind.
The population of humans on planet Earth is increasing and has been since the great plagues of black death, were overcome by the application of science. At some point, unless sanity prevails, the population will overcome the available resources needed to sustain it.
When these things become actual everyday realities, then the world will be changed and that change will cause suffering to many people.
The technically advanced nations will have unlimited electrical energy without buying any fuel from other nations. This will change the economic dynamics of the world order.
Even the cheapest human labour will be more expensive than the automated factories of the future. This will also change the economic dynamics of the world order.
All nations will have higher unemployment. Those with the technology to produce fusion generated electricity and build robotic factories with artificial intelligence doing all administrative tasks, will have unemployment but will also have the means to generate enough economic activity to pay for welfare. This assumes that the political and actual power exists for welfare to be provided. If not poverty and deprivation will ferment political and social unrest on a large scale, the extremes of political ideology, both left and right, will attempt to use this to gain power and end all semblance of democratic rule.
Those nations, presently deriving their material wealth from cheap labour or fossil fuels, will be the ones worst affected. Probably those reliant on large numbers of low-cost humans will be worst because they will have the largest “surplus” population. They will also have the least resources to deal with their social problems. Human behavior being as it is, these nations will blame the more economically powerful nations for all the problems and some of the “liberal” elements in those powerful nations will agree, against all actual evidence, and will seek to support the deprived in the over populated and economically weak nations. This will obviously take resources from the poor of their own society but they never have accepted this as a reality and are unlikely to change attitudes.
How long before humanity is impaled on these four prongs? Has to be a guess but some time between 2065 and 2115. While the changes will be gradual in some ways they will not seem that way.
Start thinking and start asking the governments of the world, what they plan to do.
Thinking of the future in more localised and social terms, consider that Shakespeare wrote at a time when books were rare. Very few people could read and some of those only Latin.
Dickens wrote for a time when printing of books and newspapers was quite common and it is probable that at least half the population could read, and English as a written language had evolved.
Thus the style of both their writing was governed by the “audience” of their day.
These days, because of the media, it would be easy to say that the shortened version of the English language, text speak, necessitated by very limited number of characters per message, predominates but this would be wrong. Amongst certain age groups it may predominate but even within these age groups, there are large numbers who still enjoy “constructed” writing.
The success of Harry Potter books, the success of the Hunger Games books, indicate that a huge proportion of younger people, while still using text messages, still think the language of longer written works is of high value. Consider the wider population and include all age groups and the proportion of people who use only text messages is actually quite small.
As so often it is easy to gain a wrong impression from head line media pronouncements. In fact, the biggest influence causing an adjustment to writing is the predominance of visual images now available to all people.
Because we now live in a time when television, photographs, computer internet and films; dominate entertainment and to a very large degree, factual information and understanding, it is inevitably causing further evolution of the way “writing” is progressing.
In Dickens' day, the number of English people who had seen a volcano erupting was extremely limited but now the majority of the population will have seen photographs, film or TV showing an eruption. So now there is not the need to describe the event, it is sufficient to write “like a volcano erupting.”
One of the large issues of this present period of history is the question of migrants and refugees.
Definition of a refugee is someone who has fled from danger or political persecution.
Definition of a migrant is a person who moves from one place to another.
It must now be clear to any thinking person, that within the UK and in other parts of Europe, the imposition of multiculturalism, as opposed to the previous integration, has changed the attitude of both indigenous people and those coming as migrants or refugees.
When integration was the norm everyone knew how things should be. This very flawed social experiment of multiculturalism has proved disastrous to all people.
The natives of a nation now believe they are being pushed out of their own culture and traditions while the newly arrived believe they have a right to different laws than those that actually exist.
This is a certain cause for conflict and it must have been obvious to those who imposed multiculturalism, that it would result in social unrest and conflict.
May be it was obvious and it was the actual intent of those who imposed it.
If the short term future in the industrialised nations is to be one of social adhesion, the governments need to ensure that ALL people no mater what their religion, their race, their social standing, their belief system or philosophy, have to live within the same laws, rules, and customs of the nation.
It does not matter what their profession, it does not matter what their gender, all are the same under the law and while they are within the jurisdiction of that law they must all obey these same rules and laws. Lawyers and politicians of all sides, must accept these are the laws and not seek to undermine the rule of law as laid down by a democratic government, nor should they or anyone else, seek to undermine social cohesion by claiming some people are exempt from some rules and laws. No one is exempt or everyone is exempt; this has been a fundamental of British justice system for many hundreds of years.
Those not willing to accept these laws should leave by their own volition or be banished. Immediately after an order for banishment is made that person is to be detained in a secure place until they leave.
Only in this way can everybody have an understanding of all being one nation within the geographic boundaries. Only then can moves towards social harmony be successful.
A report in the media even in 2016, suggests that within a few years vastly more people will be employed in office jobs than in actual manufacturing. This also suggests even more people will work for the health care business. With the advancement of automation, artificial intelligence, cheaper energy (fusion) and global climate change (warmer climate in northern Europe, the UK etc.) This alteration in work and employment patterns will become greater.
My personal opinion is that food production will split even more than it has already. One part will be mass production, low labour content, high chemical reliance and aimed at volume production of uniform food with marketing to the mass market as the principle objective. The provision of “ready meals” mega mass produced to a uniform standard and totally reliant on added chemicals to give shelf life and even a semblance of taste will be increased.
The other part will be a much smaller scale of individual production but with many more participating producers, a growth in farmers markets and in collective marketing of small scale production by individuals or families working small holdings of land.
This will come about as the need for “office” workers is reduced by artificial intelligence being added to more reliable computer systems and the automation of routine clerical work. Those people with education and personal work ethics will seek to be self-employed.
Self-employment, is by its very nature, working on a small scale. Crafts, creativity, small scale production. Thus there will be a huge movement away from corporate employment towards self-employment.
This move will not be easy, multinational companies, reliant on automated production of uniform standard products will not like fragmentation of the markets.
Government bureaucracies will be actively seeking to control and restrict individuality amongst the citizens. Conformity is required both by governments and multinational marketing efforts.
As the number of people actually needed to keep large scale production and mass control of citizens, reduces, so more and more people will seek to return to artisan effort. Naturally, those who wish to keep control will attempt to ensure that education is restricted and that individual creativity is suppressed. Past history of communism, when allowed to govern, shows this will happen and when supported by multinational conglomerates, the suppression of people will be greater than ever achieved previously.
Censorship, forced uniformity, constant rewriting of history, control of media, distortion of fact will be even greater than they are now. Of course, this will all be done in the name of “the people” and for the “greater good of the greater number.” This may be claimed but will never be the truth.
Control of the cheap energy from fusion power will be the key element in controlling people.
Eventually the sheer numbers of unemployed people (I am including in this: unproductive people, under employed, low productivity government workers, since governments have a natural tendency to keep increasing their own payroll voter support but these are not actually productive) will ensure that there are many who will have the individuality, the will power and the intelligence to seek to expand the self-employed forces.
In some nations, self-employment may even be declared illegal and so these become criminals but as alcohol prohibition failed in the USA so will the suppression of individual creativity. There will be pain, even bloodshed but in the end, the creative part of human nature will emerge.
Health care will not be exempt from the advance of automation and artificial intelligence. The number of errors made in our present care system will be magnified by the sheer numbers of people seeking remedies for all discomforts, physical and mental.
As with food and other production, big business and controlling bureaucracies will seek to prevent individual self-employed therapists from operating and the drive to reduce costs and payment of damages due to mistakes will open the floodgate of automated diagnostic machines. Machines can not be sued.
The time will come when a “visit to the doctor” will be only for the extreme elite with wealth and power. The rest will go to an automated scanning machine this will scan and diagnose every possible variation from a preset “norm.”
If the government of that citizenry is benign, the machine will communicate to a computer system, controlled by artificial intelligence, which will issue instructions for care and rectification of the abnormality. In a less benign regime, the variation may be declared dangerous to the state and the life will be terminated, for the greater good, naturally.
Robots will perform the care and treatment and millions more will join the unwanted mass of humanity.
As indicated previously, this will inevitably lead some to become self-employed using “natural” health care to help the sick, just as the artisans will seek to use individuality and creativity. The controlling bodies will seek to suppress all knowledge of these “natural” treatment and training will have to go “underground” but humans have shown how resourceful and stubborn they can be. Eventually, they will overcome.
How all this will resolve itself, in say the next 500 years, will largely depend on three factors: the growth in population numbers, the advances in space travel and the changes to the planet brought about by continuous climate change.
If populations are reduced to a level that the available food supply from the planet, can be sustained without vast chemical changes, then the smaller scale productions will flourish. This population reduction will also ensure that the vast automated output from robotic factories will have no customers, even with a deliberate policy of everything only having a six month “life”, it will still collapse if the population is reduced enough.
In the end, the mega-mass production will bring about its own ending, as it needs less people in its operation it will also need more people as “customers” but less of these customers will be productive earners and so there will be less ability to pay for the products.
If space exploration can mean the migration from planet Earth to other planets then the self defeating population situation is changed. There will be an ever increasing human population and so an ever increasing need for production.
There will also be an ever increasing diversification of philosophies and ideologies as people homogeneous to each other, settle on other planets and set up their own forms of government.
Climate change to planet Earth will dictate the rate of change in population and its location. These factors will cause conflict between nations with differing political ideals and control systems. Warfare may temporarily control population but if the inhabitable land mass is reduced, even warfare will only have a short term effect.
How can humanity escape the adverse effects described above?
Reduce population drastically over the next 100 years. Reduce world population down to 25% of its present level. Start trying to get some reality into forecasting what climate change is actually going to happen and what effect it will have. Stop pretending climate change can be stopped. Start planning what to do to cope with the inevitable changes
Seek other planets that humans can live on, develop ways to travel to these planets.
Embrace automation, artificial intelligence, and fusion power but as servants of all the whole population not as a means to increase power and profit of large corporations.
I do not mean communism or even socialism, these are failed concepts. The bureaucrats who run a nation state do NOT know best. Controlled capitalism is one possible way forward. But who and how will decide the success or failure of this.
I believe the universe needs the humans' ability to create, that ability, that only exists in humans, to further creation itself.
I believe that while it is certain there are other life forms and sentient beings in the universe, the combination of intellect, memory, imagination, and intuition that we humans have is probably unique and that is what makes us important to the universe. This combination makes us creative and being creative is our purpose within the universe.
We need to think long term to ensure the survival of the human species and if at all possible to enhance the powers of humans for creativity.