May 10, 2013

Two Scenarios of the Future, a Century Apart

Patrick Marren
Partner

From the Conclusion of  Infinite Progess: How the Internet and Technology Will End Ignorance, Disease, Poverty, Hunger and War, by Byron Reese, 2013, p. 291-2:

As a historian, I know it has been the vanity of every age to think it represents a high point in history. I hope that, after reading this far, you appreciate that for our age, this is no idle boast. It is simply a realization. We live at a defining moment for humanity, as the compounding effects of technology and civilization reach an inflection point. ...So, far from reaching that point the pessimists foretold - where we have exhausted the meager resources of Earth and find ourselves dwindling away - something entirely different is happening. We are gaining speed, not winding down. We are blooming, not withering, as we leverage the greatest natural resource on the planet: the human mind.

From Chapter 54 of The Man Without Qualities, by Robert Musil, set in 1913 Vienna: 

"...We are living in a period of transition. Perhaps, if we don't tackle our profoundest problems any better than we have so far, it'll go on as long as the world lasts. But still, if one is set down in the dark, one mustn't be like a child and whistle to keep one's courage up. And it's only whistling to keep one's courage up if one behaves as if one knew how to behave in this world here below. You can bellow for all you're worth, but it's still only from fear. Apart from that, one thing I'm convinced of - we're galloping! We're still a long way from our objectives, they don't get any nearer, we can't even see them, we shall often ride astray and often have to change horses. But some day - the day after tomorrow, or in two thousand years - the horizon will begin to flow and will come rushing and roaring toward us!"

Thoughts?