Worrying about your own future can be scary. It’s precisely this that keeps so many of us searching constantly for purpose, direction, and meaning as we strive to find a logical path forward in life. The question I’m asking here is, with all of this to worry about on a personal, almost internal level, why worry about the future in general?
That’s not to say you shouldn’t care about how the world is evolving around you, nor that you shouldn’t take an active role in attempting to shape it. As the popular saying (attributed to various sources in various forms) goes, the world is run by those who show up, and you should always be among those who do just that. These days, however, many of us worry about the future in a more abstract or occasionally existential sense. We concern ourselves with the trajectory of technology, the advances of the human civilization, the possibilities of space exploration, and more that most of us will never have much to do with personally. It’s these things that can gradually mount into unnecessary day-to-day stress factors that take away from the more important things, and the more immediate concerns in life. So here I’ve compiled five brief points meant to reassure you about the future, in a very broad sense.
1. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS A GOOD THING
This may be debatable in the long term. Science fiction writers have long presented various twists on a sort of A.I.-fueled apocalypse, and Elon Musk, one of the most brilliant technological minds of the era, has famously made headlines predicting an immortal dictator of A.I.
Artificial intelligence has advanced rapidly, and there’s a logical path toward a rather scary version of it. However, while such an outcome is conceivable, focusing on it embraces a hypothetical while ignoring a great deal of good. En route to wherever A.I. might be in 10, 50, or 100 years, we’re going to see incredible advances in day-to-day health, safety, and security. The reason we pursue A.I. is that it can make our lives better, potentially on a massive scale. So, while it can be tempting to fall into dark thoughts about the rapid rapid advancement of these technologies, try to let yourself off the hook and instead embrace the benefits.
2. RENEWABLE ENERGY CAN’T BE STOPPED
There is a lot of justified despair over the state of our environment. Hardly a week passes without one dire warning or another from climate scientists and researchers, and if you happen to live in the U.S., you may have been thoroughly disheartened when Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accords. There is indeed a lot to be concerned with regarding the environment. But we probably don’t need to worry about any kind of government regulation curbing renewable energy to worsen the situation. The misconception, ultimately, is that this has anything to do with policy and decision-making. The fact is that renewable energy is becoming more economically viable by the day, and will ultimately become a widespread reality simply because it makes financial sense. This is one occasion when capitalist trajectory and the good of the planet should line up nicely together over time.
3. YOU AREN’T GOING TO MARS
Perhaps this is actually a little bit of a bummer, if you’re interested in space exploration. But if you’re neutral, you might be concerned that we’re going to turn the Earth into a less hospitable planet, and that there might be mass migration to Mars by the time you’re in your middle age or later years. It’s an interesting thought, and on a tiny scale it might be more or less accurate. We’re going to get to Mars, possibly within 15 or 20 years (and possibly courtesy of Musk). But you probably aren’t going. Of the people who are alive now, only a small percentage of a percentage are going to wind up on the Red Planet. We’re just not at that time yet, so unless you make it your mission in life, you probably need not be concerned about having to leave your home planet one day.
4. VIRTUAL REALITY ISN’T TAKING OVER
While virtual reality is exciting, there is a worry among some that it’s going to take over our lives - that we’ll all be sitting around with headsets on all the time, failing to interact in person and becoming technological hermits. Undoubtedly, some will choose an outcome like this as VR becomes better and more ubiquitous.
But consider something else: This is Gonzo’s Quest. It’s an internet game presenting an animated, digital version of a slot machine, and it was recently redesigned as a VR game. And this was considered one of the bigger stories in VR gaming in the last year or so. That ought to reset your thinking about just how much VR is taking over the culture. Sure, it’s exciting, and there are more immersive executions of it. But when a simple internet arcade’s slide into VR is considered an achievement, we’re not looking at a total lifestyle game changer.
5. HEALTHCARE IS WORKING MIRACLES
There are issues on the way in future healthcare. Costs are not getting lower, and healthcare laws always seem to be changing. Certain illnesses are becoming immune to standard antibiotics, and other diseases are proving impossible to cure. But these aren’t so different from our present reality, and beyond these issues, healthcare is working wonders and - possibly with some help from A.I. - will continue to do so. Cancers are being handled more effectively, degenerative diseases can sometimes be halted, the blind can be given bionic eyes, and stem cell therapies are, in some places, taking hold. Virtual reality is helping to cure phobias and retrain injured people to walk, and connected healthcare systems are making it easier for people with chronic illnesses to manage regular monitoring and treatment on their own. All things considered, it could well be the case that in just 10 more years we’re astounded at mankind’s ability to heal itself.