Future Shock: Disillusionment of a Dreamer and the March Into Uncertainty.
It’s always been clear to me that we’ll reach the stars. That we’ll be a cooperative world society that cures all sickness, makes peace with itself, and innovates technologies to the point that no-one wants for anything, and everyone has a purpose. Star Trek.
I didn’t realise until Brexit, there could be a different future. The Euro union that we’d spent so much time building to be a fair beacon and bastion European civil culture, we, the UK, are to leave, and go it alone. Or at least cut trade deals alone.
Funnily, I was pro-Brexit. Having realised how common corruption and mismanagement of funds is in the Eurozone, and indeed the gap between what different societies expect from life and are prepared to give over to working life, made me realize that we needed to leave. Then, the argument about the UK’s ability to finically plan public services with open immigration from Europe was the final clear nail in it’s coffin. Europe’s political administrative machinary not at all effective in helping the humanitarian crisis of Syria, all the while highly paid bureaucrats dictating such important things as how hot coffee can be served, seems just a dark and highly paid comical musing.
Castles in The Sky
But that’s just the present. It wasn’t until I looked at what I had originally believed in the world’s bright future for, and what I had built my feeling of assurity for future of mankind on, that I realised how duplicitous my idea of Star Trek and it’s utopian society really was. A functional world government, a global society with equality for all mankind whatever colour or creed they be. But with the possible loss of cultural identity, and the potential for a council convening on one side of the world, making decisions on life changing strategic development projects on the other side of the world conflicted with my own middle-age ideas about identity, heritage and mans' right to make his own destiny.
Firstly, I was sure that we were to have a governance capable of eradicating war and hardship, but then I realised it would be a global council at the least, if not a full blown one world government in order to deliver that. Having playfully mooted over the idea of One World Government accompanied by a plentiful supply of French cigarettes during my university years, and further, on becoming an expat, realizing most of the world doesn’t have the nanny state we're so used to in the UK, de facto, I realise there are so many differences between the people of the world, it will be nigh on impossible for any global governance to succeed beyond our syncretic G8s, G20s and whatever round table the nations of the world sit at.
So, all of sudden, I realised something that I had taken for granted, and as a comfort, the clear future, Star Trek, won’t exist, and my conception of it as a reality was completely discordant with my beliefs of freedom, democracy and cultural identity. And so actually, I don’t have any great faith in the health of the world’s future, and I don’t have the feeling we're marching towards a clear destiny of world cooperation. That single rationalization left me quite stunned.
Of course we all know love Star Trek, but I hadn’t realised the impact it had made on me as a young boy. The blinding faith in a fictional reality that I have carried on in my life as though it's fruition would be inevitable, and that was foundation of my security in humanism and world health in general.
So that was the end of my ideas of inevitable world developmentalist cooperation.
Castles Built on Sand and The Klangers
Thinking through, it now seems obvious to me that beyond Brexit, there are also a few other monetary and political economic disrupters on the horizon.
To my knowledge and previous reading, the science of monetary economics was all but based on China’s development from being a communist state that didn’t use money to the centrally controlled monetary economy that it is today. Thanks to it’s communist, socialist roots and one party governance, development and planning were decided upon and could be expected to come to fruition 20 or even 30 years later. A strong contrast to the situation we see today in both America and Britain, where one parties initiatives are scrapped by the incoming party. For England, the expectation that China could provide cheap labor and safe investments vehicles for western business and funds meant we always knew we would grow and make profit.
But today, China stands as the largest national economy, and owing to the Chinese people typically being frugal savers, it has both the manufacturing means and it’s own funds to invest and develop other countries infrastructure, as we have seen in both Africa and South America.
But there’s not many countries that are stable enough to ensure growth apart from the other 2nd world nations such as Vietnam where today’s economist predict strong growth again attached to infrastructure and industrial development. The science of economics is now a firefighting practice, with no-one being able to comfortably predict where and when growth will occur without a host of golden ratios needing to be in existence seemingly at once.
In my own life this has had immediate repercussions such as speculative foreign investment in the safe bet property markets of London. This has been making property far too expensive for most people and driving out buyers into the surrounding boroughs and counties. Ergo, the property market is over-inflated and everyday British nationals can’t afford to live in normal family homes, and I can’t afford to live near my parents in Hertfordshire for the same reason.
But the big 3 disrupters that could really change global political economies and the face of developed and developing societies beyond recognition are: AI, Energy, and Climate Change (bar the doomsday viral/bacterial pandemics and the old favourite, a huge chunk of space rock :).
Energy, Securities and Economy
A breakthrough in fusion reactors such a the small scale reactors that Lockheed Skunkworks in America is working on, or one of the other fusion projects such as laser fusion and even the huge ITER collaboration could do the same. Should Skunk works be successful in creating easily manufacturable, manageable and deployable reactors able to be built and sold on a large scale, then surely the world will instantly turn to this type of energy. Should that happen, then there will be a sea change in other huge oil based political and monetary economies such as Russia and the Middle East, where most of their real security comes from their ability to sell oil and gas. Should that product become outmoded, then both will see their futures and securities drop into a bottomless pit.
But who are Saudi Arabia and Russia. Saudi Arabia we hope are the police to the rest of their home region with their modern armaments and political synchronicity mirroring the West’s agendas. Russia seems like a sleeping beast who felt ok selling gas and has been relatively quiet until it’s recent military forays of annexing the Crimea and their support of the Syrian regime. But what if both Saudi and Russia's oil and gas income streams stopped. Would we see them all become craftsmen and poets just as the Samurai did during Japan’s peaceful Edo period. There’s no point projecting, but I sincerely doubt it. Suffice to say that change would/will change world politics beyond anything we could understand or predict.
The Big Melt
Regardless of Donald Trump’s whitewashing of climate research and his ensuing fossil energy mandates, it’s clear to see the world is heating and that CO2 plays a huge part in that fact. The experts are predicting freak weather, droughts, fires and change happening far quicker than both the oceans and the land can adapt to. It’s clear that beyond 1st world costal homes being swallowed by the sea, that the people of the 2nd and 3rd worlds will bear great strife in just trying to eat. That’s a desperate situation and one that will surely lead to lawlessness, jealousy and stronger motivations for not respecting the previous world's international accords.
So finally, we have the impact of AI that is due to arrive in the developed world anytime soon. The silver bullet of all problems, and it seems of regular professional jobs also. Predictions are that all parts of civil administration would be better done by a robot mind capable of never making mistakes and not tempted to lie or be swayed from it’s directives. Law, accountancy, medicine, research, IP development will also all loose positions to our AI caretakers. But are the AIs and the profits made by their enhanced productivity shared to the people or retained by the vast multinational behemoth corporations and funds? No-ones really talked about this . . .
I am currently an ESL/EFL teacher in Asia, but clearly my days are numbered. With Google’s Deep Mind project just about to analyse the common language corpus of England and America in order to bring better computer translations, we will reach a new threshold of technological employment. AIs forerunner digesting man's spoken and written communication and it's meaning. Further, the need for digital assistants being able to understand different spoken regional pronunciation and dialects across the English speaking countries will ensure a new increased level of functionality, making these digital assistance ubiquitous and indispensable products. Finally with the ultimate goal of a synthesised voice able to speak with such widely accepted natural timing and phrasing it becomes every household’s family friend, it doesn’t then seem much a stretch of imagination to see our digital assistant being put into English teaching mode soon after. Able to analyse it’s student’s language skills and teaching them to communicate, not only with correct grammar forms and appropriate phrasing, but also with natural spoken pronunciation and delivery. So that’s yours truly out of a job too.
The Future of U.S.S. Enterprise
So, the old orders of power in the second worlds (nations with big weapons) are completely out of joint, in the third world people are hungry and desperate, and no-one in the West has a job. It doesn’t look like the bridge of the USS Enterprise at all!? It looks more like World War Z, a zombie apocalypse. The top players will be the landed elite of the world, the current remaining top 1,2,3 percent income earners being given a living wage the resembles Marxism with money, while they build huge walls to keep out all the desperate people who would steal from their table, beg at their doors or try to destroy them for the sake of not being so lucky.
Not so funny then to see Donald Trump making moves to keep out US’s poorer neighbours Mexico, and removing the restrictions to digging up the US’s remaining ten years of oil reserves . . . Perhaps nicely coinciding with maturity of the renewable energy solutions before a condensation fusion breakthrough becomes the de facto energy source throughout the world.
Sad for the bottom 97% of the world.
I definitely preferred my Star Trek delusion.