May 17, 2017
Thought: Who owns the future?
With Elon Musk now talking about taking humanity not only to Mars but also into a sci-fi world with brain implants and Donald Trump attempting to bludgeon the world (or just the United States) into a bygone era of dirty coal energy, the question must be asked: to whom does the future belong?
Historians and philosophers have long agreed that the future belongs to children (naturally), but we seemingly forget this truth at every step. Ask any child practically anywhere in the world in modern times what they think about globalization. Not only will they surprise you and likely understand what globalization is, but they’ll be in favor of it. They’ll indicate an enthusiasm for innovating technologically, exchanging resources, and solving the toughest of challenges such as hunger, poverty, and climate change.
With such a motivated can-do attitude, it makes me—a no-longer young adult, not quite middle aged man—wonder why so many fight sensible progress, otherwise known as innovation. Choosing to not participate with the newest, latest, and greatest is quite acceptable, but intentionally trying to impede progress (in the spirit of Donald Trump), or trying to force a progress that will knowingly be abused at every turn (à la Elon Musk) seem almost equally obstructionist. To be fair, I think Musk’s Neuralink is a clever and worthwhile idea, I just also happen to believe that the same performance will become possible without the need for invasive implants.
It is as if politics and technology sometimes get into an arms race to see who can reach Dystopia faster. Politicians strive for a yester-year that never was, which will ultimately lead to a paved paradise. Technologists push the boundary between carbon and silicon without regard for practicality. Maybe it is up to those of us in business, with our relentless but often misguided (ahem… money) pursuit of value and utility, to contrast politicians and technologists. Maybe the three should pull equally, as if from the tips of a triangle, to keep the universe balanced and livable for all generations to come.