Saturday, February 14, 2009

My granddaughter's birthday

Tomorrow I'm going to my granddaughters fifth birthday. I remember when I was five, 1951. In 2066, she'll be my age. How has the world changed in these 58 years. Fundamentally, not much. Yes, there have been technological advances which have expanded our communication capabilities and access to information. Our average life span has increased slightly. I'm not sure that our overall health is much better.

We work five days a week, come home at night and hang out at home watching TV or surfing the internet. On weekends we eat out or visit friends and family. We still root for out favorite sports teams, read best sellers, and follow the lives of the popular entertainers. There has been very little improvement in transportation. Cars still don't go much faster than sixty or seventy miles per hour. Planes are still annoying, uncomfortable and slow. Its ridiculous that it still takes five hours to get to California.

You can make a case, if you want, that there has been significant change. You can point to the globalization of our economy, the fall of the "Iron Curtain," the end of the "Cold War." But so what? War is still a problem. We haven't learned how to get along with each other. Yes, we have made significant medical advances treating cancer, heart disease and mental illness. Not enough so we don't worry about these annoying conditions. What is significant, though, is that our internal states, how we are when we are by ourselves, has not changed very much.

What will the world be like when Emily is 62 I'm hopeful. First of all, the rate of change is accelerating. I believe life on planet Earth will be unrecognizable in 2066. Obviously, we need to get through the next few years without destroying ourselves. If we do ...

New sources of energy and advanced technology will enable the basic necessities, food, clothing, shelter, car, computer, and tv to be supplied to every person without very much work required.

Slowing of cellular aging and cloning of body parts will enable us to live indefinitely. I believe the average life span will be over 120 years, and could be much higher, possibly 1000.

Advances in theoretical physics will open up the universe to travel, exploration and colonization.

The big question will be what to do with our time. What if we live healthfully for hundreds of years? What if we don't need to work to meet our basic necessities? Much more attention will need to be given to our internal states, how we are when we are with ourselves (which is all the time). Education will have to change.

Obviously we have a lot of work to do. I think we should start today.

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