Yet another futuristic article – “How Technology Will Eat Medicine” (author Vivek Wadhwa), which talks of life changing futuristic trends but brushes aside a significant aspect, which I will discuss below.
Look at the last sentence of the article –
“What is clear is that we have entered an era of acceleration and there is much promise – and risk of peril – ahead”.
The sentence emphasizes both, the promise and the risk. For risk it uses the word ‘peril’ which is usually associated with big risks, major dangers or impending catastrophe.
But notice, the article mentions the risks only in the passing, forget about any talk of mitigation. The risks implied are serious dangers with potential to cause our extinction. The same approach can be seen in many other futuristic articles and talks. The focus is on excitement and ‘glamour’ of future, while downplaying the possibility that the very same factors that are the cause of this exciting future could also be the reason for our extinction.
Imagine you are on a space craft to a magical planet, which will give you everything you can ever imagine. The ride is however, turbulent. It is predicted that this turbulence is likely to increase as we near the planet, to the extent that there is a good chance the space craft will crash before reaching. What will you do in this situation?
Will you ignore the risks and just relax and envision the wonderful life you will have on the planet? Or will you try to reach sooner and ask the pilot to increase the speed, unmindful of the fact that speeding will further increase the chances of crash?
Anyone can see that both of the above alternatives are foolish. Shouldn’t you rather focus on reaching safely, even if it involves going slower or taking alternate route. Basically wouldn’t you do everything possible in your capacity to ensure safety?
That should be the mindset when we envisage the exciting future we have due to accelerated growth driven by technology. This journey, at best is going to be a bumpy ride. Keep in mind, with accelerated growth, even the magnitude and duration of these bumps will increase at accelerated pace!
By recognizing this downside, we have the potential to avert some of risks or at least be better prepared to face them. By preventing ourselves from being totally destroyed, we also maximize our chances of reaching the magical destination we dream of.
This was also the theme of my presentation at the 2014 Annual Conference of World Future Society – “Living with Exponential Growth and Exponential Threats”.