Let’s do some counting
About 1000 grandfathers ago, the entire human race probably numbered less than 5 million and where mostly involved in hunting and gathering.
Such a short time, yet we have come so far. We have built a society where the poorest in the most socially developed country has more going for him than a King had in the middle ages. Unfortunately, the lower bar hasn’t moved much for most of the world.
Our poorest in most of the world are living lives almost identical to those lived 50,000 years ago. This is distressing. Alan Greenspan once stated in defence of capitalism that no other system had lifted so many out of poverty. I agree with him. We are indeed making progress.
But progress towards what? Have the goals been clearly defined and are economic systems directed towards achieving that goal? Or is it assumed that increasing economic production and scientific advancement will inevitably lead to the world we want?
There are reasons to believe that this isn’t the case. The most obvious being the destruction of the ecosystem that birthed us. A futurist, I forget who, wrote that technological advancements could lead to a stable tyranny. And this is one of the better dystopian futures.
We need to agree that there are certain fundamental things we want. I shall list a few.
Longer, better quality lives
A truly democratic form of government
Access to knowledge
Freedom to pursue our passions
Freedom from ‘subsistence’ labour
Add to these the human rights as defined in the Geneva Conventions.
Once we know what we want, we can then direct advancements in that direction. It will also help in legislating on new and inevitable technologies that will arise.