This is not to say that interstellar travel is impossible; quite the contrary. But to do so effectively you need either (a) outrageous amounts of cheap energy, or (b) highly efficient robot probes, or (c) a magic wand.
What about our own solar system? … Colonize the Gobi desert, colonise the North Atlantic in winter — then get back to me about the rest of the solar system!
In our new series, What Happens Next, we talked to the people living the future to see what it might look like.
The future has a history. And the stories we tell about incoming change—the stories we’ve always told about such changes—fall into consistent patterns. Dator gained some of his stature in future studies with his famous observation that predictions about the future—whether they’re coming from a corporate spreadsheet, a church pulpit or Hollywood—all boil down to roughly four scenarios. Growth that keeps going. Transformation upending the past. Collapse of the present order. And discipline imposed, in some cases, to hold such collapse at bay.
Understanding these patterns helps drive home the idea that the future is multiple. Living as if there’s only one way things are going to turn out isn’t terribly resilient when events take off in a shocking direction.
If our only images for the future are victory or doom, the underlying message for regular people seems to be, “There’s nothing you can do.”
We need more useful ways to consider and prepare for what happens next.
This is what everyone in whatever school or quadrant of futurism you care to name is thinking about.
I don’t know whether the future will be better or worse than the past, but I feel pretty sure it will be grander. Either we will perish in nuclear apocalypse or manage to avert nuclear apocalypse; either one will be history’s greatest story. Either we will discover intelligent alien life or find ourselves alone in the universe; either way would be terrifying. Either we will suppress AI research with a ferocity that puts the Inquisition to shame, or we will turn into gods creating life in our own image; either way the future will be not quite human.
Here’s the problem: Knight’s knowledge about how to do his job manually—his memorization of the star-shaped pattern in which he fastens the bolts and the understanding of how to do so —still has value. It allows him to understand if the machine is making a mistake, and when its process could be improved.
Knight, however, won’t be around forever. Future workers who do his job won’t have his experience and won’t be able to double-check the machines. So how will they be trained?
Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert says new technology capable of scanning and reviewing thousands of contracts–an entire year of human work–in an hour will mean the firm needs fewer entry-level workers and more workers with experience and judgment. But, “where do [middle-level employees] get that experience and judgment?”
Training programs won’t have to teach them the automated processes, but they will need to identify and teach skills that they would have learned by doing manual processes over and over again.