TED Conversations

Hassan Syed

Founder & CEO, Bir Ventures, USA

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Do you believe that our future is bright, if yes, why and if not, why not?

While looking at the trends like human health, access to knowledge, access to technology, technology growth, etc., we start believing that our future is going to be very good. On the other hand, looking at the trends like destruction of nature, speed at with we are consuming natural and environmental resources, explosion of human population, carbon in the air and climate change, etc., we think that really difficult times are ahead of us.

I am interested in knowing the sources of optimism and causes of pessimism in us.

Just to be clear, "our" means humankind :-)

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  • Sep 29 2012: great question! thanks Hassan.
    I agaree with Kuldip Singh that the world is chaning for the better - and it is doing so rapidly. We do not notice it when we read, listen to or watch the news. We do notice it however, when we talk to individuals, when we realise how many people are becoming aware of the challenge and its solutions!
    when, 25 - 30 years ago, I talked about the then called 'new age' ideas, people rolled their eyes, saying oh, it's Christina again with her far out phantasy ideas. these ideas about the importance of self- responsibility, meditation, spiritual awarness are becoming main stream in many areas.
    I see the earth quakes, floods, forest fires, storms etc as a way of cleansing by Earth; it is like when humans have hives or a fever to bring awareness thata something is amiss, as well as a cleansing of the body/earth.
    and look at al the corporations whose unsavoury acts are being uncovered - we are on aa good path - adn we do need to expand until we reach the critical mass. Everyone counts!
    • Sep 30 2012: Christina- thank you for the thumbs up.
      A little over 4 decades ago,I read in the Reader's Digest.A reporter asked Mr.Rockefeller,who at that time was the richest man in the world, " How much money is enough?" Mr.Rockefeller replied," Just a little bit more."
      It all boils down to contentment.The problems the world is facing,be it climate change,materialism,over population,etc will be solved by the law of nature.This includes the materialistic world being replaced by a spiritual world.This will happen when the Spiritual Leaders of all the World's religions rise and take control of the World.
      The first Guru of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was asked,"Who is higher,a Hindu or a Muslim?" Guru Nanak Dev Ji replied,"It is not a question of Hindu or Muslim.It all depends one one's actions or karma.Whose action is pure is deemed to be higher."
      Karma is defined as being similar to Newton's Third Law- For every action,there is an equal and opposite reaction.
      In the Bhagwad Gita,Lord Krishna says that we cannot live in this World without acquiring karma.He further went on to say that at all times, we should always strive to acquire good karma.
      Hence I am confident the future is indeed very bright.
      • Sep 30 2012: I agree with just about everything you say, except: we cannot wait for the spiritual leaders to take control ( actually I do beleive that spiritual leadership is NOT about control...) we need to realise that each and everyone of us is personally responsible for his or her thoughts, actions and emotions.....that is where we need to head - enjoying ourselves on the journey does help :-)
        • Oct 1 2012: Less than 5 minutes ago: I totally agree with you when you said," we need to realise that each and everyone of us is personally responsible for his or her thoughts, actions and emotions."
          Having said that,we do need Spiritual Leaders to show us how.
          From Wikipedia, Jesus Christ did say, "Pearls before swine" and "casting pearls" refer to a quotation from Matthew 7:6 "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." in Jesus, Sermon on the Mount, implying that scriptural truth or knowledge (pearls) should not be put in front of people (or in this case, swine) who do not appreciate their value.
          Therefore it is a question of timing.Christians have been praying,
          " Thy Will be done,
          on Earth,
          as it is in Heaven."
          When The Almighty establishes His Will on Earth,believe you me, all the wheeler dealers,lobbyists, pedophiles,what have you -they all will rue their actions.
          Also, yes Spiritual Leadership is not about control.It is about leadership in action,through thought,word and deed.
  • Sep 29 2012: A few years ago, when 2012 was trending, on the Agora’s 5 Minute Financial blog, somebody asked, “Will the world come to an end in 2012?”
    The blogger replied, “No, the world will not come to an end in 2012, but the world as we know it will cease to exist.”
    I take this to mean that wars,bigotry,religious extremism,financial greed,quarreling politicians serving themselves,etc will end.
    If materialism were to cease,spiritualism must take its place.
    In the light of the recent uproar re Innocence of Muslims - many years ago I asked my Spiritual Master," All the chaos in the World,who is responsible?" The Master replied, " 2 classes of people who live by the philosophy of divide and rule- one is politicians and the other preachers."
    I think the world is about to find out that the Almighty is indeed All Mighty.
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    Sep 28 2012: It's not the end of the world. When it reaches a certian tipping point, then a die off will occur and the survivors will have a pretty good place to live, lots of room for everyone. I"m sure some of the modern infrastructure will still be inhabitable and the survivors can start over and reach a height unobtainable with all the current overpopulation and toxic destruction. We might even make it to a class 1 civilization.


    There's always a bright side.
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    Oct 20 2012: I do think the future is bright, but not without conflict. I believe in paradise, but also know that there is always a snake. Human nature wil continue to strive for better amidst the chaos as it has always done, the big difference today is that problems are astoundingly BIG, but today we have the astoundingly BIG miracle of human invention in the internet, where problem solving will involve thousands or millions minds in 'crowd sourced problem solving'. Think in terms of open source code, and how quickly that evolves and improves. World problems are soon going to be addressed this way.Also better open source management is taking root to help in this process. The solutions will come from people and the governments will eventually implement them. Leadership and answers no longer come from governments since their main purpose is to maintain the status quo, until a new group changes that status and the climate will MAKE that happen, cause you can curse the heat with all the political fury you like, but sooner or later you will get hot enough to stop ... and then blame the liberals for something new.
  • Oct 16 2012: I'd like to think yes. For one, I am a part of those people who are dedicated to promoting educational and informative stuff to people of all ages as to encourage everyone to live a health life. How do we do this: see maddieandmatt[dot]com.
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    Oct 12 2012: i think it is bright as long as we continue to educate and do what we can to have a better life
    you know we are born excepting a better life ,have enough food speak freely and create what we would like .

    and have emotion communication .we all work towards better direction .so future is bright and still much work need o be done.
  • Oct 12 2012: Only problem is, one robot would replace 5 workers. And one worker would likely design and maintain 100 robots. Nice work if you can get it! The workers, while freed up to play or create or whatever, still need to meet survival needs (food, lodging etc.) So unless we make it so we work much less, we will become slaves to our technology. I am all for meditation, etc. Do it daily. Hard to meditate when your stomach is growling. I wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying, don't get me wrong. Its just that we would likely have to get rid of the monetary system, like they did in Star Trek, Next Gen. There, people worked to improve themselves rather than competing for resources and money. Nice dream, a long way off. Besides, many people define themselves by their work; being out of work makes them feel a bit worthless. So, unless society creates activities to engage people, we will have millions of people, hungry, sitting around, feeling worthless, resentful against technology. Not a good combination. We would need a new challenge, like populating Mars. Sign me up!
  • Oct 10 2012: Despite my enthusiasm for technology, I do wonder if these speakers are just rehashing the same tired arguments that were prevalent during the dot com era: technology will render offices obsolete, we won't go into work, we'll interact with one another via virtual reality, etc. Sure, one could argue that digital technology is especially profound given its prevalence, but technology is far, far, far, from being universally accessible. I think it is also useful to remember that technology and networks are not, by themselves, democratizing — organizations fight for control of networks everyday, and one could easily argue that industrial networks hold far more agency than any individual user or even a group of users.
  • Oct 7 2012: I have to love they way people on here and the speaker, are like ostriches, with their head in the sand, envisaging all sorts of utopia.

    It wont happen. The future is dark, dank, and rotten, for all but a few.

    Robots / Chinese workers / Slave trade (look on TED for that) ... Pure Capitalism see's no differentiation. Is all about cost. Pure Capitalism does NOT care about the person, it NEVER has.

    "Managing that transition is going to be the greatest challenge that our society faces." Lets be honest there wont be ANY transition, just like the home loan scandal, your own your own, if you sleep on the street who cares?

    How many times have you walked past someone homeless, did you care? If that number goes from one to twenty will you care? The answer is no, until YOU'RE on the street.

    Look at unemployment levels in the USA and Europe. Greece, Spain, it's heading upwards. And the plan is ... build robots?

    Just look at what we're facing today...

    The rise of the Corporation as been to put it mildly massive. The unemployment rates have risen. in all BUT China. More companies now design and create prototypes only (nike / apple etc ) all manufacturing is done offshore.

    If one can get robots to do the job, and they are already used, all the more profit. And if they can get them to do 100% of the job they will.

    Larger and larger (bear-sterns (30bn) to TARP (700bn) scams and bailouts have been happening and with increasing frequency. Those will only get worse. Because those collapses created the 10 biggest banks in history. If one fails, and it will, the only thing you will have left are those dreams.

    With no jobs, no money, it will force the cost of food etc up, as has been happening recently, and it will continue to rise. But with no jobs, you create an army of homeless, and we've all seen the militarization of the police forces around the world.

    The future for you and millions more - will be a daily nightmare of simple survival.

    Welcome to the real world baby.
  • Oct 5 2012: Great question Hassan Syed,

    I'm not feeling overly optimistic. The issues of population growth concern me most. It seems that if "we" are already fighting over resources, this can only get worse with increased population and further resource depletion. I hope that I am just a grumpy pessimist and that some brilliant optimstic and altruisitc minds will "save the day." In the meantime, I am trying to reduce my personal contribution to the problem by maintaining a reasonably simple lifestyle. The problem is that even if I live a modest lifestyle by standards in the U.S., I realize that I use far more resources than many people in world. I try to help others through programs like Habitat for Humanity, OXFAM, Fair Trade Federation. Still, is it possible for everyone in the world to live even a modest "American" lifetyle without depleting the Earth's resources? Much needs to change ... We need to discover major breakthoughs in sustainable agriculture/fuel/lwater supply/housing/living and we need to maintain populations that are within what the planet can "host." Sigh ... how long before "we", as guests have outstayed our welcome ... especially when we keep inviting countless new people to join the "party??"
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    Oct 1 2012: I think:
    It is bright!
    People will soon understand that they are pursuing SILLY "invalid happiness".
    Then, they will quit it and save 90% of the resources/energy and stop self-extinction.
  • Sep 30 2012: Geographer Jared Diamond summarizes an extensive literature and identifies four broad reasons for the collapse of historical societies: (1) Damage to the environment due to inadvertent,
    shortsighted, or uninformed human activities causing such changes as deforestation, erosion,
    desalinization, and over-hunting; (2) Natural stochastic disasters such as increased cooling or prolonged
    droughts; (3) Relations with neighbors going sour, sometimes leading to war; and (4) Cultural responses
    preventing society from recognizing the problem or considering potential solutions

    Our speaker didn't even mention environmental collapse.

    I believe our problems aren't technological. They're human. What is man but an ape. Our logic serves the older part of the brain, the reptilian survival part. We are wired to survive. After the first 100 million dollars what is accumulating money all about? I saw somewhere that money has the same effect as cocaine. Stimulates the same area of the brain. Give a chimpanzee a computer and he will corner the market on bananas. Another survival mechanism is to spend more money than anybody else on weapons. And why do we overeat. Why does America have obesity crisis?

    They're is an old saying "The scum rises to the top". How much parasitic corruption can a system absorb? The corrupt are ideological chameleons. They make the best of whatever political system their in.

    I'm pessimistic. Unless we are able rid the system of corruption we are doomed. And that has nothing to do with technology.
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    Sep 29 2012: Pessimism has its roots in realism, whereas over-optimism seems often to be a state of denial.

    It seems to be in our nature to have an over-optimistic expectation of being successful if we've experienced success in the past. This can be an inaccurate view of the world, encouraging overconfidence, leading us away from envisioning a realistic future.

    A dose of pessimism can do wonders in sharpening up an otherwise myopic vision of that future.

    "Optimism is what you have before understanding the problem" as Woody Allen once said.

    With this in mind, I am pessimistic about the future because everything we stand for right now is governed by an over-optimistic 'business as usual' criteria, driven by economics and politics.

    This is partly why global mindsets will not change until catastrophe and disaster ensues, whereupon the pessimists will say "I told you so, ages ago!"
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    Sep 29 2012: I think our future is as bright or dark as is has always been in the history of mankind. Like our organism / immune system always adapted to new threats, our society will adapt and overcome problems of civilisation. Looking into history there was always an up and down (dialectical principal). In 1988 nobody in Germany would have bet one dollar on the "end of the cold war" and the falling of the iron wall. . In 1975 (at least in Germany) nobody would have dared to believe, that our rivers will recover to the quality of today (drink water quality) or that wolves or eagles would return to our forests.One more argument - there is a platonic dialogue (I think it is the Gorgias dialogue) dated 500 b.C. where the old men are sitting together on the market place, when a young guy was strolling by. The old men where starting to complain about his outfit, where telling stories how few respect the youth is paying to the older people, and that all the old virtues will go down the drain. This makes me think, that cultural pessimism is as old as mankind, and it always came better than suspected ;-)
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    Sep 29 2012: Hassan, We find ourselves in a slot of history that could go either way. I see stumbling block everywhere. The US lacks the diplomatic corps that we once enjoyed. Political leaders are giving lip service to national needs and concentrating on keeping their position. As if that was not bad enough ... we (US) are not getting the true news. We hear what will not damage the re-election hopes as all but one media source is firmly entrenched in the current party. We hear ten seconds on Syria and Iran and twenty minutes on the current polls and political ads. I have not heard anything on the world economy in weeks.

    Most of the worlds media is complementary to the philosophy of the reigning government. That being the case how is it that we the people will ever know the true heights and depths of our status.

    Italy, France and others are up to a 75% tax on the wealthy and the wealthy are leaving for better ports in droves. It would appear that party leaders are looking for scapegoats so they can maintain office. The current finger pointing in the US is that the rich are the cause of all of your problems. By making you believe that .. no one will seek the real problem and resolve it. Much like the misdirection a magician using when performing "magic".

    As long as people can live off of state welfare and social programs then why should they seek work. When enough people take this view then the GDP goes down and the problems begin. To give "free" service is a popular idea ... until the check comes due.

    We need leadership now more than ever. Without it our once bright future will go dim.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Sep 29 2012: I agree with you on most of the things Bob. I do think that there is a social responsibility to take care of people that are going through hardship or cannot take care of themselves because this is the basic foundation of human society. However, I do agree that people should not be allowed to take advantage of society's generosity.

      On the leadership question, do you see that kind of leadership emerging or where is the potential of such leadership development?
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        Sep 30 2012: Hassan, You are so right .... I often say that I support a habd up not a hand out. We, in the US, have created a generation of welfare families. By making these people dependent we have robbed people of dignity and work ethic

        There is nothing wrong with social programs. I do, however, feel that they be evaluated and total support should be limited to those who are indeed in need. Just as in the Purtain ethic law ... able bodied men should contribute to share in the bounties.

        Further, the times are not such to support the volume of welfare that some countries are supporting. Social programs require a stable and prosperous economy and that means workers. There are jobs available but why take them if it would reduce your lifestyle from living off of the state.

        Currently the German leader is the only one who said "if you don't change .. we will not continue to finance a failing government" to the countries of the EU. I support that. Many of the EU leaders supported the vast social give aways for voter support. Tough time require tough, and often unpopular, decisions.

        I don't see better leadership coming from the US. We will do well to stay the course. The best shot of new "great" leadership is in the EU.

        Thanks for the reply. All the best. Bob.
  • Sep 28 2012: I do not believe our future is bright. We humans, I feel, have overreached ourselves, and, in particular, have allowed our animality to lead us into an unsustainable overexploitation and overpopulation of our world with the corresponding irreversible destruction of that "miraculous" ecosphere which, first, produced us, and second, must sustain us. Meanwhile we entertain ourselves with fictions, like going to haven on other planets, or repairing this damaged planet-- the list is unending.TED seems to be biased in favor of possible fictional improvements of our prospects, i'm saddened to see.
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      Sep 28 2012: It is a very good response. Have you seen Tristram Stuart's The global food waste scandal?
  • Sep 28 2012: It depends on your world view. If you only consider yourself in your world, then yes, it will be very bright for you!If you consider everyone and everything else as a whole, then no, our combined future is much much darker than we could have imagined.
    It is all relative - a balance. We know little, so we have yet to discover the totality of what we are doing to ourselves.
    A bright candle in a small jar is perceived as bright when only considering as far as the jar. However, that same candle is perceived as nothing when considering its place in the universe. Add to that that our jar-sized understanding of our place in the universe is expanding much faster than the light of our ability to positively influence these things. Add to that that technology is leading us to ask more questions than it/we can provide answers to. Add to that that we increasingly know more about external things and less and less about our own selves inside. Add to that that what universaly makes us happy has always remained the same - self worth, relationships, sincerity, commitment, sacrifice - yet the number of things created to make us happy increases and increases while completely missing the point! Add to that that the more we know (rogue asteroids, killer diets, solar flares, earthquake/volcano/tsunami alerts, what habits statistically shorten our life expectancy,...) the less blissfully happy we are in this information age!
    Simple answer: No for us, Yes for me.
  • Sep 24 2012: I cannot speak for humankind. I can only speak for myself. But as I am embedded in society, I believe that most people believe what the majority says. So if majority is feeding mostly up with bad news, have a not satisfying job, read books/papers and extract the negative things out of it, listen to destructive rather than to constructive people, remember more bad than good experiences, you will get a "No" for a bright future. And vice versa.

    I think the main source is the media (tv, newspapers, magazines, internet).

    Ask people where they get their opinions from. The negative point of view is coming from the outside and gives examples of how evil the world is (war, poverty, all forms of ...isms, crime, markets etc.), the positive view often is a result of personal experience. I myself became careful with people who solve the problems of our world from the couch or carry the earths suffering on their shoulders, rarely talking about themselves in a personal way. Instead I love to listen to people who talk about what really happened to themselves (in their job or daily life) or even better: show me something I didn't know so far and use for myself.

    A lot of stuff is just intellectual boredom.
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      Sep 24 2012: What you have said about believing in actions is so true. I really like your logic and hope that everyone believes in words that are backed by the actions.
  • Sep 24 2012: The future will be bright for some people, no matter what, we can work to make it bright for nearly everyone, but we might fail.
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    Sep 24 2012: I am very optomistic because I believe that the global economic model that is causing all of humankind's problems is on the verge of failure. when it collapses, we have the chance to fix what went so wrong.
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      Sep 24 2012: What do you think will be short-term impact of such collapse and how long would it take before the dust settles?
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        Sep 24 2012: Not sure. But I do know that by and large, we will find ourselves forced to learn how to cooperate again - in the name of our survival. Right now our political and economic systems are designed to turn people against people, but when they collapse, reality will set in. Cooperation, not fear or hate, and certainly not class systems, will be our avenue to survival.

        the first year would be the hardest, because basic essentials of living would have to be provided for and excesses discarded. This will cause emotional turmoil in those who have not been preparing themselves for the event. (who have not learned how to establish inner peace)

        As a "sense" or normalcy returns in the face of reality, (sincerely looking for fixes), more rational discourse can then take place and we can begin to establish a moneyless system where people are the value and money has none. I doubt that we will be denied energy and water for more than a few days at most (and the Internet for a few weeks). The failing governments will take them over in the name of the people (and the survival of the politicians who gave us the collapse - because when money has no value, the "upper class" will just be one of us). People will be called upon to volunteer wherever possible in the name of humanity's survival. (Look at how wonderfully people response to natural disasters)

        I think that there will be great anger at first, and though misplaced, will be directed at those who brought us to the new reality - including religions. But as life improves and actually gets better because money is not the indicator of my value as a human, life will begin to improve, and people will begin doing things that they like to do and are good at because they like to do them and share their talents.

        The engines of society will begin taking us in another direction. It shouldn't be more than 7-10 years before we are celebrating that which we once feared. The route to that point will vary from person to person.
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    Sep 24 2012: technology (these days) amounts to little more than gadgets to kill time before the next version comes out so there's no hope there beyond entertainment (and yes, TED is entertainment).

    humanity has not "advanced" at all but tech has. that will become a concern in the future (see terminator franchise).

    i'm sure there will be some kind of critical mass population-wise but nature will sort that out (see contagion).

    necessity is the mother of invention (as well as Frank Zappa's band) and we have not yet come to the crunch.

    to think that having access to information will level the playing field seriously underestimates the ability of humans to segregate the playing field.

    we need an end to revolutions. we need a renaissance. i'm not yet seeing this.

    i have faith in people. i have no faith in systems (technology, business, politics).

    :)
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      Sep 24 2012: Scott that's interesting.

      Could you describe the renaissance for me,how you see it through your eye's?
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    Sep 24 2012: Our knowledge future? The Big Pop equals expansion

    Our Cultural future? A Song of many.

    Our planetary future? ?

    Our emotional future? Refer to Rhona's post.

    Forward unto Dawn.
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    Sep 24 2012: We were burning wood to smelt metals. We were coming to the end of the supply. Coal was discovered.
    Europe was going through religious persecution. America was born.
    It seems that just as we are on a precipice of disaster, a new challenge was just around the corner.

    I read a book by Eric Learner called "The Big-Bang Never Happened". Although I don't agree with all his theories (sometimes it is not either/or, but both that turns out to be the answer). Regardless, he makes numerous claims about the cosmos that work the same as I have mentioned above. Just as the universe is coming to a halt, a new process suddenly presents itself. Before the new process begins, one could not have predicted that it would.
    A few examples; the big-bang (or whatever got this universe started) was cooling down. Just as it appears that the show is over, subatomic particles begin to form into atoms of hydrogen. The hydrogen begins to gather together into huge masses of gas into early stars. Just as this process begins to wind down, the stars ignite into nuclear fusion and new elements begin to form. Just as these stars begin to die, the star's interior reheats and red giants are born. Just as these stars start to die, supernovas explode, scattering the matter throughout the cosmos into a new cosmic soup. The process just keeps going on and on.
    We think that we are coming to the theory of everything. Now science is opening doors to worlds that we never knew existed with dark matter and dark energy. The bible says "former things will pass away, look for a new heaven and a new earth." This is just another way of saying the same thing. We don't know what will reveal itself in the next decade, but don't lose faith that something will.
    As for us, no matter what happens in the near future, we will see our own end regardless. Take faith in what you can do while life abides. Have faith that the cosmos will come up with something after you are gone. It hasn't failed yet.
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      Sep 24 2012: In the big scheme of things, yes, you are right Roy. However, our challenge is more imminent. What do you think of more short-term, like next 100 or 200 years?
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        Sep 24 2012: The first thing that I see is that the truth is being forced out on all fronts. People are learning to question everything and not taking simple or erroneous answers for granted. Our awareness is becoming more keen in the process.

        I believe that we will find more energy efficient ways of doing things. When energy was abundant, waste was not an issue. That mind set needs to change and I believe it will. We don't need more energy, we need to learn to do more with less.

        We need to become more eco-friendly. We are at odds with mother earth. We need to listen to what mother earth is telling us. I see more and more people doing that. They are learning to take responsibility for their actions in how we affect this planet. They realize that we have a symbiotic relationship that must be protected. Population growth is a major factor. Educated people are no longer breeding out of control.

        I believe that we will see more development into space exploration. The end of the Mayan calendar is not the end of the world, it is the end of our being glued to this planet. A major change is that life is no longer grounded. We came from the stars, and I believe that we are destined to return.

        I expect that religion will be going through some major changes. Many of the stories are metaphors and myths that teach great lessons to those who don't see them as literal, but understand what they are trying to tell us. The lessons deal with selfishness, lusts, and egos that set people at odds with one another. Because of the controversy between religion and science, these lessons are being ignored by those who see religion as erroneous. The result is the pessimism that so many feel today. They feel disconnected from the grand scheme of things and are promoting their own agendas, often to their own demise. We need to reconnect with the grand scheme of things. Religious fanaticism will need to be dealt with. We'll find a way.
  • Sep 24 2012: I tend to view the future with pessimism. I am a baby buster, gen X, had it tough all my life. So, let's see...technology is destroying the rainforests, the oceans, polluting the air, poisoning the land. Our technology has created things that are not advancing us, from the small such as fish finders to the large like atomic bombs. For every good creation, there is multiple downsides.

    Now we humans are going to be replaced by robots. What will happen to assembly line workers when robots replace them? The 3 million truck drivers? Are they going to become computer programmers, and still participate in the economy, or live on welfare?

    Back in the 60s and 70s, authors in books like Ecotopia predicted that by now, a worker would only have to work about 20 hours a week to produce enough income for a reasonable living. That little bit hasn't worked out, has it?
    My cheery prognosis: the rich will get richer, the poor will start to starve, there will be a revolt, and when the dust settles, we will be back about 50 years, in both jobs and population.

    Or even more cheery, the new AI computers will consider us redundant, and use us as the slaves.

    Better yet, in 50 years, total ecological collapse, 6 billion people die, the Earth regenerates, with a much smaller human population.

    Of course, instead of gladiator games during the fall of Rome, we will be glued to our eye candy IPODs and the like, being entertained as our civilization falls.

    Ah well, like I said, I tend to be pessimistic!
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      Sep 24 2012: Good points Peter. Being from the same generation, I can relate to what you are saying.

      Why do you think people feel the need for robots when lots of people are jobless? Is it because we want to pay less for the things or is it because industrialists and businessmen want more profit? If a choice was given, would people opt for little expensive products in favour of human factor in the making of it?
      • Sep 24 2012: Well, bottom line, some people are greedy. If they can replace a worker who they paid say $30K a year with a robot for $60K the robot would pay for itself quickly. Of course, who would be able to buy a car at $30K if they are jobless? That's why Henry Ford paid his workers well, so they could afford his cars.
        People will always opt for the cheaper option. Why? Well, as you become un(der)employed, you start looking for cheaper sources (dollar stores, thrift marts) for items...even though you know that you should be buying products locally made. So, for 10 years or so, everything will be made in China. Then, when North America wages fall and workers can no longer even afford that, society will start breaking down..
        The robots will exasperate the issue, as they wipe out all local jobs, and manufacturing will go overseas to cheaper job markets. The short sighted manufactuers will lose all their local North American customers.and apply to get government loans, which would be a huge error. Its called a downward spiral.
        But hey, with an increasing world human population, lets make a billion or so robots that can replace 6 billion workers. Where's the logic in that?
        The only real way out would be a complete abandoning of monetary capitalism, where we use robots to do our bidding as we sit back and enjoy our lazy lives. Bored, but not hungry!
        • Oct 12 2012: Who repairs the robots? Who designs robots to do new things? Are all things automatable? If one person now generates 10x as much wealth with the same amount of work as the previous generation, what happens to the difference? Massive consumerism is what creates scarcity. What if we learned to meter our production and let go of consuming many of the things we don't need? Maybe you call this lazy. Would you be bored? I wouldn't be. Do you know everything you could? Have you seen all the sites, experienced all there is to behold? Do you know your neighbors? Do you know yourself? Do you know the nature of a single atom, much less the entire universe? You're right, the nature of money would have to change. The concept of scarcity should still apply to opportunity, but not to survival.

          The point of solving small problems, for the individual and for the society, is to free yourself to look further. When you have a big problem, rejoice! You stand on the shoulders of giants. Language and technology are both tools of abstraction. They separate us from nature but also give us power over it. The disconnection we all feel is a consequence of that power and separation.

          Most people are not aware of the basic principles which guide their lives. They are not mature enough to spend 10 minutes alone meditating, much less a lifetime. They've forgotten how to play, I think, to really be consumed by their curiosity of the experience they find themselves in. Who are you, and what really matters in your life? And how can you be jealous of a robot? [laugh]

          Viktor E Frankl was a Jewish psychologist imprisoned in a Nazi death camp. His book "Man's Search For Meaning" is a very interesting read. It is that search, more than anything, that defines us. And our answers are more important than all than all the gold in the world. But perhaps not so important as continuing to ask the question.
  • Sep 23 2012: Great question ... My response is sincere, so if it at first seems dismissive, please bear with me...

    "Do you believe that our future is bright, if yes, why and if not, why not?" Is the question.
    The first part that stands out in the question is "our". So, you need to consider who is us? Is the future going to be great for people like "me", people like "you", or people like "who". That makes a big difference.

    The second part that stands out is the why you only want a response if someone says yes and not no. This one I'm going to, basically, overlook as being the result of looking at the question far too literally.

    The future will be exceeding bright for some.
    The future will be exceedingly dim for some.
    The future looks pretty much the same for the rest.

    Change is here and it is rapid and the future "we" experience will be different based on how "we" position ourselves. If you are hand digging ditches for a living, which many people do like plumbers, electricians, concrete workers, landscapers. The world will remain largely the same. Those job will continue to be done in mostly the same fashion for many years to come.

    Change is coming for the rest of the groups. Change is destructive and disruptive. Those of us that are in those groups can have a future that is bright or grim based on how we position ourselves and what services we are offering.

    Overall, the condition for most is getting better. There are problems, but there is a lot of opportunity, mobility, and the ability to communicate has expanded options. The downside is that people are both rational and irrational, so we now have the opportunity to make more mistakes faster.

    Technology is wonderful, but our advances still come at a cost. Have you ever worked in a mine? Or gone into a 2-foot high crawl space to weld a cross member in to support an air conditioning unit? Even as technology advances many of "us" will still need to clean toilets for people thinking about other things.
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      Sep 24 2012: "Our" in my question refers to humankind and I am equally interested in the "no" answers. :-)
  • Sep 23 2012: Yes. Increased communication among people will cause the basic truths to surface and the naked emperors to be exposed and deposed. Human beings will increasingly live according to their own highest consciousness of what is right and abandon the prejudices heaped upon them by the ancestors who brainwashed them with bibles and other books that limit their lives rather than enrich and broaden their good life experiences. Through communication truths will out. Individual freedom will prevail. People will demand truth in everyday human communication. The hypocrites in politics and religion and other sectors will be increasingly exposed. POWER TO THE POSITIVE. The best is yet to come. We are all co-creating a good future...........for all.
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      Sep 24 2012: power to the people.

      people are flawed..
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        Sep 24 2012: then what? power to the mice?
      • Sep 24 2012: So what if people are flawed? You have a choice about what to focus on at every moment. You can choose to focus on the positive facts of life. Dwelling on positive facts is likely to increase the quantity of positive facts and increase your own positive feelings and facts of your own life. You may have to systematically re-program yourself to develop this as a new habit, but it certainly seems worth the investment of your effort.....in my opinion.
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          Sep 24 2012: i'm not one for positive affirmations although i understand the theory behind it. generally they are good for adding an element of cheesiness to facebook and toilet doors in the workplace..

          individual freedom means respecting an individual's rights and opinions including those flawed or in total disagreement with our own. it's a big ask but i believe in it.

          it's a nice juxtaposition to add to the power to the people statement. similar to john lennon's sentiment - "when you talk about destruction/don't you know that you can count me out in"
      • Sep 25 2012: Power to the positive. It's nice when people think for themselves and express their own thoughts, beliefs, opinions instead of those they received from ancestral brainwashing, as in religious brainwashing.
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          Sep 25 2012: i'm all for independent thought. consumerism and politics are right up there with religion when it comes to brainwashing

          john lennon kinda pointed all that out in that song about imagination

          :)