The Final Frontier
Ever since I was aware there was a universe beyond this Earth I have dreamed of leaving this planet and seeing what is beyond the limits of this planet. Earth is an absolutely amazing place and a unique and rare jewel in an unbelievably vast cosmos. It would take a million lifetimes to fully explore this one planet, and yet I want to see more and go beyond the limits of our current understanding and see everything out to the far reaches.
The problem is that humans are frail. We have very specific needs to survive and we require, food, air, gravity, temperature and pressure to all be just right and even then, our life spans are so very short. Outer space is extremely dangerous for us, but then again, it could be much more dangerous for us to NOT explore.
Earth is inherently temporary, and will one day end. Not to sound pessimistic or fatalistic, it is simply a fact that the planet Earth has an expiration date. Most scientist believe that date to be millions or even billions of years away, but that is assuming we don’t encounter an asteroid or comet that could wipe out life, and damage if not destroy the planet. And even if the planet survives, humanity could be ended by a self inflicted nuclear event, an unstoppable virus, or drastic temperature change (I’m not going to get into whether than change could be caused by humans or volcanic eruptions, or just weather patterns beyond our control). If we don’t have a “backup” or a plan to leave the planet or have an established colony, humanity and every other creature we know of, exists only on Earth, and once Earth is gone, so is all of life. That sounds incredibly dire, and it is dire, however, the future can still be bright.
I am confident human life can be extended well past our currently limited century-or-so lifespan. We can build vessels to travel great distances, fold space, simulate gravity, produce sustainable sources of food and air, and give life an infinite expiration date. How do I know that and why am I so confident? Well, it used to be impossible to fly. Impossible to communicate to people on other continents in real time. Recording audio and video was a laughable notion only a few generations ago and so many other things we use on a daily basis were fanciful dreams.
Over the last two podcasts we have covered conspiracies and the paranormal, both topics of which I am extremely skeptical, but also have incredible interest. These are subjects dealing with the unknown, and how we as humans fill that void of the unknown with theories of explanation. Some theories are far fetched to say the least, and they are an attempt to explain what has no explanation or the given explanation is not acceptable or feels incomplete.
Curiosity is part of human nature and I love a good mystery, which is why I think these stories attract so much attention. People also want to believe in something, they have a desire for there to be more to life than what is on the surface. This is why shows like The X-Files were on for nine seasons, and people were so into LOST, or Stephen King books or a plethora of other books, shows, and movies for that matter. A good “hook” in a story will capture the viewers attention and if woven in with enough believable situations it has the potential to thoroughly entertain and open the imagination. Entertainment can be a wonderful distraction, but what about real life? How does this relate to the real world and how we perceive it?
How about we treat the conspiracy theories and ghost stories they way we do good entertainment? Enjoy them for their imaginative qualities and let them provoke thoughts and discussions and have discourse about them with our peers, and yet keep an open mind and ask questions and think critically about these tales. That hint of doubt, no matter how small, is what keeps us interested, but I don’t think we should perpetuate myths when they have run their course and have no evidence.
My advice is to not believe everything you hear, but don’t automatically dis-believe it either.
This series of Podcasts on the future has been challenging and yet very exciting and has opened my imagination. The concept of the Singularity brings up some interesting notions and comes across as crazy, scary, or impossible to many people. From the outset of this Podcast, blog, and whatever else this evolves into, I want our outlook to be an optimistic one, so it is my goal to see the future in the most positive light.
There is danger and the potential for evil or misuse in almost everything, such as in the early days of mankind, I’m sure there were those that thought fire was a evil and deadly technology. Fire certainly has the potential to be used for evil, but it also provides warmth, light, and has a million positive uses. In the same vein, modern and futuristic technologies could be used for destructive, nefarious purposes, but the key now is what it has always been, to pay attention and research and learn how technology works and do not operate out of fear.
Google has famously stated that their motto or slogan is “Don’t be evil”, an they have certainly been questioned and should continue to be questioned on their the ethics of their methods and technologies, but I like that they acknowledge how the data they gather and technology they posses is powerful and could do great harm if improperly used.
Artificial intelligence, quantum computers, digital clones, and merging of organic life into mechanical and digital beings, can be frightening and has certainly been fodder for many science fiction stories, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Caution is of course necessary, but we should also step into the future with boldness and optimism. We should take care that we don’t get burned, but not let the fear of being burned prevent us from exploring and pushing towards new and amazing things.