A few weeks ago I read Steven Pinker's new book "Enlightenment now" were he paints he rather rosy picture about the past, the present and the future too. I agree that most statistics about the past, say, 300 years of human history show improvements of all sorts.
But there is one thing that makes me pessimistic about the future: all those improvements on the side of humankind were payed for with a general change for the worse on the side of Nature. And we are now living on the point were Nature starts to strike back: climate change is only the most prominent example, lesser known are soil degradation, pollution, waste, a massive loss of biodiversity...
No, I do not envy all those kids who will have to live through the rest of the century
I'm no Pangloss. I remain optimistic on the macro level, while fully aware that we are experiencing a 'disturbance in the force.' The pendulum will swing back ... sooner or later. I tend to believe that many years from now students of history will look at the late 10's much as an adult looks at his/her teenage years and wonders, 'what the hell was I thinking?'
I tend to swing back and fouth on this question like the tide.
On one hand, the future and all things technological presents facinating possibly outcomes in all sorts of ways. Not just in their deployment, but in fighting for their SMART deployment. We can no longer afford to be dumping millions of products with unfixable vulnerabilities hardwired into their firmware into an increasingly connected (and hostile, in terms of security) society. That sort of thing.
But on the other hand, I often think that man may well not get past many of the nemesis's that one would have thought we would have passed by now. Toxic ideologies.
If you see negatives everywhere and feel pessimistic often but then look for positives in yourself and others and/or work to be a positive influence on yourself and others......you are a realist and an optimist.
If you don’t even try then you are a nihilist.
I take comfort from the fact that whatever we do, however badly we poison the planet and cut into its animal population, Mother Nature is very probably going to find a way to bounce back. Planet Earth has been through huge asteroid strikes, periods of malodorous atmospheres, ice ages and hothouse periods, and it’s always kept going. So yeah, in the planetary long term, I feel pretty optimistic. For the human race, not so much.
The reasons for that are many, firstly I think we are well on the way towards screwing up what could have been a beautiful garden environment for humans into an urban dystopia. Secondly I feel that we are doing a lot of damage to the planet, with climate change, topsoil erosion, decreasing biodiversity, pollution and plastic waste, insecticide poisons, the list goes on. The price for that will come due, in water wars, refugee crises, and so on. Thirdly I’m concerned we are creating monocultures of humans and animals that will ultimately not prove robust against disease. Fourthly a response to oil crises hasn’t really been forthcoming. I could’ve made the list longer.
We’ve yet to see that mankind can react effectively to the crises facing it. We have a long way to go in renewable energy and tackling CO2 emissions. There are many other challenges coming in the next century, mostly a consequence of continuing modernisation and development.
What or who's future? My future? Your future? My brother's future? The future of Mankind, Life on Earth...? Not specific enough for me to answer.
I suppose ultimately everything that is now or will be alive, will also one day be dead, so in that frame of reference, not looking too good.
But the Universe will continue to exist without me, or you, or humanity, or any living thing, or even the Earth, Sun & Stars... so there's that.
I get to sleep in tomorrow; I'm pretty stoked about that.
It's all in how you look at the world. If you focus on the good then that's the outlook you will possess, optimistic. If you focus on the bad then you'll have that outlook, fearful and pessimistic. To the believers I say, "the road to Revelation is paved with people." Meaning that everything we do will still lead to the eventuality of death. Live your life, smile and sieze the day!
Personally about my personal goals and relationships, sure.
Politically, socially, as a citizen of the United States, planet Earth, and the human species, not even a little bit in the short-term, and only mildly in the long-term. as I see a lot of disheartening cycles repeated by our species repeatedly, and if my perception of our current point in the cycle are correct, it's going to get really really bad, get a little better, massive war, stabilize, get worse, civil and cultural (domestic and only somewhat violent) revolution, get better, energy crisis, get worse, get better, and then it'll be somewhere between 2088 and 2095, so massive commercial tech boom, bust, growth, recession, and then we'll be back where we are now, around 2120.