By Colin Deas
For years, people have tried to predict how human society will change, how our technology will evolve, and how we as a species will reshape ourselves. These people range from science fiction writers to early-twentieth-century historians to experts in genetic economics, and some of them make predictions that won’t happen for many, many years yet. But their predictions have often turned out to be true, and many of them have achieved fame for their ingenuity and faith in humanity.
Let’s take, for example, the now-deceased sci-fi and comedy writer Douglas Adams. Considered one of the leading authorities on the fledgling Internet of the 1980’s, he predicted a number of things that have come true, including the e-reader and the open-world video game. He dreamed of a time when people could use the Internet from the same device on which they read classic literature, listened to the radio, and watched TV, and a kind of video game where the player got to choose where to go and what to do. He also predicted a number of other things that have come to fruition, including the slow loss of profit of music companies from musical piracy and the connection of people over the web (through sites like Facebook and Skype).
A more current futurist is Juan Enriquez, founder of the Life Sciences Project at Harvard Business School and expert in the economics of modern genetics. Through his keynote presentations, books, and classes, he teaches that the next frontier for human beings to break is not space or the ocean or the mind, but is in fact the human genome. He has studied the rise of companies specializing in DNA study and preservation, and has predicted that, if we help the research of the human genome proceed, we will eventually eliminate genetic disease, cancer, and other deadly diseases. He also believes that, by researching the human genome, we will unlock a treasure trove of genetic knowledge and history. So far, he’s on the right track. Governments in Europe, Japan, and the USA are pushing genetic research forward, trying to crack the human genome.
Our species has done an incredible amount in our relatively short time here on Earth. But human society still has has a lot to discover, about ourselves and about the universe, and people like the futurists will continue to push research forward through their passionate belief in mankind. We must, as a species, help them in their quest. We have so much potential in the ingenuity of our minds and the emotion of our hearts; we just need to find out how to correctly channel them. If we were all to help the progress of science and technology, we’d get much closer to solving the tangible problems of Third-World countries, of human disease, of resource management, of nuclear war. We could expand upwards into space, down in to the oceans and the Earth’s crust, past the realms of quantum physics, back in history to discover the secrets of our past. We could stride forward confidently, knowing that there are few problems that we can’t face.