For those of you who remember the 20th Century, which is going to be an ever-decreasing segment of the population, I would characterize it like this:

Overall, there was an enthusiastically optimistic view of Science and Technology, and surely by 2010 we'd have:

* Flying cars
* A cure for AIDS (well, we kind of do - it's a manageable chronic condition now)
* Everyone holding hands in peace and harmony

A lot of things have changed, but the most important thing would be that we now, I think, understand that we are not a technological Super-Race as we seem to have believed in the middle of the 20th Century, but rather a fledgling Galactic intelligence.

If we found another intelligent species "out there" in the Galaxy, we can assume they would be light-years ahead of us technologically, socially and so on. In a sense we are a burgeoning intelligence, one in the throes of its infancy.

That said, our collective attitude towards Science, which is a reflection of our confidence in our own understanding of the Universe, is significantly more pessimistic than it was in, say, 1984.

Perhaps the Cold War, and the need to use Propaganda as a non-violent weapon in the race against Communism was partially responsible for our lofty expectations, but I'd say it has to be more complicated.

So what are your feelings? Are you disappointed? Hopeful? Expecting great advancement towards a Utopian future?

Frightened of apocalyptic scenarios and some Cosmic or Spiritual Dark Age of chaos?

My view is fairly well in line with that of Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick's classic "2001," which is that we, a formidable intelligence with untold potential, is yet in some embryonic state, still cradled in its placenta, but ever developing towards its birth and ultimate realization of this potential.
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Last edited by Bubonic Chronic at Aug 16, 2010,
I simply think everything will end up going to shit. Our governments and people in general are getting too powerful.

I can see everything you mentioned happening but I don't think it will all be a good thing.
Last edited by slipknot5678 at Aug 16, 2010,
It's right where I expected it to be. We've moved forward, but it's still that familiar world where we keep expecting that next big jump forward, the one that will change everything everywhere.

I feel like we've reached a point where the future wont be anything drastically different, just an add-on to what we've already accomplished.
Well, the FAA approved a car that can transform into a plane, the HIV/AIDS antibody has been isolated, and every country hates each other.

Two out of Three ain't bad.
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I like to think Earth and the human race will progress like they do in the Doctor Who universe.
But without all the alien visitations to earth.
Technology will advance, same old problems with society will still be there and we'll leave Earth permanently to live in the rest of the universe when we are forced to as it is no longer habitable.
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I don't care about technological development. As long as i have my band, somewhere to live, female company and a toilet im happy enough. Nothing else needs to be made.
I don't really care. Through time things will always get better and some will get worse. I don't think we will advance very fast, technologically, as we did around the start of the 20th century purely because we reached somewhat of a climax.
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I get what you mean, but today the world's countries are more tied together than they were before.

Exactly, that's the only reason there aren't more wars. Every country is dependent on each other for things they need. It's like when a dude you hate asks you to help him with his homework but he offers to pay you well and you need the money.
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I think the overall optimism about the future was driven by the optimism of the US and its allies after WWII. Following the war, and on into the mid-to-later part of the Vietnam Era, the US rather successfully portrayed itself as this Wonderland of White Power...


As with all lies, though, there was an element of truth to it, and the truth to it was we were the world's leading economic superpower. And with all of this money, and no end in sight, who knows what we might be able to accomplish (buy)?

That, I think, is the key to the whole question, though: how do you feel about the future?

In good economic times you'll feel optimistic, and conversely in the bad times.

Look at what we did during the 20th Century:

We invented the airplane.

Well, people have devised simple airplanes since, probably, Ancient Greece or even earlier. The problem was not that they didn't have a sound design, but that they did not have the materials necessary to make it light enough, or a portable source of energy powerful enough to drive it.

A simple matter of Physics. Give a Roman a pile of airplane parts, and I bet you, in a generation or two, you'd have airplanes in ancient Rome.

Technology is dependent on access, and when people with the ideas - which they've had for thousands of years - suddenly get their hands on the money, it's AMAZING how quickly it happens.

Well, you dangle a dollar bill in front of a human being, and a lot of stuff gets done with incredible speed.

The biggest difference now, though, is that information is backed up hundreds of thousands of times, and even if some nuclear disaster set us back 200 years, we still have access to the old hard drives (we'd find a way to get 'em spinning), and in probably 50 years time we'd catch back up again.

Previously when Empires fell there was a giant information gap as humans went from aqueducts and Democratic governments and even possibly electricity (DC anyway) to chucking spears again.

I truly believe that whatever happens now we have irrevocably crossed an important developmental threshold in our species' evolution. With the invention of the computer we have now built a resistance to practically anything the universe could throw at us, or that we could throw at ourselves.

Somewhere, someone would get the wheels rolling at Wikipedia again, and the annals of medicine and space flight and the rest would unfold in ten or twenty years, and we may even reap the benefits of a sort of "Reboot."

We may not, for example, repeat the mistake of assuming people have different potentials for creativity or intelligence based upon trivial physical attributes such as skin color.

Regardless, though, we still have a long, long way to go, but that should be encouraging as well. Think of all the missteps we've taken so far; slavery, the Nazis, certain aspects of religion, and consider that we have the potential to not learn the hard way this time.

We may actually come in to our own without completely slaughtering every living thing in our wake.
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The advantage now is that we see reality a little more clearly than we did in, say, 1999.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

I want to go to 2010.

Thankfully, I see us finally putting the direct Racism of the 20th behind us in that no one in their right mind honestly believes that being black or latino or whatever "minority" makes someone inferior.

Racism is more complex than that, and I would argue a lot of it is tied up in rich vs poor - and if you look at it, the Italians hated the Jews hated the Irish hated the Blacks - and what were they? Poor immigrants surviving in various neighborhoods in New York and competing.

The Red Sox hate the Yankees, too.

I don't think a simple poor attitude towards, say, Hispanics, because of circumstantial or perceived competition for resources amounts to racism.

It is a hopeful sign that we seem to be overcoming what was once thought of as a Science, and is now regarded as Urban Myth: that there are different "races" of "Man" and that some are "smarter" than others.

It's just bullshit, and most people know that.

In 1960 that was just not true. That is very real progress.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

@Bubonic Chronic

I have to disagree with you on the racism thing. There are people who still completely believe that somehow certain races are inferior or aren't as capable as others. The only thing keeping them from being violent are the harsher laws we've enacted since the 50's/60's. Look at the hateful, racist anti-Obama signs at rallies. I'm not talking about the genuinely political ones, I'm talking about this:

The intra-class conflict you described is separate from the race conflicts in my opinion. One is brought about by competition, the other by ignorance and hateful teachings.
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We do actually have flying cars but they havn't been mass produced. Don't know how they work in the real world though And racism isn't always about class. For example, in scotland rangers (prodasent) hates celtic (catholic). Many of the fans have forgotten this and just hate each other anyway because its the accepted thing and sometimes its been passed down from father to son.
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You can't really compare the achievements of humanity in the past 10 years to the 100 years before that.

Life expectancy has increased over the years in many countries. I think that's a good sign.
Also, if there is a very advanced alien race out there, chances are they'll discover us, rather than us discovering them.
Last edited by sashki at Aug 16, 2010,
I think we'll see many unexpected changes with the Information Age, but at some point the level of etiquette we expect when we walk around town will need to be extended to the Internet.

You can cry "Freedom!" all you want, but it will be precisely Freedom that will place this pressure on us.

If people go around the Internet (or whatever communication media) posting racist, homophobic or insensitive material, then they are going to be at a professional disadvantage.

If I have been relatively respectful and tolerant, an employer is not likely to "red flag" my application because of a racist Obama picture I posted to facebook.

If you (2nd person, no one specific) have equal qualifications, but they find some references to holding passionate divisive views, they may think twice about hiring you.

Seriously, this is a common topic of discussion on business sites, radio, news sources of all kinds, Monster.com

Anyway, whatever you actually believe you will benefit, individually, from at least keeping your divisive views to yourself.

The fact is; blacks have money, Mexicans have money, gays have A LOT of money - I mean, think about it, two GUYS with no children.

At some point it will become a financial motivator, if nothing else, for people to become increasingly accepting for different people. Like it or not, what we say on this site is essentially publicly and permanently recorded.

If I was the dentist (in four years) who talked about gays deserving the same respect as everyone else, and some other dentist was always talking about how they are an abomination and going to Hell...

Who do you think will get the business?

Gay people have teeth, too.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

Technologically, I don't think there will be a massive improvement this century. Sure, computers will get much, much faster, but in terms of revolutionary discoveries, I don't think many will be made. my main belief for this is the amount of money being spent on science in the world. Lots of small discoveries will be made of course and the human race will advance, unless complete catastrophes occur, but nowadays the general population is much more intent on money being spent on public facilities, charities, entertainment or them just putting it in the bank. Far more money, in my opinion, needs to be spent on science to provide the human race with amazing accomplishments, revolutionary equipment and to pave the way for a space-faring civilisation.

The current plan/prediction for nuclear fusion as a means of providing us with energy is 2050, with greater money invested we could lower that down drastically and provide the human race with energy that produces almost no harmful products and seemingly unlimited energy.

We need to invest in technology far more than we are currently.
I believe that it is possible we could have a utopian society, but human nature being what it is I find a society more in line with The Road's or 1984's is more likely. I think that as technology evolves, so shall we and we'll get there eventually, but it's a long hard road.
And as for intelligent life, if we find them we'll be more advanced, if they find us, they'll be more advanced. Simple really.
All I see is societal breakdown. We're not going up. We're going to shit.
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Computing, as it were, has peaked as we have reached the design limits of silicon-based chips.

This leads to several conclusions, but importantly, "what now"? is that chips will start working together as they already have.

Now-familiar technology like Google Earth was never before possible, at least with home computers. The Internet, and the sharing of processing power amongst several computers allows a network to act as a supercomputer.

The US (and presumably the USSR) had similar technology in the 1980's, but it required a supercomputer and highly advanced satellites, which posed both military and political risks to both sides.

Another familiar example is Pandora, which now seems a mundane, rather pedestrian little ap, but if it had been introduced in, say, 1985 people would have probably flipped their lids over it.

I mean, Duck Hunt was cutting edge, man!!

More on what can computers do: they are currently aiding Astronomers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and in predicting dangerous Seismic activity (both aps available for free at SETI and NOAA respectively.)

The unprecedented Democratic freedoms allowed by the Internet will have, and already are having, a HUGE impact economically, socially, religiously, and in every way imaginable. It's basically put Blockbuster out of business, while Netflix is one of the few reliable, steadily growing stocks out there.

So the computer itself (unless we go to Quantum processing or something) has reached a design limit, but what we use them for is taking on a whole new dimension of possibilities.

It's like having a brain gave lizards a key advantage over insects, but once they learned to communicate and travel in groups, setting up complex attack strategies the dinosaurs ruled the earth for millions of years.
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