Header 1

Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The 8 Luckiest Things That Could Happen in the Future

This blog alternates between nonfiction and science fiction postings, and the science fiction here is often on the gloomy side. For the sake of balance, today I will put on my rose-colored glasses and look on the sunny side of life. I will look at the eight luckiest things that could happen in the future.

1. We Find a Way to Stop or Reverse Global Warming

Global warming is caused by ever growing amounts of carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere. This wikipedia article on geoengineering discusses ways in which it might be possible to reverse global warming through various techniques. The techniques fall into two main categories: solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal. Solar radiation management attempts to reduce the amount of sunlight that strikes our planet, through simple techniques such as creating reflective rooftops, or through much more elaborate techniques such as putting into the upper atmosphere particles designed to block out some of the sun's light. Carbon dioxide removal means attempts to reduce the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide, through techniques such as biochar, seeding the oceans with iron, or carbon dioxide capture.

We don't know whether such techniques will work without terrible side effects, but on optimistic days it is pleasant to imagine that some geoengineering technique will arrive to remove the specter of global warming that is hanging over man's future.

2. We Abolish Nuclear Weapons

It is amazing how many people seem to have the idea that the threat of nuclear warfare ended when the Cold War ended. The truth is that Russia still has about 1800 active nuclear warheads (8500 in total), and the United States still has about 2150 active nuclear weapons (7700 in total). This means the threat of nuclear war is still very real. If man were ever to abolish nuclear weapons, or reduce their number to only a handful, it would be perhaps the greatest triumph of human civilization.

Check out this link http://www.globalzero.org/demand-zero to see what you can do about achieving this goal.

3. We Obtain a Galactic Wikipedia By Radio

Scientists are trying to make radio contact with advanced civilizations on other planets. If we were to pick up radio signals from another civilization on another planet, the civilization might be many thousands or even millions of years more advanced than ours. That civilization might have had many thousands or millions of years to communicate with other planets. So the civilization might have accumulated a storehouse of information acquired over eons of time, which could include pictures or videos of many other planets. Such a storehouse of information has been called an Encyclopedia Galactica. But since many young readers won't remember what encyclopedias are, it may be better to call such a storehouse of information a Galactic Wikipedia.

galactic wikipedia

Just imagine the benefit of receiving such a thing. We might look up the histories of thousands of planets, and learn from their mistakes. We might browse through images or videos photographed on thousands of planets. We might receive detailed instructions on how to make machines powerful beyond our wildest dreams. We might get the solution to almost any problem that bothers us.

4. We Invent Robots and Software Capable of Doing All Unpleasant Work

Most people seem to hate their jobs. But this may be the last generation where the average person has to spend most of his life doing things he doesn't enjoy. If advances in robotics, computer software, and computer hardware continue at the same rapid rate of progress we have seen in recent decades, in another forty or fifty years we may well have robots or software capable of handling almost all unpleasant work.

This will be a great blessing if we use in an appropriate way all the spare time we will have. If we use our extra spare time playing violent video games or watching reality TV shows, the extra time will not be such a blessing. But if we use our extra free time doing things such as creating art, helping others, establishing and strengthening personal relationships, pondering philosophical questions, enriching ourselves spiritually, and appreciating the greatest works of man and nature, then all the extra time in our lives will be a great bonanza.

5. We Are Visited By Benevolent Extraterrestrials

Everyone who has seen the movie Independence Day knows what happens when malevolent extraterrestrials arrive in the solar system. Many famous buildings get blown up, and many people die. But imagine if a spaceship filled with wise, kind extraterrestrials were to arrive. At the very least we would have an exciting experience meeting these visitors and learning about their home world. At best they might decide to share with us all that they knew about the nature of life, the universe, and other civilizations in space. They might also decide to give us the blessings of their advanced technology, bestowing on us a few choice gifts such as the cure to cancer or the secret of immortality.

6. We Invent Inexpensive Santa Clause Machines

A Santa Clause machine is a machine capable of creating almost anything, using simple raw materials it obtains from the earth. The term was created by Theodore Taylor, who described it as follows:

It’s possible to imagine a machine that could scoop up material – rocks from the Moon or rocks from asteroids – process them inside and produce just about any product: washing machines or teacups or automobiles or starships. Once such a machine exists it could gather sunlight and materials that it’s sitting on, and produce on call whatever product anybody wants to name, as long as somebody knows how to make it and those instructions can be given to the machine.

If Santa Clause machines were to be inexpensively manufactured, then the average person would no longer need to go to the store to buy things. Want a new refrigerator? Just ask your Santa Clause machine to make it. Need a new car? Just ask your Santa Clause machine to make it. The idea of such a machine is thrilling to materialistic consumerists, but not all that thrilling to those who think that the best things in life are immaterial.

7. We Create an Inexpensive Youth Serum or Age-Reversing Pill

We can imagine various troublesome ways of achieving a 300-year lifespan, such as having repeated organ transplants, uploading your mind into a computer, or having your head transplanted on to a young body. But the most convenient way to get a super-long lifespan would just be to have a nice convenient youth serum you could drink, or an age-reversing pill you could take.

Perhaps the pill or drink would contain nanobots that would get busy repairing all the damage in your cells, or lengthening the telomeres in your chromosomes. We can only imagine the commercials. Before: Betty White. After: Selena Gomez. The only problem would be feeding all the extra people.

8. We Develop a Combined Happiness and Benevolence Pill

What good is abolishing nuclear weapons if the world contains so many people of ill-will who will just look for other ways to slaughter their fellow men (ways such as biological warfare)? The ultimate solution might be a pill that makes people feel nothing but love towards their fellow human beings. It might act a little like the drug Ecstasy, which supposedly produces benevolent feelings.

But people would have to have a motive for taking the pill. “Take your pill so you can be a good boy,” is insufficient encouragement. The best thing would be a single pill with two benefits in one: it would make you into feel kind, loving thoughts towards your fellow humans, and it would also make you feel euphorically happy. With such a pill, people would have an incentive to take the pill every day. The result might be a world of peace and bliss.