I just watched the first two episodes of Black Mirror’s season 3 last night. I love the show – it’s totally my flavor of the dystopian fantasy / technology gone wrong genre.
But, I find myself a bit tired of the negativity that these shows portray. It’s probably a result of watching this amidst an unbelievably negative and divisive presidential campaign, the social unrest that has raised from wealth disparities, and tons of stuff I’ve been reading recently about the threats of climate change, cyber attacks, the singularity, etc. Pessimism is rampant, and cynicism abounds.
I’m not the type who naively thinks that everything is going to work out ok. I think part of it stems from growing up in a third world country, being an immigrant, and living through one more major economic crisis in my lifetime than most of my American counterparts (the Asian economic crisis in 1997), I think Elon Musk’s observation that progress is not inevitable is incredibly poignant. Things tend towards disorder unless energy is applied towards order.
But that said, I want to recapture optimism about the future. And especially optimism about how technology will usher in a better future. While dystopian dramas warn us about how humanity can be lost through addiction to technology, I’d rather focus on how technology has made us truly superhuman. Again, paraphrasing Elon Musk, we are already cyborgs with power greater than what the president of the United States had 20 years ago. This could be really really great.
And it’s really only in the first innings. We may still be in the dugout. Humanity has always been fearful of the promise and perils of new frontiers. But there is so much promise. It would be a shame to waste it because of pessimism.