This is the second in a series of three posts, in which I consider which tasks human beings should prioritize within various time frames, in order to improve quality of life for the most possible people. Nothing in particular qualifies me to make these lists — it’s just a topic that interests me. I don’t think enough people are thinking and talking about what kinds of progress *should* be made in the next 100 years. A Google search for “goals for humanity next 100 years” returns scant relevant results. There are plenty of predictions, but that’s a different game. Intention is what I’m interested in. What are we trying to do, as human beings, on this spinning ball in space? An impossibly broad question? Maybe. Impossible to achieve consensus? Of course. There are at least as many legitimate answers as there are people. So my list-making is a thought experiment and a conversation starter, and isn’t meant to be definitive.
What kind of world did people imagine for their great-grandchildren, circa 1910? In this fascinating article, Michael S. James collected quotes from various newspapers in 1900, considering life at the end of the 20th century. Some seem overreaching, predicting flying cars, the eradication of disease, and the end of drunkenness. Others are spot on, predicting gains in human height, improvements in health and longevity, and progress towards work equality for women. In at least two areas — telecommunications and electronic computation — the predictions fall short of actual advances.
While future technological progress is impossible to predict, it’s largely irrelevant for the purposes of this list. What I’m interested in is what our priorities should be, not how we’ll accomplish them. Continue reading