New Technologies & The Golden Age: Part 2
In my last article, New Technologies & Societal Disruptions, which was part 1 of 2, I laid out a number of the disruptions underway right now. Why an unprecedented number of revolutionary technologies are challenging our society as a species.
In this second part, I take a look ahead, between the next twenty to thirty years and why we may well be about to enter a very exciting time for humanity as a whole.
It is not going to be a utopia or a techtopia. These are ideals that human societies have idealised for thousands of years. They are unattainable, but help us have hope and thus, continue to evolve our cultural zeitgeist. And culture is, essentially, the code if you will, by which humans have evolved.
Most of all the revolutionary technologies today are digital. They can all trace themselves back to one major revolutionary technology. The microchip. Invented in 1958. The evolution of this was the Intel microprocessor launched in 1971.
The world is roughly in line with the revolutionary technologies cycle put forward in the seminal theory of Dr. Carlota Perez and her book “Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital.” From which I draw heavily upon here and expand in a sociocultural view.
The Next Golden Age
So after we go through these current times of turmoil, we will come to a sort of Golden Age. Based on the disruptions I summarised in the last article, this is some of, not all of course, what we may see.
Political: While it won’t be easy and may be hard to imagine, political systems will evolve, especially democracies. They will become more centrist, populism will fade away. Far-right ideologies will be pushed again to the far fringes of society as will will far-left ones. Politics will guide their bureaucracies towards better regulation and oversight of digital technologies. A way to keep innovation going (critical to a free market system), while protecting rights will happen. Autocracies will likely still exist, but either through trade evolution and economics or some kind of conflict, they’ll be less influential. Including China.
Aesthetics: This the creative element of culture; art, music, theatre, literature. Cultural actors such as musicians, artists, writers, will have defined how Artificial Intelligence tools factor in. Human driven creativity will be seen as the most valued. AI will be an assistant and there will also be rules requiring AI to be declared in any creative work. We will see incredible new architectural designs, urban designs and fashions. Technology will be deeply embedded as the human aesthetic takes on new meanings. It won’t be a utopia, but it will be a levelling up.
Rule of Law: For the countries that have it, such as democracies, laws and how we govern our societies will evolve. Inevitably and rightly so, there will be laws that enforce greater equality. Women’s reproductive rights of choice will be enshrined. As will those for transgender and current minorities. The legal systems infrastructure will be enhanced by AI as well. Legal debates will improve. Supreme Courts may well be re-designed as well, to better reflect a multicultural world.
Economics: The dismal science will face some significant challenges as traditional economic models change. New theories of working and how to guide micro and macroeconomics will come into being. Many countries will likely have some form of Universal Basic Income (UBI) as the need for more welfare in the state becomes obvious.
Commerce: Automation everywhere and perhaps, finally, an actual significant improvement in productivity, which we have not yet seen from much of Information Technology. Gig workers will have better rights, wage suppression will be nearly gone. Industry and academia will have evolved a model whereby both blue and white collar professions can constantly upskill. It will be an accepted cost of doing business. Academias role in society will be enhanced, but in different models. We will have largely shifted away from fossil fuels and we will have figured out the energy storage challenge. The dream of autonomous cars and trucks? Not really. Some percentage of vehicles in certain geographical areas will be realised.
Financial Systems & Capitalism: Banking and most all transactions will be digital. Cash will be almost gone. Likely too, capitalism will return in some fashion, to what it should be doing, which is delivering a social good. New governance models and societal demand will turn capitalism away from focusing on only the shareholder and ignoring the customer. There will be strict new rules around consumer privacy and consumer data rights. Surveillance capitalism will be gone. The business models of TikTok, Meta, Google, will be wiped away. That process has already begun. There will be much greater movement of capital around the world.
Society: The idea of the “nuclear family” will be gone. Marriage between same-sex and interracial couples will be entirely normalised. Understanding of the variety gender roles will be normal in most countries and cultures. Political protests may well still happen, but they will be far less. Social divisions will likely always exist, but they will be less divisive for a time. Hopefully a much longer time than ever before. Climate and technological change will have caused huge migrations, but societies will be forced to find ways to understand one another and work together. That in the end, is human nature. Racism will take a very long time, generations yet, to disappear, but it will be far less.
While this may seem like a futurist type of writing, I don’t believe it is, or that I’m much qualified to be such. As a cultural/technology anthropologist, I look at the nearer term. While also being, I think, more pragmatic by understanding, to some limited degree, the role of culture throughout human history.
We should have reason to hope. We have gone through dark times before. Human cultures have always had some variation of apocalyptic end times. In today’s society, that is largely influenced by the myths developed around the book of revelations in the Christian bible. This has lead to the creation of a multi billion dollar industry as part of the evangelical movement.
What we now know, however, is that what we assumed were apocalyptic end times in other cultures, such as the Aztecs and Mayans, wasn’t end of the world stuff. It was a time when they saw the world renewing. Going through some fundamental cycle of change. But that there would be a rebirth of some sort.
Perhaps that is something of where we are today. In the past, humans always used culture as the means of survival. We are doing so again, right now. We will do so again. And again.
We shouldn’t forget that the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks along with Native American indigenous cultures, and, as new evidence suggests, even our foraging, hunter-gatherer societies, went through such incredible times of revolution. In the end, humanity always got better as a result.