Predictions for the Year 2514: Dystopia That Feels Like Utopia

September 4, 2014 12:36 AM

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Humanists typically look toward the future with extreme pessimism, assuming conditions of technological oppressiveness: Surveillance is rampant, the human being has been shorn of dignity, the state is overpowering, and individuality is a lost cause before the powerful onslaught of the collective. Zamyatin and Orwell are prime examples of this kind of extrapolation. There are also instances of humanist utopias (beginning with Thomas Moore and continuing with the socialist utopias of William Morris and Edward Bellamy), but they tend to be curiously bloodless, lacking the conviction and richness of the dystopias.

Scientists, on the other hand, tend to feel very optimistic that technology will be liberating rather than confining: It will be the final realization of the humanist project that began with the Greeks, was revived in the Renaissance, and received its current formulation in the Enlightenment. Ray Ku...

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