A dystopian future. Visions ranging from a form of hell to a tightly controlled society have been presented by Orwell, Atwood and Huxley. And we read them and we wince and we think, “At least that will never happen here.”
Most people would agree that a dystopian future will not happen here. And then you wonder what ‘dystopian’ means in real (as in our) terms.
Dystopian means a bad or undesirable society so if your aim was to create a dystopian society, you would take your time and you would make it seem like a good or desirable society. You would make it fall like soft, refreshing rain.
We are, of course, many miles and many years from that. But we might be approaching the crossroads where there will be no going back.
Articles are beginning to appear that warn of humans being open to being hacked. Many others warn of AI taking over (our jobs, our lives, our thoughts).
More and more, we are being told what is good for us. More and more, we are being persuaded what to think, how to vote and how to live, based on little more than the opinions of influencers whose motives are seldom pure and often commercial or political.
Yet if you extrapolate that level of influence 30 years into the future, you can easily see that a dystopian future is a likely outcome.
Many will say that being advised how to live their lives, what to eat, how to stay healthy and how to think is enormously relaxing, a completely stress-free life. And they might be right.
Others will think otherwise.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body but rather to skid in sideways, bottle in one hand, body totally worn out, screaming ‘Wow, what a ride!’”
You may think that this is ridiculous but it seems as if the tools needed to create a dystopian future are now in place, and we didn’t notice.
Our data, our thoughts, our dreams now reside in a cloud, controlled by enormous corporations. Sometimes we cannot even access our own data and never without a password. And it’s our own stuff. Parts of our lives are being replaced by AI, other parts improved, other parts influenced. And AI is at a stage where it is recreating itself, more efficiently with each iteration. Companies are spending billions creating a digital copy of this world and many wonder why.
Could it be that those that are in the know understand that our world, and therefore our life is beyond help? That the only solution is stop life as we know it, park it in a digital world and throw away the original?
This is, you might say, pure fantasy – as our lives will be in the Metaverse, which in itself is a dystopian future, when measured against real history.
Our dystopian future might not be one of wars and Terminators. Instead it could be one of complete relaxation, free from the worry of having to think for ourselves.
Who needs free will anyway?