October 3, 2014 by JImbo
Have you ever heard the phrase “First World Problem?” Such as when your iphone breaks or you can’t get a wifi signal or the barrista gives you the wrong drink order?
Those are “First World” problems. They are things that people in Second and Third World countries don’t have. They are too busy trying to survive.
For reference, Second World would be a developing power like China or India (although they’re moving up fast.) Third World is where most of the people are still subsistence living and dirt poor (Guatemala, Liberia, etc)
(Screw tractors, these guys don’t even have ANIMALS to help them!)
Essentially if your leading cause of death is natural causes… literally animals in nature like mosquitos with malaria and ebola, crocodiles, lions, etc… then you’re Third World.
Anyway, my point is that most of our “problems” wouldn’t even occur to someone in a poorer culture. They don’t have electricity, let alone phones, or iphones, or Internet. They are a couple technological revolutions away from that.
Not saying that they don’t know what those things are in many cases. Virtually every Iraqi I met had a cell phone or two. Even the ones not near a cell tower! It was the principle of it I guess.
Of course they didn’t have the culture that produced the cell phone. They were all imported. They often had to borrow a generator from someone to charge it without a power grid to speak of.
Having ONE gadget doesn’t mean you have a culture. For example, most of those Iraqis didn’t have indoor plumbing. They heated their houses with camel dung. I wouldn’t say they were First or even Second world because of one cell phone or satellite TV.
While they have a hard time understanding our problems, we have a hard time understanding theirs as well. We simply don’t appreciate how hard it is to walk down to the river every morning for cooking water.
These same cell-toting Iraqis got their cooking water out of the Tigris River. The same river that people were bathing in upstream. The same water that people were pooping in further upstream.
Yeah… THAT water.
We simply don’t appreciate fresh water. Hell, here it FALLS FROM THE SKY FOR FREE! You can have all the rain water you can collect. (Unless you live in Maryland or California.)
I think I’ll take our problems. It just makes me wonder what FUTURE problems would be like.
Think about it. We were all “Third World” level at one time. That was “First World.” Then, some folks advanced into the Industrial Age and there was First and Second Worlds.
Then the Information/Electronic Age happened and now there’s First,Second,Third world.
So what happens when there is a NEW revolution and our “First World” becomes obsolete? What will people in the future think are problems that we don’t even think about?
Or maybe we have… we just haven’t considered them “problems” per se? Consider medicine. We call it a great thing, but having all ten children live means TEN KIDS TO FEED! When half the kids died by age 3, the culture was balanced.
It takes time to rebalance the system. In the “First World” we have fewer kids for a few reasons. Yes, we don’t need as many hands to work in the crop fields. However, we also aren’t as worried about them dying before their 3rd birthday.
People that look to the future for wondrous technological advances have to keep that in mind. There is always a counterbalance. To change one thing usually means MANY things change.
Take an easy example. Flying cars.
Neat, eh? Well that’s a concept. It’s not THAT far fetched though. We already HAVE them.
Yes, that sucker’s real. They already exist. With more on the drawing board.
BUUUUUT, ask yourself… do you REALLY want more flying cars?
First of all, there’s no way a flying car can be fuel efficient. Flying in the air is always going to take more energy than rolling on the ground. Push a rock in a wheelbarrow… then lift it over your head. Which is easier?
Flying cars will never be “efficient.” Since more and more people are buying compact cars and hybrids for just that reason, I can’t see LESS efficient cars coming into vogue with gas prices where they are.
If they were, I wouldn’t be buying a flying car, I’d be buying a Muscle Car or a Cadillac.
Imagine a remake of the gas guzzlers from the 1950s? Now THAT I’d spend money on if gas was cheap. Not a flying car.
Second, don’t think about YOU. Think about the OTHER PEOPLE out there who would have flying cars. People have a hard enough time staying on the road and it doesn’t move! Imagine all the people texting and flying over your house. How safe does THAT make you feel?
Get the idea? The future is full of ALL great ideas. Even the cool ideas really aren’t as great if you think about them for awhile.
Then there’s the unintended consequences.
For example do you have to file a flight plan to go to work? Does the Sheriff or Air Force police the sky? What happens if you run out of gas at 10,000 feet? Will there still be roads on the ground? If not, where do kids ride their bikes and play kickball? What about all those unemployed Highway Dept workers?
See? Things get complicated real fast if you think about what it takes to do one simple thing in the future. And it only gets even wilder as the technology gets more advanced!
Consider for example that Star Trek staple.. REPLICATORS!
They SOUND great, but what would that mean for our society? If you could simply make anything you wanted in your house… why would you leave? Combine that with a “holodeck” of holograms and 3D TV… what is the point of going out?
Why go to the store?
Why grow food?
Why go anywhere or do anything?
I guess there would be some repairmen who would go around fixing replicator machines. You’d need to refill them once in awhile with raw material to make stuff out of. And electricity.
But that’s about it.
What a BORING LIFE!
But wait, it gets worse. If you have the technology to make anything out of anything, then the TELEPORTER becomes a real possibility.
Think about it. If everything is just atoms and you can create them or arrange them or whatever… then you can make ANYTHING. If you can make food you can make plants. If you can make plants, you can make animals. If you can make animals… you can make PEOPLE!
Yes, you can make people. That’s all the “Transporter” really is. It doesn’t really TRANSPORT you per se. It simply disassembles the “you” that is in one place, sends the DESIGN of you to another replicator on the other end and then that machine assembles a new, identical “you” from the materials it has on hand.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Now let me ask you… is that really YOU? Are you there, or is it a COPY of you… a clone? Like an identical twin? Even if it has your memories… is it YOU?
Or did the “old” you get destroyed on the other end and the “new” you get created on the other end?
Can the replicator make a soul?
Heady stuff I know.
Now let’s take this further. Yes, I have to. I REALLY have to. Stay with me now.
If you can remake YOU at any time, then you could remake a “new” you… into a “better” you too. You could just be broken down and reassembled as a younger, perfectly healthy you, or basically ANYTHING YOU WANT!
Different hair, different eyes, different race… anything! You would never have to die.. just be “reborn” every time in a replicator.
Yes. A replicator would enable you to cheat death.
But wait… that’s not it.
There’s one more step to go.
If you can recreate YOURSELF, then you can recreate SOMEONE ELSE!
We’re only assuming up to this point that you are willingly destroying the “old” you to create a “new” you. What if “old you” is kept? Or at least the pattern?
What if a company sells it to an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend to make a copy of? Is THAT copy YOU too? Is it a PERSON? Again, does it have a soul? Is it “born?” What if it doesn’t have your memories? Is it you? Just a person who likes like you?
A person with no ID?
A potential non-person SLAVE?
You see where I’m going with this? The morality and ethics implications are HUGE here. You can try to put all the laws you want on it. If there’s a buck to be made, unscrupulous people WILL FIND A WAY.
Okay let all that sink in now.
However, even if everything went perfectly and there were no bad people making clones of people and recreating slavery or harvesting organs… what is the best case scenario?
What would there be to do? If you were immortal, would you be in a rush to do anything? Where is your motivation when you don’t need to DO or MAKE or CREATE anything? There’s simply no economy if everyone has everything they ever want for basically nothing.
Nothing to trade means no exchange.
No exchange means no need for social contacts.
No social contact means the race basically dies.
I guess there’s mental stimulation and physical pleasure, but you can only “do it” so much and what if you just made your own sex slaves? Or robots or whatever?
This whole quest for “philosophical enlightenment” only goes so far too.
People need stuff to DO.
Goals, dreams, plans, a purpose in life.
I guess there’s the whole Star Trek mission and all, but not everyone can captain a starship. Well…hmmm… I guess you COULD in theory. Just replicate one… make some crewmembers…
I think you see my point though. Once you get too far into “utopia” they will at the very least have to consider problems that we barely even dream of.
That’s why I prefer Star Wars and Firefly.
They’re grittier and closer to reality. There’s good guys and bad guys and lasers that make noise in a vacuum. There’s guns, gals and guts.
What they don’t have is replicators. Or transporters. Or Communist immortals who are eternally bored seeking to preach to “primitive” races.
Seems a bit too racist and Democrat to me.
I don’t think we’ll ever overcome our base urges and reach that utopia. We’re doomed to forever seek perfection without ever reaching it. That way we have something to constantly strive for to give us purpose and direction in life.
And that’s a good thing.
Although if I had to have a future problem, it would be hot alien babes.
Green, Blue, Blonde, Brunette…
What do you think?
Will the future be utopian like Star Wars?
Would you want to live there?