During my morning walk I ruminated about our general weighting towards negativity. Why is it so easy to imagine an awful future? Why are most sci-fi novels dystopian? When I reached this point, my mind decided to imagine a future where people have free Google stoves in their kitchens. The stove only functions AFTER one has watched a thirty second ad. And one needs to stay near the stove because for every ten minutes of usage there is another ad one needs to watch or the stove turns itself off. No eye balls–no cooking! Why do people choose ad-supported stoves? Well, they have been trained for this by using YouTube for decades and watching ads in return. Plus they have all lost their jobs to AI.
Eating Disorder Helpline Fires Staff, Transitions to Chatbot After Unionization–LINK
And once people have been replaced and the investment into AI has been paid off, there is only pure profit. At that point corporations will demand that the government pay a Universal Basic Income so that people can survive to continue to buy things…
See how easy that is. Dystopia basically writes itself!
I thought about the first stories, the fairytales we hear. They are generally not about the happy life of a farmer or craftsman or teacher… they are about walking too deep into the forest and getting imprisoned by a witch. Then there is the language. FIRE is a word one can scream well. LOVE starts with an L and that letter is a soft, almost intimate sound. ABOVE you can scream and be understood. LOVE… not so much. HATE can be screamed well, although there is the possibility that it is heard as EIGHT, if one doesn’t put enough angry spitle into it.
Two elements come together, one social and the other genetic, learned and inherited. We are predisposed towards negativity and we learn to deepen that notion. This is exploited by politicians and amplified by social media. A bad cocktail. A heart attack waiting to happen.
What to do? I suppose we can train ourselves to balance out the negativity. Reading Humankind: A Hopeful History, by Rutger Bregman, was helpful. There is no danger of me believing that tech will solve all of our problems. I won’t become a tech believer. Our human problems haven’t really changed in millennia. When I read the Tao Te Ching I find it just as relevant today. The exterior has changed but the interior hasn’t.