|Dr Dylan Evans
writer and independent social entrepeneur
I can’t think of a single innovation in any field, let alone my own, that merits the adjective ‘great’.
I’ve always been interested in the future, how we got to where we are today and where that process will take us. I became interested in robotics because I believed in the science-fiction world of robots, spaceships, artificial intelligence and supercomputers. I still think all that classic sci-fi stuff is inevitable with enough resources. But all of our incredible progress has only been possible because of an abundant supply of relatively cheap energy and a stable and benign environment. We’ve been very lucky.
Like many scientists, I’ve become concerned that our luck is about to run out. Our economy cannot be stabilised; it’s based on the idea of continual growth, so there’ll be no levelling-off, but a huge decline of technological and material wealth. If that happens fast enough there will be a collapse. What’s the point in doing robotics, preparing for a future that you don’t think is going to happen? It’s just dreaming.
There are many, many bad things in our society. From an evolutionary psychology perspective, you can see that there’s a profound mismatch between the world we are adapted to live in and the world we’ve created for ourselves.
We’re Stone Agers living in the fast lane.
Technology seems to have made our lives easier but it doesn’t make us happier. No society had more leisure than hunter-gatherers. Since then we’ve domesticated ourselves. In the last 10,000 years our brains have been getting smaller. In 100 years our descendants will look back on their crazy ancestors, this amazing wreckage of shit, and say, what was that? They’ll struggle to understand a civilisation so idiotic that it imploded.
Dylan Evans is a writer and an independent social entrepeneur currently running an innovative project called the utopia experiment