Most science fictional and futurist visions of the future tend towards the negative — and for good reason.
Our environment is a mess, we have a nasty tendency to misuse technologies, and we're becoming increasingly capable of destroying ourselves. But civilizational demise is by no means guaranteed. Should we find a way to manage the risks and avoid dystopic outcomes, our far future looks astonishingly bright.
Here are seven best-case scenarios for the future of humanity.
Before we get started it's worth noting that many of the scenarios listed here are not mutually exclusive. If things go really well, our civilization will continue to evolve and diversify, leading to many different types of futures.
1. Status quo
While this is hardly the most exciting outcome for humanity, it is still an outcome.
2. A bright green Earth
Visions of the far future tend to conjure images of a Cybertron-like Earth, covered from pole-to-pole in steel and oil. Yet it doesn't have to be this way; the future of our planet could be far more green and verdant than we ever imagined.
3. Watched over by machines of loving grace
If future AI designers can guide and mould the direction of machine intelligence — and most importantly their goal orientation — it's conceivable that we could give rise to what's called ‘friendly AI' — a kind of Asimovian intelligence that's incapable of inflicting any harm.
4. To boldly go where no one has gone before...
We need to get off this rock and start colonizing other solar systems — there's no question about it.
5. Inner space, not outer space
Alternatively (or in conjunction with space travel), we could attain an ideal existential mode by uploading ourselves into massive supercomputers.
6. Eternal bliss
This is what the British philosopher David Pearce refers to as the Hedonistic Imperative — the elimination of all suffering and the onset of perpetual pleasure.
7. Cosmological transcension
Futurist John Smart has suggested that human civilization is increasingly migrating into smaller and smaller increments of matter, energy, space, and time (MEST).
Via James Keith