Dispatch From The Future #1: Things That Will Look Absurd In 100 Years

I was reading this excellent overview of this history of slavery and segregation in American and one of the many things that stood out for me was the banality and normalization and rationalization of evil.   To wit:

"The consequences of 250 years of enslavement, of war upon black families and black people, were profound. Like homeownership today, slave ownership was aspirational, attracting not just those who owned slaves but those who wished to. Much as homeowners today might discuss the addition of a patio or the painting of a living room, slaveholders traded tips on the best methods for breeding workers, exacting labor, and doling out punishment. Just as a homeowner today might subscribe to a magazine like This Old House, slaveholders had journals such as De Bow’s Review, which recommended the best practices for wringing profits from slaves. By the dawn of the Civil War, the enslavement of black America was thought to be so foundational to the country that those who sought to end it were branded heretics worthy of death. Imagine what would happen if a president today came out in favor of taking all American homes from their owners: the reaction might well be violent."

Since it is highly unlikely that we have finished human moral development in 2014, I asked myself and others what might look ridiculous / evil / "how could they do that?" in 100 years.  By definition, some things on this list might make us uncomfortable precisely because we have normalized and rationalized them.   I am putting both my responses and any responses I get on Twitter.   I don't necessarily agree or disagree with any particular proposal, the point is to stimulate thinking.

  1. Global childhood malnutrition / basic health (vaccines, etc)
  2. War
  3. Women's rights
  4. Religious rights
  5. Factory farming / animal rights
  6. Drug 'war'
  7. Prisons (not being naive, but putting people in a time-out box at great $ expense seems pretty low-tech for the Singularity future of 2114)
  8. Driving and driving deaths (massive annual slaughter of people will look absurd in 30-40 years)
  9. Climate change
  10. Central Banking
  11. Slaughtering animals for foods
  12. Death penalty
  13. Whale killing
  14. Forced marriages
  15. Class
  16. Racism
  17. Famine
  18. Failures of International Law
  19. Abuse of antibiotics
  20. Drunk driving
  21. Non-electronic voting
  22. Gerrymandering
  23. Filibustering
  24. Four year mandates
  25. Gun rights
  26. Water misuse
  27. Patents on genetic seeds
  28. Mandatory and restrictive dress codes
  29. Genital mutiliation
  30. Fiat currency
  31. Individual car ownership
  32. Owning things in general (things - cars, homes, etc - will be rented)
  33. NSA dragnetting
  34. Death (we won't wipe out death for sure (shit happens) but we should strive for it. My bet is v. optimistic)
  35. Mental illness as we know it will probably be a thing of the past, either 'cured' or made 'functional' with assistive tools
  36. Top-down organizational structures / "bosses"
  37. Educational model of sitting in a classroom for 18 years with 20 randomly selected people
  38. Captive killer whales
  39. Displays of wealth, lavish hedonism while others lack basic needs like water
  40. Attempts to suppress monetary freedom
  41. Corporate sponsorship of politics
  42. Gladiator style sporting events
  43. Processed foods in affluent countries
  44. Drone warfare
  45. Much milder, much less blind patriotism as folks form even more cross-cutting communities digitally that humanize the "other"
  46. People being famous for having a reality tv show; fame in general
  47. Cross-national, cross-regional differences in per-capita GDP
  48. Current prisons.  Online, always on monitoring will substitute it
  49. 3 hr+ baseball games having ever the status of America's national pastime :)
  50. Eating junk food / eating inorganic
  51. Smoking (good example of one in progress of being changed)
  52. LA - real public transportation to reduce pollution
  53. Size of defense budget / inefficiency of current defense contractor / government nexus
  54. Many things moved online (education, banking/fin svcs/counseling/ more 'remote' work)
Posted on May 24, 2014 .