So, in this series of essays I have undertaken to discuss humanity from the beginnings of ourselves as individuals, being gestated and born into society, and as a society, from our differences hybridized into the glorious variety of human expression that lives today. I will look forward more than I have previously in this, perhaps final, essay in this series.
@everittdmickey revealed to me that technology always increases the power of individuals relative to institutions, and he also showed how technological change becomes more rapid over time.
This is unlikely the chart he showed me, but it is similar and makes the case. That case is tech advance will be enormous and inconceivable from our present perspective in only a generation, barring some cataclysm that retards tech advance. Folks in 1900 saw enormous changes in tech that upended their worldviews in a generation, much of it inconceivable before it happened. Vaccines, transport, finance, the list of transformative technological innovation that radically altered their beliefs and grasp of their world is long and obvious in hindsight.
Who could have predicted in a world dominated - that had always been dominated - by animal powered transport that within a generation mail would be delivered by plane, or that people would fly to travel? Less obvious, because it is so recent that our worldviews haven't processed it yet, are the technological changes that happened from 2000 on. Smartphones, CRISPR, desktop 3D printers: amazing transcendences of what was possible and what had always been true happened thousands of time faster a decade ago than a century ago.
Barring unforeseen cataclysm, the next century will do that exponentially more.
What I'm getting at is that the changes that will result in our worldviews in a generation are utterly inconceivable, and what our worldviews will become are also. We can't possibly predict the chaotic random events that will impact tech, what that will change about our place in the world, and what our grasp of that change will do to our worldview. It's like we're archeologists, that have found a massive ruin of a previously unknown civilization, standing at the entrance of a room to which we have just opened the door. We switch on our flashlight and peer into the darkness. We see artifacts in unfamiliar shapes, comprised of and built with materials and technology of unknown composition for reasons unknown. We cannot know the particulars of those things without prolonged study, which will be very involved indeed to grasp how those tech advances particular to those artifacts developed and why.
We may find a parchment with a mark that is shaped a certain way, and we cannot know at first glance why the mark is shaped that way. Maybe the scribe had a toothache and drooled on a parchment, which caused the ink to mix in solution with the drop and change the intended shape of the mark, and the scribe liked the change and replicated it thereafter in their work. Work studying that parchment might reveal traces of the salival residue, and a case for why that change in that mark began at that time.
What breakthroughs will enable tech advance are utterly unpredictable. Even that scribe could have never in a million years predicted how that change in that mark would be effected, nor what the consequences of that change could be. Some changes are very predictable, such as that scribes' marks will change over time. We see this happen in every script we have ever considered, from Mayan codices to Chaucer's English. What we can't predict is what those changes will precisely be, how they arise, or how they affect society, except very vaguely and with great uncertainty.
We can predict that marks will increase in their ability to communicate information over time, perhaps that they will become easier to make (although that's not necessarily apparent in preserved artifacts, because most materials that could be used to convey written information are very perishable, as a result of their being made of more convenient materials than stone or ceramic), but these very general guesses are testing the limit of probability.
Something I observe abouut tech is that th ability to process information about the world will surpass our present understanding of what is possible. Little is advancing more rapidly than tech involving data. These advances are both almost spiritually transcendent and damnably profane. Claims are being made that thoughts can now be machine transcribable, that images of what people are thinking can be displayed, and this promises both heaven, for people paralyzed and unable to communicate with their physical body, and hell, for people oppressed by a police state intent on coercing people to think as they are ordered.
I am reasonably certain that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle will be transcended, and Quantum Physics rectified with Relativity, or Classical Physics, within a generation, because I expect that we will reach the limit of particles we can observe/model, and actually model them all in real time, which has (and remains now) inconceivable. However we see that mapping our atmosphere, which is highly funded and a rapidly advancing technology, the data points we are able to handle are increasing at an exponential rate.
A century ago, we had a few hundred data points globally, a few weather stations recording daily temperatures and barometric pressure, etc.. I couldn't even estimate the number of relevant data points today, but they range from perhaps trillions of temperature recording devices (most of which aren't contributing to atmospheric models presently), including those yet extant from those old weather stations, to satellites, and an ineffable range and number of mechanisms in between. At the same time our ability to process data has similarly exploded, and our models of the atmosphere have become increasingly fine grained.
While a TV Weatherman might have had a datapoint per 100km cubed a few decades ago from which to predict the coming weather, the size of those datapoints has decreased such that today there might be one per 10m cubed (not describing actual metereological data, but illustrating the concept with arbitrary numbers). It is easy to predict that size will continue to decrease, to a meter, to a centimeter, and eventually - if nothing unpredictable prevents it - to the individual atoms, quarks, and ultimate granular state of Earth's atmosphere at the smallest scale.
I observe that this capacity will potentially enable us to transcend the uncertainty principle through the mechanism of gossip about gossip, rather than physical disturbance of particles by measuring each of them directly, and this transcends the limits of knowledge conceivable by Heisenberg, and that changes the factors of the formula such that knowing both vector and position can be reckoned from measuring other particles, other energy, or from having measured things in the past and calculating their present without remeasuring at all.
The immensity of coming data processing and modeling improvements potential grant me reasonable certainty a time will come when we are able to know things about every particle of our atmosphere that it was previously inconceivable to know about even one of them.
This has been a bit lengthy, but I'm approaching relevance, so having borne with me this far, tarry yet a bit longer.
If we can model the atmosphere so completely as to know where every raindrop will form, travel, and arrive, which we are certain to undertake to the fullest extent possible, we will also be able to model far less complex physical bodies of people. Where I'm going with this is immortality, and not just of folks born in the future, but of everyone that has ever lived. When we can predict such complexity in the future as the position of the atoms of a raindrop in the breadth of the sky, we will also be able to backtrack how the particles got to where they are. This will not just include air and water, but everything else air and water interact with, from the sun to your toenails.
I firmly expect that the physical body of everyone that has ever lived will be able to be completely and accurately modeled, throughout their lives, and, to the point, immediately prior to their death. In addition to this data processing miracle, I expect the physical handling of particles to develop no less, and, sooner or later, the ability to make a copy of something down to the atom will arise. Making copies of things is sort of the very basis of manufacturing, and this will certainly progress no less transcendentally than data processing in days to come.
To cut to the chase, the fever dreams of the prophets, their visions of resurrections and omniscience, omnipotence, and a society of morally sound and mutually loving people, that vision of heaven; I expect technology to progress to the point where that's not magic at all.
In a generation? ¯\(ツ)/¯. These advances are inconceivable, my own fever dreams perhaps, and unpredictable. Chaotic and random things will happen. But I see reason to expect these capabilities to derive from present circumstances, and base none of my reasons on magic people in the sky or long dead prophets perhaps poisoned by ergot or Amanita muscaria. I know tech will advance in these directions, quickly exceed limits I can understand, and if I simply project that all limits are exceeded over due time, that immortality of omniscient persons both long dead and yet unborn will become a feature of society.
I have thought about this for thirty years, to be honest, long before @everittdmickey showed me this effect of technological advance. I have yet to be able to contradict this idea with anything that proves it impossible, and that is the scientific method. Admittedly, I have nothing but a thought experiment and some scraps of data to work with. I've never tested any part of this empirically, but plenty of history of others consistently moving towards it with no terminal impediments continues to grant this plausibility.
YMMV. Let the idea roll around in the back of your head a while, and maybe it'll make sense to you too. If you reckon you can prove it's impossible, do let me know. I have long lived to best profit from this being what will happen, to cost my future self as little of the extraordinary benefits of such as inure to people in that future as my present circumstance allows.
If I've missed some proof this can't happen, I'll change my ways. I'd be grateful for information that enables reasonable goals if my future will be different than I expect. I look forward to any comments you may undertake.