Monday, October 8, 2012

The Future 2

Artist rendition of future cities by Gary Tonge

I've just gorged myself on a raft of books about the future; The World in 2050, The Great Reset, Crawling from the Wreckage, and The Post-American World. All excellent reads. All a bit unnerving.

The utopians have us flying to floating gardens in Jetson flying cars. The dystopians claim Big Brother will steal our memories. The catastrophe-crowd, soaked with doom, imagine a Mayan apocalypse.

[I must admit, whenever I hear apocalypse stories I'm reminded of Pulitzer winner Chris Hedges observation: "We are in the throws of a giddy intoxication with illusion. That's how you end up with demagogues and tyrants who promise magic."]

Here's the thing - the future isn't here yet! There is no Matrix. And until some giddy, Daisy-singing, Hal 9000 computer takes over, there is no sure way to know the future. There are many futures and any one of them is possible.

Lately, though, I admit I've been swayed by the dystopians.

Consider these worrying trends:
  • A recent survey finding that Americans are "three times more likely to say that the quality of life in their communities has gotten worse (35%) rather than better (12%) in the last three years." 
  • A New York Times story: "In Philadelphia roving gangs of black teenagers have taken to beating up ordinary citizens on the streets" leading to curfews and harsher police measures. 
  • A radical increase in homelessness and bans against panhandling.
Last month I said to my students in Connecticut I believe SafeGrowth is one possible and positive future. Today I found another in Connecticut. This one was by some young people in New Haven. They are, after all, where our future really unfolds.

2 Replies so far - Add your comment

Anonymous said...

Greg please check out the apps that were created by Code for America. They are creating apps for cities to deal with small business permits, blighted buildings..... let me know what you think.

GSaville said...

I've just looked at those apps and the folks who came up with the idea. They are excellent. A fantastic resource for cities everywhere.

Thanks very much for the heads-up.