Excerpted from “Science, Civilization and Global Ethics: Can We Understand the Next 1000 Years?” (2000). Retrieved from https://www.metafuture.org/science-civilization-and-global-ethics-can-we-understand-the-next-1000-years/
Reason, science, and technology form a solid basis for the development of society.
Neohumanist Education Perspective
Science is taught in a way that nurtures a reverence for all life and an ecological orientation in which the inherent value of all living things is acknowledged. Ecological ethics are infused across the curriculum in multiple and diverse ways, and students are taught the arts of reflection, deliberation, and discerning judgement so that they might become good ecological citizens with the ability to assess the long term consequences of innovations in technology.
What will the world look like in one thousand years? What factors will create the long-term future? What are the trajectories? Will we survive as a species? Will science reduce human ignorance through its discoveries or will ignorance increase as science becomes the hegemonic discourse? Will that which is most important to us always remain a mystery, outside our knowing efforts? What should be the appropriate framework in which to think of the long-term? Will humanity successfully evolve creating brighter futures for all or will imperialism, racism, environmental problems and governance crises lead to full scale global catastrophe? The future is quite likely to see quite dramatic shifts in the boundaries of what we consider the self. While history has been considered “given,” created by God or nature, the future is being increasingly made; we are directly intervening in evolution, creating new forms of life. Instead of a world populated only by humans and animals, the long-term future is likely to be far more diverse. There will be chimeras, cyborgs, robots and possibly even biologically created slaves. Our future generations may look back at us and find us distant relatives, and not particularly attractive ones. What will intelligence look like in the future? Will it be human or artificial? What will be the boundaries? Advances in AI are so rapid that it is now defined as whatever machines can’t do today, since tomorrow they will be able to. How long will it be before judicial decision-making is done by AI know-bots, asks futurist James Dator? Will nano-technology make scarcity irrelevant creating a world of unending material bliss? Or will it be the development of our
spiritual qualities that will be far more important? Ethics must be explicit within science and not an afterthought. What type of humans are we? What type of humans do we want to be? and What are our boundaries? are not merely technological questions but political and moral issues. We have a responsibility to future generations to not create a dystopia – a Brave New World. Reason, science, and technology have a large role to play in the kind of future we create. On one hand, a new science is emerging that is value-laden, with reality as complex, chaotic and not divorced from cosmic consciousness. Indeed, at the very root of who we are, of what is real, is consciousness. As many have argued, there are no value-free positions, a value-free science is impossible. This however does not mean that rigour, systematic inquiry and empirical truths should be abandoned, rather that science must include issues of ethics, public knowledge, and alternative ways of knowing as part of its charge, and not as externalities. The meanings we give to the material world (and the epistemes and social structures that frame these meanings) are as important as the material world itself. As we venture outward into space, as we create new life forms, expand our intelligence and reduce social and civilizational injustice, we should never forget the precarious nature of life. We may not even survive. Phillip Tobias, one of the world’s leading archeologists, tells us that 90% of the world’s species have become extinct. We may be next. However, even as he cautions, by tracing human evolution, he offers a story of hope for the future, of humans learning from mistakes, and proceeding slowly onwards.