The beginning of a new year is a good time to take stock of the human race. Frankly, I’m surprised we’re still around, having been in one conflict or another for the past 2000 years. Beyond that, we spend a good deal of time thinking about money and are willing to gut the planet to get it. From where I sit, I don’t see many rules to this game, except, “winner take all.” Millions around the globe live in extreme poverty with its attendant ills — disease, homelessness, and crime – while those few who have money, flaunt it. India’s richest heiress, for example, just threw herself a $100 million wedding party. That’s a lot of cake that only the rich can eat. (“The World at a Glance,” The Week, Dec. 21-28, pg. 9)
If we confined our profligacy and bad behavior to interactions among ourselves, Evolution might ignore us a while longer. Unfortunately, we’ve been bad actors, too, with the environment. Mother Nature has taken notice. She’s sent us a few warnings, but, like the Indian heiress, we’re been too busy with our bacchanal to notice.
Realistically, the future for the species looks gloomy. Still, optimists abound, like drunken sailors swilling cocktails from the deck of a sinking Titanic. Take our military, for example. They have plans on the drawing board for nonlethal weaponry. It may sound like an oxymoron, and I laugh as I write this, but the objective is to make war safe. (“Set to Stun,” Rebecca Heilwell, Wired, Dec. 2018, pg. 22.)
Other dreamers hope to create a better world for those who survive. Michael Alpine, for example, works with 3D printers to assemble human body parts. He has yet to succeed but has made some progress with mice. “(It’s Alive!” by Rebecca Heilwell, Wired, Dec. 2018, pg. 20.) He doesn’t plan to stop with replacements, either. He’s thinking about augmentation. Why stop at restoring 20/20 vision? Why not make eyes capable of seeing ultra-violate light?
I admire the dreamers, but I’m giving them slim odds — unless a social engineer is among them, one who can program us to be less greedy, less power-hungry, and less indifferent to the suffering of others. Until then, I’m sticking with Pogo .