I saw this hopeful statement in the introduction to the Global Trends report, “In all societies, even in the bleakest circumstances, there will be those who choose to improve the welfare, happiness, and security of others—employing transformative technologies to do so at scale.” This is a fine statement of a mature personality. It implies that human maturity is neither dependent upon a higher education nor a sophisticated moral culture. It implies that all humans are capable of maturing beyond the childish “me” culture of Western civilization, beyond the adolescent “I’m superior” culture as exemplified in the Olympic games of individual prowess, beyond the adult attitude of everything for our personal family as exemplified in aristocratic cultures taking advantage of everyone else. It implies the that in every culture, and potentially in every person, there is the ability to look to humanity as the core of their personhood. It implies that the survival of our species and a life of interpersonal abundance have a higher value than the more selfish qualities of the other states of (im)maturity.
That quote also tags on the idea, —“employing transformative technologies to do so at scale.” In our modern world with instant electronic communications and fast delivery of physical goods, it is possible to create and distribute goods just in time for their use and there is little need to store things. Twenty years ago there were still warehouses full of manufactured things waiting to be sold and other storage facilities with the basic materials available for making new things. That form of physical goods is fading away and being replaced by instant delivery. Brick-and-mortar stores with a year’s worth of stored inventory are on their way out and being replaced by Amazon and quick delivery of things stored a short time.
With increasing efficiency for making standard household items like furniture, dishes, spoons, where you as a customer may choose a decorative change, the item may not even be fixed in its final form until moments before being boxed for shipping. You might even supply the artwork on those items and still have same-day delivery. The scaling up of these kinds of routine items isn’t the making of them in vast quantities and distributing them, it is more having a basic style and making them as unique items for the customer. Books might even be written for you as personalized items. For example, a children’s book’s characters could have the personal names of the customer’s kids and his friends and pets and even with the pictures having personalized facial characteristics, clothing and the right breed of dog. If you are going to identify with a fictional character why not have that character look just like you? These things can all be done right now, at a slight increase in cost, but with double the computing power soon available it will be a trivial cost.
The future is already here, it just doesn’t ship until tomorrow.