Three Visions of the Future
Three Visions of the Future
The fast-paced Information Age is now on fast-forward. Some of the most imaginative futurists of the past would ogle at the gadgets and technology the average person has today. We carry or wear extremely small, extremely powerful computers and connect ourselves instantly to limitless amounts of data and information. We immerse ourselves in ever more realistic and interactive fantasies in theaters, on television and in video games. We work, learn, play and bank from cafés and couches. We order whatever we wish and have it delivered to our doors.
While we indulge in technological luxuries, at an average of eight hours per day, millions of robots assemble vehicles, stock warehouses, make food, sanitize, monitor, formulate, weld, fabricate, machine, paint, coat, load, pack, build and drive. Our quest to use human ingenuity, willpower and creativity to free us from our problems and bring us happiness has produced a world of such dazzling technology that no one can truly comprehend it all. And it’s only becoming more and more advanced—at a faster and faster pace.
Computers are processing even more inputs, even more rapidly, providing even more goods and services to even more people in even more unexpected ways. An unimaginable amount of information has been fed into computer systems that are producing digitized outputs that seem almost to have come from human minds.
Advancements in computers, robotics, energy, materials and other technologies are promising self-driving vehicles on the ground, in the water and in the air; rocket daytrips to space; implanted communications devices; wearable augmented reality, wayfinders and health monitors; automatic law enforcement; resurrection of extinct species; fusion of human brains with computers; eradication of diseases, and even instant cures for mental problems.
Visions of the Future
This is one vision of the future. Herbert W. Armstrong included it as one of three in his booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like. It is a utopia of leisure, luxury and license. As author Aldous Huxley summarized it: “[T]he world is destined—within a generation or two—to become a kind of gigantic Disneyland, in which the human race will find perpetual happiness playing with an endless assortment of ever more ingenious mechanical toys.”
Futurists in Huxley’s day and in Mr. Armstrong’s lifetime anticipated a myriad of technologies that would transform human life within the coming years and decades, some of which have been developed, and some of which have not: artificial organs, brains linked to computers, synthesized food, the elimination of cancer, the cloning of humans, intelligence-enhancing drugs, genetic and heredity engineering, and more (sidebar, page 11).
But the second vision of the future—then and now—is much more ominous. “Besides nuclear annihilation, there are at least five other means by which mankind could be destroyed from off the face of the globe: chemical warfare, biological warfare, overpopulation and resulting famine, disease epidemics, and environmental pollution. … Leading scientists look at this world picture and say they are frankly frightened.”
These dangers are in our present world and in our future. So are many others, not the least of which is human beings using the incredibly powerful technologies that they have invented to deceive, degrade, manipulate, control and destroy other human beings.
From the time these predictions were written to now, humanity has moved in both directions—toward dizzying technological advancement and disastrous moral and physical peril—at the same time. Where will we go from here?
For now, it is certain that we will continue to rely on our own minds, energies, tools and technologies to fix our problems, stave off threats, manufacture luxuries and try to somehow invent our way to a better world.
But The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like presents a third view of the future—one more inspiring than any futurist has ever imagined.
Our generation lives in a push-button world. However, the core problems the futurists were trying to fix have only grown worse. Our technology is more advanced than our predecessors imagined, but these gadgets are not solving our problems.
Leisure, entertainment and convenience are not delivering happiness and joy. Instead, our society is more lonely, more depressed and more depraved.
Pursuing a utopia free from sickness, disease, depression and even death, human beings have invented and poured lifetimes and immeasurable resources into the science of medicine.
One example of a futuristic medical technology is manipulation of mrna. In the body, mrna molecules instruct cells to create specific proteins using their natural processes. Artificial mrna, which has now been experimentally tested on hundreds of millions of people as covid-19 “vaccines,” simulates a natural virus in an attempt to train the immune system to target that virus when it enters the body. Many see this gene-therapy tool as the future of combatting sicknesses.
Futurists have also looked forward to scientists altering our bodies’ genetic “code” to prevent hereditary illnesses and even improve or perfect our physical characteristics. Today, this controversial technology is beginning to take shape as Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (crispr). Some think it will bring medical utopia. Others believe its unknown consequences raise serious ethical questions. The problem is, the only way to find out is to edit embryos, allow them to survive if they can, and observe the effects. Like many other technologies, the byproducts and side effects can be chilling—but they are often ignored.
Another revolutionary technology promising revolutionary change is blockchain. Blockchain’s most famous use is in bitcoin, the first widespread digital currency, but this type of computer code and system is used in many other applications, from banking to customs to record keeping to contracts to medical records to logistics to elections to warfare. By providing a permanent registry of the movement of goods and services along the supply chain, it promises to be a virtual replacement for human honesty.
For example, the Bank for International Settlements, called the “bank for central banks,” piloted a blockchain technology called mBridge to connect digital currencies of central banks and help dispense with the need for U.S. dollars in world trade. Some say the technology could be used to help poorer countries and poorer people. It could also concentrate greater power over commerce in fewer hands, who could use it for whatever purposes they see fit.
Another example of how we are using computers to try to solve our problems is the attempt, now in progress, to literally fuse man with machine.
A 2017 article titled “Melding Mind and Machine: How Close Are We?” argued: “Just as ancient Greeks fantasized about soaring flight, today’s imaginations dream of melding minds and machines as a remedy to the pesky problem of human mortality. Can the mind connect directly with artificial intelligence, robots and other minds through brain-computer interface (bci) technologies to transcend our human limitations?” (The Conversation, April 9, 2017).
A company called Neuralink has already applied for permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test its brain implant on human beings. The request was reportedly denied out of fear of the unknown side effects. But the implant, already tested on animals, promises to make the paralyzed walk and the blind see and to turn humans into cybernetic organisms.
The possibilities opened up by connecting a human brain to computers, the Internet and robotic hardware are staggering. Harvard Business Review wrote: “bcis can connect to a human’s brain either internally or externally. They read the brain activity and process the activity into information, and can also communicate information back to the brain. bcis have the potential to amplify human intelligence to superhuman levels, which is exciting for technologists and entrepreneurs, but begs the question: Are we, our businesses and our technological systems ready for this change?” (Sept. 28, 2020).
Utopia or Dystopia?
From the beginning, we human beings have faced problems and attempted to solve those problems by applying our mental and physical energies and, often, developing tools and other technologies. We are now thousands of years into this attempt, and we still believe that the problems of today are just one more invention away from being solved.
Many of the futurists of the past, and the present, have a noticeable element of naivety in how they expect new technologies to be developed and used. As some of these tools have become reality, a more dystopian flavor has become dominant. Instead of living in a future pictured by The Jetsons, it appears we are gradually becoming trapped in the pages of George Orwell’s 1984.
One organization aimed at shaping the future is the World Economic Forum. One of its most infamous videos proclaimed that in the near future, “You will own nothing, and you will be happy.” Instead of owning appliances, for example, you will rent them and take delivery by drone. Instead of owning land, a home or even a vehicle, you will live in a “15-minute city,” where everything you need is nearby. Meanwhile, hospitals will be inserting 3-D printed organs into people, and spaceports will be sending humans to live on Mars. You will also be eating “replacement meats,” created using cells extracted from living animals—or perhaps just using crushed up insects. Your thoughts will be scanned and monitored, and not just through detailed tracking of your Internet usage.
“The next phase is the surveillance going under our skin,” said the World Economic Forum’s Yuval Noah Harari. “It’s not just dystopian. It’s also utopian. This kind of data can also enable us to create the best health-care system in history.”
Some think of it as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Some envision it as utopia. Some view it as a nightmare. But whatever you think of it, a future where problems will be addressed by powerful people wielding powerful technologies is coming at you fast.
Universe and Beyond
Some of the world’s most successful men are now trying to build entire new societies with new ideologies in new cities built from scratch (article, page 14). Some have abandoned any attempt to save humanity on Earth, and instead believe utopia awaits in the heavens and depends on us building new technologies to get there.
The National Aeronautics and Space Agency’s Artemis program is designed to return man to the moon and establish a long-term human presence. Following the establishment of the program in December 2017, President Donald Trump stated: “The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints—we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.”
The $6 billion program will use the most powerful rocket launch system humanity has ever created, standing 30 stories tall. It has multiple stages to bring thousands of tons of equipment and supplies to the moon and prepare for a trip to Mars. Habitat capsules, exploration rovers, solar power sources and a lunar space station are all included in the program. The end goal is to have humans on Mars in the 2030s.
Elon Musk founded SpaceX with the “ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” So far, the technology has not caught up with the dreams. Musk and other scientists want to “terraform” Mars to make it more earthlike by redirecting sunlight and introducing microorganisms to create oxygen. But for now, this technology is just a pipe dream.
Billions of dollars are being spent trying to create utopia in the cosmos. Efforts to colonize other planets highlight the expansive imagination of mankind, but also reflect a hopelessness about the situation on Earth. This is a last-ditch attempt to use technology to save us from our problems—and from ourselves.
Throughout human history, we have met our problems—be they physical, material, mental or spiritual—by developing new tools. Whether it be a mega-tower on the plain of Shinar (Genesis 11) or whether it be inserting plasmids with synthetic spike proteins and genetic codes into our bodies, it is and always has been in our very nature to fix it with technology.
These attempted solutions have generated a number of consequences, intended and unintended. Many have been impossible to produce without manipulating and forcing other people. Throughout history, including today, much of the mining, manufacturing, labor and other effort needed to solve the problems of one group of people have come from the enslavement of another.
At the same time, tools have been made, buildings built, cities developed, voluminous waste disposed, inventions promulgated with little thought, and even less restraint devoted to dealing with new problems.
In earlier generations, crop yields were low, sickness was threatening, raids and wars were never too distant, and the knowledge of how to live was hidden. We have invented numerous tools, some of which have had beneficial effects, but none of which have solved our fundamental problems. Now, well into the 21st century, our problems are multiplying and intensifying. Famine, drought and weather disasters have increased over the past decade. War is raging in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and beyond. In 2021, there were 15 million excess deaths from unknown reasons. Increases in Internet devices and prescription drugs, hailed as fantastic technologies, have accompanied increases in depression and anxiety. Internet connectivity, cameras and other monitors, digital currencies and blockchain technologies promise convenience and efficiency, but also give governments tyrannical control over your money.
We have definitely succeeded in developing powerful technologies. But this should not deceive us, as it has deceived so many, into thinking that because they are advanced they can solve the fundamental sources of our problems: selfishness, slothfulness, jealousies, hatreds, corruption and more. With those fundamental sources decidedly unsolved, the more advanced and powerful our technologies, the more dangerous they are. Like an arms race between superpowers, our rapidly advancing industrial, medical, electronic and other technologies have succeeded only in dramatically increasing the stakes.
Look at the society and world around you and ask: Are we progressing—or regressing?
The fantastical technology at our fingertips does not always cause problems, but we must face the fact that our problems have increased at least as fast as our technologies. And we need to ask ourselves why.
The Missing Dimension in Technology
Throughout human history, we have been making the same mistake. We face problems, both physical and spiritual, that ultimately trace back to wrong thinking and we respond, We will fix it with technology. Such a solution is doomed and always has been! Steel production cannot solve covetousness. Silicon and glass cannot create fulfillment. Cameras cannot provide justice. Computer code cannot produce the same result as human honesty.
A colossal tower for resisting floodwaters cannot produce the same result as obedience to God.
Most technology is not intrinsically evil; in fact, it can be used beneficially and productively for the human race. The problem is that technology deals purely with the material, while the real root causes lie in the unseen spiritual dimension.
Mr. Armstrong explained this reality in The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like: “We repeat, there’s a cause for every effect. If crime is to be greatly reduced, then wiped out, there will be a reason. People may have many guesses, opinions, theories about what causes crime, but the answer is—human nature. What is the cause of wars? The answer is—human nature. Why do people steal, murder, commit adultery or fornication, covet what is not theirs? Human nature. We shall never have utopia on Earth until human nature is changed.”
We will never find utopia by applying material technological solutions to spiritual problems.
When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them a choice between two ways of life: the tree of life, which symbolized God’s way of life, or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which symbolized Satan’s way. Adam chose the latter, thus setting the foundation of our current civilization (Genesis 2-3). Mr. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages: “Adam took to himself the knowledge of good as well as evil. But it was only human good, no higher than the carnal human level of the human spirit within him. He rejected reliance on God and relied on himself for knowledge, ability and power—all limited to the fleshly human plane, deceived and led by the perverted Satan.”
Our entire civilization developed on this foundation. The first child ever born grew up to develop implements to force the ground. His immediate descendants developed other tools, instruments, weapons, cities, systems and approaches to solve their problems their own ways. Yet their problems multiplied and intensified to the point that their Creator took away the lives He had made in a global flood to stop our acceleration into complete self-destruction. Yet shortly after the Flood, human beings assayed to solve even that problem, not by addressing the mental and spiritual problem and obeying God, but in developing the government, religious, labor and technological systems necessary for building a “flood-proof” tower!
Now, just as then, our civilization is descended from Adam and Eve, Cain and Nimrod. It is influenced and ruled by Satan the devil (Revelation 12:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4), the “god of this world” who broadcasts human nature into the minds of humanity (Ephesians 2:2). Adam’s decision sentenced all of his progeny to be automatically tuned into Satan’s wavelength of selfishness and meant all our endeavors would rely solely on human effort.
Mr. Armstrong continued: “And so a world—a civilization—developed from the original Adam and Eve. When God shut off the tree of life, that act marked the foundation of the world. It was founded on rejection of God, on disobedience to God’s law, which defines God’s way of life. And all the evils, sorrows, pain and suffering in 6,000 years of human civilization have resulted.”
But what would happen if, with God’s help, we stopped trying to use technology to fix wrong attitudes and finally addressed the root causes of our problems?
The Futurism of the Bible
This third view of the future is only found in the pages of a book written thousands of years ago, yet it is the most modern, up-to-date text you can find. The Bible records Jesus Christ teaching the solution to our modern-day problems. In Matthew 24, He said there would be wars and rumors of wars (verse 6), famines, pestilences and earthquakes worldwide (verse 7). In fact, He foretold that mankind would commit cosmocide, wiping out every human being, if He did not intervene! (verse 22).
“At its very climax when delay would result in blasting all life from off this planet, Jesus Christ will return,” continued Mr. Armstrong. “Think of it. The glorified Christ—coming in all the splendor, the supernatural power and the glory of God Almighty—coming to save mankind alive—coming to stop escalating wars, nuclear mass destruction, human pain and suffering—coming to usher in peace, abundant well-being, happiness and joy for all mankind.”
A new world government is coming that will bring peace, happiness and the fulfillment of our human potential. But it won’t come the way mankind wants or thinks. Jesus Christ will build a new civilization from the foundation up! Addressing human nature will solve the problems that technology has repeatedly promised, but failed, to fix.
God will abolish human nature by exercising the divine authority of this new world government and through a process of reeducation. Every human is a free moral agent who will have to choose to live God’s way of life that produces the good results we all desire, or to continue the miserable path of human nature until death results. God’s law, encapsulated in the Ten Commandments, will be the law of the land for the entire Earth!
Imagine a world ruled by the perfectly righteous and loving God, where our very nature gradually changes from being selfish to being selfless, like our Creator. With the spiritual root cause corrected, we can advance into a truly revolutionary future. Allow Mr. Armstrong to help you imagine this future utopia:
“In such a world, with all loving and worshiping God with all their minds, hearts and strength—with all having concern for the welfare of all others equal to concern for self—there would be no divorce—no broken homes or families, no juvenile delinquency, no crime, no jails or prisons, no police except for peaceful direction and supervision as a public service for all, no wars, no military establishments. But further, God has set in motion physical laws that operate in our bodies and minds, as well as the spiritual law. There would be no sickness, ill health, pain or suffering. There would be, on the contrary, vigorous, vibrant good health, filled with dynamic interest in life, enthusiastic interest in constructive activities bringing happiness and joy. There would be cleanliness, vigorous activity, real progress, no slums, no degenerate backward races or areas of Earth.”
This is God’s promise for the future. And it can happen only when our perpetual cycle of doomed self-reliance is finally broken. Some of today’s technology will finally reach its full potential once its correct use is ensured because man’s nature has been changed. Finally, all the innovative power of the human mind will be combined with the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14; Acts 2:17). United with our Creator, we will achieve the purpose for which we were created.
“What glory! A new day shall have dawned. Peace shall soon come. Men shall turn from the way of ‘get’ to the way of ‘give’—God’s way of love. A new civilization shall now grip the Earth!” (ibid). The dawn of this utopia and a new chapter in the history of mankind is not far away. You can have real hope in this promise of the future. Catch this vision of tomorrow and it will transform your life starting today.