From my perspective, all the many trends that I track are linked in one way or a another to four overarching, civilisation-level, end-game “meta trends”. Of course, all four of these meta trends are themselves interlinked and interactive, and can be envisaged as four oscillating cyclical waves that pull together, pull apart and underwrite the long-game history of humanity.
Here they are:
Reach over grasp
This is the driver that causes humankind insatiable desire towards growth and progress; and, ultimately towards its own destruction as we approach and exceed the our limits to growth rooted in our physical environment.
At the end of this wave we have two end-game scenarios:
Extinction [game over]
The extinction scenario is self explanatory. Game over. This could happen in several ways 1) we destroy ourselves directly in a man-made catastrophe such as a nuclear holocaust, “ice 9” type disaster, or grey goo accident, 2) we destroy our environment in an anthropocene-trigged climate or biosphere catastrophe, or 3) our environment destroyed us though plague, super-bug, grey famine or extra terrestrial disaster (such as an asteroid strike or solar flair).
The re-boot scenario, in turn has two sub game paths,
1) we find a way to transcend our internal environment, that is our physical bodies by somehow evolving beyond our biological limitations into a disembodied consensus or singularity (see the meta Transhumanism trend below) that is no longer subject to physical constrains and,
2) we find a way to transcend the limitations of our external environment by some sort of escape from Earth and into extraterrestrial space civilisation. Of course, both sub re-boot scenarios can happen simultaneously and/or as a bifurcation in history of the human family tree.
Contemporary sub trends within this meta trend include (not limited to):
- Eco fatalism (anti-progressive lean/ green/ mean socialism/conservative conservationists / neo luddites, etc.)
- Extinction rebellion
- Donut “de growth” economics
- Digital abundance (crypto economics)
- Green energy
- The 2020 global space race
Closely linked to the reboot sub end game of the Reach Over Grasp meta trend, Transhumanism deserves its own explanation as a driver behind human progress. Here we focus on intelligence design of the human body and mind, through biological, cyborg and technological means. This meta trend, however, unlike Reach over Grasp is about becoming god-like, rather than about escape.
Here we have one end game scenario :
Evolve [level up]
This evolution or levelling up will take many steps (hence the metaphor “level up”) and detours along its journey towards omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresence. Journey paths may include any or all of the following : biological enhancement (e.g. designer babies), cyborg enhancement (biological and artificial combinations), or biological escape into an artificially intelligent singularity or consensus of some sort (as per the Escape scenario listed above).
Contemporary subtends here include:
- The bifurcation – as natural selection and intelligent design begin to part ways
- The AI ethics movement and the new eugenics debate
- Automation and the “job apocalypse” and the call for Universal Basic Income
- Lotus eating (or VR escapism/ immersion)
The void and the narrative
This more esoteric meta trend relates to man’s search for meaning and purpose – the quest for something beyond the natural world – a filling for the elusive god-shaped hole… As such, it relates to the Transhumanism pursuit of becoming god but also includes the persistent quest for the supernatural, the afterlife, zen, etc. It is fairly obvious that religion and belief have had a persistent and deep influence on human trajectory. Now, as formal religious wane, that drive for meaning, belonging and purpose still remains and finds itself attached to new objects of desire, including secularism, paganism, belief in extra terrestrials and even “social justice”.
The end game scenarios here are open ended.
End [game over]
Evolve [level up]
Either there really is a supernatural power greater than us that called the universe into being and will one day end it, or reincarnation is real, or we will all eventually merge into The One, or we become our own gods (as in the Transhumanism meta trend again); either there is some form of afterlife to give our lives external meaning, or there is nothing but the physical plain and we will have to make do with creating our own internal meaning. Whatever the Truth is, we will never stop striving to find it…
Contemporary subtends here include:
- The Atheism experiment
- Neo paganism (superstition)
- Astrology revival
- Social justice as meaning (secularism)
- Secular fanaticism (identity politics / social justice as meaning / gender dogma etc)
- Social cooling (mimeticism)
- Revival of old gods religions (Islam’s new Caliphate / Taoism / Norse gods etc)
- AI gods / new gods (Roko’s Basilisk / The Singularity)
The new tower of Babel
This meta trend speaks to humanity’s desire to accumulate power and wealth over fellow man. It dates back to our primal desires as mimetic beasts and speaks to our inner envy, greed and fear. Ultimately, this trend tends towards super-centralisation of power in a one-world totalitarian pyramid state. This “end of history”, is, of course, an unstable temporary equilibrium, that will eventually be toppled from within or spin out into one of the other meta trends listed above, just like the original metaphorical Tower of Babel. (After all, there is always a Resistance to power).
Here we have one “end” scenario:
The end game scenario here, however, is not an end at all, but rather an unstable equilibrium, or temporary “end of history” as explained above.
Contemporary sub-trends here include
- The missing middle and the Great Divide (inequality)
- Surveillance technology
- Social credit scores
- AI authoritarianism (rule by code)
- New cold war
- Digital fiat currency
- Crypto currency
The future awaits. Pick your fighter.