“We don’t exist unless there is someone who can see us existing . . . to be surrounded by friends is constantly to have our identity confirmed.”
~ Alain de Botton
Tracey Follows is one of my favourite contemporary futurists.
Her new book, The Future of You explains why I love the way she thinks. For a start, unlike many futurists, Tracey approach to futurism starts with philosophy rather than technology (all too many “futurists” seem to think or at least behave as if technology leads change, rather than ideas, which is, strange, to my mind). By centring human meaning in her exploration of where we are headed, Tracey is able to ask the questions the rest of us are not comfortable or brave enough to face. Questions around not just what could we do next, but also around what we should or should not be pursuing, even if we can.
The Future of You is about exactly that – the future of free will, consciousness and identity in an increasingly surveilled, nudged and controlled world that is pushing us to relinquish a sense of self in favour of a universal “consensus”, all for our own good, of course!
“There are those who argue that personal identity has always been little more than an illusion, but I agree with philosopher Roger Scruton, who wrote that people ‘live by negotiation’, and that to do so each party must be free, must understand and accept obligations, desire the other’s consent but also be self-sovereign.”
~ Tracey Follows
As our lives become virtualised and fragmented; as the possibility of “eternal digital life” becomes a tantalising possibility, I challenge you to read the book and to consider whether a life without a personal identity, an individual conciseness, and free will can have enough meaning and purpose to make it worth living.
And, as always, if you don’t like the future we’re sleepwalking into, what are you (the individual, while you still are one!) going to do about it?