The futurist movement is taking over

Image By: Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

One may call it a kind of social movement; they call themselves futurists. These self-acclaimed futurists say that they look at life with a perspective which they consider to be five to 10 years ahead of the everyday human being. They’re fascinated by the cutting edges of technology, and many of them are also fascinated with the idea of bridging technology and the human body.

Anders Sandberg, a research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, stated that, “I’m essentially living in the future. I’m trying to think ahead. But prediction is really hard. The interesting question is: Can we learn what we are actually able to predict and which areas we should give up on?”

Other futurists go one step further. They experiment on themselves. “We are not the endpoint of evolution. We should enhance ourselves,” stated Dr. Andrew Vladimirov. Vladimirov is based in the United Kingdom, and he conducts experiments on himself as well as others to see how technology can play a role in the human body. Vladimirov uses a device that shoots infrared laser beams through the skull into the prefrontal cortex of the brain. He says the device is designed to learn more about “what our brainwaves are for and what is consciousness.”

Then there are futurists like Neil Harbisson, a sort of self-described human cyborg who had a doctor surgically implant an antenna into his skull in 2004. Harbisson works out of Spain and says the antenna allows him to hear colors. What he means by this is that a color such as blue sounds like the musical note C. A rather peculiar occurrence if you ask me.

The definition of a futurist depends on who you ask. Vladimirov says futurists are basically trying to alter the course of events at least 10 years ahead or more. Others, like self-described futurist Amy Webb, writes that futurists are “a lot like journalists. Except rather than reporting on what’s already happened, they report on what’s starting to happen on the fringe, and they analyze that information within the context of our many changing environments.”

The power technology has on human psychology can be profound. This connection between the two is the research subject of psychologist and neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Falconer at the University of Nottingham. Falconer is developing ways to treat depression by using virtual reality. She is having patients wear a head-mounted, high-definition, 3-D display and a suit that allows full-body computer tracking. Patients substitute their own bodies with an avatar, and then Falconer guides her patients to work with their avatars on developing their self-compassion.

Reading about these supposed futurists left me staring rather blankly at my computer screen. The idea that someone would have an antenna surgically planted in their skull is something that I just cannot wrap my mind around. I am a firm believer in the advancement of technology, but I just cannot get behind the idea of bonding humans to technology even more than we already are.

Today, we as human beings live in a world where we are not complete without our technology. People are glued to their cell phones, laptops, tablets and everything else you can think of. The only way that we could become any more attached to our technology would be to have it physically attached to us. This is something that should not happen.

These futurists believe that they are already living in the future; I would disagree. I believe that for us to take a step forward in the evolutionary process, as these futurists claim they are, we need to become less attached to technology. Survival of the fittest is one of the primary beliefs in the concept of evolution and, today we are far from living fit. Some people are even dependent upon technology to walk them from place to place. On several instances, I have seen people riding the popular new “hover board” around when they could walk just as fast.

I believe that these futurists are taking the wrong steps toward the future. Though we are a society that will undoubtedly be dependent on technology from here on out, human beings do not need to be bonded to technology in order for us to survive. Call me a little old-fashion, but I believe it is time that we unplug, rather than bond to.

Jack is a freshman planning on majoring in journalism and strategic communications. What do you think about the futurist movement? Please send all your comments, questions and concerns to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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