We as a species are underway for quite a while now. But when you look at how much of this time we’ve actually been making some progress, it seems like we’ve just started. It wasn’t until the Enlightenment (17th century) that we started to make some progress in our knowledge. Up till that time, we were consumed by religious indoctrination preventing any creative ideas from coming into existence. The Greeks had made some progress in the centuries before and after Christ, but this progress was mainly philosophical in nature and hardly applicable in any industry. So you could say that we as a species are truly underway (read: making a difference) for only 500 years or so – adding a few centuries of the Greeks to the period spanning the Enlightenment until now.
That’s an inconceivably short amount of time when compared to the 7,5 billion years our earth – and possibly us – has left before it is shattered to pieces by the ‘death’ of The Sun. 500 years…that is .000000666 percent of the time still to come. And look at what we’ve accomplished in this short amount of time already. We’ve totally revised the world. We’ve come up with electricity, computers, the internet, transportation, medical care and many other life- and world-changing inventions. Look at the progress we’ve made in science, the many disciplines and specializations that have come into existence. It is absolutely staggering.
With that in mind, imagine what can happen in the upcoming 500 years. Imagine our economies going green, robots doing pretty much all physical labor for us and the internet being put into our heads so that we can ‘wireless’ communicate with anyone else. Maybe even a new substance will be found, called ‘consciousness’, which might resolve many of the most fundamental philosophical problems around, such as the mind-body problem, scientific reductionism and determinism. It might even explain why some fundamental particles appear to change their course when humans are watching them. Furthermore: imagine that, after the next 500 years have passed, 15 million of such 500-year cycles are yet to come in the future of our species. And probably even more, since it’s not impossible to imagine that we’ll find another planet to live on, thereby leaving the earth before it explodes.
Almost everything you see around you is built on knowledge that is gathered in the last 300-400 years. The buildings you see, the car you drive and the power you use. Everything that is of any relevance to your daily existence. You can imagine our descendants in 300 million years from now laughing at our convictions that we know quite a lot about the world already.They will see us as nothing more than an extension of the Neanderthals.
I ask you to take a look at your grandparents and listen to their stories about their youth. My grandfather told me about his neighbor getting the first tractor in town. He also told me about his experiences in the Second World War, an opportunity the next generations will never have.
What do you think?