The best way to predict the future is to think about desire. The problem with desire is that it tends to be bounded by what’s actually possible; as we grow older, our imaginations seem to develop artificial caps that limit our ideas to things that are reasonably achievable in the short term. But who cares about what is reasonable? Here’s what I want.
What about political change? Learning languages? Making loving relationships? Protecting and exploring our natural world? Traveling farther into our solar system? Eliminating poverty, oppression, or eradicating disease?
Perhaps his imagination is already capped. In a world of mind-boggling convenience, access to data, and cross-country mobility, he wants more of the same—with less human interaction and less reflection. Lots of these ideas have fantastic benefits, but lots of them inflict obvious harm. "I want," he says; less thought for others and more for himself.
I'd rather design things that help people start meaningful discussions with caregivers, not eliminate them. I'd rather enjoy the journey, not anxiously await the destination. I'd rather reduce the stream of useless (but entertaining!) data coming at me from my devices and focus on that tiny percentage of content that shows me things worth knowing.
In the future, maybe we will be able to stuff ourselves with guilt-free calories, buy shit we don't need when computers tell us to, and have our hedonistic wishes instantly gratified by swarms of flying robots, as Curtis suggests. In the meantime, I'll keep dreaming about technology's potential for true good—and teaching myself to be happy with what I have.