I am a huge fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a science fiction (or sometimes rather “fiction”) TV series that takes us into the 24th century. It presents a society much closer to the ideal one than our own, where technology has solved most problems humanity has encountered in the last (coming) centuries. There is no currency in the future world of humanity, so people need not to work – they have found other things to motivate them, like the betterment of humanity as a whole. Those who don’t want to work can spend their days playing Australian online casino games at the holodeck if they want. An ideal society, for most – and all this advancement in society was due to two advancements in technology: unlimited energy provided by matter/antimatter annihilation, and replicator technology that allows transforming energy (which is unlimited) into matter.
Unfortunately technology is far from being at such an advanced state today. Basically we are stuck at the level we were at decades ago – we burn the same fossil fuels, we use the same polluting methods to generate energy, we use the same methods to create our food and we use the same outdated methods to generate clean drinking water for our needs as we did before. But more importantly we look at technology as a means to generate profit, instead of a tool to improve the society as a whole.
Just take a look at the principal metric every so-called “innovator” considers the more important today: profit. The ultimate goal of technology companies is not the betterment of humanity, not the improvement of our lives in any way, but the increase of the company’s profit quarter after quarter, year after year. And this rush for profit often leads to the downfall of entire social classes – think of the reports of the conditions people need to work under to build the ultimate handset of our days, the iPhone. If you think about it, Apple could easily reduce its profits to have the iPhone built at home, in the US, and ensure a decently paid workplace for thousands of Americans. But they don’t – as this would mean the downfall of their profits in the long run.
What technology could do for us in the future? Hopefully it could eliminate money as the ultimate means to measure success, both in our everyday lives and in the manufacturing / business environment. And if you think there would be no more people working if there was no way to reward them with money, you are painfully wrong. There are people dedicated, passionate enough about the thing they love to do – no matter if it’s making cheese or wine, or building a better smartphone – that are willing to do what they like without the need for being paid in cash. For the betterment of humanity as a whole.