Spectacular “super future” possible thanks to 5 supertrends and a meta-supertrend
by Richard W. Samson
Revised May 6, 2017
In spite of resource depletion, pollution and conflict driving us toward dystopia, five counter-currents are nudging us in a positive direction.
If we catch these currents, we may suddenly find ourselves thrust, blinking with bewilderment, on the shores of a bright new era, a golden age characterized by a new level of existence we might call “superlife.”
The five currents or trends all have one thing in common: helping us stay alive and come alive. They all contribute to ensuring basic existence and empowering us to pursue our highest potential.
“Coming alive” involves heightening our consciousness; deepening our feelings; raising our intelligence, creativity, insight, and persuasiveness; and broadening our social connections. It is a meta-supertrend, the mother of all trends, and it’s fighting hard against two downward trends.
One downward trend is moving us dangerously close to extinction (doing ourselves in through pollution, resource depletion, or conflict); and the other is dragging us relentlessly toward mindlessness (an efficient world run by robots that are dark inside, requiring few if any humans with their irrelevant aliveness).
Separately and synergistically, the five “coming alive” trends have the power to carry us toward “new” or “super” versions of that which prevails now.
(1) FROM MIND TO SUPERMIND
Many of us are getting smarter, more sensitive, more aware. When defined to include spirituality and the full range of thinking, sensing, and feeling, mind is synonymous with life, the very reason for living. It is also the source of our growing power and aliveness. For society as a whole, mind appears to be shifting into overdrive.
Supermind may be the next evolutionary level of mind and may be essential for substantial change in all other areas of our life on earth. It includes heightened levels of perception, memory, motor control, thought, feeling, intuition, and abilities now classified as paranormal.
Supermind also includes the symbolism that makes of intelligently aware and effective, ranging from language to mathematics and now including electronic extensions such as virtual and augmented reality.
Within the area of rational thought, supermind includes self-guided levels of analysis, discovery, creativity, decision making, planning, action, and monitoring. It also embraces emerging metaconscious skills such as lucid dreaming. And of course it includes spirituality, shared consciousness between humans, and “cosmic consciousness” or connection to whatever pervasive aliveness may animate the universe.
Supermind is also the expanded memory, logic, and creativity afforded by upcoming brain implants, mind-to-internet connections, bio-enhancements, and nootropic nutrition.
(2) FROM HEALTH TO SUPERHEALTH
We seem to have taken charge of our own evolution. We’re bent on making ourselves healthier, more productive, and more vital than ever.
At present, on average, we’re living longer but only beginning to boost our quality of life. What passes for “health” today is too often a form of degraded capacity characterized by avoidable adult-onset diseases, childhood obesity, frequent colds, lack of energy, accident proneness, and so on. But there’s a strong trend in the other direction, promising unprecedented levels of vitality, longevity, and personal productivity.
There’s a growing army of super-health and human-enhancement experts to help us feel more awake and alive, have more energy, think more creatively, get more done, and increase our peak-productive years.
Superhealth practices start with proper diet, exercise, sleep, hygiene, safety, stress management, emotional adjustment, mental attitude, and of course the diagnosis and treatment of sickness and disease. Also important are health-promoting practices such as good posture, proper breathing, laughter and play, meditation or prayer, and therapeutic touch.
Terms that also describe superhealth development include life extension, radical life extension, posthumanism and transhumanism. The trend also embraces human improvement through wellness programs, preventive medicine, synthetic biology and bionic human enhancement.
The biological life of humans is being studied at a feverish pace. Unprecedented enhancements are likely in three dimensions: the quality of life, its duration, and its basic structure. The healthcare industries, insurance companies, and governments — not to mention the public — can’t abide the current levels of sickness and disability for long.
A robust radical-wellness movement is necessary and shows signs of materializing. Longevity has been on the rise and healthy lifespans beyond 100 are predicted. Positive outcomes with a big economic benefits include longer “workspans” or periods of productive contribution.
The basic structure of human life appears to be changing too. Many of us are being upgraded by artificial hips and lenses; we’re also being augmented by sensors and aids that are worn, swallowed, or implanted. By technological means that are electronic, mechanical, or biological, we’re changing our very structure — evolving ourselves on the run.
Clearly we’re becoming synthetically biological if not bionic, and if we proceed carefully, we can end up stronger, longer-lasting, more vital, more caring and more alive.
(3) FROM WEALTH TO SUPERWEALTH
Have you noticed that our medium of exchange, money, is becoming more varied, fluid and dynamic?
We’re seeing cyber currency, new variations on barter, and the proliferation of “free.” A new incarnation of “money” may be emerging. It might be called supermoney, the medium of exchange of a synergistic, frictionless society. It will be central to advanced forms of everything economic: money management, jobs and entrepreneurship, business, investment and savings, and the economy.
We may be moving toward a time when money as we know it disappears completely, replaced by a spectrum of ultra-efficient, eminently fair, and globally synergistic free-exchange mechanisms and practices. The open-source software movement is one sterling example.
For now, we still need traditional money, but many of us are gradually shifting to alternative means of getting and supplying life’s needs.
As superscience brings us artificial intelligence, robots, and smart systems that outperform us in most job categories, we will be challenged to change. Today’s economic assumptions and systems will be obsolescent; we’ll need new ways to organize enterprises, support governance, and reward human endeavor. Jobs will be “dead,” but not callings, purposes, or endeavors.
New economic possibilities include “near-zero marginal cost” principles now being applied in Germany and elsewhere. Current realities, now accelerating, include the availability of ever-cheaper and more powerful electronics devices of all types.
(4) FROM SCIENCE TO SUPERSCIENCE
Some scientists are concluding that science, as typically practiced, is ready for an upgrade. There’s nothing wrong with the scientific method, they say; it needs no improvement. But research priorities are skewed toward the materialistic, where the funding is. And the mind, the basic tool of science, remains a mystery.
Until recently, most scientists have shied away from applying the scientific method to human consciousness. Now brain-mind research has become respectable and there’s funding for it.
In the next few years, much could be learned about the origin and nature of awareness, sensation, emotion, and intention; and how to release or amplify them.
Mysteries of mind-matter interaction could be explored with fruitful results also. For example, in quantum mechanics, wave function collapse (from a superposition of several possible states, called eigenstates, to a single state) has been shown to happen when the function is subjected to “observation,” which involves instruments, researchers, and research subjects.
Does the observer’s mind somehow do the collapsing? If so, how might the mind interact with material objects and events in everyday life?
Better understanding of mind-matter interaction could profoundly affect the scope and impact of science in the decades ahead. With the emerging superscience, we may open up new possibilities in the material realm and better manage the social and spiritual realms.
Technology, the practical application of science, is moving toward “super” levels too. The tech sector is zooming and promises to zoom faster through application of the pristine scientific method to a balanced slate of issues that must be addressed if we are to achieve a sustainable future,
We need and are likely to see a fast-growing stockpile of knowledge and solutions in many fields: biotechnology, brain science, medical science, electronics, software, internrt, robotics, artificial intelligence, materials science, nanotechnology, renewable energy, exotic energy, and many others.
There are dozens of superscience sub-trends that could prove transformative. An example is the emergence of clean, green, safe, dirt-cheap energy that has been called green energy, sustainable energy, free energy, exotic energy, and quantum energy.
Nicola Tesla, an energy pioneer, believed that energy should be free; and thanks to ongoing research, it may soon be next to free. Ditto for materials, products, food, everything. That brings us to the new economics, supermoney.
(5) FROM SOCIETY TO SUPERSOCIETY
When humans aggregate (semi-peacefully at least), civilization is the result. Supersociety may be the result, to come, of universally peaceful aggregation (at long last). The alternative may be no society or none worth living in.
Human aggregation is various, from small to large. And the way we aggregate — in homes, communities and the world — is changing as we seek to survive and thrive. Many of us are implementing new ways to live in harmony with nature and one another. Supersociety is the name we might give this important development.
It involves an evolutionary leap to better homes, communities, workplaces, nations, and planet. It also promises transformed government, organizations of all types, relationships, and lifestyles.
Each level and form of aggregation is ripe for creative re-formation. For example, there is a budding movement toward “supercommunity” (also referred to as “intercommunity”), which mirrors the internet in its rich scope and integration. Existing social spaces exemplifying some of its features call themselves intentional communities, ecovillages, cohousing neighborhoods, communes, co-ops, and cooperative living communities.
A supercommunity is a physical community like yesterday’s “home town,” yet hyper-connected to internet services and other features. This life-work venue is a budding replacement for today’s wasteful, expensive, obsolete suburbs and cities.
Supercommunities, once fully realized, will include pollution-free urban agriculture for better food and nutrition. Work, education, and culture will be integrated too. Almost everything will be within walking or green-transit distance, minimizing pollution and contributing to health. Some cities, from New York to Singapore, show signs of morphing into supercommunities. See The Green City Index, developed by Siemens.
Hundreds of so-called “intentional communities” already embrace inter-community elements.The nearest thing to a a supercommunity with all elements incorporated may be Auroville in India, a stable, growing community since 1968. In the United States, leading supercommunity proving grounds include the Chautauqua Institution and Arcosanti.
The Intercommunity website — eranova.com/intercommunity — offers information and links to many intentional communities and precursors of the coming global “physical internet” of intercommunities or supercommunities.
The supersociety trend also includes advances in the arts, authorship and publishing, learning (education), style, sports and play, and the media (news and entertainment).
Increasingly, our society is more than Earth-based. It is also space-based. That’s a very big deal and becoming bigger.
TAKE NOTE: We are already a space-faring species. And we’re just now starting to fare in earnest. That includes detecting and interacting with other intelligence for our mutual advancement. But if (small chance) we’re all alone, our mission is to extend our aliveness outward, brightening the void with light and love and wonder.
Earth is our home-base as well as our home, and of course we have no choice but to keep it healthy and alive if we are to survive and proliferate.
Millions realize we need to be good stewards for land and sea and air and all living things as well as one another. Millions also now realize Earth can no longer support us at our current levels of pollution, resource over-use, and climate change.
They are looking for leadership from government, science, education, and business. Fortunately it is coming and people are responding.
THE METATREND IN BRIEF
The five key trends (moving toward supermind, superhealth, superwealth, superscience, and supersociety) all contribute to the overarching metatrend: superlife.
This amounts to “coming alive” in the pursuit of one’s potential and purpose. It is the goal and raison d’etre of all religions and philosophies, however stated. And it is the deep, ineffable thing we all yearn for and occasionally feel. It is the ultimate goal of life and may be the reason we came to life in the first place.
The act of “coming alive” depends, of course, on having the means for being alive: food, shelter, opportunity, and so on. These basic “aliveness” needs are addressed in the U.N.’s seventeen Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, adopted in September, 2015. They range from ending hunger to making human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
If and when fulfilled, these basic “aliveness”needs would provide the foundation for unprecedented self-actualization and “coming alive” on a global scale.
Life on Earth now is anything but universally “super.” It’s too often mean, hateful, painful, revolting, and pathetic. Once basic needs are met, the pursuit of excellence, meaning and connection can really take off, and we may be dazzled by our mutual brilliance and warmth.
CONTRARY TO NEGATIVE TRENDS
The five key drivers of our “super” future appear to be emerging in spite of developments in the opposite direction.
Daily headlines portray environmental decay, economic misery, and physical violence — mostly triggered by one factor: people. Since our main problems are self-inflicted and we seem so slow to change, are we riding an unstoppable train to dysfunction? Disturbing trends support this prospect. As technology, mobility, and connectivity advance, the power of any individual to inflict harm multiplies. And as production and consumption increase, some factions may be expected to contend more aggressively for the shrinking supply of available resources; never mind the emissions, inequalities, or fatalities.
Yet there’s reason for hope. The five positive trends — simultaneous and mutually reinforcing — could well trigger a relatively abrupt turn for the better. Together, as the overarching megatrend, these positive currents promise to turn things around by making quantum shifts in opportunity, mutually-beneficial interactivity, and human development. The result could be a harmonious global community — humans and environment interacting sustainably and synergistically at a new level of aliveness, power, and possibility.
The emerging super future might be heralded by terms such as post-electronic society, unified world, hyper-human economy, one world, peaceful world, or society 2.0, as well as by superlife.
The goal is a bold one, and it requires a seemingly impossible shift: giving humanity an extreme makeover virtually overnight, something saints and visionaries have tried and failed at for thousands of years.
To have any hope of doing any better, we’ll need to make our support systems a lot better for people NOW, and that means making people themselves a lot better almost instantly. Slim odds of success, maybe, but consider the alternative: a dying, deadening, degraded future or no future at all.
THE KEY ROLE OF MIND IN THE METATREND
For years consciousness development has been pursued through meditation, prayer, and practices such as Yoga. Ditto for consciousness “research” conducted by monks and masters exploring the inner depths and outer expanses of knowing, being, and doing.
Today quantum physicists and others are turning their attention to consciousness, which is after all the basic tool of science and a necessary component of the understanding of anything. Artificial intelligence research has become hot and the human brain is being scrutinized with a view to eventual reverse-engineering. Training programs and apps are honing everything from memory and attention to creativity and lucid dreaming.
The beneficial results could range from brighter people to the emergence of an internet-like “supermind” envisioned by Sri Aurobindo, Pierre Teilhard deChardan, and other visionaries.
MORE ABOUT THE METATREND
When we lived as hunter-gatherers in tribes, we functioned as whole humans within synergistic groups (albeit stressed by danger and need). Then, when we created cities and nations, we specialized — most of us serving as slaves, serfs or subjects. With the advent of industry, we moved up a notch, becoming (many of us) wage slaves, giving up some of our freedom for money (unless lucky enough to love our work for its own sake).
Now we’re moving into a time when automatic systems can take over most or all of our wage-slave functions. We’ll be free to become whole humans again, but at a higher level and within supercharged, synergistic groups up close and personal, and spanning the globe.
If and when superlife proliferates, we’ll have the unprecedented opportunity to embrace and release our highly-human qualities as never before. These are the unique, living qualities that robotic systems will acquire last, if ever.
- Enhanced seeing, hearing, feeling, and all modes of sensing,
- Imagination, discovery, creativity, and accomplishment unleashed as never before,
- Amplified caring, joy, and social connection with finer-tuned ethics,
- Perhaps supernormal abilities described by spiritual leaders and today’s noetic scientists,
- Better, longer-lasting bodies thanks to healthful living and synthetic enhancement,
- And above all the magic of conscious aliveness and spirituality.
The five key developments, coming all at once, will exert strong reinforcing effects on one another. For example, supermoney, thanks to its fluidity, may make superenergy even easier to develop and consume; supermoney and superenergy may empower the growth of supercommunities; these in turn may provide creative environments for superscientific work; and so on.
Regardless of the odds of success, shooting for a super future can be rewarding in itself. A grand quest! And who knows? Anything can happen in a time of make or break.
The trends are there. We just need to catch them, like surfers catching waves. If we do, it promises to be quite a ride!