I’m Feeling More and More Cynical About the Future

And I’m not sure I like the feeling

Parmin Sedigh
4 min readJul 11, 2023


The glass is half empty—or is it? Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash

The day after Apple announced their virtual/augmented reality headset — the Apple Vision Pro — I sat down to watch their announcement.

As I watched, I felt amazed, sure. But more than anything, I felt an impending sense of doom. I love reading science fiction but when the dystopian elements of those books start creeping up in your everyday life, you begin feeling a bit strange—and not in a good way.

This isn’t a new feeling. Ever since ChatGPT’s astronomic rise (it gained 1 million users in 5 days), I’ve felt as if every new advancement in technology that I hear about is a step in the wrong direction.

ChatGPT has been “hallucinating” and spewing lies; it’s been shown to be biased; and it can pass tests used to assess lawyers and doctors. If people we regard highly in society are replaced by a cheaper, worse version with inherent biases, is society really going to be better off?

It’s not only startups (if you can still call OpenAI—ChatGPT’s creator—a startup) either. There are only so many times that a trillion-dollar tech company can make egregious mistakes before the public has had enough.

In fact, I could make this entire list of mistakes composed entirely of those that Meta has made, but I’ll only include two exemplary highlights. There was the Cambridge Analytica scandal where a huge leak from Facebook was used to create voter profiles leading up to the 2016 election.

Later, in 2021, whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed a lot of damaging information about Meta including the fact that internal research had found Instagram hurt teen girls’ mental health but kept this information from the public.

Facebook, one of the first social networks, was meant to connect people more so than ever before. It’s done that but it’s done so much more—and many of the consequences are terribly negative.

Now, let’s drive 10 minutes away to where Theranos’ headquarters used to be. Theranos, founded by Elizabeth Holmes, claimed to be able to run hundreds of different blood tests on a tiny sample of blood. They would do this by pricking your finger and using their “proprietary” technology to test your blood.

Theranos claimed to run all of the standard blood tests using a much smaller amount of blood than this. Photo by Lucas Oliveira on Pexels

This would be absolutely revolutionary had it been true. It wasn’t. Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani—another executive at the company—were both recently convicted of fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to 11 and 13 years in prison, respectively.

Theranos was founded on an idea that could make healthcare much more accessible, but turned into just another Silicon Valley greed fest.

All of this is to say that feeling cynical about technological progress right now is justified. When much of this progress is being heralded by companies who couldn’t care less about consumers, cynicism is a natural byproduct.

Returning to the Vision Pro announcement video, in most scenes, except for one or two, people were sitting alone.

Logistically, this is likely because the headsets can’t be synced together yet (as far as I can tell) but on a more emotional level, the entire video just had an oddly lonely feeling.

Is spending your entire day wearing a computer on your face really a step forward? Or is it just further isolating us from people around us?

I’m leaning towards the latter and yet I can’t help but also feel some sense of awe. Despite its negatives, the Vision Pro offers new ways of enjoying media. And it can have amazing implications for those with disabilities as eye tracking is heavily used by the headset.

So I’m here to tell you to ditch the doom and gloom. To try to think critically while also appreciating that new tech can help humanity advance in a positive direction.

I’m not naive enough to think that just a bit of extra optimism will save the world from all of its ails. As with all problems, there are other steps we need to take to make the planet’s future better (like the steps the EU is taking to protect citizens from AI, for instance).

However, unbounded cynicism leads to a self-perpetuating cycle. Apart from possibly shortening your lifespan, the more cynical you feel, the less space there is in your mind for new ideas that can improve the world around you.

Think of a VR developer, for instance, who is feeling awfully cynical about the future. If the cynicism continues, the developer will only think of the negatives of VR, their ideas becoming more and more myopic. If the world is burning anyways, why not create a new soul-sucking social media app and make some extra money?

But if they allow some amount of optimism, their mind may open up. They may conceive of and design a new app that helps those with disabilities more easily access technology and communicate with their loved ones.

In short, excessive and uncontrolled cynicism just ends up making you bitter. It stops well-intentioned and creative people from taking steps—however small—to contribute to the world in a positive manner.

So I’m not asking you to wear rose-coloured glasses. But gray-coloured ones aren’t much better either.



Parmin Sedigh

Science communicator trying to learn something new everyday | Published in Start It Up, Predict & The Writing Cooperative