What does your vision of the future look like?

When we think of sustainability, people, animals and nature across the planet must be included, as must all generations that come after us

Discussion material

Author: Christer Nylander

Date 2021-10-21

The following vision for the future is just one of many possible ones, and with this Wisdom4future wants to inspire discussion and creativity about our common future.

A report from the year 2070

This story takes place in 2070 in Lund, Sweden, the same day I turned 100 years old. At this time I was a professor of history and taught at Lund University. This day the lecture was about the conflicts of the 20th century, war and geopolitics. We had something called GCU (Global Communication Unit) at this time that allowed experiences of all the senses, such as sight, hearing, gravity, taste, smell, touch, balance, electric fields, kinetics and air pressure. It looked like a round ball, about 2 meters in diameter, made for one person. Some classrooms had these GCUs.

A lesson at my faculty could consist of a GCU experience, for example of World War II, when students came as close to reality as possible, with subsequent dialogue and reflection. These experiences were mentally painful, but it was then considered necessary for young people, in order not to take for example wisdom, peace, equality, empathy, forgiveness, responsibility, justice, tolerance, democracy for granted.

The reason was that society in 2070 functioned very well for the most part and new generations of young people did not have the references that the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century provided. Wisdom was always high on the list of things to strive for. After the GCU lesson, we gathered and discussed the experience.

One of the students asked how it could be that humans in the 20th century and early 2000s could have been so invasive and dysfunctional. Why did they not understand better? And why and how was the entire social system on the planet transformed. I explained that about 30 civilizations had existed before this, but all had collapsed due to lack of wisdom, which manifested itself in ignorance in food production, felled forests, wars, waste of resources, environmental degradation, corruption, bureaucracy, and so on. For a few millennia, there were a few people who exalted wisdom but their message quickly drowned in the selfish market system.

But in 2022, something strange happened. Civilization suffered from some fifty serious global challenges and each country was permeated with societal problems. No matter how many politicians tried to solve the problems, the problems got worse and worse every year. During this period, the climate threat was high on the agenda, but even if the situation was serious, change took a frustratingly long time and measures were most often contra productive. Politicians were largely passive. This was at the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution when potentially dangerous technologies were developed such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, genetic modification, new weapon technologies, and so on. Large institutions such as the European Union and the United Nations were paralyzed by various conflicts and power struggles, that is, unwise. The difficult situation favored populism and extremist political parties and groups. It was indeed a difficult time in the history of mankind that could have ended with a giant catastrophe that might had repercussions for thousands of years to come. But fortunately it did not happen.

In 2020, civilization experienced a special influenza virus called Covid 19, which paralyzed most countries, but at the same time led to the emergence of new digital ways of working. Thought patterns among the population began to change. It can probably be said that there was a global awakening among many, whether they were politicians, government officials, entrepreneurs, affiliated organizations, investors, opinion leaders, researchers, authors, cultural figures, experts, media, bloggers or ordinary citizens. It did not yet mean a common line of thought but more of new personal insights that spread in all directions, which meant both positive and negative consequences in society. The rapid development of the use of digital tools meant that people gained large volumes of new input into their consciousness, which slowly matured into insights.

During this period, the realization grew that the problems of humanity originated in man's lack of wisdom. The emphasis on knowledge building had accelerated for a few hundred years, but the skills for how to use knowledge in decision-making had gradually decreased. The imbalance became increasingly apparent. Due to this systemic failure, it was virtually impossible to bring about the radical changes required to save civilization and the planet. It took about ten years for this insight to grow so strong that a nation dared to put that insight into practice. By creating platforms for public wisdom development, society achieved a much faster and more stable transformation of society. 

This experimental nation decided to invest in such proposals that could augment wisdom, for example in education, the media, civil defense, outdoor communication and working life. The goal was to accelerate a public wisdom development process among adults, young people and children. One proposal was to introduce a conditional reduction of working hours by two hours per day, half of which would be devoted to public education, which was paid for by the state, and which included working people, the unemployed, people on sick leave and pensioners, who wanted and could participate.

This was at the beginning of the development of personal digital assistants (PDAs) and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) based on artificial intelligence. It was considered that these tools should be developed rapidly so that the wisdom development of people on the entire planet could be accelerated and integrated into the PDA. Initially, however, the focus was on activities that did not use AI / MOOCS / PDAs, as these were still at the beginning of their development and because the proposal was considered too progressive.

Another proposal concerned a comprehensive reform of the education system, from pre-school to university education. The proposal was based on taking advantage of young people´s and adults' curiosity and creativity, and thus the opportunity to raise wisdom by

  • giving the opportunity to design their own education within given frameworks
  • placing greater emphasis on inner skills and human needs
  • placing greater emphasis on topics that were about a sustainable society
  • increasing access to distance education
  • increasing work-integrated learning, and
  • providing practical and financial opportunities for adults for lifelong learning

A third proposal was to legislate for a year of peaceful civil defense duty for all young people between the ages of 16-25. The emphasis was not be on active warfare or military defense, but on preparing young people for adulthood and training them in resilience and survival in the event of major disturbances in society, as well as wisdom development.

A fourth proposal was to create a dialogue with the largest media companies to get them to focus more on enlightening, problematizing, conveying different perspectives, highlighting new thinking, discussing system issues and thinking long-term and wisely, and less on sensations, personal conflicts and individuals. adverse events.

Many different pilot projects were started, based on the above proposals, several of which were successful. Many countries watched with excitement what this brave country was doing, and it did not take long before similar attempts were initiated in other countries. Suddenly, what was previously considered unthinkable, was suddenly not only possible but also obvious, and then the concept spread quickly.

Since then, governments have functioned in a completely new way and the development of wisdom is always a high priority. As wisdom increased, societal problems declined almost linearly. Three decades later, direct and indirect government costs for societal problems had decreased by 70-80 percent. You may be wondering how it was possible to save so much money. The societal problems that had arisen due to the lack of wisdom were everywhere and in large volume. At this time, there was even a dictionary with over 600 different types of societal problems.

Why did the problems decrease so quickly? Of course, the increase in wisdom meant that many things in society changed, but some were very radical. During the 2030s, a new food, energy and resource system was built based on agroforestry. In the 2020s, a number of experimental farms had been established, and by the end of the decade, people felt convinced of its benefits. At the same time, global food supply began to become increasingly strained, creating more support for local agroforestry. In and around cities and communities, agroforestry was built with various cultivation systems based on edible perennial trees, shrubs and plants, supplemented by greenhouse cultivation, intensive cultivation and fish ponds. From this food system you got food, energy (biogas from waste), materials for clothes/wood plastic/building materials/tools/furniture and so on. With this self-sufficiency, the need for transport decreased by more than 90 percent. This was also due to the fact that people consumed significantly less than before and worked more from home. But still they were much happier and the material standard was certainly not low. Instead of buying, they borrowed everything they needed in the municipality's "warehouse" that the residents had filled with their clothes, gadgets, furniture, tools and leisure equipment.

Never before had human thinking changed so much in such a short time. Now they wanted to own as little as possible, contribute as much as they could, be in nature as long as possible, socialize, discuss, laugh and sometimes rest. There was a huge conscious and subconscious burden on people's shoulders that fell during this period of transformation and people often cried over overflowing emotions. It was both a feeling of being on the way to saving civilization and the planet, and at the same time a deep insight into all the suffering that humans have caused. If you did not experience this on the spot, it is not possible to understand the magnitude of the emotional storms that took place.

The new local production system led to many more local craftsmen, such as gardeners, food workers, textile manufacturers, sewing studios, furniture manufacturers, boat builders, bakers, potters, mechanics, lumberjacks, carpenters, and so on. In parallel and in synergy with all craftsmen, robots, 3D printers and AI support were developed. It became a mixture between the new that came from the fourth industrial revolution, the one that had existed, and the return to handicrafts. In addition, people were stimulated to work part-time in theoretical work and part-time in agroforestry or a craft profession. Most people found this very interesting and socially satisfying.

A great deal happened after 2022, when this most remarkable transformation began in the Nordic countries and which later spread to all countries on our planet. What prevented humanity from achieving this understanding that wisdom was the "main problem" that must be solved? Of course, it was the lack of wisdom that was the main reason, but in this there were ingredients of, among other things

  • Jantelagen - do not think that you understand more than I do
  • lack of seeing and understanding the whole of the planet's challenges, caused by an overly specialized society
  • egoism driven by intense advertising
  • misinformation from people and companies with power that distorted, misinterpreted, concealed, censored and denied information
  • media that mixed nonsense with civilization-crucial information that was tossed back and forth and created confusion among people
  • short-term thinking among politicians and other decision-makers
  • lack of radical and wise political parties, and
  • static institutions permeated by conflicts and power struggles.

But how did the inner transformation become reality? How did these political proposals make children, young people and adults increasingly wise and well-informed? It is a long story that can only be partially summarized. For the adults, the conditional reduction of working hours was organized in such a way that the employers took responsibility so that wisdom development was took place in their premises. The companies quickly understood that they would benefit from this because they could then discuss the company's future, integrated in the wisdom development process. To help increase the wisdom augmentation, the government and authorities developed various tools and frameworks that both stimulated but also gave responsibility, so that appropriate areas and skills were discussed, reflected upon and trained. Educational videos were made to inform about the situation on the planet, how wisdom development functioned, how conflict management was facilitated, what issues companies should ask themselves, and how the actual facilitation of the daily or weekly meetings could take place.

Various inner abilities, skills and knowledge were included. Values, human needs and emotions could be visualized in such a way that, for example, a certain value such as "acceptance" was described through a number of videos where people acted in different roles. Often it was famous comedians who played roles, which people appreciated. Afterwards, these videos were discussed in the group after the participants had a chance to reflect on some issues. Because there are more than a hundred values, human needs and emotions, there was never a shortage of topics to talk about. It turned out that the nine skills could be visualized, analyzed, role-trained and discussed in an infinite number of ways. Some of the inner skills and abilities involved in wisdom development were: 

  • holistic view of oneself, others, things and systems - ie. see and understand everything from a larger perspective
  • values, needs, virtues and feelings - deeper understanding of cause and effect
  • leadership skills - concerning oneself, others, groups, etc.
  • critical thinking
  • creativity and problem-solving ability
  • empathy
  • theoretical knowledge
  • practical skills
  • conflict resolution

At first, many were skeptical and thought that everything would be a flop, but as people became aware of the seriousness and determination of the government, the commitment began to grow as well as the creativity. In most private, state and municipal companies, there were already project managers and other leadership skills that led the meetings. This made the meetings structured, interesting, democratic, co-creative and developing. People looked forward to these meetings to discuss and share experiences, feelings, ideas, and so on. At work, people talked more about these meetings than about gossip that had previously been everyday conversations. Conversations between unknown people in cafes became common and people began to watch factual and debate programs on TV rather than low-quality series. It also changed the conversations at home at the dinner tables and without exaggeration it can be said that a national popular movement was quickly built between people of different origins, religion, political affiliation, education, gender, etcetera.

At the same time, the realization of business owners grew and with it a frustration when they understood that their company was threatened by a new social system. This resulted in opposition to the wisdom development where power centers tried to influence the government, municipalities, researchers and the media, to end it. Several different reasons were put forward, but neither politicians nor workers agreed. After a couple of years of persistent attempts, these power groups gave up, partly because they also understood that transformation was necessary. After this struggle, the change went even faster.

For children and young people, the political proposals led to educational programs being designed by the students themselves, based on a framework and recommendations. Each student had a mentor who assisted in the process. The start was surrounded with some confusion from both students and mentors, but gradually things got better. Very soon it was realized that grades had to be phased out because everyone was reading self-designed programs. The criteria consisted of approved or failed during the first years. But after some years of wisdom development, the education system worked much better than before, and the students thrived in school.

In the mid-2030s, AI-supported MOOCs became the main tool for learning. AI could then analyze a student's strengths and weaknesses, interests, values ​​and feelings, best learning style, and so on. In this way, the learning could be tailored to each student. Almost simultaneously, personal digital assistants (PDAs) got their real breakthrough, and soon MOOCs and PDAs were integrated in education. In the coming years, this education system spread to adults and to the entire planet. All training was free. During the same period, other apps were developed to improve global cooperation and democracy, which were also integrated into the PDA. At this time, the PDA was a companion 24/7 and assisted humans in many ways, including

  • global matching of skills and job vacancies
  • jobs from home and sometimes robot on the recipient side for practical tasks
  • global exchange of "how to do things best"
  • global / national / local consultative democracy
  • matching projects with financial resources and equipment
  • digital meetings in virtual environments
  • digital cultural activities
  • computer games focused on sustainability development
  • health monitoring, and
  • daily tailored wisdom development

Through this global spread, a worldwide community was created that deeply touched people. Only then, in the late 2030s, did people feel convinced that the survival of our civilization was fairly secure. Of course, there were a number of countries that did not want to join, and it took another couple of decades before all the countries on the planet came together on the same terms. 

So now you may be wondering how society functioned in the 2070s. With the introduction of agroforestry, much changed in society. Agroforestry consisted of ordinary intensive cultivation of annuals, greenhouses and small forest gardens in cities and communities, and various agroforestry systems in circles around the cities, which stretched from hundreds of meters in smaller communities to many kilometers outside the city limits. In the really big cities, significant buildings had to be demolished because many people moved to the countryside. There was no longer any reason to live in cities. In this way, more space was created for food production inside the cities. A large part of the former business premises was converted into space for crafts, lending stuff, food processing, storage, furniture manufacturing, textile production, ceramics, research, play, dance, yoga, meditation, and so on.

Everywhere in cities and communities there were edible trees, shrubs and plants, where people could pick their food for free. All these trees in urban environments lowered the temperature by several degrees during hot summer days, compared to what it was like in the early 2000s. Agroforestry could sequester significant amounts of carbon dioxide in trees, shrubs and plants, but also through the storage of digestate in the soil from biogas production from all waste, and naturally increased soil from all roots in the soil. The carbon dioxide content, which was perceived as alarmingly high, was thus gradually reduced. A large reduction of the area for cultivation of concentrates for meat production and input to biofuels, replaced by agroforestry, also reduced greenhouse gases significantly.

The food system became robust and could withstand more drought, larger amounts of rain, more wind and higher temperatures. Food production flourished without monocultures, pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones, concentrates, fish feed, unhealthy additives, long-distance transport, unethical animal factories or sea fishing, which had previously been standard. In addition, the load on groundwater and aquifers decreased, which could be refilled. Society became significantly more resilient to more serious scenarios such as a super strong solar storm, which risked shutting down all electricity and all transport for many months or several years. Fortunately, humanity has now managed to deal with this risk, but for a long time we were worried that it would happen. At the end of the 2020s reserve cooling at all of the planet's approximately 450 nuclear power plants was installed, using producer gas and no electrical wires, which were safe against extreme solar storms, to ensure cooling for longer periods without electricity.

Through agroforestry, ecosystem services could be rebuilt and biodiversity flourished. All people who wanted got jobs in agroforestry and related activities, and it was needed because a large part of the companies went bankrupt or had to sharply reduce the number of employees. Many government jobs also disappeared when societal problems diminished. The food system was designed according to a principle called "universal design", ie it suited all people with different physical and mental abilities and interests. Because agroforestry was implemented on the entire planet, in 2070 there were no climate refugees. It should be pointed out, however, that very large investments were required in dry and water-poor areas on the planet, which required desalination of huge amounts of water for decades before these areas were fully restored and could supply themselves with fresh water.

The new food system delivered healthy food, provided regular exercise, de-stressing work and wonderful recreation, which together significantly reduced welfare diseases. Society became equal in several ways and as all people received food, meaningful work, housing, etcetera,  terrorism, internet attacks, violence and crimes decreased at a rapid pace. The new global food, energy and resource system created reasons for cooperation between countries, instead of conflicts over oil, minerals or ideologies. They collaborated on, among other things, agroforestry, biogas production, a global labor market, education, culture and societal development in general.

Solar and wind energy lived on until the end of the 2060s. Then a new source of energy was developed that could supply the planet with all the energy for thousands of years to come. There are no environmental risks with this. One reason why huge sums were invested in new radical energy research, including tens of thousands of researchers, was that there was a big shortage of energy and resources starting already in the 2020s. One big challenge was road building and maintenance, as fossil fuels was phased out, as well as electrification of vehicles. The goal then became to develop antigravity and a new energy source. It took about 30 years to develop these, although they had great support from AI. Better yet, the need for road maintenance decreased in the 2030s because agroforestry was local and rapidly spreading across the planet, but when about nine billion people sought the same standard of living, the need for resources was still enormous.

In comparison with people's everyday lives in the 2020s, life in 2070 was a heavenly kingdom. There were challenges but these were a fraction of what it was fifty years earlier, and consisted for the most part of technology problems. But even these decreased because machines, robots, electronics, etc. could increasingly be built with nano precision and monitored with AI. One thing that may interest you is that in 2070 there was no city lighting or road lighting. At night, mirrors in space reflected the sunlight, so that a dim light reached ground level. The light could be adjusted depending on whether it was clear weather or cloudy. To see clearly, all people wore night glasses when they were outdoors at night. This technology saved huge amounts of energy on the planet.

How was it otherwise around the year 2070? No one was afraid to go out alone at night, as crime and violence were very rare. War had ceased altogether and all nuclear weapons had been dismantled and destroyed. It must be very difficult for you to believe this, given your current situation, but as wisdom development increased, politicians, experts and citizens increasingly understood how incredibly stupid and risky nuclear weapon was, with the result that no one wanted to take that risk. In a society where all countries cooperated, there was also no reason for weapons of any kind.

I know that there are advocates among you who believe that humans should insert implants into the brain, preferably with AI, to save civilization. I can tell you that no one after 2030 had any brain transplants or was genetically modified to become more intelligent. These technologies posed a significant risk in the 2020s when wisdom was still very low. At the end of the decade, humanity decided to ban them, because it was believed that these implants and genome modifications distorted the perception of reality and could create more inequality, as well as be very dangerous if the wrong people used them, and also that they were not needed at all for human survival.

What was it like in 2070 to be a child? The answer is - much better than in 2022. It is certainly difficult for you to realize how badly children were treated in your age and what consequences it had throughout their adult life, which they often transmitted to their children and so on. In 2070, children were incredibly much happier, creative, curious, helpful, humble, and so on. They had fun, did exciting things, were engaged, felt meaningful and confident about the future. At the same time, there were no tendencies to curl and their most painful parts of life were historical GCU experiences, which I mentioned in the introduction.

You may be wondering how long people lived in the 2070s. The average age was about 110 years and constantly rising. The main reasons for increased life expectancy were that people ate nutritious food, exercised and exercised regularly, were happy, replaced organs that no longer worked satisfactorily with "artificially grown" ditto, received gene therapy when deemed necessary, and that new medical treatments existed. A major reason was also that toxins in the environment were greatly reduced and dangerous frequencies were removed from airborne communications. Drug consumption, on the other hand, was very small, as was the number of people who died of welfare or poverty diseases. People who committed suicide were a fraction of your statistics and perhaps the most refreshing thing was that older people were active until they fell asleep in old age. The number of accidents at work and traffic was also very low as potentially dangerous work were robotized and the traffic was handled by AI.

Why did capitalism disappear? Well, because it could not work with advanced artificial intelligence. Why? Because the winner took everything. In 2020, there were just over 2,000 dollar billionaires on the planet who owned more than 4,6 billion people. The realization grew rapidly that within a few decades one or a few families would own the majority of all physical capital, but even worse the entire mental capital, with unlimited opportunity to manipulate the world's population. No legislation could stop this development. As a result, discussions about alternative social systems became increasingly intense. A cooperative wisdom society turned out to be the system that most people wanted.

However, this path of development proved to have unforeseen effects, since a society of wisdom works completely differently than previous social systems. Ideologies and political parties no longer became interesting because there were no longer "they" and "we" but only "us", which included the entire planet. That our planet is a large spacecraft floating around in the universe, where cooperation is the only wise alternative, became increasingly clear to politicians and decision-makers. In the 2040s, money, banks, speculation and paid work disappeared. There was no need for ditto because people took responsibility, had a strong inner compass, and did what needed to be done. It should be added that a very large part of the tedious tasks, both in the private and public sector, which previously existed, no longer existed because society functioned much better. And the few boring jobs that still remained, were shared, for ethical reasons. As a result people owned nothing, borrowed everything, and lacked nothing. People were relatively wise and democracy worked well. 

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