Alexander and Conrad in BBC:
The doom-laden headlines of our times would seem to indicate there are two futures on offer.
In one, an Orwellian authoritarianism prevails. Fearful in the face of compounding crises – climate, plagues, poverty, hunger – people accept the bargain of the “Strong Man”: their leader’s protection in return for unquestioning allegiance as “subjects”. What follows is the abdication of personal power, choice, or responsibility.
In the other, everyone is a “consumer” and self-reliance becomes an extreme sport. The richest have their boltholes in New Zealand and a ticket for Mars in hand. The rest of us strive to be like them, fending for ourselves as robots take jobs and as the competition for ever-scarcer resources intensifies. The benefits of technology, whether artificial intelligence, bio-, neuro- or agrotechnology, accrue to the wealthiest – as does all the power in society. This is a future shaped by the whims of Silicon Valley billionaires. While it sells itself on personal freedoms, the experience for most is exclusion: a top-heavy world of haves and haves-nots.
Yet despite the bandwidth and airwaves devoted to these twin dystopias, there’s another trajectory: we call it the “citizen future”.