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April 30, 2017

6:30 PM

Ignoring the future means ignoring most of reality

Francisco Miraval

Most of whatever exists exists in the future, explains Frank Tipler in one of his books. For that reason, focusing only on the present or on the past means ignoring most of the reality. Unfortunately, according to Tipler, that’s precisely what most of us do.

In his book The Physics of Immortality (1994), Tipler explains that, according our current understanding of physics, our universe is less than 20 billion years old. At the same time, if our knowledge of physics, astronomy, and cosmology is “remotely correct” (his words), then the universe should exist for at least 100 billion year and probably for a lot longer than that.

In other words (my words), 80 percent of the universe is still in the future. Tipler regrets that science in general -and people in particular- seem uninterested in studying the future reality with the same dedication that we currently study the past and the present.

It has been two decades since Tipler published his book and since then there has been a shift regarding the future and people are now indeed focusing on the future. Think about Otto Scharmer and his Leading from the Emerging Future book or about Ted Chu and his Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential book, about many others.

Yet, as far as I know (and I know very little), it seems to me most people are not thinking 80 billion years into the future to understand the end (the end?) of the universe, and not even 7 billion years ahead when the Sun will expand and destroy the earth.

In fact, most studies about the future focus only on the imminent future, not on millions or billions of years ahead. They want to know what is about to happen between 2030 and 2050 and, in some cases, around 2100. Experts say among other things that, by that time, humans will become immortal, artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence, and the solar system will be colonized.

It has been said that predictions are always difficult and that predictions about the future are even more difficult. And it seems that those difficulties are even greater if, as well-known futurist Ray Kurzweil once pointed out, during the 21th century we will progress not 100 years, but the equivalent of 20,000 years.

But even if that’s the case and in two or three generations we move 20,000 into the future, even with all that wondrous progress, around 80 percent of reality will still be ahead of us, because 20,000 years are still insignificant in a 100 billion-year universe.

Yet, in spite of all the progress humanity already achieved and is about to achieve, Tipler’s invitation to focus on the future and to stop being obsessed (my words) with the past and the present is still valid.

The truth is the future is and has always been here, not there. In fact, the future has been the key elements motivating actions and thoughts of humans throughout history. It is our time to rediscover it. 

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