Thursday, December 10, 2020

The luckiest generation?

My spouse and I were recently discussing the tech and screen saturation we and our kids live in, juxtaposed against the simpler and more people interaction-oriented milieus of our childhoods. This led to reflections on the improved medical and information technologies avail to us compared to our parents' generation, and the advances we're likely to witness over the second half of our lifespans. 

This caused a reflection on generational luck. We're luckier than any previous generation relative to expected lifespan, access to medical care, and more. However, how likely is this trend to continue? Will our kids experience the continuation of these trajectories? I think in the next 50 years there are likely to be a couple big changes, and possibly some extremely destructive or disruptive ones. Existential or extreme risks associated with environment degradation, AI, easy access to nuclear-level destructive technologies (including biological attacks), world war-level conflict, totalitarianism, and the many others pointed out by folks who publish on this sort of thing- all could lead to various dystopias or, at least, a state of affairs net worse than present and trending worse. Should any of these futures come to pass, it may well appear to a putative researcher many millenia in the future, that my generation was the "luckiest" in the sense that it benefitted from more choice and healthspan and size than the generations before and after it.

Part of me is insatiably curious about how this far future will unfold: angered that the certainty of my death precludes that particular satisfaction.  

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