I think of these terms differently that most people seem to. Tyler and Bryan seem to be referring to things that think will be demonstrably better or worse in the future. This seems to me like a forecast.
I, on the other hand, see optimism and pessimism as a disposition. When I say I am a pessimist I mean that I am more concerned than the average person about all of the ways things can and will go wrong and I think that most people are naively oblivious to the harm they are causing others.
In any case if we are talking forecasts I will say this
1) I think the medium term future for the global economy is extraordinarily bright. That in the next 25 years or so the majority of human beings born on earth can expect to live what I might call a life of opportunity. One in which day-to-day survival is trivial.
2) I think that convergence will proceed at a more rapid pace in the future than it has in the past. That poor countries will grow richer faster.
3) I think that immigration restrictions in the Western Hemisphere will fall dramatically, particularly in the US and Canada, opening up wide-open spaces for people to live and work.
4) I think Europe will decline markedly as an area of economic and cultural importance but the quality of life for people there will remain fairly high and that it will earn rents from being “the world’s museum”
5) I think that violence in the world will continue to fall for the next 30 years or so.
6) I think medicine will hit its next “big bang” in roughly 40 years or so when the ability to remove disruptive long-lived molecules from cells will be practical. This in effect will create rejuvenation. As a side note I think rejuvenation is the only serious effort to combat most of the diseases that plague the western world today. (Hopefully I will still be blogging that all of the life extension in medicine can be traced to: antibiotics, vaccination, sterilization, anesthesia and rejuvenation)
7) I think there is a reasonable chance that we will see the implosion of many old national governments over the next 60 years or so and that there is a reasonable chance that this will be a relatively peaceful process.
8) Consequently I think the number of nations will rise over the next 75 years and that the nation state will end in a great blur. Sort of like how South Florida is composed of many different cities but no one really cares that much.
9) I think that within 100 years the singularity will be reached and subsequently the fundamental nature of life on earth will radically alter within a matter of years or possibly months.
10) I think between here and the singularity there are challenges but that most revolve around a small group of people either intentionally or more likely, by mistake, killing a large portion of humanity.
The things that we commonly worry about: global warming, the decline of education, antibiotic resistance, the wearing out of the Flynn effect, entitlement debts. fresh water shortages, etc will be speed bumps at worst and likely neutralized almost completely by technology.
Lastly as a aside to Byran I predict that in 50 years it will be conventional wisdom among the quirky intellectual set – perhaps what he means by Masonic – that:
- We probably exist in a simulation
- Free will is an illusion and I mean a genuine illusion, like a mirage.
- Its reductionism . . . all the way down.
- Emulations are just as meaningful as flesh and blood humans, since humans are just simulations anyway.
- The creation of new life is a morally ambiguous exercise
My confidence on these predictions is low but I am still willing to bet, if Bryan is interested in arranging something.
Some readers may be interested in how I can predict (2) and (5). I think some people will gloss over the issue and others will cheekily say that obviously living your day to day life as if determinism were true is just not what was predestined to happen.