Those individuals most directly affected by some new innovation will be best able to judge its value, and if they find it is harmful or not worthwhile, they will reject it. The combination of innovation and choice, each feeding back into the other in a self-correcting process, will work in a complex, unpredictable, but highly effective way to secure for us a future that works, even if we could not have imagined it.
The future, after all, is our future, and so we are likely to make choices and to judge the consequences of our choices in ways that look out for our own best interests, and therefore that seek the best sort of future.
This anthropology of innovation is founded in a recognition of the intricacy and volatility of human life, and in the sense that both good and bad ideas may emerge from wholly unexpected sources, so that in thinking about the future we must above all be prepared for the unexpected and make room for it. This means not closing off potential avenues of progress simply because we can imagine how they might lead society astray.
We can never really know where anything will lead, after all, and it would be unfortunate to lose out on a possible advance only because we could not have imagined it. This general vision offers an account of the human condition that we can readily recognize.
It is the logic behind much of our liberal democracy, our free market economy, and our culture of individualism, and so has probably been responsible for more liberty, prosperity, and plain human happiness than almost any other set of ideas in the history of the human race.
It is closely akin to the modes of thought that underlie the modern ideal of progress, and it also coincides nicely with the worldview of modern science and its devotion to trial-and-error experimentation, to an unimpeded freedom to inquire and explore, and to a forward-looking faith in progress.
It is therefore no surprise that those most adamant about this way of imagining the future are also especially adamant about defending science and technology from regulation or restraint in the political system. Modern science and its progeny are agents of this kind of innovation, which is possible only in an environment that nourishes experimental liberty. This underlying vision of the future does, however, suffer from two particularly noticeable weaknesses, both of which are especially apparent in the biotechnology debates.
T he first weakness is an inclination to utopianism, with many of its attendant eccentricities and dangers. This may seem like a peculiar charge to lay at the feet of so dynamic a vision of the future. After all, the anthropology of innovation, even if it yields in glowing prophecies of better days to come, is not quite utopian in the conventional sense, because it usually does not envision an ideal, stable, blissful end-state toward which all innovation is tending. Rather, it imagines an open-ended process of progress, by which new ideas and new knowledge are turned into new power and put in the service of the pursuit of happiness.
Still, as Hans Jonas suggested in The Imperative of Responsibility , this view may be utopian in a deeper sense, and especially in the context of biotechnology, because it accepts at least as an option the possibility of profound and potentially permanent alterations in the human condition — indeed, in the nature of the human being. The prospects of genetic selection or manipulation; of mood, memory, or personality control; of radical life-extension, and similar biotechnological possibilities add up to the prospect of taking our own nature in hand and making it an object of manipulation and design.
In practice, this entails alterations of those facets of human nature that have always been the permanent backdrop against which all other change has occurred and been measured, and that have always been the solvents of dangerous utopian fantasies. But if our nature is in our hands, and our intrinsic inclinations and desires can be managed, then no such limitations would restrain utopian ambitions — especially if they were only exercised at first at the level of the individual.
In some of its more extreme formulations, the short distance between the innovation-driven vision of the future and utopianism is very easy to see. Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance , a report released last year by the National Science Foundation, offers a glimpse of this sense of the future.
Certainly, the achievement of posthuman lifespans will require extensive revision of our way of life, our institutions, and our conception of our selves. Yet the effort is worth it. Limitless life offers new vistas, unexplored possibilities, unbounded self-development.
Indeed, the genuine expectation of conquering death has long been a hallmark of the more extreme formulations of the innovationist approach to the future, and of the hopes it tends to place in modern science.
But these are extremists, and such views are most certainly the rare exception even among libertarian futurists today. At the conceptual level, of course, what is revealed at the extremes of any movement can often teach us something about what is buried in the center. But it can teach us only so much, and the radical voices at the edges should not be taken to speak for the partisans of innovation more generally. Most friends of innovation are not such outright champions of a post-human age.
Their inclination to utopianism far more often consists of an inchoate readiness to contemplate a radical reworking of the human condition as one potential option for the future. This inclination may demonstrate a lack of moderation, and a willingness if not an eagerness to see the future unmoored from the past and the present. These are alarming indications, but in themselves they do not mean that the anthropology of innovation is somehow simply fanatical, or even wrong.
T he second flaw in this vision of the future does, however, pose a significant problem. Put simply, those who imagine the future in terms of innovation tend to think of the future as something that will happen to us , and so as something to be judged and understood in terms of the interests of the free, rational, individual adult now living. That person is the basic unit of measurement in all of the theories of social life that inform the anthropology of innovation: All of these models and theories serve us well because enough of us do more or less answer that description much of the time.
But the future is populated by other people — people not yet born, who must enter the world and be initiated into the ways of our society, so that they might someday become rational consenting adults themselves. Strangely, what is missing from the view of the future grounded in innovation is the element of time, or at least its human consequent: What is missing is the child — the actual bearer of the future of humanity — and the peculiar demands, conditions, and possibilities that the presence of children introduces into the life of our society and its future.
In part, children are absent from this vision of the future because the vocabulary of classical liberal and libertarian thinking leaves little room for them. Government is legitimate because free individuals created it by choice and live under its rules in accordance with a kind of contract. But only the founding generation of any society can claim to have done that. The generations that follow did not freely create their regime.
They were born into it, literally kicking and screaming. They enter a world formed by laws, arrangements, and institutions that were established by others, but which they have no real choice but to accept. They are also incapable, for about the first two decades of their lives, of fully exercising the rights of citizens. And yet every decision made by their society will directly affect them and those who will follow them.
So by the logic of the theory, how can we take into account the needs and rights of future citizens who are not there to consent? How can we keep from treating them unjustly? Liberal theorists have not been blind to this difficulty of course; and more importantly, like many things that occupy political philosophers, these concerns are really far more of a problem in theory than in practice. The theorists come up with complicated notions of implicit consent and implied participation, while in actual societies liberalism is suspended in the family, and parents are trusted to look out for the interests of their children.
Nonetheless, it matters that the theory of liberal society and the anthropology of innovation have serious trouble with children and with future generations. Our theories do shape our ideals and our actions, and affect our sense of what is legitimate and what is desirable. The most common answer to the liberal difficulty with the child is to treat children as the charge and almost as the property of parents, and so to apply the language of rights to them second hand.
This often makes good sense, but it also has the effect of subsuming the interests of the child within those of the parents, so that in principle our picture of the world can still consist purely of rational adults and their needs and wants. That way, we can continue to imagine the future without considering the distinctive challenges and the peculiar promise and hope that result from the presence of children in society. But the absence of children in this vision of the future results from more than a gap in a theory.
Even more important is the very practical way in which children pose a hindrance to any vision of progress. Regardless of how much intellectual and material progress any society may make, every new child entering that society will still enter with essentially the same native intellectual and material equipment as any other child born in any other place at any other time in the history of the human race. Raising such children to the level of their society is, to put it mildly, a distraction from the forward path.
And a failure to initiate the next generation of children into the ways of civilization would not only delay or derail innovation, it would put into question the very continuity of that civilization.
We are, in a limited sense, always starting from scratch, and this means that we need more than innovation to secure and to better our future. The anthropology of innovation would like to avoid or avert this complicated reality. It does so mostly by ignoring it, but at the edges of the party of innovation, we see genuine efforts to ward off the challenge of the child.
It is a desire to start not from scratch, but from individual, rational, freely choosing adults, and to progress only from there. Indeed, it may be that in its fullness, this innovation-driven vision of the future almost has to exclude children.
William Godwin, the eighteenth-century futurist and prophet of innovations of the human intellect, offers a sense of why that should be. This may be the only way in which the anthropology of innovation could be sufficient in itself as a vision of the future.
Children do not start where their parents left off. They start where their parents started, and where every human being has started, and society must meet them there, and rear them forward. That we are all born this way has everything to do with how the future happens. A vision of the future that takes note of our natality will go about imagining in a profoundly different way.
T o imagine the future in terms of generations means, most fundamentally, to be concerned for continuity. The means of human biological continuity do not offer guarantees of human cultural continuity, because at least for the time being the intellectual and cultural progress we might make leaves no real mark on the biology of our descendents.
They enter the world as we did, and as all human beings have before us: At this very moment, dozens of people are entering the world in just that condition — about 15, worldwide make their entrance every hour — and the future of the human race depends upon them.
Contending with this constant onslaught and initiating these newcomers into the ways of our world is the never-ending and momentous challenge that always confronts every society.
At stake are both the achievements of the past and — most especially — the possibilities of the future. If the task of initiation and continuation fails in just one generation, then the chain is broken, the accomplishments of our past are lost and forgotten, and the potential for meaningful progress is forsaken.
The barbarism of savage human nature, more than the prospect of a final human victory over natural limitations, is in this sense always just around the corner. Indeed, what stands out about the anthropology of generations is not so much a desire to protect children from the dangers of the world — a desire shared by nearly everyone — but rather the related determination to protect the world from the dangerous consequences of failing to instruct the up-and-coming generation.
It is at once responsible for every individual and for the whole society over time. These two missions are not the same. The child must be protected from the world even as he benefits from its advantages and opportunities. And the world must be protected from the child — from the prospect of savagery — even as it benefits from exposure to the freshness, vitality, and hope of the young.
The child is protected in the arms of a family that is in turn strengthened and reinforced by a culture friendly to its cause. And the world is protected through the transmission of culture and civilization. The work of the culture is the work of cultivating human souls, providing them with nourishment and with protection as they grow. The culture provides the background preconditions without which a society could not contend with the challenge of natality. This is one main reason why conservatives — to whom the anthropology of generations most appeals — care so much about the culture and its mores.
It is also why some vague and seemingly abstract concerns — like human dignity and human nature — matter so much to conservatives engaged in the biotechnology debates. Such ideas cannot help but shape the way the next generation understands its place and its purpose, and some potential innovations in biotechnology cannot help but affect these ideas. My Dream, My future. Accessed September 14, We will write a custom essay sample on My Dream, My future specifically for you.
Leave your email and we will send you an example after 24 hours If you contact us after hours, we'll get back to you in 24 hours or less. My Dream, My future Essay. F uture plans essay It is to be an engineer. How to cite this page Choose cite format: How about make it original? Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website.
If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email. Even after I finish school I will be too occupied with work. Looks like a bachelorette life for me! If no roommate, I can always get a pet.
One hobby I have is writing, like I said earlier. Writing for me is like documenting all the important times in my life worth remembering and how I feel about them. I really want to travel a lot when I get older too. Also they have really beautiful historic buildings with interesting stories. A spontaneous, yet laid back life is perfect for me. Do you know what you want to do with your life? Or did you, and did it turn out as you had hoped or expected? Which of your works would you like to tell your friends about?
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Dec 29, · Hi everybody, please revise the following essay for me, thanks alot indeed! the future is more frightenning than it is exciting, do u agree or disagree with this opinion, use the specific reasons and examples to support your answer. _____ “The world is flat” so there are many reasons for people to consider that the world is more and more exciting, comfortable, interesting in the future.
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