Politics in the past, present, and the future
No discussion or thought on the future of human evolution would be complete without taking into consideration politics. At it’s simplest, the word “politics” is defined as the act of influencing the decisions that affect two or more individuals. More commonly, it is the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.
If we hop aboard a mental time machine, the most obvious and linearly extrapolated veins of thought with regard to future politics are probably the two polarized extremes of the ultimate one sentience/one vote democracy, and the ultimate central intelligence/loss of individual autonomy tyranny.
There is also another perhaps more unconventional extrapolation, and that is the disappearance of politics altogether. This disappearance does not mean a decay into anarchy; rather the literal loss of governance as a concept or necessity. These are by no means the only possible extremes, and they certainly aren’t the most likely to occur. But let’s take a quick look at what these particular political futures might look like.
The Ultimate Democracy
It is not a difficult stretch of the imagination to envision a world in which instant access to real-time polling is ubiquitous. Just looking at the news today we can begin to see the genesis of a world wide wireless web that is and will transform the way we live as much as the initial public accessible web did 20 years ago. Look a few more years into the future when brain implants and enhanced interface devices make access to decision making information and public opinion instantaneous, and you have arguably a perfect democracy: every voice informed, every voice heard, every vote counted. Do we keep checks and balances? What of mob rule? What about the rights of the minority? Is the ultimate democracy really desirable?
The Ultimate Tyranny
Now let us advance a few more years into the future. Cognitive implants are now ubiquitous, required in fact in order to survive as all life support mechanisms (sustenance, shelter, information access, transportation, etc.) respond only to the individual digital signatures implanted in our brains and speaking directly to our conscious and our subconscious. This direct access to the psyche could easily be hi-jacked by a well meaning government intent on identifying abhorrent thoughts that could lead to anti-social behavior, correct the “illness” as it occurred through electrical stimulation of certain neural pathways – yes thought control – for the greater good. The need for dual or multi party systems will have been eliminated because dissension is also anti social. People will be happy. People will be peaceful. People will be free to do whatever it is they are told to do and love it. Now that’s Tyranny.
The Passing of of Politics
The theory goes like this: if we review our definition above we see that politics is the influencing of decisions that affect multiple people. Let us for a moment stay on the time machine and come to a place where we have developed such a mastery of the universe, of physical matter and energy, of artificial intelligence, that it is possible to create an entire universe in our brains or in what our brains will become. We can create whatever small physical sustenance is needed through replicators (small nanofactories converting raw materials needed), AI’s serve better company than other humans who may have different wants than ourselves, virtual reality is much more pleasant than any actual physical reality we can create, and the need to procreate has been entirely eliminated through cloning. it’s lingering desire sated by the AI’s and VR’s created to tailor to individual tastes. Essentially, the need to interact with other humans will have been completely eliminated. The decisions I make in my universe, even if I choose to allow a black hole to consume entire galaxies, will not affect my “fellow” man who may be six inches away, who may reside in a different star system all together, or by then may have created an actual new bubble in the multiverse which we have learned to manipulate, not just playing God, but actually being God. Each individual may be God, the Devil, Mussolini, Gandhi, or Hans Solo with no need for any political system regulating the affairs of anyone, internally or externally.
Politics for the Real World
But back to planet earth and the near-term nature of our political systems in relation to the changing nature of man himself. One of the key issues we will face as a society includes the rights of humans vs. transhumans vs. sentient beings. The definition of what it means to be human will soon be played out in courtroom settings, school yards, boardrooms, and bedrooms across the world. The principles we use to define individual freedoms, and the very notion of freedom itself will soon be under scrutiny and perhaps attack as the ability to record our activities on the net, in public and private places of gathering and commerce, and even driving or walking down the street become increasingly public information. As these forces and trends converge, we should pause and review the fundamental principles behind the governance of human activity.
To found our further speculation on the future of politics, we should survey a few of the modern philosophies and conflicts that have led to many of the present day political systems.