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An Utopian World - Can You Imagine It?

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Jack is a volunteer at the CCNY Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 100,000 views.

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Introduction

Ever since the dawn of history, man has dreamt of a perfect world. A world so perfect, like heaven on earth. A world without pain, or wants or injustice. A world full of beauty and joy and abundance. A world where everyone can live in harmony. How great would that be? This fictional account is an intellectual exercise of a future world of what may be.

- Oct. 2019

Backgroud

The term utopia was created from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island society in the south Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South America.

My story is a fictional account based on current understanding and knowledge of man and his desires.

We have a progressive party movement in this country and indeed across the world called the One World Government as espoused by George Soros and his Open Society Institute and Foundation.

They firmly believe that the future is heading in this direction and that we will reach a perfect utopia if they and their policies are implemented worldwide. These policies are based on socialistic economics where everyone would be equal in every way. There will be no need for wars or hunger or wants.

The Big Question?

Can we humans live up to these ideals? Is it in our DNA or human nature to live in an utopian world? How will it work? Who will do the grudge work? Who gets to decide? What are the rules? What are consequences...if any?

What Is The Progressive Vision?

Progressives have a basic believe. Since they don’t believe in a higher power like God, they are humanists. They believe in the basic rights of every human to have free healthcare. In addition, free education, and free basic needs like housing and food and clothing. In such a society, the “State” shall provide all essentials.

This concept, will free the humans to explore their full potential. By not worrying about the essentials, a person can fulfill their destiny and be creative and reach their full potential. That is the basic premise.

Progressivism aims to indoctrinate all to think alike. There is little room for the individual.

The concept of “we” and that we are all in the same boat. We should take care of each other and meet all needs. The cradle to grave mentality is key.

How Would It Work?

It is one thing to theorize about an utopian society but another thing to try and implement it. Suppose we could attempt it. How would it work? Who would be in charge? What forces will be necessary to carry it out?

Let’s imagine if all the people could be convinced of this and agree to a trial period. That is the easy part. Now, how to implement it...

Assume we are living in a future world where technology has advanced to a point where robots and AI can replace most of the drudge work. Humans are left with a huge amount of leisure time. Something needs to keep humans engaged, interested and “working”. What can it be?

Utopia

An utopian society requires several elements.

One element is a cheap and abundant and transferable energy source. This will fuel all the machines necessary for our survival including shelter, food, water and recreation. Another criteria is having central computer system that keeps everything running smoothly. A governing body of people and machines with a set of rules and guiding principles. Finally, a board of arbiters that decide course of action regarding those who break the rules.

Lets address the possibility of each elements and what they entails.

Energy is a huge problem. Our planet has a population of 7 billion and growing. The energy requirement is huge. Currently, we have mostly fossil fuel, some nuclear power, and water power and wind and solar are on the horizon. These sources are abundant but they are not free or easily transferable. That is not all energy sources are equal. We do require electricity to run most appliances. It is essential to our modern world existence. However, we also use coal and natural gas for heat and cooking. We use gasoline and diesel for transportation. Assuming we can harness the power of the sun, will it be able to replace all our energy needs? That is a big question. If we could sometimes in the future, then this element would be met. Solar energy is abundant, and free and everywhere.

Having a central computer system is necessary to gather information, and process them and exercise control. We already have centralized banking system which monitors our savings and spending for the most part. We are moving towards a cashless society. We also have a government system called the IRS which control over taxes collection. We also have the social security administration which tracks pretty much everything else including medicare and retirement. In addition, we also have private corporations like Google and Amazon which maintains a huge database on our spending and shopping habits.

These various systems are separate entities now but there may come a time in the future where they are linked in order to be more “efficient”. This is the vision of science fiction books like 1984 and others which presents a future where “big brother” is monitoring and watching our every move.

The technology of facial recognition and surveillance cameras can track every person walking around our city streets. Our smart phones also can be tracked to know our exact location every minutes of every day. With RFID, we can track each individual with an embedded chip.

Technically speaking, we already have the capabilities but implementing is a huge issue dealing with privacy and first amendment rights which can be a roadblock.

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Utopia Continue...

A third element is a central governing body. The United Nations or something like it where all people are to abide and obey. This body would consist of a group of leaders from all countries and groups and races... They would be assisted by an army of robots programmed to obey and enforce a set of rules. These rules are the guiding principles of equality and justice for all. Sounds great doesn’t it? How perfect it would be to defer all our conflicts to an international governing body.

The final element is a judicial system where any disputes between individuals or groups can be resolved peacefully. Any willful violations will be dealt with. Punishment that fit the crime.

The Division of Labor

Assuming the grudge work is replaced by robots. We are still left with certain number of professions and tasks that humans need to perform. How will they be divided up? There will always be some leaders and followers. What criteria will be used to determine who is suited for what tasks?

Will there be need for money? If everything is provided by the state, why do we need money? What does it mean to accumulate wealth? What would wealth buy you? In an utopia world, we would be stress free and not worry about money.

Happiness...

What is happiness in an utopian society? Can we all be happy 24/7? Or perhaps, we need to redefine happy. Creating a new artwork, or music or dance can be a happy event. Winning at a game or competition can be a happy event.

The question is can a person be happy without knowing pain or suffering or wants? It seems to me the concept of happiness is only valid when there exist a state of distress or unhappiness. Without one, can you have the other?

Human experiences is a set of ups and downs... When we eliminate the downs, what is the result? In an utopian world, what is the norm?

The Human Element

It is not hard to imagine that in a world described above, the human individual is lost. It is a conforming society. Everyone must fit in the same mold. What about the sexes?

The two sexes are different and complementary. How would an utopian society treat men and women? For example, men are physically built stronger. They traditionally has been the sex that did the heavy work. With robotics, this may no longer be the case. What about child rearing? With less differences between the sexes, the goal of the progressive movement is to equalize the playing field. What about sport competition? Will we still have men and women teams? Or will we have more delineation so that the LGBTQ will have their separate categories?

Imagine...

It was John Lennon who wrote the famous song back in 1971.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today... Aha-ah...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

It was a simple message but profound. It speaks of an utopian existence where peace and harmony is the norm. This form of communal living has been tried back in the 1960s. It did not survive for long for a simple reason. Man cannot give up his nature. His basic instinct is contrary to this socialistic ideal. But suppose we can update this experiment with our new technologies. Can it work in 2020?

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Imagine 2020...

Let me attempt to describe how life will be like in this brave new world. Starting with birth, a new baby citizen of this world will be tagged and an RFID chip embedded under the skin. This will track everything he or she does throughout his life. He will be cared for or nursed by a human like robot. Growing up, he will be educated and taught by intelligence systems. His skills and interested will be assessed and he will be assigned a future “career” suitable for his personality and interests.

His DNA will be analyzed and placed in a super database and all risk factors for diseases or genetic traits will be identified.

His parents may even have a role in the selection process of this new life. We have the capabilities to determine certain genetic traits like hair color and eyes and height...

The parents are assigned a comfortable living quarters with adequate space for sleeping and recreation. Transportation are provided by self-driving vehicles that runs on solar power or hydrogen. Food is provided machines that can create various meals or similes of recipes using 3D printIng technologies.

Water and sewer are processed and recycled with minimum waste. A team of robots may provide the various assistances in both cleaning and recreation. Like a personal butler, it can accommodate all the needs and desires.

With all the mundane stuff taken care of, there is a lot of leisure time available to the citizen of this new world, What would a typical day be like besides sleep. Assume an 8 hour sleep regime, that leaves 16 hours of waking moments. Part of that will be taken up by exercise, 2 hours. Eating 3 meals will be another 3 hours. 1 hour for grooming will still leave 10 hours of leisure time. How to occupy these happy times?

Human to computer voice communications will eliminate the need for a keyboard or touch interface. New brain implants can even allow direct communications via thought. Natural language is probably the most common form of communications. AI will allow the computer to pick up voice commands and emotions and will interact with humans on a more natural level. It would be difficult to separate a real human from a machine. This open the door for all sorts of legal and constitutional questions. For example, does a robot have any protected “rights”?

Utopia or Dystopia

Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, tyrannical governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society. Dystopian societies appear in many fictional works and artistic representations particularly in stories set in the future. Some of the most famous examples are George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

Utopia and Dystopia share a common thread. They both require a central government to oversee the public. People are not trusted to do the right thing. They must be guided or coerced. If we are not careful, a central all powerful government, with unlimited energy source and an army of robots can enslave us.

It is Thomas Jefferson who wrote:

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Human Nature

We are most happy when we are left free to do our own thing. We push the boundaries and explore the unknowns. We ask questions and search for meaning. We conceptualize an ideal form of government but realize it is a dream and an illusion. We humans are flawed and cannot be happy if everything was provided for us. Like the garden of Eden, when God provided us with a perfect world, we rebel. Knowing the difference between right and wrong and choosing to do wrong are very human characteristics. Utopia to our creator means something else than what we imagined.

Suppose we are given all that we desire on a silver platter. Would we be happy? Or would we want more? That is the crux of the issue. If human desires and wants are ever changing, how can we experience an utopia?

Conclusion

Utopia as a construct cannot exist. It is incompatible with human nature. This is my personal opinion. Having been around for over 60 years, I think humans are non-conforming. They are individuals created by God in his image. They want to excel as individuals. They are competitive by nature. They are flawed.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Jack Lee