Many of the concerns of the cyberpunk genre have come true. The rise of corporate power, ubiquitous computation, and the like. Robot limbs and cool VR goggles. But in many ways, it’s far far worse.
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My job is to work with cooks to figure out the science behind food and cooking. But something that we’re also interested in with my job is using the knowledge that we produce by doing that to improve the world.
What I want to tell you is that in 2050 we don’t even have waste anymore. There will be no waste in 2050. Everything will be seen as a treasure, because we will have created what some smart people call a circular economy.
We live in a world of wild, damaging, unsustainable excess. We’re surrounded by unhealthy food options. We live in places built for cars, not for walking or biking. We’re buried in our screens 24⁄7. We face calls to buy stuff, endlessly. And we live in a consumer culture that is dependent on the notion of disposal. But here’s the thing. These excesses are so fully normalized, they so fully meet our expectations of how everyday life ought to look, that we no longer really see them as excessive at all.
I’m just going to say it, I would like to completely blow up employment classification as we know it. I do not think that defining full-time work as the place where you get benefits, and part-time work as the place where you have to fight to get a full-time job, is an appropriate way of addressing this labor market.
The framing of what we design is very important to how we go about it. We have not been framing these things as contexts. We’ve been framing them as products, services, and a whole other series of terms that are— Tools, for example. And these are things that are mostly transactional. They’re not things that are meant to be inhabited.
I personally think that we need to move beyond this sort of grow or die motivation that exists within the current economy. And I think that the cooperative model is suited to addressing those concerns, especially because the co-op model is geared toward serving member needs and not driven by profit at the end of the day. That is something that bodes well for the model in terms of sustainability.
Today, in America right now, we only can think of growth in quantitative terms. And in a resource-constrained environment, how frickin’ stupid is that? You’re actually imposing your own death sentence by not being able to get over the grip of this quantitative dynamic.
It’s interesting and scary to think about an Earth that could be completely controlled by humans, but it seems like it’s definitely possible. I could find fun thinking about living under the sea or all the places that humans really haven’t been able to sustain themselves in very well. Like, if we could really get control of that. I mean, it’s definitely a dark future, but I think something that I could embrace if we did go there.