Progress consumes resources. In order to advance anything, resources must be applied and in some cases consumed completely and often inefficiently. Unfortunately when evaluating progress, we often only consider what is gained and not what is lost or used up. There are many examples of this regarding environmental resources. Take a hypothetical city that in order to advance economic needs through building better connections to the cities near it develops a freeway. Naturally the best land for a freeway is the flat lands which are often the area where wetlands or river valleys exist. Only considering what could be gained by the development of the freeway results in the loss of these natural resources. Unfortunately there is no turning back. Even after the freeway is no longer necessary, you cannot return the land to its original state; this highlightsthat at times moving forward eliminates the option to turn back because what what was there before was consumed in the process.
Progress leads away from tradition. Tradition is defined as the way that things have heretofore been done. Contrastingly, progress assumes doing things differently. It logically follows that where there is progress, tradition has been diminished. The attrition of tradition in the name of progress is often seen in social advancement or progress. Take for example the progress in women's rights which have certainly moved forward including those in education and employment. However, it would be foolish to think that it has come without any expense. Women still have the innate drive towards the nurturing roles of wife and mother but they are now presented with the at times oppositional drives to succeed in worldly pursuits. The hours in the day haven't increased nor has the limited resources of energy and attention changed. Women have more economic impact than ever before but they are likely more tired, stressed, and emotionally strained. The traditions that prevented this at times burdensome dual role have been permanently changed.
Progress can be distracting and limit personal satisfaction. Progress can keep us always looking forward and never really appreciating and enjoying the time and space we currently occupy. While the drive to move forward is natural and desirable, if not balanced with a health sense of presence, we may live our life always hungry and always eating but not noticing the deliciousness of the now and how satiated we are most of the time. As a personal practical example, I find myself under-enjoying my time hiking because I am so fixed on reaching my destination or completing the journey. Often I don't even realize that I'm doing this until after I've completed the hike. Friends will ask how the trip was and I realize that my memory is pretty limited. I remember starting and I remember finishing and the only thing that I remember from the time in between is thinking about getting done and making plans for how to get done faster. In life, as in hiking, our goal shouldn't just be to move forward but we should also strive towards enjoying the places and stages of our journey.
With the risks of distraction, abandonment of tradition and irreversible waste of resources, it is reasonable to acknowledge that progress is not exclusively positive. Certainly this doesn't mean that progress isn't at times necessary or even, again at times, desirable. However, when the limitations of progress's inherent goodness are acknowledged it can help individuals proceed with caution towards making personal advancements. Groups and organizations can also avoid being stricken with the plague of progress at any and all costs. Society as a whole will get most from its existence when it is just as quick to stand still as it is to chase progress.
In the new century, society will become more minimalistic. The last century was filled with new inventions that brought more and more things into our homes. Already in this century, we are seeing a consolidation of this multiplicity of devices into single multi-function devices. This reduction of things allows for individuals to be more mobile and have fewer things cluttering their consciousness. Take the smart phone for example. How many products does it serve the function of? The electronics are obvious: phone, computer, television, video, camera. Then consider all of the paper eliminated with email, note-taking, texting, and address books. This wealth of printed information can now be accessed exclusively through the internet. Even a family's game closets are reduced to the apps on their devices. This reduction in physical things will likely only continue and could have a minimalistic effect on other aspects of society.
Society will become more monocultural. Over the 20th century, world events brought cultures together; some of these were positive exchanges; others very negative exchanges. At the initial contact, two cultures were perhaps energized to maintain their distinctions; however with time, these cultures start to slowly blend and take on a melded identity. Major cities like New York city reflect this. At the beginning of the previous century, there were neighborhoods that had a very distinctive and singular immigrant culture be it German, Chinese, or Italian. These neighborhoods were like portals to their source countries and cultures. Today the facade of these cultures may remain but you do not have to peel back very many layers before you get to a common sameness. Monoculturalism is particularly prominent in the children of these ethnic populations. Brought together by education, media, and technology, these youth lead the way in seeing little value in dividing aspects of individual heritage and culture.
Society will become more fluid and consequently less stable. Many of the grounding pillars of society are changing. As mentioned above, distinctions of culture such as language, religion, ethnicity are becoming more pliable. This new pliability while bringing some advantages in the form of tolerance will create some conflict through the loss of a clear personal identity. While in times of prosperity and security this may not be felt or of much consequence; however, in times of crises individuals may have increased vulnerability. Take a hypothetical young man named Juan who was in an accident at work which resulted in a loss of employment. While in times of difficulty, Juan's parents would have relied on their association with their church and their friends in their small ethnic community. Juan, on the other hand, has distanced himself from both the faith of his upbringing and his cultural roots. He's left to either rely solely on his immediate family or his highly variable social connections. Individuals like Juan will need to develop a new social bedrock to keep themselves grounded.
No longer tied to previous social pillars, with fewer cultural fences, and a desire to live more free from the physical things, participants in the 21st century will find our society less worried about stuff and perhaps less sure of who they are. Anticipating and discussing these predicted changes can be helpful for several reasons. Those changes that an individual anticipate reveal points of individual insecurity and priority. Better understanding what others value and fear can lead to better understanding of the people we work and socialize with. Also as we collectively anticipate some of these advancements, we can begin to think of how to minimize any potential negative consequences. Thus we don't need to fear the future because we have collectively readied ourselves for it.
Prompt 1 - Do you agree or disagree that progress is always good? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer. Tutorial Screencast - Model Essay
Prompt 2 - The 21st century has begun. What changes do you think this new century will bring? Use examples and details in your answer. Tutorial Screencast - Model Essay
About Me - What are the things you do each day that you think will improve your life in the future.
Descriptive - Describe some of the likely changes that you think your country will experience in 1 year, 10 years, and 100 years. Include in your description a justification for your opinion.
Narrative - Tell about a situation where you expected one outcome but something very different happened. Describe the events before during and after this unexpected result.
Problem / Solution - You were asked to do research for your company about next years sales potential. Your research uncovers that the company will lose money. How will you present the information to your boss.
Abstract - Ayn Rand said, "The upper class is a nation's past and the middle class is a nation's future. What did she mean and to what extend to you agree with this opinion.
Hypothesis - Most people would say that young people are more optimistic that the future will be positive and older people are less optimistic that the future will be positive. Do you agree with this division. If so, why do you think that is. If not why do people have this opinion.
Support an Opinion - Do you agree or disagree with this statement? People in the future will look back with gratitude for what the people in the present did. Use specific details or examples to support your opinion.
Do you agree or disagree that progress is always good? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
The 21st century has begun. What changes do you think this new century will bring? Use examples and details in your answer.
We have become much different than what we were considered before by history. By “we” I mean humankind, and by “today” I mean the year 2184. I am writing this for the descendants; I am not an idealist and do not build shiny illusions for myself, but perhaps they will find another way of development and evolution than we had. Perhaps they will manage to regain the essence of being human.
What is life like in the 22nd century? Well, it is unquestionably different than even a hundred years ago. The main driving force of the present time is technology; technological wonders have become so diverse and incredible that some people already treat them the same way as our ancestors treated magic. They even worship technologies. Every major city of the most advanced countries, such as China and Saudi Arabia, now have a temple where adepts can unite with the Machine Soul. But let me get back to the subject. Three phenomenons define our lives today: space flights, cybernetics, and immortality.
One of the most significant issues—the overpopulation of Earth—was solved when space flights became a common practice. I do not know the technicalities, but when scientists finally discovered anti-matter in 2067 and learned to use it for practical purposes, it took governments much less money and effort to initiate space programs and launch spacecrafts to the Moon and Mars. Today, the Moon is almost as overpopulated as Earth was in the beginning of the previous century; as for Mars, a 23rd colony was settled on its surface a couple of months ago.
Cybernetics is an another pillar of modern civilization. Since the first cybernetic implants were released on the global market in 2098, it has become a great help for disabled people, as well as for those who want to enhance their natural capabilities with special implants. Terminal diseases are no longer a threat; only mental disorders remain a serious problem. Today, you cannot imagine a cop without cybernatically-strengthened limbs, or a stockbroker without brain implants helping him or her process complex calculations in no time. And though in the middle of the 21st century, there were prognoses about the development of robotics, today, as people have become much more efficient, no one thinks about robots.
In addition, cybernetics gave people a possibility to resurrect after death. Yes, humanity has completely overcome death. It occurred in 2131, when academician Kurt Liebknecht, who is now considered a saint, had discovered a way to store human minds on hard disks. Each human being today literally works for their immortality throughout their lifetimes. If you manage to save enough money, you can transfer your mind onto the Internet, and exist online in the form of pure information. IT specialists and scientists have invented special, secure Necropolises for such people—virtual places where the Immortals reside. Those who would like to resurrect in their physical bodies once again can “work”: do system administering, manage databases, provide online security (IP, Internet Police), and so on. For their job, they earn virtual money—the virtual economy has become as developed and significant as the real one—and buy themselves cybernetic bodies, in which their minds are transplanted back from online. Well, Immortals are not truly immortal; we all remember the horrible tragedy in 2152, when three of the largest servers containing Necropolises were hacked and reformatted by the terrorists from Humanity-1—at least, it was the official version. Hundreds of thousands of Immortals back then had vanished forever—my brother was among them.
The invention of an online afterlife has also solved the problem of prisons: criminal minds are now being locked in special virtual storage, and their physical bodies are used for organ transplants for the living, or utilized in other ways. Though, a new problem had arisen: escaped convicts pose a threat both for the Immortals in the virtual world and for systems and people in real life. When a living criminal connects to the Internet through a brain chip, such criminals, usually called Incubuses, can possess them, capturing their bodies and expelling, or even destroying their minds. And though a large number of security programs are now available for Internet users, and though the IP constantly hunts and deciphers (or destroys, simply saying) loose criminals, Incubuses remain a serious threat.
Technological wonders we take for granted today are much more diverse and numerous than I have described so far. The Epoch of the Machine Soul is an exciting time to live in. The only question that worries or even scares me and many other conscious and intelligent people today, is: “Are we still human? What are we now?”
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