By Bryant Grizzell
Just over a month ago, Japan’s air and space association JAXA launched a lunar lander which touched down on the moon’s surface. Although not everything in the mission had gone to plan, the fact that a soft landing on the moon’s surface was made solidified their position as one of the enterprising countries in space. It was the fifth time in history that a nation achieved a soft landing on the lunar surface, a feat that would have seemed impossible 100 years prior.
100 hundred years ago, man had just begun to fly. Cars were still relatively new and exciting, and all sorts of other technologies that are commonplace today were making their debut. For hundreds of years before that, people rode in carriages and on the backs of wagons. So much knowledge and progress was made in such a short period of time, that the growth of human capability seemed almost exponential.
A world 100 years in the future is something we can scarcely imagine. The world today is moving faster than ever before. Technologies that even 20 years ago seemed imaginary are being made available. Things of fiction are becoming reality faster than anyone in the past could have even expected. What sorts of things could be possible in the next 20 years, and in the next hundred? What about the far future?
Even though we are marred and bound by wars and divisions today, many can see a future in which all of humanity works together. We’ve done it before, with the creation of life-saving vaccines and the regulation of fossil fuels in our efforts against climate change. In the future, when these problems that are so large today become small and insignificant, human ingenuity would continue to grow and thrive as we learn more about our universe. A unified human race, all working together would herald the beginning of a new era, one where discrimination and persecution of our neighbors doesn’t just seem wrong and immoral, but illogical and inefficient. It would create a world where war, famine, disease, and even death are wholly insignificant, or even cease to exist. An immortal world: Not a utopia, by any means, but a stepping stone to something even greater.
When technology extends to the point where the power of our stars and planets can be harnessed and collected, it’s then that our possibilities truly become limitless. With even a fraction of the power of our sun, we could propel ourselves far into outer space in search of new stars and new life. And if we eventually find a new solar system to call home, the whole cycle would start again, adding even more power and knowledge to the collective mind of humanity. Just as vast oceans were quickly bridged by the advent of technology, so too can the vast sea of the cosmos be sailed by the technology of the future.
As eons pass, human advancement will only continue to hasten. By the time of the end of our solar system, billions of years from now, humanity will have such power that to us today, they would seem as aliens. And even this is only a drop in the ocean of potential that humanity has. In even the shortest possible scenario for the end of the universe, humanity would still have around 19 billion years of time to improve and grow.
In the longest scenario, where the universe is cyclical and simply expands and contracts forever, humanity could possibly have even tens of trillions of years to improve. So much time, coupled with such rapid progression, could make the capabilities of humanity seem god-like. With all of the energy amassed from trillions of years of improvement in technology, it could even be possible to preserve an instance of life until the next universe, spanning unfathomable gaps of time until intelligent life evolves once more.
In short, while the possibilities are not infinite, they are unfathomable. Humanity has endured for hundreds of years, and it is likely that it can endure for millions more. All it depends on is what we choose to do, and who we choose to be as a species. How are we going to change our thoughts, minds, and actions in order to allow a future in which humanity continues to grow and learn? The only thing that can limit us is ourselves.