Humans are not wired to think across long spans of time. Tomorrow is not a problem for us to imagine, but 50 years down the road may as well not exist. We do well when it comes to immediate threats, but fall hard when we must face the reality that the cosmos operates on different time scales. Earth, the stars and the galaxies have, and will exist for billions of years. Existence will go on, with or without you.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work and find love in a field that makes its impact by thinking about the future. Whether that future is tomorrow, or in 50 years, we drive technology every further against the boundaries of scientific knowledge and understanding. We push against convention, just to see what is possible. We dream, we work hard, and for many of us, the future we see is far different than you might expect.
Artificial intelligence is no longer science fiction. With the emergence of huge data sets, machine learning has catapulted itself into areas I wouldn’t have even have known existed a decade ago. Cars can drive themselves, Facebook understands who you are, and Google often knows what you’re looking for before you do. We got people to the Moon on over a million times less computational power that you’re currently using to read this blog. Items ordered one day, can be at your house in as little as 2 hours. We’re looking at Mars, not as a distant world – but as a possible home. We connect, communicate and share over a network that has transformed our society – and will continue to do so going forward.
You do not have to accept the world as it is. I don’t know what tomorrow will look like, because it will be constructed by people just like yourself. I can’t know your dreams, or your ambitions unless you bring them to fruition. Better yourself and work towards positive change. Look not to the news as truth, but as motivation. Understand that countries, companies and businesses are made up of people just like you. Whether you aspire to the likes of Elon Musk, Richard Feynman or J.K Rowling, know that they are no different than yourself biologically. Let me give you an analogy:
Think of yourself as a computer. You have the same hardware as every other computer. You have memory, thought, and perception of the world. What differs between yourself and others is not your hardware, but your thoughts/actions. I’ve come to know a truth that I have been unable to disprove. Everyone has the ability to live up to their heroes – those ‘mythical’ people who changed the world. The one thing you have to realize is that change does not come easy – whether we’re talking about yourself or in society. If it were easy, it would be far more common. It wasn’t easy for Feynman, and it will continue to be difficult. I say this not as a deterrent, but as motivation. Motivation that might just help you get past the thoughts of not being good enough. Nobody starts off being ‘good enough’, they tackle their tasks one step at a time.
Steve Jobs said something I will always remember. The world is malleable. You can press up against its walls and shift the boundaries of the present to include your hard work. Maybe you dislike the way the government is being run, or perhaps you’re not happy with the current course your life is taking. Just imagine if it wasn’t the few that refused to settle, but the majority. Imagine if poverty, health, climate change, equality and positive change were all pursued by more people.
Whether your thing is art, literature, technology, science, teaching or what have you, it has a place in the world. Don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t settle. Do what you can’t, and what most people aren’t. Take action, learn, have fun, and remember what I said above. We the people, have an obligation to make our future one we want to live in. Take steps to make sure that the world you leave behind is better than when you became a part of it.