“With the equivalent of 5,000 years of technological progress expected between 2000 and 2025, it’s difficult to forecast the dilemmas that lie ahead.”
This person apparently works for the FBI and is also a member of an ominously-monikered organization of which I have never before heard called "Police Futurists International," which I must say red-lights every alarm across my personal control-panel.
Quite apart from all that, however, I must confess to feelings of deep perplexity about the actual claim that is being highlighted in this quotation.
When Stephens suggests that the equivalent of 5,000 years of technological progress is "expected" between 2000 and 2025, just who is it that he thinks "expects" this? I think that probably at least a hundred thousand people expect the arrival of the Biblical Rapture for every single person on earth who expects 5,000 years of technological progress to have nudged humanity into an unfathomable elsewhere fifteen years hence. Even so, I think it would be problematic to describe the Biblical Rapture to be generically "expected" in any sense, surely?
When Stephens suggests that the equivalent of 5,000 years of technological progress is expected between 2000 and 2025, is he aware that nearly ten of those twenty-five years have already elapsed? Maybe when Stephens evokes "5,000 years of technological progress" he means to refer to the 5,000 years of technological progress that played out between 45,000 BCE and 40,000 BCE? Otherwise, is it his view that the Bush years amounted to a kind of Golden Age in which the equivalent of, say, 2,000 years of technological progress took place? One wonders why the kids are still listening to "new" music from the 90s, why my 1998 computer crashes less than my 2006 one, why obesity and flu pandemics rather than immortalization therapies are sweeping the planet, and why the Shuttle and the Concorde are grounded rather than zipping us off to the L5 Four Seasons right about now?
And just what are we to make of that apparent fudging of actual substance through the introduction of the notion of "equivalency" here? When Stephens suggests that the "equivalent" of 5,000 years of technological progress is expected between 2000 and 2025, does that mean that he will be satisfied that such an "equivalent" is in evidence if by 2025 we just get more boner pills, more ubiquitous jittery digital media, more windmills, and maybe a 70s-style Chinese Moon landing as seems more likely in my view?
One has to wonder if the self-congratulatory attribution of "expertise" to the futurologist (whatever that "expertise" is finally supposed to consist of, apart from what looks to me like relentless corporate-friendly bullshit-artistry) ever diminishes the least bit in the face of serially failed prognostication? Can the futurologists ever get it so wrong so often that the people who take them seriously in the first place will ever, well, stop taking them seriously? Honestly, how many times does energy too cheap to meter, radical longevity medicine, artificial intelligence, robotic super-sex, and universal superabundance on the cheap have to fail to arrive fifteen years from today before the futurologists' literally annual supremely confidence declarations that they will arrive fifteen years from today will fail to attract the attention of breathless corporate media outlets and even serious policy-makers who have, after all, actual jobs to do that often require sensible deliberation about the funding and regulation of technoscience in an actual world of actual consequences to actual diverse stakeholders with little connection to the deranged and deranging hyperbole of futurology?