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National Geographic produced a six-part documentary and science fiction television series (May, 2017) based on the 2008 book Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge by Damien Broderick. The narrative alternates between the years 2050, 3000, 500,000 and Year Million, using 2016 interviews to explain events unfolding in the story:

“Investigating the ramifications of a variety of potentially world-changing inventions, the series visits a cast of characters representing a typical American family in several different possible timelines through to the year 1,000,000 AD. Ray Kurzweil, Michio Kaku, Peter Diamandis and Brian Greene guide the documentary aspect, discussing possible changes the future might hold based on their research: Artificial Intelligence, Man merging with Machine, the human species becoming an interplanetary entity. Exploring life in both the near and the far future, where artificial intelligence is ubiquitous and advances in science have radically extended our lifespans.”

It is interesting to view this series through the lens “colonizing the future” as I noted in Becoming a Good Ancestor. I quoted Roman Krznaric:

Humankind has colonised the future. We treat it like a distant colonial outpost devoid of people where we can freely dump ecological degradation, technological risk and nuclear waste – as if nobody will be there.

Colonizing Artificial Intelligence

Add to this short list the colonizing of artificial intelligence. Broderick hardly blinks a bionic eye at the unforeseen disasters spawned from this technological moment. National Geographic writes:

Year Million paints a version of humanity’s fate through the lens of a typical futuristic American family, which includes a daughter who is android. The series propels us into an odyssey of unfathomable choices humans will face while questioning the kind of lives we’ll live and the people we’ll become a million years from now.

Year Million imagines a future when mortality becomes a thing of the past; man merges with machine; intelligence is limitless; and the human species becomes interplanetary. The series predicts how every aspect of technology may affect our lives, for better or worse.”

Colonizing our Imagination

This is just like us, isn’t it? Imaging limitless intelligence rather than being cautioned by our long historical axiom for limitless cruelty. Shane Claiborne writes, “violence reflects a lack of imagination about possibility, hope, or mutuality.” Without a more thoughtful understanding of current and future suffering, Parker J. Palmer insight sheds light on our predicament:

When we lack the moral imagination to do something else with our suffering, we do violence.

Janine Langan suggests that many “use their imaginations to flee into their mental cocoons, to weave a personal lifestyle not open to discussion… have we let ourselves be hijacked by cliche’s and propaganda with which we are continually bombarded? Thus imagination needs continual rescue from the prevailing hijacking culture, continual reconnection to the source of the creative impulse, and continual rehabilitation of meaning.”

If we are fleeing, as Langan suggests, into our mental cocoons as if they were stationary satellites rather than space ships, how much of our current imagination is being colonized by future-casting? This phenomenon would be more of a capitulation to the current illusion of continual improvement as we disintegrate into what we are becoming.

The Eternal Refrain

We are never more becoming ourselves than when we are being reconciled, recovered, redeemed to the One who made us for Himself.

What is your insight?