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Dystopian Visions

February 27, 2013

Skyline London, Threatening Clouds

I often find myself pondering the ways in which things could go wrong for our society in the future. It seems to me that so much of what we take for granted as being stable in our society, is actually balanced on a knife edge. Things like democracy, human rights, peace, civilized values. The media may suggest at times that these things are a given in the western world. But the truth is that they are things we renew a fight to uphold and maintain on a daily basis.

So what happens if the balance is tipped? If people stopped renewing the fight to maintain these values, or decide other values are more important to them? This is where we get into some possible Dystopian visions for society. Maybe our values will be forced to change by the sheer material pressures of growing population, and globalisation. Maybe an influential figure will come along who gets people to adopt new values. Maybe the media will brainwash people into seeing what they want them to see, regardless of the reality going on around them. Maybe a technological breakthrough will have a radical effect on our values. Maybe technological breakthroughs already with us will erode our human values over time.

These are just some of the considerations of a possible dystopian future. A personal crux point I like to focus on, which I think will be crucial to the future of our society, and which is already having some influence, Is the effect of a world without a growing population of human numbers. Let me just go through some of the effects this is having and may be likely to continue having in the future:

  1. Without growing human numbers, combined with much lower mortality rates, natural selection will be much more limited in its influence over our biological evolution. This could lead to evolutionary stagnation of the human genetic code over time.
  2. Women will be less and less hampered by the role of child bearer, and will come more and more to expect alternative lifestyle options and choices to replace this. (Already happened to some extent, but logic suggests it will continue on further in this direction.)
  3. If natural selection no longer aids us in our evolutionary path due to point one above, then mechanisms will come in to replace this. A growing dependency on technological innovation and on medicine. Sexual selection exhibited in ever more complex rituals and practices.


The general point here is that the adaptation to the pressures of population, of adopting lifestyles for a sustainable future, is going to have a huge effect on our values. Some of these values go back thousands of years. It is also going to effect how we relate to one another. How gender differences are interpreted. How we view work and money. How we view our personal life goals. With the sheer number of dominoes that will fall one after the other based on this change from a growing human population to one no longer growing, it is hard at times to see how humanity will find values to cope with this change.

People tend to get lost in the details of technology, science, media, democracy, education, globalisation. The fact is what is really driving the change in our fundamental values is the growing sub-conscious perception that in the future we need to survive and sustain ourselves in a world where human population numbers are not able to increase anymore.

It is a slightly controversial opinion maybe. But it is certainly the guiding force in all my Dystopian visions. Maybe yours differ, and I would be interested to hear what they are.

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