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Roger Abramson
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The most optimistic projections tie closely to the data, rather than using the oft proven wrong conjecture that "we can't go on forever like this." I say let the data speak, whatever it says. The data say an explosion of wealth has occurred despite an accelerating exponential growth of population (now slowing). An individual's choices are certainly a larger predictor of one's income than the decade or century in which he's living. Someone who chooses his government has a name: Immigrant. We can all move to Luxembourg or Hong Kong, if we like, depending on which factors we think give us the greatest advantages. By now, we should have seen the first upticks in GDP data since 1996, showing a computer-enhanced economic growth which can't be explained by human brains alone, and which indicates the first glimmerings of the effects of a 24/7 computer age. The problem, of course, is the data doesn't move as smoothly as we'd like. Any decade can produce a massive recession, or depression which skews our long-term projections considerably. But the long-term trends, stretching back hundreds or even thousands of years, still show an unmistakable and unrelenting trend toward irrevocable prosperity, whatever minor recessions may occur. Peeling back the tiny fragments of our momentary worries reveals the eternal embrace of a forgiving conclusion to the sweep of human history. As we imperfectly pass the baton to the machines, and we're embraced or absorbed into their magnificent capabilities, or catapulted toward the promise of other stars at speeds approaching or exceeding the speed of light, our immortal selves will fondly remember the primitive people who cautiously, timidly emerged from this dark and doubtful age with the modest help of our soft-glowing screens.
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