Steven Landsburg did an interesting post on what future generations will think of past generations. Here is it verbatim:
- Future generations will look back with bemusement on a time when airline passengers couldn’t pay extra for a flight that’s guaranteed first place in the runway queue, and more generally on our odd reluctance to embrace prices. They’ll be unable to imagine why we thought it was better to let people die of liver disease than to pay organ donors, or why the “net neutrality” cult had a problem with Internet content providers being able to purchase resources to serve their customers better.
- Future generations are likely to be appalled by the moral blindness of either their pro-life or pro-choice ancestors, though I’m not sure which. Like slavery, this issue will eventually be settled, whereupon the losing position (whichever it is) will start to seem not just wrong but unthinkable.
- Future generations might look back tenderly on the naivete that led us to believe we (meaning, say, middle-class Americans) could go on much longer leading lives mostly untouched by violence.
- Choose a random movie made before, say 1990, and the odds are good that all of the plot complications could have been resolved in the first five minutes if only somebody had a cellphone. Choose a random movie made today and the odds are good that all of the plot complications could be resolved in the first five minutes if only the characters were polyamorous. (Of course, then there would be a whole new set of complications.) As incomes, lifespans, and the quality of communication continue to improve, I expect that our societal fixation on monogamy will wither, and our grandchildren will look back in wonder at their ancestors’ blindness to the lifestyle options they could have chosen.
- The moral circle will continue to expand. As we look back in horror on our ancestors’ harsh treatment of slaves or of Native Americans, our descendants will look back in horror on our treatment of immigrants and our reluctance to trade with foreigners. Slogans like “Buy American” will strike our grandchildrens’ ears the way “Buy White” would strike ours.
- Our treatment of animals might seem almost as horrific as our treatment of foreigners.
- Our descendants might well wonder why so few of us chose to be cryonically preserved (or to put this another way, why so many of us chose to die), and wish they could come back and shake some sense — and some life — into us.
I find most of this accurate, although number 2 seems to be a stretch. I don’t think the abortion issue will be solved in a complete moral category for a few generations, although some of the commentators think it’s going to head to a pro-choice view. Some of the comments are insightful too. Most think that the War on Drugs will be eradicated. I suspect 4 will be true overtime, but many of the commentators think it’s wrong.
Let me add two thoughts:
8. I think religious affiliation will go down. More and more people will start to see themselves as “spiritual but not religious” overtime. With that, religious literacy will go down to where people won’t even know what they are supposed to believe in their religion. Eventually, I think many people of the future will look at our generation and think that we must have been crazy to have had these beliefs. Perhaps this will or will not lead to atheism, but certainly a downward trend to religious sensibilities.
9. This will take a good while, but the whole notion of race will be gone because everyone will be more-or-less the same hue. I hear it’s going to be some conglomerate pumpkin color of some sort. Perhaps our descendants will look at our different races and consider them weird in the same way we look at our evolutionary ancestors as weird.
Any others out there you want to add?