The future of everything
THE FUTURE OF EVERYTHING: BIG, AUDACIOUS IDEAS FOR A BETTER WORLD By Tim Dunlop Newsouth Books RRP $34.99 paperback Ebook $14.99 Australian based writer and academic Tim Dunlop has, he believes, a plan for saving the world and those of us who inhabit it from ourselves. His blueprint is revealed in his latest book, The Future of Everything.
His last book, Why the Future is Workless, was published in 2016 and apparently sold well to his specialist market.
This one, I’m not so sure about. His “big, audacious ideas for a better world” will struggle for traction and for precisely the same reasons that our world is now in such a mess.
Dunlop proclaims the obvious, that we are in the middle of the greatest technological revolution in history. And therein dwells the problem. This revolution should deliver all manner of life-enhancing benefits. But right now, it appears to be sliding inexorably over to the dark side.
The advantages that technology could deliver will, Dunlop warns, be for nothing if these advances continue to be used to concentrate wealth “in the hands of the few”. He maintains that too much technology is deployed on control and surveillance. They must instead be used to deliver liberation and fairness. Unless this shift happens, he argues, the future looks distinctly bleak.
Dunlop advocates seven simply stated priorities to achieve his “fairer world”. He suggests: • More everyday people in government
deciding the course of our future. • More workplaces owned and controlled
by the people who work in them. • Essential public assets such as water and
power publicly owned. • A guaranteed basic income so people
have the time to live the life they choose. • A media that better reports the truth and
citizens who can recognise it. • An education system that prepares us for
the future. • Joy in all its complexity.
If this sounds somewhat familiar, it is. Undaunted by the obvious policy parallels with socialist thinkers of old, Dunlop spells out his ideas for reclaiming common ground, arguing the case for more public ownership of essential assets, more public space, more transparent media and education that prepares everyone for the future.
The book’s value lies in its compelling, and often depressing, description of the evolutionary process that’s delivered the politics, economics, environmental degradation and social dislocation now facing our world.
We are, writes Dunlop, in danger of dying a painful, capitalism-induced death. “The end of capitalism is all around us, as the planet heats, as the oceans fill with plastic, as our societies lose their coherence, as species die and habitats fail, as economies become ends in themselves.”
But he says, “there is still time” to rediscover a fairer and happier world. To do that the rest of us “must rediscover the joy of exercising real political power”. Hmmm!