Is our future determined? And if so, what is it determined by?
These are the questions Nikola Danaylov is discussing at Singularity Weblog, an online format the futurist author and podcaster uses for addressing topics of science, technology, humanity, and the future. In his latest series, Danaylov – who playfully addresses himself as “Socrates” – posits that humanity’s future is, indeed, determined – determined by the stories we tell ourselves.
Before we jump into his fascinating analyses, let’s take a look at Danaylov himself to understand the worldview from which he writes.
Danaylov is a futurist author and speaker based in Toronto, Canada. As a futurist, Danaylov is optimistic about the future of technology and the possibility of an age of post-humanism. For instance, in his most recent blog post on artificial intelligence (which we will return to at a later date), he writes that “it is crucial that humanity transcends humanism to embrace post-humanism, post-anthropomorphism, post-exclusivism, and post-dualism.”
He’s also a vegan, which explains his regular lamenting of the vast number of animals humans kill and eat, a fact of reality he eerily predicts could lead to a similar treatment of humans by artificial intelligence in an AI-controlled future.
After earning degrees in political science at the University of Toronto and York University, he finished a Graduate Studies Program at Singularity University in California. SingularityU is an unaccredited university founded by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil and inspired by Kurzweil’s book, The Singularity is Near.
Danaylov is also the host of Singularity.FM, a podcast that has featured Ray Kurzweil, Noam Chomsky, Marvin Minsky, and others. In 2017, he released a book inspired by some of these podcast interviews titled Conversations with the Future: 21 Visions for the 21st Century. In one part of the book, he empathizes with those who fear a technological singularity, and then provides reasons not to fear, including: immortality, freedom (from biological constraints), utopia, and space and time travel.
Now, Danaylov is embarking on an online series, posted chapter by chapter: ReWriting the Human Story: How Our Story Determines Our Future. His purpose? To lay the groundwork for embarking on a hopeful future informed by a new and bold human story that can rescue us from our current troubles.
We have to rewrite the story. Our story. The human story. Because the old stories that brought us thus far are no longer useful. They’ve lost their vision and grandeur. They’ve become petty and short-sighted. They’re stuck in a past that never was at the expense of a future that can be. They divide us and keep us bickering while our civilization is facing unprecedented diversity and depth of existential challenges. Those stories are not simply our history. They are now our chains. And unless we break them, they will be our death sentence.
Part I of Danaylov’s online book is dedicated to explaining how very important stories are. Part II then applies the power of story to specific elements of the human experience. In future posts, we will particularly explore his analysis of the stories of science, technology, and artificial intelligence.
Danalyov has some excellent points to make that should not be missed, as well as some incorrect assumptions and conclusions that should not be left unchallenged.