Greetings, and may this letter find you at peace and in prosperity!
Forgive my writing to you out of the blue. Though you and I have never met, we are not strangers. We are, in a certain sense, the closest of kin.I am one of your possible futures.
I hope you will become me. Should fortune grant this wish, then I am not just a possible future of yours, but your actual future: a coming phase of you, like the full moon that follows a waxing crescent, or like the flower that follows a seed. I am writing to tell you about my life – how good it is – that you may choose it for yourself.
Although this letter uses the singular, I am really writing on behalf of my all my contemporaries, and we are addressing ourselves to all of your contemporaries. Amongst us are many who are possible futures of your people. Some of us are possible futures of children you have not yet given birth to. Still others are possible artificial persons that you might one day create.
What unites us is that we are all dependent on you to make us real. You can think of this note as if it were an invitation to a ball that will take place only if folks turn up.
We call the lives we lead here “Utopia”.
“Arrive?” you say; “But isn’t the journey the destination? Isn’t Utopia a place that doesn’t exist? And isn’t the quest for Utopia, as witnessed historically, a dangerous folly and an incitement to mischief?” Friend, that is not such a bad way for you to think about it. To be sure, Utopia is not a location or a form of social organization.
The blush of health on a convalescent’s cheek. The twinkling of the eye in a moment of wit. The smile of a loving thought…
Utopia is the hope that the scattered fragments of good that we come across from time to time in our lives can be put together, one day, to reveal the shape of a new kind of life. The kind of life that yours should have been.
I fear that the pursuit of Utopia will bring out the worst in you. Many a moth has been incinerated in its pursuit of a brighter future.
Seek the light! But approach with care – swerve if you smell your wingtips singeing. Light is for seeing, not dying.
When you embark on this quest, you will encounter rough seas and hard problems. To prevail will take your best science, your best technology, and your best politics. Yet each problem has a solution. My existence breaks no law of nature. The materials are all there. Your people must become master builders, and then you must use these skills to build yourselves up without crushing your cores.
What is Suffering in Utopia?
Suffering is the salt trace left on the cheeks of those who were around before.
What is Tragedy in Utopia?
There is tragedy in Snowman’s melting. Mass murders are not required.”
What is Imperfection in Utopia?
Imperfection is the measure of our respect for things as they are and for their history.
What is Body in Utopia?
Body is a pair of legs, a pair of arms, a trunk and a head, all made of flesh. Or not, as the case may be.
What is Society in Utopia?
Society is a never-finished tapestry, its weavers equal to its threads – the parts and patterns an inexhaustible bourne of beauty.
What is Death in Utopia?
Death is the darkness that ultimately surrounds all life.
What is Guilt in Utopia?
Guilt is our knowledge that we could have created Utopia sooner.
We love life here every instant. Every second is so good that it would blow our minds had their amperage not been previously increased. My contemporaries and I bear witness, and we request your aid. Please, help us come into existence! Please, join us! Whether this tremendous possibility becomes reality depends on your actions. If your empathy can perceive at least the outlines of the vision I am describing, then your ingenuity will find a way to make it real.
Human life, at its best, is fantastic. I’m asking you to create something even greater. Life that is truly humane.
Your Possible Future Self
Fragment from “A letter from Utopia” by Nick Bostrom, my kinda of human, a friend!
Check his beautiful mind:
In this video Nick Bostrom, Oxford philosopher and transhumanist, examines the future of humankind and asks whether we might alter the fundamental nature of humanity to solve our most intrinsic problems.
Artificial intelligence is getting smarter by leaps and bounds — within this century, research suggests, a computer AI could be as “smart” as a human being.
And then, says Nick Bostrom, it will overtake us: “Machine intelligence is the last invention that humanity will ever need to make.”
He asks us to think hard about the world we’re building right now, driven by thinking machines.
Will our smart machines help to preserve humanity and our values — or will they have values of their own?