From its inception in ancient literature, to the popular movies and novels of today, humans have tried to imagine what a perfect society would look like. And not surprisingly, it’s been a difficult task. Often times these perfect societies portrayed in works of fiction and movies turn out to be dystopias in disguise. Novels such as Brave New World, 1984 and A Clockwork Orange and movies such as The Matrix, Minority Report and Equilibrium all share this feature.
Another characteristic these stories share is that they all took great advancements in technology for these societies to become a reality. And eerily enough, it’s hard not to see the resemblance these works of art share with what is actually taking place in the real world.
Technology will continue to advance and with it comes a plethora of possibilities. Can we use this technology to create a utopia? Is a utopia even possible? Or will this attempt at a perfect society lead to a dystopia in disguise in which so many works of fiction have imagined?
To me, a utopia would provide happiness to everyone that belongs in it. And ideally, to describe the opposite of Sam Harris’s “worst possible misery for everyone” in his book The Moral Landscape, a utopia would attempt to achieve the best possible happiness for everyone. Let’s call it BPHFE.
It’s incredibly difficult to imagine how BPHFE would be implemented into a society. Brave New World attempts to do this by stupefying the lower castes while they’re young, and providing them with plenty of drugs and recreational sex when they’re older. And while you must admit this would increase pleasure, there is a sense of manipulation in the way it is achieved. Besides, happiness doesn’t have to revolve only around drugs and sex.
I believe curiosity is a vital ingredient towards achieving BPHFE. It is curiosity that allows us to keep advancing as a civilization through our willingness to learn and experience new things in life. In order to achieve a society filled with curious people (and therefore BPHFE), we must do the opposite of the society in Brave New World: educate the masses.
A BPHFE utopia would have individuals involved in occupations that would spark their own unique passion and interests. Perhaps the technology of the future will have some type of test to best determine our natural characteristics. Ideally, this would allow every individual to flourish by increasing their curiosity freely and unrestrained.
Advanced machines and computers would keep society functioning. They would provide humans with everything on the bottom two layers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. These technologies could also produce goods to enrich the lives of the people for the highest layers.
This society would embrace minimalism. Money wouldn’t exist. People could focus purely on their passions without fear, anxiety and hatred. Possessions would have little value or meaning. Life would consist of love, curiosity and experiences; and that’s all we would need.
My idea of a utopia surely has its flaws, but perhaps the concept is not entirely unfathomable. The question remains: What does a utopia look like? Stay curious.