#94 Another post-pandemic roaring 20s
Something is in the air. I feel like something big is going to happen and I’d like to play some part in it. This stream concerns the future and how the past repeats itself. We’re currently in the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu of 1919 roughly 100 years ago. When the 1919 pandemic subsided, we had, at least in the United States, the “roaring 20s,” a decade of growth, abundance, and the U.S. becoming a world power after the First World War. We also had a prohibition on alcohol, but this too created abundance and propelled culture in new ways. For example, the speakeasy became a phenomenon, African Americans started a new type of music called “jazz,” and the prohibition created the mafia or organized crime as we know it today. What an interesting time to be alive, so much change.
As far as technological advancement goes, off the top of my head humans saw advances in plastics, in airplane technology, medicine, chemistry, Einsteinian physics, urban planning (i.e., skyscrapers and better roads), the mass-produced car, or put differently, a car for the masses. We saw inventions and advancements of devices that required electricity; even electricity was a relatively new technology since the beginning of the 20th century. I can’t imagine the number of devices that would not have been invented had there not been an electrical source to power them.
I recently read an online article (there are many on this topic) making the comparison between the roaring 20s of the 20th-century and the hypothesized roaring 20s that will likely happen in the 21st century after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides. History repeats itself. History is like waves of water crashing upon a beach; the beach is us, humans, and the predictable and steady waves (when accounting for time of day and the influence of the moon, etc.) are like history repeating itself. Something is going to happen, but what? I’m excited to see what kinds of changes our species is going to experience regarding technological and social and cultural advancement. What are we going to do collectively and individually that could potentially change the world for all of us and for our individual lives? How will we live because one person or a small group of people made some discovery and then that triggers a trickledown/adoption effect?
I’m kind of aware of what’s coming, what’s on the horizon, not only because of my philosophy of technology education, but also because I pay attention to the news, read journalistic pieces about future technology and watch YouTube videos of interviews with experts about how the world is probably going to turn out. The technologies that stand to make the biggest impact on our global society are the following:
Elon Musk and his companies’ efforts to transform the automobile and private space industries; in other words, if everything goes according to plan, Musk wants to transport at least 1 million people from Earth to Mars by 2050 (very ambitious, I like it). We will have blockchain technology replacing money and used for digital collectibles or right to ownership, contracts, and other negotiations/situations suited to our increasingly digital world, likely even spilling into gaming and online virtual worlds. We will have artificial intelligence that is set to potentially disrupt everything. We will have quantum computing. We will have advanced weapons. We may even discover other dimensions with people living in them.
Supposing all of this, what impact will psychedelics make in the first half of the 21st century? First, people will become more awakened to themselves, different aspects of themselves, and Other Worlds that lie just on the other side of ordinary perception. Scientists will discover how these chemicals impact our physiology. Therapists will discover more effective psychedelic-technique-method combinations to maximize the health benefits of these substances, thereby making them more effective in getting people the help they need, and which might serve as useful coping tools for people living in a highly technologized world. I think psychedelics will also be used as idea generators, as ways to unlock or dislodge ideas and “next steps” from people’s minds. Whether real or not, we will make contact with other intelligent beings in the hyper-dimensions. I believe we will begin to understand the nature of the visionary experience, the dynamics of that space and how it unfolds to consciousness, i.e., what the relationship is between drugs and consciousness. The greatest discoveries will come from philosophers in my opinion because such intellectuals (including lay experts and amateurs from all fields) will begin drafting the cognitive maps of these spaces. We must have maps if we’re going to push farther into these regions. We must first have an analytical account of these spaces, maps and markers, for future explorers to count on, and dare I say, take for granted, in order to make even more discoveries. The Psychedelic Renaissance has been underway for about 25 years, give or take. With this in mind, the stage is set for something big to happen, some major push in research, discovery, invention; things we couldn’t have even dreamed were possible because things are advancing so rapidly. It is this rapidity, this stacking or scaffolding of technological progress, and to some extent sociocultural progress, that interests me. One thing keeps leading to another, barriers are being broken down, everyone has a voice now because of technology. I’m able, for example, to express my ideas with this blog you’re reading or my podcast to which you’re listening, or future Open Access research articles I intend to publish.
So, yes, I’m curious how history may repeat itself in the roaring 20s of the 21st century, the roaring 2020s, and what roles psychedelics are going to play in this regard and in conjunction with all the other stuff that’s currently happening and will happen. Psychedelics aren’t going away, the cat’s out of the bag. Now that it’s out, what will it do; can we train it, can we teach it things; what can the cat do or do to us? How will we pair discoveries in other fields with our current and future knowledge of psychedelics and visionary experiences? I don’t know how most technologies work, I just use them, but I do reflect on how these technologies might change us individually and collectively.
I’m curious what you think regarding this post-pandemic push into the future. What do you think will come out of a two- or three-year lockdown and disrupted life? How will we be different because of the pandemic, how will future technologies and new social norms change us, and what role do you think psychedelics will play at this moment in history and going forward?