Your past, present, and future self

Your past, present, and future self

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This week we’re quoting Izzi Creo (a fictional character in the 2006 movie The Fountain)

What Izzi said:

“We’re going to live forever, aren’t we?

Stick with us for a moment…

If you’re wondering why we’re talking about a 2006 Darren Aronofsky movie…well, you’d be justified in wondering that. 

But it’s one of our favourites. And it’s full of mind-bending ideas about technology and time, and what it means to be human alongside evolving technologies that change our experience of life. 

And we’re going to get a bit existential here. We hope you’ll stay for the journey. 

What’s the movie about?

It’s an epic romantic drama starring Hugh Jackman as Tom Creo and Rachel Weisz as Izzi Creo. 

It has a twisting non-linear plot with three storylines around the theme of immortality: 

  1. A Spanish conquistador in the 16th century, called Tomas, attempts to find the Tree of Life in order to save his queen, Isabella, from the Inquisition.
  2. A present day scientist called Tommy struggles to find a cure for his wife Izzi’s terminal illness. Izzi is writing a book (called The Fountain), about the Spanish queen and her quest for eternal life.
  3. In the future, an astronaut called Tom travels through space in a bubble that also contains a beautiful tree, which he believes is the key to immortality. 

In short, the movie is about attempting to avoid the loss of love by searching for a way to avoid death. 

But it’s also about how the technological possibilities and scientific knowledge available to us change over time – and how we use those technologies to achieve our dreams. 

It got us thinking: how do we determine which of life’s problems should be solved by technology? What would it mean to be human if we really did never have to lose a loved one? 

Looking to the past and the future to figure out what we want technology to do

Here’s a thing: the technologies currently available to us are already changing the way we’ll exist after death. 

No, we haven’t figured out the key to immortality. But we’re producing and storing vast volumes of data (at least 2.5 quintillion bytes every single day) which means that future generations will have an incredible amount of information to show them what we were doing and thinking today. 

We have AI, which has the potential to carry our knowledge, ideas, values and culture into the future – far beyond the human lifespan. 

And globally, we’re in the process of figuring out how we want to apply certain emerging technologies to human life and to the environment we inhabit. How do we want to impact our world (and even other worlds) going forward? 

Already, we have a history of technological and societal development that we can look back at. We can consider what past generations most wanted, and how tech changed their lives – and we can ask questions about how those changes had both positive and negative effects. 

For technologists, an awareness of time is really important

Our point here is that for the people who are closely involved in developing technologies that really are changing the world, an awareness of how that tech relates to time is really important. 

Imagine you were Tomas or Isabella, 500+ years ago. 

Imagine you’re Tommy and Izzi, living today. 

And imagine you’re Tom in the future. 

What technology would you have wanted then? Would getting what you wanted have been a good thing? 

What technology do you want to bring into existence now?

And in the future, what will life be like if you do create and launch that tech? 

Like we said – we’re getting existential here

Thanks for sticking with us this far.*

The thing is, technology is an existential industry. We don’t know how much, and in what ways exactly, it will change the lives of future generations. And we need to think about that now. 

As Izzi said in the movie: 

"It's all done except the last chapter. I want you to help me. Finish it." 

OK, back to everyday life. We’ll be in your inbox next week with something slightly less existential – we promise. 


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Have an idea for a topic you'd like us to cover? We're eager to hear it! Drop us a message and share your thoughts.

Catch you next week,
Richard McKeon
Marketing Director

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