Are We Living in the Best or the Worst of Times?

Illustration for article titled Are We Living in the Best or the Worst of Times?

Charles Dickens famously pointed to a moment in time that was both the best and the worst of times, but today we quit equivocating and ask ourselves once and for all: are we now living in the best or the worst of times?

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So, is our present an enlightened resurgence, which history will mark as the kickoff in revelations in nano-tech, medical knowledge, and information sharing? Or is it a modern dark age, which historians will point to mostly to make fun of our hilarious, flightless cars? Give us your take in the comments.

Image: beboy / Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

Wouldn't this be contextual? A derivatives trader who made a fat bonus and got bailed out by the government without penalty may think this time is incredible. But that trader would have a hard time explaining how good a time this is to a homeless earthquake refugee in Pakistan or a child soldier in the Congo.

On a broader scale, we're probably in the beginnings of a tech renaissance. We think we've got it pretty good with the tech we have, but most of us probably felt the Walkman was the height of technology back in the day. And the more advances in technology we adopt that brings personal freedom to individuals, the more the anti-science, atavistic sectors of society rage, which suggests they see those advancements as real threats to the kind of social control they hold.

Take that Congolese child soldier; Africa has some of the widest cell phone adoption of any country, and they've been pretty forward-thinking about how to use that tech. The Congolese soldier's cousin may have a phone with a scanner app that can be used to scan the UPC codes of prescriptions and know immediately if that medication is legit or is a knock-off. That's pretty great for him and those with the phone app.

What we think is great now is nothing compared to what's on the way.