As I looked at the city of San Francisco from the Berkeley waterfront I couldn't help but notice the construction of the new bay bridge. From my vantage point I could also see the golden gate. I realized that we will probably never replace the golden gate, at least aesthetically. We may completely replace every part of the golden gate, but it will still look the same, largely.
I then looked back at the city. The buildings reaching for the sky, every inch of the peninsula occupied by structure. It looks to be a great indicator of our current technological and civil prowess as a civilization. But there was something else I could see. There is a way of looking at the world that is distinctive to our modern times. I will tell a story to illustrate.
Shopping at the local electronics store I saw a brand new facial-recognition-enabled camera. I was amused at how novel it was and I told my wife, "honey, look at this primitive AI".
Then I stopped myself - why did I just call this ulta-modern, brand-new piece of technology 'primitive'?
My friend thinks, and I tend to agree, that this is a modern cultural mindset created by the steady march of technological progress: even the newest, latest and greatest are seen through the eyes of what could be.
Perhaps, though, this is just a human inclination. Perhaps it is this self-deprecation that leads us to progress as well as allows us to be hoodwinked by powers "greater" than ourselves; powers that convince us of our 'primitiveness' or our 'incompleteness' and exploit us from it.
I looked out at San Francisco and its overwhelming hold on the land. I then looked at the sky above it.
How many square miles lay unclaimed above that city? How two-dimensional and squashed did out current state seem to me. How bottom-feeding and low did our current state appear.
But this is the view through the eyes of the future - how much smaller am I as an individual than all that matter of that great city?
As a society we will always be far ahead of what we were, far behind what we will become and exactly where we need to be to continue the journey.