Last year around this time we offered a quasi-optimistic take on 2022. This time, as a corrective, we turned to two outside sources for guidance on what 2023 (and beyond) might look like: Cormac McCarthy and OpenAI.
McCarthy’s year-end pair of novels, The Passenger and Stella Maris, were the literary event of the year for us, George Saunders notwithstanding. Quite dark, though. To counter McCarthy’s (and our own) innate pessimism, we enlisted the help of Open AI’s ChatGPT and DALL·E 2.
Despite his bleak outlook (or perhaps because of it), McCarthy is eminently quotable. Here is a line from The Passenger that we used to generate OpenAI’s year-end outlook: “The horrors of the past lose their edge, and in the doing they blind us to a world careening toward a darkness beyond the bitterest speculation.”
A Dark Future?
It is difficult to predict the future with certainty, but it is possible to imagine a future in which the horrors of the past are remembered and acknowledged, but no longer have the power to haunt and dominate the present. This could be a world in which people have learned from the mistakes and atrocities of the past, and have made a concerted effort to prevent them from happening again.
In this future, the horrors of the past may have lost their edge because they have been widely recognized, acknowledged, and addressed. People may have developed a deeper understanding of the causes of these horrors, and may have implemented measures to prevent them from occurring in the future.
However, it is also possible that this focus on the past could have the unintended consequence of blinding people to the present and future. People may become so focused on preventing past horrors from repeating themselves that they overlook other pressing issues and problems that are unfolding in the present.
Furthermore, it is important to recognize that the future is not predetermined, and that the actions and choices of individuals and societies can shape the direction in which the world moves. If people are not careful and vigilant, it is possible that the horrors of the past could be repeated, or that new horrors could emerge. It is crucial that people stay aware and engaged in the present and the future, in order to prevent darkness and suffering from taking hold.
Happy New Year, everyone.