Morfternight #95: Where will you be in 100 years?
The one about history, future, and legacy.
Today we talk about WordPress and WordCamps, as I am just returning from WordCamp US. We also continue our exploration of the multiple opinions around the impact AI will have on our World. Finally, we take a moment to consider whether our online presence should outlive us or not.
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👋 Good Morfternight!
Greetings from Washington, D.C., or more precisely, from Dulles International Airport. As I wait to board my flight home, I can't help but reflect on the whirlwind of encounters and experiences from the past few days. I was here for WordCamp US 2023, a gathering that felt like a friend reunion of sorts.
The Special Place WordCamps Hold in My Life
WordCamps aren't just any conference; they're a cornerstone in my professional journey. These WordPress-centric events, organized by the global WordPress community, have been instrumental in shaping my career and personal growth.
My first encounter with WordCamps was in 2011 in Montreal, Canada. Alongside my then-colleague and good friend, Zé Fontainhas, I presented on the complexities and solutions for creating multilingual WordPress sites. That experience was a gateway, opening doors to a community I would soon call family.
Leading the Charge: WordCamp Europe
By 2013, I had attended several WordCamps and felt a pull towards contributing more actively. That year, I joined the organizing team for the inaugural WordCamp Europe (WCEU) in Leiden, Netherlands. For the next five years, my involvement with WCEU took me from Sofia to Sevilla, then to my current home in Vienna, to Paris in 2017, where I had the honor of leading the entire organizing team, and finally to Belgrade in 2018 where I was invited to speak.
Lessons and Takeaways: Knowing When to Step Back
After years of deep involvement, I made the conscious decision to step down. Part of it was to make room for emerging leaders, and part of it was a realization. Organizing large-scale events, complete with multiple speaker tracks, workshops, and sponsors, had evolved from a side activity—a hobby, if you will—into an almost overwhelming We startcommitment.
If there's one thing I've learned from these experiences, it's the importance of community and leadership in personal growth. Sometimes, stepping back is as crucial as stepping up, allowing others to shine and yourself to recharge.
So, as I sit here, awaiting my flight, I'm filled with gratitude for the journey so far and excitement for the road ahead.
📷 Photo of the week
Elephant, Vienna — More Photos from Berlin
As I penned the introduction above, the announcement for boarding my flight broke through the airport's lounge chatter. Fast-forward eight hours, and I touched down in Vienna again. Amidst the fog of jetlag and fatigue, a realization dawned on me: it's been too long since I took my camera out.
So, allow me to share with you a photograph of an elephant, taken a few months back. It serendipitously aligns with today's theme: longevity.
🗺️ Three places to visit
Forming an opinion is no small feat. I'm still grappling with the idea that the latest leaps in AI could either usher in an era of unprecedented societal growth or mark the beginning of the end for us all.
Today, let's dive into three perspectives I find optimistic. You might raise an eyebrow at the last one, but I promise, it's worth the read.
① Ben Evans delves into AI and the automation of work, and he offers a compelling argument. According to him, AI will undoubtedly shake up industries, but history shows that this kind of disruption usually leads to more job opportunities and prosperity, not less.
② Bill Gates also chimes in with his piece, The Age of AI has begun. Gates' view is optimistic and leans on what history has consistently proven: technological advancements yield more good than harm.
③ Lastly, we have Natasha Bajema's AI’s 6 Worst-Case Scenarios. At first glance, this article seems pessimistic, painting a picture of bleak futures. However, Bajema illustrates how these nightmarish outcomes are within our reach even without AI. In her scenarios, if things go south, we only have ourselves to blame, not AI.
Now, here's why this last perspective is vital. We often set an unfair bar for AI. We assess its potential impact as if humans have a flawless track record, expecting AI to be perfect to even enter the conversation. It's the same argument we make against self-driving cars, demanding zero accidents as the entry standard. Yet, we conveniently forget that human drivers are responsible for over a million fatalities each year.
By critically examining these perspectives, we can strive for a balanced view, one that not only acknowledges the pitfalls but also the transformative potential that AI holds. It's a conversation we need to have, full of nuance and complexity, just like the technology itself.
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💯 Where will you be in 100 years?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the odds of us being around in a century are, well, not great. It's a sobering fact we all share.
Immortality? It's never been my dream. I remember reading somewhere:
Humans dream of eternal life, but then, on Sunday if it rains and there’s nothing good on TV they get bored.
Beyond that, there’s another blocker, ecology. Since humans first walked the earth, approximately 114 billion people have lived. The planet just couldn't support an ever-growing, never-dying population.
Think about it. Achieving eternal life and then opting not to have kids to alleviate the strain? That's not just impractical; it's inherently selfish.
Yet, I hold a glimmer of hope. When my time comes, maybe we'll have the tech to upload our consciousness to the cloud or, say, a matrix. Imagine being a digital observer, tracking human progress without taking up a square inch of Earth or guzzling energy.
For now, though, that's pure sci-fi.
But here's something that's not: our ability to create and access digital content. Yes, most of this content risks vanishing, victim to mundane obstacles—expired credit cards or an expired owner who can't click "renew now" in an email.
Enter the newest member of the WordPress.com lineup: the 100 year plan.
Full disclosure: I work for Automattic, although I wasn't involved in creating this particular offering.
At first, I was skeptical. But the more I pondered, the more it clicked. How invaluable it would be to ensure your digital legacy lasts a century—or more, if someone opts to renew your plan.
Sure, it's not for everyone, both in terms of accessibility and desire. But the real gem is the choice it presents and the conversation it starts. With this option, you can give your digital afterlife some serious thought and make a purposeful decision.
I also love the video.