I've got speech for my local toastmasters group, and was wondering if anyone would care to critique it. It's more in the style of a motivational speech than anything really technical. I'm using the TM group as a test-bed for some ideas on how to spread the extropian meme through public-speaking, and would welcome any observations the list might have.
Awakening the Sleeper
An anonymous Internet pundit once wrote, "The world is so fast that there are days when the person who says it can't be done is interrupted by the person who is doing it." It doesn't take much looking around these days to see that world is changing on multiple fronts at breakneck speed. The Human Genome has been mapped. Computers are becoming more powerful, smaller, and omnipresent. On the societal front the change is no less dizzying. The nations of Europe have become the European Union. China has broken out of its formerly third-world status to become a real potential rival to the United States. We hear of protests and revolutions all over the world on what seems to be a daily basis. In the financial world we move from being in the longest sustained boom of the twentieth century to the troubled market we now see each night on CNBC. The one constant of our times, it seems, is change. And frankly, more and greater changes are approaching than we could have formerly even conceived.
So how do we, as human beings living in the age of change, cope with the constant barrage of new information, and the constantly shifting state of the world? My answer is that we ourselves must change, even transform, to face the challenges of our day. As Frank Herbert wrote in his epic novel Dune, ""Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken." I believe that we must awaken the sleeping giants within ourselves to survive and thrive in this dawning age of change. But what changes must we face?
First we have to be prepared to live longer. In 1990 there were just over 3 million people in the United States age 85 or older. In the past ten years that number has risen by nearly a million and a half. The numbers for 75 to 84 have increased by two million. We as a nation are living longer, and living fuller and more productive lives as we age, than we have in any point in history. Medical technology has advanced enough, even assuming no further growth in knowledge, that it is very likely that most if not all of the people in this room could live to see one hundred years or better.
Next, be prepared for a more prosperous world. Over the next thirty years there will be an unprecedented boom in production worldwide, ensuring a worldwide standard of living and relative comfort never before possible. As a result, our energies will be turned to creating and exploring on a level not seen since the European renaissance. As the cost of travel across the globe decreases and the flow of information increases, there will be more opportunity for those who wish to travel to do so, and more contact with people from different cultures both face to face and on the Internet.
Finally, be prepared for more choice in nearly every aspect of life. Already choices of lifestyle and occupation are more diverse than ever before, and the byproduct is an ever-increasing tolerance of those choices. As productivity increases the trend toward more free time and more money to spend on that time will only increase correspondingly.
So how do we prepare ourselves for these changes? First, take care of your body, and try to expand your physical capabilities. While replacement parts are becoming more common, my personal belief is that it is better to have the original factory equipment until something truly better arrives. Secondly, take care of your mind, and expand it whenever possible. Learn languages, take courses, follow whatever interests you may have, but continue to learn and expand your brainpower. In a world dominated by change and possibility a flexible and well-trained mind is one of the best tools you can have. Finally, strive for self-direction in every aspect of your own life. Make goals, make decisions, seek out freedom and openness. I can't tell you exactly how you should individually each prepare for and cope with the coming changes in our world, as Franklin Roosevelt said, "There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still." What I can tell you, though, is to strive to improve and expand yourself in any way you feel is right for you. Challenge yourself to learn and grow. Awaken your sleeper.
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