You don't know your future self

Kamil Tałanda
2 min readNov 6, 2022

Years ago, while I was at the University, I never thought about leaving my home country. I didn't speak any foreign language well enough to communicate without issues, and I wasn't interested in travelling just for the sake of doing it. I stayed happily in the bubble of my close neighbourhood, and I was pretty sure it would stay this way forever. My plans focused on graduating, getting a good enough job so I could pay the bills, and maybe a family and an everyday life in terms of the society I grew up in. Fast forward fifteen years, and I live in Australia, surfing every day, learning new languages and hungry for new experiences worldwide. Although I'm the same person, my priorities have drastically changed, and everything I believed I desired is no longer my life's goal.

That brings the complex problem of identity. Identifying people on the internet is a massive technical headache, and plenty of services try to do it, sometimes more, sometimes less successfully. Are we the same people if we have the same names, dates and places of birth? In programming, relying on the underlying data to claim equality is usually good enough, but philosophically, it is a much more complex problem. Theseus' paradox is an excellent illustration of the issue. If a ship changed all its parts over time, is it still the same ship? Likewise, we are changing over time, both physically, exchanging the cells of our bodies and mentally, understanding new ideas and finding ourselves in different circumstances.

Humans tend to think that we live in the final stage of history. Whatever came before us was just preparation for what is happening now. We make our choices as we know what our future self would want, but is it true? Based on my own experience, I would say we don't know who we will be in the next 10 or 15 years, and we need to be careful in making choices that affect us at this time. We live in a particular time in the history of our existence and humankind's history. From the perspective of the generations to come, we will look very similar to the people who lived in the 19th century or even the Medieval. Same when we look at our lives in 20 years. The current stage of life, which seems so special, will blend with all others, including childhood.

With all that in mind, we either can fall into nihilistic thinking that nothing matters because we don't know anything, even our future selves or feel liberated and embrace the unknown. We are not as important as we would think, nor are our choices. The time we live in now is not final, and we still have time to change and evolve. Furthermore, we should care about the future state of our lives and the earth to not hurt whoever comes after, including our future selves.

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