Think Optimistically: Let’s start this year off on an optimistic note! I enjoyed this post by Noah Smith on Techno-Optimism in 2024. If you are feeling down about the future — and I’ll be the first to admit that there is no shortage of big issues with which we must be concerned — there are also plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The above link provides a great deal of information about the startling progress being made in robots, batteries, biotechnology, synthetic biology and space exploration. (Fact: The #1 health problem in the U.S. is obesity. Thanks to advances in new drugs such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro this problem may soon be relegated to the dustbin of history.)

Think Twice: I know I just told you to think optimistically but this does NOT give you permission to think optimistically about everything. The advances in artificial intelligence continue to give me serious pause. A case-in-point is this recent AI-enabled scam that used falsely generated ads of Taylor Swift and Joe Rogan promoting a false narrative suggesting you may be missing out on a new $6400 government stimulus program. To date these ads have been viewed 195 million times on the Internet. Alas, they ARE NOT TRUE. The ads are simply a sophisticated scam designed to get the viewer to click on a link that will be used to steal their information. As we head into the 2024 presidential election cycle I am pleading with everyone to think twice about what you are seeing and hearing because it may not be true. Always think twice — especially if it seems too good to be true or, alternatively, if it seems to reinforce your already low opinion of whichever candidate you are thinking of voting against.

Think Different: What will the future of energy in America look like? Solar power is likely to continue to grow in the very near-term and nuclear fusion is a distinct possibility in the distant future. In the near to mid-term (3-5 years), one of the most intriguing possibilities is geothermal power. This article outlines the potential.

Think Visually: Doing household chores remains one of the least favorite activities for most people. After years of futility, the rapidly emerging field of robotics might finally give us the future many of us were promised when we were younger and spent hours watching the Jetsons. If you don’t believe me, watch the first minute of this astounding 18-minute video. Better yet, these robots are open-source and are likely to be smaller, faster, better, less intrusive and more affordable.

Heart-Centered Thinking: The poet Percy Shelley once said, “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” What did he mean? I can’t say for sure, but I believe Shelley understood that poets, more than most people, seek to describe ineffable and immeasurable ideas with words. Most of us know that the things which most give life meaning — love, laughter, beauty, etc. — can’t be measured. Unless we embrace and pursue these ideas and ideals our world — and our future — will be less beautiful than it can and should be. One of my favorite poets (and thus an “unacknowledged legislator”) is Mary Oliver. Here are some inspiring lines from her poems: 10 Quotes from Mary Oliver, the Patron Saint of Paying Attention.

Afterthought: “A thought can advance your life in the right direction only when it answers questions which were asked by your soul.” –Leo Tolstoy