Their new album might be entitled Moving Backwards (grab a copy here) but, according to Finnish/UK prog rock band Wheel, there is plenty to be optimistic about and they’ve given us their top ten choices here.
“Considering how bleak many of the song topics are that we chose to write about in our recently released debut album Moving Backwards, we wanted to make a list of reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the future. We didn’t write this article flippantly; we are well aware how scary and uncertain the future seems to be, perhaps more so now than ever before, (check out our lyrics if you want to explore our frustration and despair surrounding the current state of things) but, with the overwhelming public consensus being one of grimly waiting for the end to come, we wanted to take the time to acknowledge that all hope is not lost (at least not yet), and there are still reasons to remain hopeful.
Before I begin, here is a quick disclaimer – I am not an academic and there are lots of my opinions mixed in with my non-referenced facts in this article; I expect parts of this will read like insightful observation whereas other sections will be more akin to a naked, bearded man screaming at passing traffic (something I would do less if it wasn’t so enjoyable) – enjoy.”
10. Alternative Media Outlets Displacing Traditional Media Audiences – the New “Freer” Press?
– As YouTube and other platforms, where content is generated by independent groups and individuals, are increasing in popularity every year, the iron grip that traditional media has had on the sharing of world news and events is gradually weakening. Independent creators such as Philip Defranco and Joe Rogan are bringing contentious issues to public attention in a refreshingly open way and actively encourage people all over the world to join an open discussion about the state of things.
Philip Defranco particularly, defines a clear and distinct line between his small business’ reporting of the facts and his/public opinion about any given subject; this is markedly different to many traditional media outlets that either have a political or private citizen’s agenda at the heart of their rhetoric and may indicate a growing public shift towards a more de-centralised, (and ultimately, more open) media.
Wheel seem to have figured out “Where The Pieces Lie”.
09. Access to Information and Learning Tools is Better than Ever.
– For every flat earther, psychic believer and anti-vax supporter, there are people educating themselves independently every day about subjects, previously thought complex enough to only be learned through the highest levels of academic education. Wealth and a good basic education is becoming less of a gateway to learning; many of the world’s greatest lecturers, thinkers and speakers have their content available for free online and there are countless introductory videos to learn more about pretty much anything.
I taught myself how to use Pro Tools (a piece of software used to create and produce music) using videos such as these and the next generation is going to benefit enormously from access to platforms providing educational tools in this manner. Historically, education has driven all kinds of significant, tangible change in society and it has never been as accessible as it is now; it will be very interesting to see how this affects wider society over the next ten/twenty years.
08. Clean Energy Could Change the World
– The consumption of fossil fuels is polluting our air and contributing towards climate change and for the first time ever, renewable energy is not only cleaner and safer but an economically viable alternative. Tech in this industry is improving every year, becoming more affordable and effective and the sky is the limit for how this could change our societies.
I saw a TedTalk a few years ago talking about how the biggest obstacles to renewable energy fulfilling it’s potential are the traditional fuel companies and the power grid system; potentially, there are ways for every home to generate most of the power they consume independently and to add any surplus back into the grid. As this would displace an existing power construct in society, this will no doubt be a very slow shift but with the right legislation, incentives for early adopters, public funding and publicity for the technology, the way we power our growing global population could change radically over the next fifty years.
Wheel’s new album Moving Backwards is out now through OMN Label Services..
07. Veganism to “Flexitarianism” – Hope for Less Environmentally Damaging Agricultural Reform
– Much like fossil fuel consumption, the agricultural industry and deforestation (mainly to create more room for farms or to grow food for cattle) are leading drivers for climate change. Based on all the data I have seen so far, populations need to reduce their meat consumption significantly for farming to remain sustainable as the global population continues to grow and a surprising number of people are making this choice independently, without being strong-armed by aggressive government legislation.
Many vegans and vegetarians I have met base their reasons for the need for this change upon ethics and the welfare of animals but to be cold-bloodedly realistic, there seem to be many people who are unwilling to make dietary changes for this reason alone. Maybe, self-preservation, alongside interesting developments in food technology will become the catalysts that finally drive society toward more sustainable food production and consumption.
06. New Ways to Make Art
– From cheaper software and faster computers to huge new industries such as video gaming, there are fantastic new ways for art to be created and for individuals to express themselves. For all the challenges companies and individuals face trying to monetise their creations in the modern world, the most dedicated, resourceful and ambitious are still finding ways to get their ideas out into the world. Our band is passionate about using our music as a platform to vent our frustration about society (being able to do so, definitely lent to my ability to write an article, as positive as this has become) and there are more ways than ever for people to share art with a huge global audience.
“Please” just stop thinking about it and watch this video!.
05. Automation and AI Done Right Could Pave the Way to a Better Future for All
– Automation and AI are eventually going to replace most jobs. Having read about how the industrial revolution was opposed by Luddites, unhappy about job displacement in the wake of technology (and considering the side that ultimately won this conflict), economic viability is going to dictate the winner here (which, let’s face it, will be the one that doesn’t require expensive man-power or more practical things, like sleep). From driver-less cars to machine learning systems, (that could ultimately render even highly creative jobs redundant), we are on the cusp of drastic societal change with far reaching consequences.
For the first time in human history, new technology is not generating new jobs, but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing for society; in fact, it could be the beginning of a new golden age. Individuals in the future could be free to pursue educating themselves for the love of learning rather than for the necessity of performing menial tasks or attaining qualifications for unfulfilling jobs. Humanity could become a force for previously unimaginable levels of creativity and the exploration of consciousness. To avoid a dystopian nightmare with ever increasing wealth disparity, new legislation needs to be developed to balance out this societal shift, against the needs of a growing population.
Already, Finland has experimented with basic income and there are talks in several countries about implementing a “robot tax”; the solution to regulating this new kind of industry is unsurprisingly, unclear (particularly as it is such a new problem) but there is definitely cause to be hopeful about the outcome; the cynic in me can’t shake the feeling that even the wealthiest members of our society want the masses pacified enough to allow them to continue to accumulate wealth, uncontested.
Here’s another awesome video from Wheel, this time it’s “Vultures”.
04. A New Code of Ethics for the Digital World
– As I am sure you have all seen, the internet has both been a powerful force for positive and meaningful societal change (e.g. the #metoo movement and the displacement of powerful people such as Harvey Weinstein) and a tool that has been used to destroy people’s lives and careers for much less (e.g. James Gunn losing his position in 2018 at Marvel/Disney for some Tweets he had released back in 2009, as addressed in our song “Vultures”).
If this driving force for change, both good and bad, seems significant now, this issue is only likely to be compounded as a new generation of people grow up, having their entire lives documented online, (not just a significant part of them, as is true for my generation). I don’t know anybody who hasn’t either said or done something embarrassing/offensive/distasteful in their past, and in a future where nearly everything we do is both documented, and subject to the scrutiny of others, I think we need to be far more careful with the finger pointing and witch hunting that seems so prevalent in the modern world.
The mobs at the center of this movement, likely forget about those who are ostracised, as a particular target may only linger in their sights for a handful of days or weeks, but the ramifications of this behaviour can be far-reaching indeed. We need to offer people a way out and be kinder to those who have improved themselves; all of us are guilty of believing things that are untrue or unkind and later reforming our beliefs. We also need to differentiate more carefully between people who have opinions or behave in a way that we find offensive/distasteful, and those who are breaking the law (and in cases where they have, let the legal system do it’s work before we jump to conclusions).
Additionally, if everything we had ever done was documented online, (as is likely to be the case in the future) I suspect that most of us would incur the wrath of the present-day online mob, one way or another; most of us look back on our time being young as one where we made some poor decisions that we learned from, allowing us to grow into better adults and especially when no laws have been broken, I think compassion, patience and understanding would likely improve the outcome for society as a whole; particularly if we want to preserve popular social constructs, such as free speech. Changing this is something that is absolutely achievable through a mixture of common sense, logic and kindness; I have faith that as online culture matures, this can improve!
Here’s Carl Miller from the hugely popular Ted Talks series discussing Digital Democracy.
03. Digital Democracy
– Currently, big money’s influence on our political systems is undeniable. People running for election require funds to pay their staff, run their campaigns and promote their agendas and, when a company is big enough, they can back every horse in the race, ensuring the legislation they desire is implemented, whatever the outcome. A subject close to my heart can be used to illustrate this point, the laws surrounding personal data collection, gradually shifting from what they were at the internet’s conception, to what they have become today.
Switzerland is already beginning to experiment with the idea of a digitised democracy and hopefully, this will inspire other countries to begin exploring the idea in earnest. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a digitised social media application, dedicated to politics where voters could through a centralised platform, communicate directly with politicians, politicians could be held accountable to the words they said and debunked by a neutral institution where necessary, the political ‘playing field’ could be evened out, reducing the impact large sums of money would have on election outcomes and society as a whole could participate in what would ultimately become a constructive debate about the best way to run our countries?
Some of you reading this will dismiss this concept as a pipe-dream and will have legitimate concerns about issues such as security and implementation but sometimes, idealism is a good driver for social change – hopefully, this is one of those times!
02. Environmental Future Tech Could Save Us All
– Despite how bleak the near future looks for the environment, nobody knows what technological innovations are around the corner. From machines that can draw excess carbon from the air and remove dumped plastic from the ocean to revolutionary food production ideas that may permanently change the way society thinks about meat, it’s anyone’s guess how the cards are going to fall. Climate change and seemingly irreversible alterations to the food chain should be taken extremely seriously, but there is still some cause to be hopeful.
01. Young People are Smarter than Me
– Young people have better access to information than my generation had, tend to be more inclusive politically and seem to be aggressively trying to combat climate change. Even if some members of my generation are too stuck in their ways to embrace the necessary changes society needs to make if we are to survive, there is hope for the future, as long as we survive long enough for there to be a future to save. It’s not over until the fat lady sings.