Life without an iphone or washing machine is something I do not want to experience. However, I am aware that it is only because I have experienced life with these things that life without them sounds awful. I am also aware that some of the greatest pleasures that life will offer my descendants are things that I do not have access to.
The 1 year iphone
Suppose you have a choice between the following two options: (1) you can have a fully functional iphone for 1 year, but after the year ends it will be taken away, and you will never have an iphone (or anything like it) in the future; (2) you will never have an iphone (or anything like it) today or anytime in the future.
The two scenarios are equivalent, except in the first you get something awesome for a year. A rational observer who doesn’t know much about humans might assume that option (1) is best. However, I think most people would find that post-iphone life is worse than pre-iphone life. Thus, the non-iphone years in scenario (1) are worse than the same years in scenario (2), even though in both scenarios we have no iphone.
Suppose we create three sub-scenarios for (2). (2a) you will never have an iphone, but you will be unaware that such a thing could exist. (2b) you are aware of iphones and the cool features, some currently living people have them, but you will never have access to one. (2c) you are aware that future people will have something like an iphone, but it won’t be invented in your lifetime.
Scenario (2a) clearly seems best. You are unaware of the pleasure you are denied. For scenario (2b), whether this makes you unhappy probably depends on whether iphone people are near (your friends, colleagues) or far (the super wealthy or citizens of another country). Scenario (2c) is the type of thing we all experience (just replace iphone with some future cool invention), but most people don’t seem to care.
Future me would be miserable if tech was taken away, but past me didn’t care that the tech was missing. Current me is aware that I am being denied pleasure. Should I care?