I had a nice talk with my sister tonight, about motivations and goals. She explained what she's planning to do with her life, and I completely understood her reasons and motivations. Then I tried to explain to her why I was so interested in cognitive science, but found it difficult to word it any other way than this: Cognitive Science can save the world, and I want to be a part of it.
I believe that eventually it will be possible to digitize the human brain. This will lead to matrix-like virtual environments where we will be able to do whatever we please. No more limit on real-world resources. When humans are digitized there will be no more hunger, no more shortage of anything. No biological body will be needed, and everybody can live forever, if they choose to. Think of all the problems that would no longer exist if we lived in a digital world. No more death, famine, disease. There might still be war, but since it's virtual no one will actually die or be hurt. It's the ultimate solution to every possible problem this world has right now. And I believe that it's within reach. I believe that thanks to scientific advances we will be able to create an exact digital copy of the human brain before this century is over. That's only the first step, but it's enough to make (certain) people from this era immortal. Obviously I am hoping to be one of them :P I'm not expecting cognitive science to save the world, but I think it's a good first step, and a chance to meet people with the knowledge and the ideas to change the world for the better, and on a grand scale.
In my own life I consider myself to be mostly a nihilist, but I guess there's still some idealism left in me. I wonder how that'll change in the future.