Human progress – technological, scientific, social, etc. – seeks to reduce, and ultimately totally eliminate, the aspects of life we perceive as unpleasant – loss, tragedy, suffering ... However, an argument can be made that we require a possibility for "unpleasant" aspects of life - i.e. a conflict to be overcome - in order to build an identity and construct a meaning that will transcend the state of being best described by Nietzsche's formulation of the "last man":
"The last man is tired of life, takes no risks, and seeks only comfort and security. [...] The lives of the last men are pacifist and comfortable. [...] Social conflict and challenges are minimized. Every individual lives equally and in "superficial" harmony. There are no original or flourishing social trends and ideas. Individuality and creativity are suppressed. [...] The last man is possible only by mankind's having bred an apathetic creature who has no great passion or commitment, who is unable to dream, who merely earns his living and keeps warm."
For example, consider a scientist who derives meaning from his quest to discover a cure for a horrible disease – this quest requires the disease to exist in the first place. By discovering a cure (i.e. contributing to progress), he eliminates some suffering, but he also denies this same quest to others who will come after him. Similar arguments can be made for all areas of human endeavor - even great art is usually based on conflict and some variation of suffering.
Assuming a hypothetical limit of human progress where all negative aspects of life - or perhaps all problems - have been removed, could individuals derive autonomous meaning that would objectively transcend the dystopian Brave New World, last man-like state? Or would we be forced to face existential boredom where precisely the arbitrary malleability of reality due to our omnipotence (even e.g. immortality) would force us to - as Zapffe put it - "artificially limit the content of [our] consciousness" by means of e.g. cognitive control in order to preserve sanity, and in the process transform the human condition to the level of last men?
To put it differently: if we define technological progress as an optimization problem that seeks to minimize suffering and/or conflict, is the paradox of technological progress then that the only state of being it ultimately allows is the one of induced "last men", a kind of maximum existential entropy?