We are living in very interesting times, that are fraught with uncertainties and upheavals. Is the human psyche designed to handle the amount of change the world now undergoes with the mere passing of a handful of years?
I was born into a world you could view with contemporary eyes as ‘innocent’: this was a world without mobile phones and the very inception of the home pc. Today we comfortably talk to our phones and ask it where to go to get the best rhubarb sandwiches within walking distance and the phone politely draws you a map.
My next 3 entries will look at our technological advancements and the continued penetration of disruptive technologies, and ask the question: Is the assimilation of machines a part of our positive evolution?
This first post will look at the information age (the rise of connectivity). The second will look at the rise of the ‘SMART’ (the ubiquity of SMART technology). And the third will look at the future, the fork in the road that could lead to a more prosperous human revolution.
The topics I will be covering are massive and to say I will be covering them is an over-statement. There is so much material theorizing about theses subjects and a vast cornucopia of studies I wont be able to penetrate in a mere blog. What I will do is look at the importance of technology and it changing roles in humanity’s evolution.
Now, there have been a myriad of films, books and games that have dealt with our precarious relationship with technology, mostly ending in a heavy-metal showdown.
The mid 90s to the early 00s were defined by the global revolution of connectivity – it made information free. A tool which is not merely for the elite, it is for everyone. For the first time ever, the world had its first interactive, receptive, ever-learning, exponentially-omniscient system of communication, a true bastion of democracy.
It is connecting us all in ways never before imagined, creating markets and economies where previously not thought of.
The increasing ubiquity of its presence is beginning to change us in ways we did not expect. From social media to the societal make up we see around us. You see, it’s in your head, right now, this internet thing. Rewiring it, changing the way your eyes and ears interact with your brain, making you consume, store, process information differently.
In 2012 Bernard Keane wrote in his article ‘How the internet rewires the circuits of our public space — and you’ about how the internet is changing Australian society and its very cerebral make up. He says: “And if it’s not rewiring your head, it’s changing your society, changing your social relations, changing your job. It’s changing the economy, and changing politics, redistributing power.”
“That’s what media do and have always done — print, the telegraph, radio, TV: they rewire humans inside their heads and in how they relate to each other, except the internet is doing it on a far bigger scale and more quickly than any previous medium.”
Back in in the early 00s when the net was starting to really hit its stride, I remember coming across a set of ads that really asked the question if our dalliance with an all pervasive network of information was a good thing or a bad thing;
…the jury is still out.
“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” — Marshall McLuhan, 1964
According to Royal Pingdom in 2012;
- 85,962 – Number of monthly posts by Facebook Pages in Brazil, making it the most active country on Facebook.
- 1 billion – Number of monthly active users on Facebook, passed in October.
- 47% – Percentage of Facebook users that are female.
- 40.5 years – Average age of a Facebook user.
- 2.7 billion – Number of likes on Facebook every day.
- 24.3% – Share of the top 10,000 websites that have Facebook integration.
- 200 million – Monthly active users on Twitter, passed in December.
We have become the creators of content. Media is no longer a one-way system. This is emphasised by the sharp decline in newspaper and libraries and the emergence of eCommerce has drastically shifted the landscape of retail purchase beyond recognition.
- Facebook : 78 million users in India, Mobile is the Future (nextbigwhat.com)
- Creating What We Will Become (Marshall McLuhan Reaction) (davidlrobertson.wordpress.com)
What does this mean for the human evolution?
An immense political tool for change.
A connected always on-line world. ensures that not only ideas are shared they are dissected, it ensures that they are challenged. It is a place for the human imagination to grow unfettered by the confines of society or religion, a place not governed by the constraints of morality or conservative ideals, a place where all views are taken into account, even those which may be against popular liberal views.
Social media played a major role in the political upheaval of the Arab Spring in 2011. In doing this, technology and its embryonic union with the internet has shown it has the power to tap into the ‘General Human Consciousness’ and generate change.
So great is the impact of the internet on our lives, that the U.N has proposed the adoption of access to the web as a fundamental human right on par with access to food, water and life. “[It’s] an empowering thing for humanity to be connected at high speed and without borders,” says Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
The implications of the net on human evolution is still to be determined, as it is an ever evolving, continuously expanding phenomenon that will have even greater impacts on our development intellectually, physically and environmentally in years to come.
The assimilation of technology, not just as external devices (phones and tablets) but as part and parcel of the sacred person, is surely the next logical step in our evolution.
Watch this space.