our next evolution (part 1): voices from the ether

computerbrainWe 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. 

StarTrekWallpaper51024THIS WAS THE STUFF OF SCIENCE FICTION in my formative years.

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.

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hey I just met you, and this is crazy…

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.

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What does this mean for the human evolution?

An immense political tool for change.

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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.

Screen-Shot-2013-02-21-at-10.04.40-AM The revolution may not be televised, but it will be face-booked, twittered, and tumblred.

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.

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Watch this space.

givePeaceMan

On A Ride to Redemption.

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Last summer, July 12, 2012, a story went on-line unnoticed about an interesting initiative currently under way in Brazilian prisons.

A programme put in place to inspire convicted criminals to give back to society in a meaningful way.

Courtesy of U.S.News ‘Stationary bikes get Brazilian Prisoners closer to Freedom’.

Climate change confronts the world with a set of challenges and is a very real and dangerous reality with worsening ecological effects. But rest assured there are men and women all over the world working very hard to make a difference and mitigate its effect. However we all have an ethical responsibility to contribute to solving the climate change problem.

Brazil has gone a step further Through an innovative and eco-friendly program, prisoners can cut down their sentences by putting in some time on stationary bikes hooked up to car batteries. As the inmates pedal, the car batteries are charged.

The charged-up batteries are then used to illuminate 10 street lamps in the nearby town of Santa Rita do Sapucai. The town’s mayor came up with the idea after learning about gyms in the United States that use electricity generated by exercise bikes.

Brazil is a trailblazing example of an economy on the rise; it has the land mass, work force and ambition to become an economic powerhouse. However with this drive comes the inevitable increase in emissions. The majority of Brazil’s emissions do not come from fossil fuels. In fact, according to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, in 2005 the national electricity matrix was composed of 84% hydroelectricity, 4% biomass energy, 4% natural gas, 4% diesel and fuel oil, 1% coal and 3% nuclear energy (Greenpeace, 2008).

ImageNow for pop culture devotees, the image of a person cycling on the spot to generate energy conjures a dystopian image of humans on hamster wheels akin to the ‘15 Million Merits’ episode of the last year’s series “Black Mirror”

In contrast however, Brazil’s approach to energy generation through means of pedalling takes on a much less sinister and dystopian manner. But instead have found a way to directly make a positive difference.

The benefits of this programme are 3 fold.

  1. The incarcerated individuals get their sentences reduced through expenditure of their kinetic on the stationary bikes. They do it to reduce their sentences with a by-product being a public good. Furthermore this helps the prisoners to stay fit and healthy and is vital contributors to their local communities in a truly profound sense. Though they may have been declared too dark of heart for their communities, now they help to illuminate it.
  2. This act of redemption not only provides light for the people of Santa Rita do Sapucai, it provides safety. By helping to light up the streets, the prisoners help to increase a sense of security among everyday citizens.
  3. An environmental benefit to limit the use of Greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels for energy.

This initiative proposes a promising union of Environment, Economy and Social unity which leaves opportunity for various institutions to approach climate change. As it currently stands More than 10.1 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the world, mostly as pre-trial detainees/remand prisoners or as sentenced prisoners.  According to International Centre for Prison Studies, almost half of these are in the United States (2.29m), Russia (0.81m) or China (1.65m sentenced prisoners). This is particularly pertinent as China, the U.S and Russia are the world’s largest emitters and have the capacity to truly take advantage of Brazil’s example in a holistic way.Image