In terms of time, we humans are wired to dwell in two dimensions — the past and the future.
While ideally we wish we could live in the present, realistically we are drifting along time – where the wave of the past keeps stretching. Where the quantity of information from which we are supposed to constantly learn, build and identify is ever increasing. Where the distance to the end of our lives is ever shortening. We are supposed to fulfill or nullify whatever desires have dwelled in us since our birth in that duration.
This leaves us with only one thing to do — absorb ourselves in the past in order to carry over the thoughts, emotions and desires from there to the impending future.
Hence, present is the moment in which our minds dwell in either past or present. In this way, what is now called ‘flow’ is merely the moments where we engage in some activity during which our minds are unknowingly pacified because it knows it is involved in either rectifying some misdemeanors of the past or in acting for the fulfillment of some desire on the future.
As part of this project though, we tend to want to predict the occurences of the coming future. Which seems a natural thing to do. Our minds naturally identify the patterns of past haps and projects the outcomes of the future as per our environment, necessity and all. This process is called prognostication.
This holds true for all individual humans. Hence, as an example of whole-being-an-extension-of-the-parts, this holds true for humans as a species. The reason to study history, we are told, is to learn lessons from the past and apply them to understanding the future, which isn’t at all a false reason to study. But we have no formal study of prognostication or futurology yet. And it is understandable as the future is merely a vague nothingness into which we drift, filling that void as we go along in comparison to the past which is full of realistic information in the form of memories (cognitive or written or such). Future study is impossible as we are complex beings with complex sets of desires and complex technologies in a complex planet of a complex universe, all combining to create a whole and existence that is very very complex.
I just tend to imagine the faces of people in the hospitality sector in Nepal when they heard that COVID was about to shut everything up, who had meticulously planned for their hotels as the Tourism year 2020 was coming about.
Yet we are also beings that try and endeavor and through the lessons of history and the knowledge of the wills of governments, corporates and society we tend to fill pages of Science Fiction and devise mathematical formulas to make some educated guesses. Some of these projections do manage to get hold of us and shape our perceptions to such a degree that any thought of a mutual future and we cannot help but imagine the pictures presented by them. Two cliched futurological works — 1984 and Brave New World are the example of such projections. Both written in the 20th century, the paranoia created by them are real and the amazing thing is that we can find enough clues and symptoms to convince ourselves that the picture presented by Orwell and Huxley is becoming a reality and some of us even tend to make decisions of our lives based on those pictures. Their success hasn’t given birth to less futuristic perspectives through fiction, but I believe all of them have one thing in common:
Those pictures are flawed! What those pictures have done is present to us a futuristic projection of the world based on characteristics of people of that generation presuming the characters to be static. Yes, human characters rarely do change and rarely have the will-to-power and the extent to which certain ambitious people go to achieve and increase it varied since the advent of recorded history, something is different this time around. It is different to such an extent that residual images of the future have to be abandoned and something actual has to be done.
We are at a pivotal point in human history. This is a pivot because we are at a point where we probably have mutual decisions to make in the quantity that has existed never before. All thanks to exponential technologies (thanks Ray Kurzweil) almost all of which have epoch-altering potential (AI, 3D Print, BioTech, Energy, Outer Space vehicles, etc.) we have arrived at a juncture today where not only the decisions that impact all of us forever is to be made, for the first time in history, it is to be made by all of us. This leads to the statement that motivated me to write all this in the first place:
We are at a pivotal turn, where it is not the time to make predictions, it is a time to make decisions!
No, this isn’t some optimistic-pro-democratic BS which terminates with a cheesy line such as — Together we can, etc. etc., this is objective and this is real. How?
Because we have the internet. We are at a point where more than half of the people in the world are connected to a network in which they can exchange any kind of information at a crazy speed. This gives us an ability strange — so strange that the like of which has never existed in such a large scale before.
Humanity has always been ruled by itself but only by a certain part of itself in any given space-time. Those parts have come in the form of Religious leaders, Generals, Monarchs, Merchants, Corporates, Representative Politicians, depending on the time and place. But, what all these varieties of parts have had in common is their insatiable will-to-power and their audacity to do whatever it takes to attain it. We can safely say that humans have always been ruled by those who have had the most desire to rule and who had luck and talent too.
We can also safely say that those parts exist today too. Fundamentally, in the form of rising corporations and in the form of sputtering state-politicians do we have the power hungries today. The former with the likes of Musk, Bezos, Gates, Branson, Zuckerberg, Googlers and their fanboys/fangirls are proud enough already to think they own the show and they are justified in thinking so as they have the most advanced know-how of technologies and business at their disposal. On the other hand the latter comprises struggling political leaders of an ailing system who with their uncanny rhetorics and decaying power-model are likely to go to any extent to keep the throne relevant and themselves in the process because they lack the know-how’s of the real deal.
The former openly controls the exponential technologies mentioned above while the latter will surely devise ingenious methods to control the controllers of the technologies. This narrative is not new as demonstrated by one Buckminster Fuller with the Edison-Morgan narrative, this eternal narrative is also the reason Orwell-Huxley are so influential. But, a slight difference this time around is that the non-power hungry majority are equally capable of huge influence.
As mentioned above, this power of majority isn’t due to some abstract concept of republic/democracy that drove the previous generations — the concepts and their application being that which has proved to be the biggest ‘what were we thinking’ in history of humans.
Once again, due to the internet and the massive interconnection we have going around today, we can be hopeful that the collective mass with no gargantuan power ambitions can make decisions for themselves. What this tool called the Internet allows us to do, if willing, is take in enough knowledge independently and use it to generate ideas helpful for problem solving and decision making and share them ruthlessly to such an extent that the sheer force of quantity will help decisions bend to overall advantage. Climate groups have started to do this.
What we have in one of our hands today is — extremely ambitious corporations with their leaders who know what to play with and how to present themselves as supermen who are here to save the universe, all to increase their power base. They have got their greedy gullible fans by the scruff of the neck whom they will use to shape thoughts and perceptions.
On the other hand, we have desperate political entities who are willing to go to any extent to keep this rusted and failed system called State in operation as it is the only way their limited abilities will take them to power, and they too with their rhetorical skills know where to touch to trigger the patriotic sensationalism.
But as a whole, both of those are unhealthy for a normal person as they together will be disseminating more and more propaganda, lies and manipulations to have their ends meet. The game once again is about the part of humanity ruling the rest.
As Musk and his co. dream of kingship seen never before and Politicians plan to cash in on their rise, we, who don’t quite care of being Kings have to conjoin smartly and efficiently if we wish to not be a modern techno-slave.
All of the exponential technologies are already under the control of the corporates and the corporates are already at war with each other and the rusted diplomats. Everytime there has been a power struggle in history, people have suffered. This time it will be no different IF we do not realize what has to be done and get going.
The Internet and such decentralized technologies have provided us with the option of making our decisions while the kings are controlling each and every sophisticated technology posing as heroes.
The potentiality of the technologies we have is huge. One can just wonder in awe regarding what they will allow us to do and where they will allow us to go. But, one may also equally wonder and regret tomorrow in regards to whom we have allowed these technologies to go to.
If the large mass can come together, this could mean this pivot will lead to a place decided by normal human beings, if not, prognostications, residual images of Orwell-Huxley will become real.
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