( Five minute Read)
Following the theme of my last post (Humanity is turning into an Algorithm) this question has been asked by one reader:
There must be a way out of this.
Let’s look and see if there is a way.
We have set in motion a ‘runaway train’ of success.
The Internet/ the Web/ Wifi/ A world run by Algorithms.
All have and continue to be crucial in the spread of great innovations, the rise of world wealth, and even the dissemination of democratic concepts and ethical values and the defeat of oppressive regimes.
However in the world leadership terms it has led to an unrealistic evaluative process that consistently sets aside long-term problems and consequences in order to try to achieve some short-term successes, so as to survive reelection in two, four or six-year cycles.
With a knock effect on our other great strength : World Capitalism:
It might be the most successful economic system possible, but has also become one of shorter and shorter cycles of evaluation. CEOs, companies, stocks, profits and debits change at an ever more accelerated pace in response to the demands of stockholders and the market.
And hopefully on to our World Leaders that may recognize that they are not addressing the real problems, but they rationalize their actions with the argument that they must first politically survive in order to later address the hard problems and sacrifices. Of course, they usually don’t ever actually get around to addressing the fundamental problems later, either because they don’t make it through the initial crisis or because, even later, they are not willing to risk sacrificing their own position (or “career”) with needed measures that usually require tough sacrifices by the population.
As a result all our World Organisations are suffering from a similar disease, combined with being unable to act due to lack of financing.
The result is a growing burden of multiple long-term problems in the decades to come. I am sure I don’t have to list them.
Thus, our brilliant communication, information, and transport systems, which will be remembered as the hallmark of our age, are also a point of great fragility.
It will be short-term thinking and decision-making that is the most universal factor leading to collapse of Society as a whole.
“It’s the economy stupid” and “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” have become the mantras of contemporary democracy. The latter is a sure recipe for collapse.
Today there are few, if any, refuges against international crises of any kind.
Any really helpful response will involved political change to redefine the very nature [of] leadership and its roles and institutions.
So imagine a world without the Internet.
A world without the World Wide Web, Facebook, Twitter or even e-mail. A YouTube that serves up over 100 million videos per day.
It’s almost impossible to imagine a set of circumstances that could cause the Internet to collapse. It would require destruction on such a widespread scale that the loss of the Internet would probably be the least of our worries.
It’s impossible to predict how each government would react; however, it’s not hard to imagine a series of events that could escalate into a conflict.
Rarely can societies in crisis conceive of such great structural changes (and often those might not be accepted by various interest groups). So, the situation just deteriorates at the same, or even at an accelerated, rate.
Much depends on the smooth functioning of the World Wide Web – banking, the financial markets, shopping, shipping, entertainment, medicine, along with so many other facets of the economy and daily life.
Assuming world leaders could maintain order and resist the urge to blow each other up, other problems would surface.
Unfortunately it is us that is driving the ever-shortening cycle of evaluation of political leaders, our explicit promotion of such short-term egocentric values.
We are losing sight of real values because they are being molded by Algorithms on our behalf by Facebook/ Google/ Microsoft/ Apple etc.
Our ability to think and make decisions for ourselves is being manipulated (as they have being and always will be) not by ourselves but by technology called AI that is leading us down the road to technology deserts. With personal data becoming the oil in the machine.
So is the Information Superhighway headed towards a dead-end?
Or is the Internet is destined to collapse under its own weight.
I can say, in general, that the answer to our problems—or at least the first steps—do not lie in the direction of specific economic or political actions.
Rather it must begin with ideology—with a change in general expectations.
What we can hope for is that with a somewhat more controlled level of growth, and with longer-term preparations for change, we can keep responding to the inevitable smaller crises, as they arise, and continue to postpone until later and later the (perhaps ultimately inevitable) end of our civilization.
We need to begin thinking in terms of longer periods, and slower processes, for judging success.
Such an ideology of long-term thinking and lower expectations — a change in world “attitude”— seems to me to be the only way out of the 21st century giant and precarious “bubble” that now is Western civilization.
No society can sustain unlimited growth – none ever has.
So my answer to my readers ( Humanity is turning into an Algorithm) question is yes there is a way out.
The Internet is not unbreakable:
Well apart from every teenager screaming because they can’t log on to Facebook, it all comes down to how much we personally use the Internet and what for.
We are living in an increasingly hyper connected world but if the next great social media shift truly is from centralized, profile-based social networks to decentralized feeds, distributed profiles, and private messaging perhaps we as consumers could start buying locally, enriching our local towns and shops.
We’d could look for local services and sustain local economies by trading within our immediate areas. The political fallout following the collapse of the Internet would not be so devastating.
On the other hand perhaps we would suffer a world-wide recession, stock markets would collapse, millions of businesses go bust and millions of people lose their jobs?
Life without the internet would force people to turn back to grass-roots and socialise and communicate on a very basic level.
A Facebook collapse would be less manageable: Experts estimate one-third of the world’s population will be affected by myopia – nearsightedness.
The eyes are useless when the mind is blind. In one year alone, its estimated that a minimum of €100 billion in VAT fraud are committed online in the European Union alone. Millions of personal data are stolen from everyday citizens, which are then used online to create fraudulent identities.
We need an Algorithm of TRUST.