If ever there was a need for imagination when this pandemic is over or is eventually under control, hopefully, imagination is going to play a massive role in redesigning not just our societies but the way we live and die on this planet.
The responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are simply the amplification of the dynamic that drives other social and ecological crises.
If we have learned anything from Covid-19 is that global problems require global solutions, whether it is a pandemic, hunger, or access to quality education, reversing climate change, poverty, and inequality, you name it.
Imagination allows us to engage in thinking about alternatives and there is no doubt that we will need some radical changes.
Here I am referring to creative imagination the role it plays in our thinking.
The key point is that in using a term such as ‘imagining’, I am not just referring to some mental activity, but also evaluating that activity in some way, with all its relations and ramifications.
So here is your chance to submit you imagine creative ideas.
(All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse get chucked in the bin)
Where to start?
Unfortunately, this pandemic is a present-day dystopia.
It’s not the stuff of science fiction set in some distant future or on another planet it’s damage is ongoing and will only get worse as it continues.
To understand the “real world” one has to experience it not imagine it.
At the moment there is a lot of rhetoric about using a tracking App to monitor the spread of COVID_19. In other words, unregulated squealing Apps (that are owned by private corporations) that Id people that have or had the virus.
We recently celebrated VE day that won us freedom at the cost of millions of lives.
In my view, such a tracking proposition is not far removed from what the Nazis did in identify Jews by marking them with a yellow star.
It is imperative that we in their honor that we now don’t rubbish there sacrifice by becoming Data slaves.
(As I have said in the previous post, to ensure tracking does not outlive the effort against COVID-19. Both the technology and related policies and procedures should ensure the deletion of data when there is no longer a need to hold it.)
When people feel that their phones are antagonistic rather than helpful, they will just turn location functions off or turn their phones off entirely.
Imagine living under a Chines automatism system run by a Donal Dump.
Such techniques violate some of the core values of liberal democratic regimes.)
Up to now, we thought that Capitalist Globalization was the bee’s knees when in fact it increased inequalities and undermined democracy.
Now we realize that ecological transition IS more than NECESSARY with a bottom-up economy to protect the world and not the top-down begging world we have a the moment.
However, the big problem remains the same.
How to distribute the gains of any economy. and now the losses.
Technology will treat people as units and as such the relentless growth and accumulation of wealth and power for the few, will continue to grow.
Cutting-edge technologies are now powered by artificial intelligence and are fundamentally shifting the distribution of power between people who provide data and entities that can make sense and use of these data.
It will become a battle between protecting individual rights and confronting an existential threat to our collective right to health, to a basic living wage.
Of course, all of this data helps epidemiologists model the movement and the future of the virus but beyond the privacy and data rights, there are questions of biases and discrimination built into the algorithms that power the technology.
Machines will never be made to think like people.
We have for decades underpaid the people that we now call essential workers as interchangeable units.
Currently, the AI field is mostly controlled by corporate interests.
As global COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the unmatched connectivity that defines our era serves as both bane and blessing.
Let’s ask the question one more time, in taking advantage of big data to create databases to track and predict infectious risk, should we be enforcing social- distancing by squealing on each other?
If you are at risk, the odds change rapidly, you become in favor of sharing or donating data.
There’s really no way to stop the movement of microbes and we need to realize that now our citizens really need to realize that.
Mapping potential carriers with big data notwithstanding privacy concerns, analysis of personal, travel, and other data like clinical data allow accurate predictive modeling.
Imagine if we created a society where everything is predicted and determined by big data. Its presence depends on “symbolic function”, the ability to pretend that one object is another thing entirely.
It will be a massive mistake.
So is technology an imaginary friend or foe?
Will we lose that human touch?
There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has changed daily life.
But what changes will last? How will we live when it’s all over?
Even now, when we’re seeing a massive, rapid change in most walks of life — inspired by a push in science or technology, or nudged by a freak, global health emergency — it’s hard to find sound prophecy. And that’s despite access to mountains of data.
Who would have imagined that global consumerism could be crushed by the wheels of its own industry … quite so suddenly.
But perhaps this is the kind of tipping point that we secretly crave — a slowing of society.
Many people will struggle to deal with an increasing rate of change and, as a result, suffer a social or personal shock. Whether we survive the shock depends on how well we adapt.
What complicates things is that no two societies are ever fully the same.
We’re seeing that friction today, between so-called “forces” and “anti-forces.” The push and pull of people and places adapting this way or that way. But it’s nigh impossible to predict how much of that change, and its effect on daily life, will remain, and how much — or what — will change back.
Whatever happens, it won’t be on a massive scale because our regular behavior will start to reemerge.
Who will benefit more?
We might discover that work is not really part of your life or something you like to do, but something you must do exactly seven hours and 42 minutes a day. And then your real life starts.
This Pandemic will not be a ‘one-off’ event.
Now is the time to start investing in spare capacity, in people and equipment, to cope with such events.
( See post on setting up World Aid Depots)
We must envision a path that allows humans to flourish by asking: how can we protect people financially, should widespread technological unemployment happen even sooner than we anticipated?
A realization among some that the dominant ways of knowing and organizing, which characterize our modern techno-industrial cultures, cannot handle the realities of living, complex, relational, human, and non-human systems.
This may help bring into focus the need to update the conceptual foundations of our cultures.
But can tech solve everything?
That raises the question of whether privacy isn’t just a cultural construct.
If your health depended on it, wouldn’t you share your data willingly?
So we need to say goodbye to our concepts of data security.
Data security is something for healthy people.
On the other hand fear of infection is limiting “in-person” interactions, forcing us deeper into an “increasingly chilling use of online systems and all-electronic communication.
Change depends on how we see ourselves as individuals and groups living through the now.
The internet might just be facilitating.
But it’s still about the real world and a reminder that you can’t eat anything on your computer screen.
In the next Pandemic and the forthcoming Depression, there will be nowhere to hide” from economic collapse in our networked world.
Take video conferencing.
It’s fine as an exception, but as a rule, it fails to fully translate subtle forms of communication — body language below the head and shoulders. All sound is normalized, mics get muted, along with nervous hands or a lost, downward gaze.
In the end, previous pandemics have profoundly re-shaped society and despite huge advances in medical knowledge, we are once again forced to respond in much the same ways as we did to previous pandemics.
Until a worldwide vaccine we’re really back to what our ancestors would have had in terms of dealing with this kind of disease – just stay away from each other in an effort to slow down its spread.
What we’re doing now is keeping it running at any cost.
However, it is obvious that the right path in tackling both COVID-19 and climate change is much easier if you reduce nonessential economic activity.
There is now an opportunity to change course, the earth must be respected.
So imagination without reality is the osmotic membrane between matter and mind, the antechamber between outside and inside, the free zone between the laws of nature and the requirements of reason.
Without, it indicates a lack of commitment to the truth or existence of what is thought of by the person or persons who invented big data. Thinking of something that is not present to the senses without commitment to its truth or falsity a Digital prison.
Up to now, we live in a world of the short-term profit-driven corporate world, with the support of the trillion-dollar advertising industry and complicit governments who have fetishized economic growth.
If technology dominates us, not only is the whole struggle to imagine a world of equal opportunities betrayed but the opportunity is lost.
So it’ll only be when it’s all over that we’ll have the luxury of telling the story as a neatly bound series of logical events.
The impacts we’ll see from this is going to be far greater than what happened before. Whether imagery is a form of imagination, and whether supposition is a form of imagination as quick as you can imagine there is a depression of historic proportions coming.
Imagination makes our world an even more spectacular place.
We imagine even when we don’t think that we are imagining.
Everything that humans have achieved has started with the glimmer of imagination.
It is, in sum, the pivotal power in which are centered those mediating, elevating, transforming functions that are so indispensable to the cognitive process that philosophers are reluctant to press them very closely.
Why does it seem to diminish over time for all but the most creative among us?
My own ability to imagine up a story or new world seems far weaker than it used to be. Or is it?
It fails to exclude such things as remembering.
We can leave a legacy worthwhile. So comment.