The present Covid-19 Pandemic might be warping our sense of reality however there is another pandemic that is shaping and will shape our future reality.
We – in many ways, things are way better than they were thanks to technology.
We can work from anywhere because we have the Internet and we have Zoom and all of those platforms.
If you are able to say technology, on the whole, has done well, it probably means you’re in a fairly privileged position.
There’s still a huge digital divide.
Even – there are billions of people who don’t have access to the Internet.
On paper, algorithms sound like the pinnacle of efficiency, but as they’ve become more ubiquitous, there’s a difference between potential and reality both must be separate for the survival of democracy and the forthcoming distribution and administration of any covid-19 vaccine worldwide.
The reality is that Algorithms will be used to distribute and decide who will get the Covid-19 vaccination.
When it arrives algorithms will continue to reflect the biases that it has been and is being trained into machines that are learning a representation of the world that is skewed.
Some will say that Data is neutral. It’s just numbers. It’s just data but the past dwells within our algorithms and the flaws that are in our technology are what’s the algorithm’s information it’s taking in.
I am not just talking about the U.S. presidential election in a few day’s time.
We have already seen artificial intelligence being used in voting or politics how they extend beyond the realm of computer vision.
If we’re defining success by how it’s looked like in the past and the past has been one where men like Donal trump were given an opportunity to Twitt falsehoods, spreading them with the aid of Facebook and others it’s no wonder who gets hired or fired?
Do you get that loan? Do you get insurance? Do you and I pay the same price for the same product purchased on the same platform?
Before a human looks at your resume, it gets vetted by algorithms written by software engineers who are involved in the system (without changing the system itself he the engineer is still going to reproduce algorithmic bias and algorithmic harms.)
Any sorts of algorithmic tools that are intended to be used, again, have to be verified for nondiscrimination before it’s even adopted.
We now have an AI system – right? – that can classify skin cancer as well as the top dermatologists but to change society to change what AI is learning in order to create what can be realized is going to be trusted into our lives by the inevitable economic depression.
So a Covid-19 vaccine is going to transfer real power into the world of Data and we can’t fight the power you don’t see, you don’t know about.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.
Post COVID-19 this will become a question that we will all have to ask yourselves.
Coronavirus came after a series of wake-up calls.
Perhaps the COVID-19 outbreak is the wake-up call the world needs to get people accustomed to the fact that because of climate change, we all now need to change our lifestyles to protect our lives.
The COVID-19 outbreak should be a wake-up call that the economic and social costs of climate change will likely be so catastrophic – potentially many times worse than what we’re currently witnessing – that as a nation and the community of nations, we can’t afford not to take massive measures to combat and mitigate the dangers.
Confronting climate change will take a global effort far beyond any that’s been on the table so far, and far beyond the voluntary commitments in the Paris Climate accord.
We don’t yet know how long the COVID-19 outbreak will last, how many people will get sick or die, or the ultimate cost to global wealth and to people’s jobs and homes.
However, it seems obvious to say that, if we can transform the economy for a virus, we can also do so to prevent climate change.
Acres of column inches have already been written about how the Coronavirus is going to change our economies, politics, and societies forever.
We can choose to prioritize something – in this case, human life – above the maximization of profit and even our individual freedom.
Unchecked, climate change will wreak far greater damage on our ability to live safe, profitable, happy, and free lives than COVID-19.
Despite the brief dip in emissions due to COVID-19, there is a risk that the pandemic – which is likely to dominate politics for months or even years to come – will overshadow environmental concerns.
Mortimer Adler Said ” To regard anyone except yourself as responsible for your judgment is to be a slave, not a free man. It is this fact that the liberal arts acquire their name.”
For most of human history, the only other reliable sources of information were other people.
We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing where the information can be found. If we know that a fact is only a Google away, then we’re not going to waste precious synaptic space on it. Better to let a server remember.
Or is it?
Feel like you’re losing grip of your memory. Google it.
Every time we recall a memory we also remake it, subtly tweaking the neuronal details. (This is why the more we remember something, the less accurate the memory becomes.) Although we like to think of our memories as being immutable impressions, somehow separate from the act of remembering them, they aren’t.
A memory is only as real as the last time you remembered it.
The brain has no interest immaculate recall – it’s only interested in the past to the extent it helps us make sense of the future.
By having memories that constantly change, we ensure that the memories stored inside our mental file cabinets are most relevant.
Although our memories always feel true – as a literal recording of the past – they’re mostly not, since they’re always being edited and bent by what we think now. And now. And now.
And this is where the internet comes in. One of the virtues of transactive memory is that it acts like a fact-check, helping ensure we don’t all descend into selfish solipsism. ( Solipsism: The theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified)
By sharing and comparing our memories, we can ensure that we still have some facts in common, that we all haven’t disappeared down the private rabbit hole of our own reconsolidations.
I don’t think it’s a sign that technology is rotting our cortex – I think it shows that we’re wise enough to outsource a skill we’re not very good at.
Because while the web enables all sorts of other biases – it lets us filter news, for instance, to confirm what we already believe – the use of the web as a vessel of transactive memory is mostly virtuous. We save hard drive space for what matters, while at the same time improving the accuracy of recall.
But if a fact stored externally were the same as a memory of that fact stored in our mind, then the loss of internal memory wouldn’t much matter.
External storage and biological memory are not the same things.
When we form, or “consolidate,” a personal memory, we also form associations between that memory and other memories that are unique to ourselves and also indispensable to the development of deep, conceptual knowledge.
The associations, moreover, continue to change with time, as we learn more and experience more.
The essence of personal memory is not the discrete facts or experiences we store in our mind but “the cohesion” which ties all those facts and experiences together.
What is the self but the unique pattern of that cohesion?
Our over-reliance on google and the smartphone search engines is destroying our memories – ‘digital amnesia’.
Google in its very nature is making us stupid, making us more likely to recallwhere the facts are rather than the facts themselves.
We hold the answers to just about all of life’s questions in our palms today. But that means our brains are feeling free to take some R & R.
If you have no working memory, you can have no longterm memory and you understand very little.
The growing reliance on the world wide web for fact-checking is rotting our memories.
We off-load memories to the cloud just as readily as we would to a family member, friend, or lover.
Almost all information today is readily available through a quick internet search. It may be that the internet is taking the place not just of other people as external sources of memory but also of our own cognitive faculties becoming an extension of our own intelligence, rather than a separate tool.
At this point, you might be asking why is any of this important.
Indeed, As the specter of creeping authoritarianism – as emergency disaster measures become normalized, or even permanent – it should be at the forefront of our minds.
Because the consequences of COVID-19 will reorder society in a dramatic way, and this combined with climate change we are witnessing a tipping point as to how the world is going to work.
Unfortunately, we constructed a world that could not be more suited to a Pandemic – density everywhere- inward rural migration and now Data harvesting.
We can expect greater efforts to digitally capture and record our behavior in urban areas – and fiercer debates over the power such surveillance hands to corporations and states.
One consequence of coronavirus could be an entrenchment of exclusionary political narratives, calling for new borders to be placed around urban communities – overseen by leaders who have the legal and technological capacity, and the political will, to build them.
In other words an intensification of digital infrastructure in our cities to track the spread of COVID-19 using “big data” analysis to anticipate where transmission clusters will emerge next.
This much is certain:
Just as this disease has shattered lives, disrupted markets and exposed the competence (or lack thereof) of governments, it will lead to permanent shifts in political and economic power in ways that will become apparent only later.
It will be a time of contradictions.
Internationally, many issues that appeared pressing prior to the pandemic will likely recede in prominence once the world begins its recovery. All non-coronavirus issues will be pushed aside.
Not only because of a shared experience but also because of the mutual assistance that will be required at the same time, democracies must prevent the emergence of a big brother-style intrusion into the personal sphere by the security apparatus.
Such a thing can only occur in the absence of massive civilian oversight.
Many countries will set up committees of inquiry to find out why they and their healthcare systems were caught unprepared, humanity is destined to return to its old self after the adjustment period ends. And that, on balance, is a good thing.
Coronavirus will not end globalization, but it will change it by disrupting our lives and causing painful tragedy —it may introduce a new acceptance of unpredictability into our thinking.
This is certainly not the last time that we’re going to have these kinds of disease eruptions if we deny, delude, and delay on climate change.
We know what to do to halt climate change, we just have to do it.
Our current sense of risk — such as when it is safe to cross a road — is insufficient to deal with threats that are so dire they must be minimized; we need a complete rethink.
If we don’t we will have unregulated algorithms run the world.
How much of life can now be conducted digitally?
If we can accept canceled flights, closed schools, postponed sporting fixtures now, perhaps we can accept restraints in the future.
If we can rely on international co-operation now, perhaps we can summon the same spirit again.
At some point, a nudge will be required. If the shock of coronavirus disruption isn’t enough for us to recalibrate, what will be?
We have to recognize there will be other pandemics and be better prepared. We must also recognize that climate change is a deeper and bigger threat that doesn’t go away, and is just as urgent.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.
We already have the power to destroy ourselves without the wisdom that we don’t, but this Coronavirus pandemic is another kettle of fish altogether, there is no need to press a button.
Most species live for millions of year so we are at 200,000 are teenagers.
If we play our cards right we could be around for hundreds of thousands of years to come.
Now that we realized the truth, of the fragility of our present times we need to revamp our World Institutions to get the risk of living down and keep it down forever.
Perhaps after this Pandemic, we as a species need to write a constitution for humanity to set us on the right course to sustainability.
Because no one individual, no president or politician has been able to solve in the last century even if they wanted to, the problems that Earth our home must tackle as a species.
Worldwide we are now looking at more than 838,000 cases of COVID-19 leaving the majority of citizens jobless, broke, and without options.
You’d think people would be used to it by now. Every couple of years the world is thrust into hysteria by the latest virus that is threatening to wipe out a significant portion of the population.
How many shocks can an international economy sustain?
How many shocks are likely on their way?
Forests are burning. Glaciers are melting. Ecological systems are collapsing. Resources are running out.
Coronavirus has and is changing everything and not everything.
We just haven’t noticed it yet.
But those changes will become more apparent by the day.
Suddenly, we may have to think about things we’ve never needed to consider before.
Like a social bomb that can explode at any moment.
In our global society, this outbreak moved from a remote village to a major city on the other side of the world in under 36 hours.
Despite generous government-mandated disaster pay, unemployment, and stimulus checks, it’s only a matter of time before many issues combine to become the flashpoint that leads to an explosion of civil unrest.
The consequences will be very different in countries where political institutions are weaker and where the illness or death of a leader has been known to generate the kind of power vacuum that might inspire rival leaders, opposition parties, or the military to launch a power grab.
HOWEVER, ultimately its impact will not be counted in human fatalities.
Nor in the cost of treating the sick.
It will be in our minds. It’s in our economic system. In our societies that are all linked to the overwhelming extent of globalisation, urbanisation and ecosystem collapse.
Our interconnected world – and its ultra-efficient flow of trade, investment, knowledge and people – has been revealed to have feet of clay.
Globalisation will have to be rethought because most of the population is the urbanised disassociated from even basic agriculture, NOT TO MENTION THE WORLDS ECOSYSTEMS.
We have skewed supply chains so far to the extremes that when they are perturbed, people get into a lot of strife and our way of life isn’t built to cope with it.
What COVID19 is emphasising is that our system is set up ideally to transmit such a disease and is extremely susceptible to even small interruptions.
It jumped into a world humans have moulded to their own purposes. But that world is also nirvana to a virus.
We’ve actually put ourselves in an ideal position from the perspective of a virus, which is why we see estimates of anywhere between 30 and 60 per cent of the population likely to get it.
It has burst on an unready world.
COVID-19 will eventually pass and become more controllable with vaccines and developed natural immunity, but not yet and not before it could wreak profound change on those who currently hold political, economic and military power around the globe.
It has set in motion a chain of events that will bring consequences, that none of us IMAGINE NOW.
Everybody is suddenly very aware of just how reliant we are on China for everything from medicines and machinery to electronic components and rare Earths.
There is a big judgement call to make such are the levels of interdependency built by reliance on global just-in-time supply chains that the developed economies will largely sink or swim together.
But it’s not just China. It’s the whole globally specialised network of supply.
Diversification is now a necessity, not just strategic aspiration.
Suddenly the logic of many belts and many roads is plain.
It is not possible to manage the truth.
When benefits run out on a national scale, fear, lack of food, employment, the number of people dying with the potential for much more yet to come there is risks of a domino effect leading to Civil unrest.
Fear becomes the default emotion. The very emotion that motivates people to take to the streets to engage in civil unrest and protest.
Exceptional conditions of imbalance between needs and available resources.
Historically, larger outbreaks of civil unrest tend to occur in largely populated areas.
But most people don’t go further and ask the question; “What exactly are people afraid of?” Is it death? Of course, that is mankind’s greatest anxiety, especially for those who have children.
Civil unrest affects more than just the civilians involved and the law enforcement that are called on to subdue it. It isn’t limited to riots. Violence and destruction aren’t necessary to classify civil unrest. It can start for many reasons. Of course, any prediction is hard to make given that infections haven’t yet peaked.
The sooner you accept the need to go into lockdown, the better.
The sacrifice isn’t fun, and borders on tragic. Hopefully, people will see fit to prepare for such setbacks in the future as history has shown that this will not be the last impending “catastrophe” to derail us from our lives.
All human comments appriciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.
At the moment rightly so we are all preoccupied with the consequences of our own individual lives and all indicator point to world disaster on a scale not seen by most of us.
However, if and when we return to a semblance of normal the freedom of the press will be in jeopardy when the blame game starts, which is inevitable.
Why will it be?
Because the present pandemic marks the emergence of a new model of watchdog function, one that is neither purely networked nor purely traditional but is rather a mutualistic interaction between the two.
What globalization, technological integration and the general flattening of the world have done is to super empower individuals to such a degree that they can actually challenge any hierarchy—from a global bank to a nation-state—as individuals.
The fear that the decentralized network, with its capacity to empower individuals to challenge their governments or global banks, is not a democracy, but could lead to anarchy.
But the alternative is to give the government a veto over what its citizens are allowed to know.
There should be relentless exposure of politician or businessman, every evil practice, whether in politics, business, or social life if we are to change the world for a better future.
False news forces us to ask how comfortable we are with the actual shape of democratization created by the Internet. It circumvents the social and organizational frameworks of traditional media, which played a large role in framing the balance between freedom and responsibility of the press.
Many of the problems can be laid at the feet of the Internet—fragmentation of the audience and polarization of viewpoints.
We cannot afford as a polity to create classes of privileged speakers and press agencies, and underclasses of networked information producers whose products we take into the public sphere when convenient, but whom we treat as susceptible to suppression when their publications become less palatable.
Doing so would severely undermine the quality of our public discourse.
The risk is that the government will support its preferred media models and that the incumbent mass media players will, in turn, vilify and denigrate the newer models in ways that make them more vulnerable to attack and shore up the the privileged position of those incumbents in their role as a more reliable ally watchdog.
Clarifying that the freedom of the press extends to “every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion” and that liberty of the press is the right of the lonely pamphleteer and individual bloggers.
Social distancing must not be allowed to turn into ruling distancing.
Long live WikiLeaks.
An uncomfortable fact is that a free press in a democracy can be messy at the best of times with governments around the world underestimated the coronavirus the political exploitation of the outbreak is now a reality.
Capturing the treatment of television is less comprehensive as it is a visual medium.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.
This is with the current Coronavirus might seem an academic question.
However we the world have ignored for the greater part all previous pandemics.
For example, the Spanish Flu killed more people than World War I.
World War One and its consequences are etched in our historical memories but the Spanish flu is hardly remembered.
Ebola was on our TV and Aids down to sexual ordination.
Over 70 million are now infected with Aids. All connected to each other.
(Aids can take up to ten years after transmission to show its self.)
Thanks to a massive effort with the drugs to manage it are now affordable Aids is now no longer a killer.
So over the years since then, we have come to believe that Aids is cured. This is not so there are over 2 million new cases yearly in the world.
That gives you an impression of what is going on in the world.
This is why we need to take global health to the top of our priorities.
What do they all these viruses have in common?
They all come from animals.
However, this is not the problem its now a combination of infections spreading in urban high density, the enormity of mobility, climate change, conflict, deforestation, food demand, population growth, which means that we are and will be more and more exposed to what see today. With the results that the overuse of antibiotics and vaccines the risks are getting bigger and bigger to antimicrobial resistance.
So what should we be doing?
It’s not the global response that is important.
We need to train rapid support teams that can be deployed to help any country with a network of back up volunteers.
We need obviously, to strengthen public health systems in the world.
We need more effective engagement with communities
WE need to share Data and samples of viruses worldwide.
WE need Research &Development systems with no market incentives.
We need to suppress fake news.
WE need a universal flu vaccine.
WE need to understand that the risk of this Pandemic is enormous, and that is is not the last.
The key is to invest in getting rid of Inequality world wide.
Promises are not worth the paper they are written on. Once they are broken sorry mean nothing.
We need International solidarity with individual responsibility. Actions speak louder.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.