Progress And Antigress

 

Robot carrier

There are at present disruptive forces and people who are involved with the solidifying mutations of our current society and how they are attempting, somewhat successfully, to undermine the basic forces and institutions which network and stabilize the world in which we live.  Many of these ideas were thrashed over even back in the late 1930’s when I was an early teenager eagerly swallowing the thoughts of the creative scientists and technologists in Astounding Science Fiction. I have read that at least some of the adherents to that literature eventually ended up in NASA.

Although the various individuals and their radical ideas see themselves as originality innovators, the envelope of their dynamics has something of the energy of the basic forces of evolution which, at a geological snail’s pace, has produced the entire spectrum of life on the planet out of that primitive lazy slime bouncing up and down on the early seas in the first years of our planet. Evolution, of course, is not a conscious entity, but by its nature of gaining expertise in survival by treading on the obsolete corpses of the unsuccessful, it has fabricated all the intricacies of a very dynamic spectrum of interacting living creatures. Currently humanity is not only the leading edge of this long process but by its ability to model internally many novel possibilities and quickly discard those that are obviously unsuccessful, it has sped up evolution itself to blinding speeds. But that blindness carries with it a necessity for great caution, something which seems greatly lacking in the current social mechanics of civilization.

Over thousands of years human interaction for survival demanded efforts of individuals to create the necessities of existence. In precivilized life, humanity, like other species, developed out of the available largess of the planet and food and shelter required no human effort as they were the gifts of nature. As humanity progressed they modified nature to enlarge its output and this required the regimentation of society with rewards to conform which determined the shape and dynamics of society. The rapid current developments of automation and robotics and artificial intelligence are now replacing large sectors of workers in many fields, both in manual and expert areas and although, in the past, this dislocation merely moved the work force to other areas, the current fundamental changes do not provide enough innovative areas to engage the replaced work force. It is still early days but the outlook, in a strange way, looks to return humanity to the precivilized era when all necessities are produced with little or no effort from human participation. In effect, it destroys the basic dynamics of civilization.

So, the remedy must be to devise a radically new form of civilization, something which seems not to be occurring. No doubt the dangers of global warming and nuclear conflict are real threats but when technology undermines social dynamics totally, there are large dangers as well.

 

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