A few weeks ago before my musician friend took the stage, we were chattering back and forth when our seemingly innocuous conversation became considerably more introspective.
Looking back on how our discussion took that turn, I feel rather foolish, as it was directed by a really stupid (to me) comment that I made about how the world has evolved in certain areas more in the last century than in all of the recorded history prior to that combined.
And my friend went silent, thought about that statment, and coyly questioned: “Has it?”.
I was halted right there to consider his query.
The argument in favor of society sliding backward is one that I found very easy to make.
I’ll get to that “why” momentarily.
Just this afternoon, I rewatched a 1992 movie that I’ve seen several times, but hadn’t watched in years. It is a B sci-fi movie called The Lawnmower Man.
Aside from the considerably taut and fuzzy bodies of Jeff Fahey and Pierce Brosnan on display (HELLO, BETTY!), the construction of the entire movie is simplistic and predictable.
In hindsight, having first watched the movie when it was first released, the underlying message is a powerful one.
Jeff Fahey’s character Job Smith is initially portrayed in the movie as a mentally-challenged, slow, simple handyman who oversees the landscaping of Pierce Brosnan’s – a neurophysicist – yard. As the doctor works diligently on a highly-sophisticated virtual reality driven by Artificial Intelligence, he draws Job in as an unlikely and unwitting lab rat to his experimentation.
The result is Job Smith being transformed into a power-drunk, computer-driven deity with paranormal powers that include mind control who predicts that by 2001, all humans on the planet will have access to the AI mainframe and have the mind power to control their environment and people around them with a single thought.
Brosnan, recognizing the Frankenstein-esque monster that he has created, returns to the virtual world to find Job and destroy him.
Was Job’s prediction of the future accurate? To some extent, it was scarily close. How many people didn’t have their own or access to a computer, cell phone, or some type of digital device in 2001? Few, in developed industrialized countries.
Fast forward more than two decades. That type of technology continues to advance and evolve…but is it for the better?
Since 2001 and certainly since 1992, I haven’t noticed fundamental changes in humans – that is because there will never be.
People will remain the same as were their ancestors were when they first started walking upright. The DNA of humans is static – only the environment around them will change. What humans choose to do or how they will permit those external factors influence them is completely up to the individual.
Back to the original question: have the evolutions of technology and the world around us been for the better?
Since I’m the one being asked that question, I’ll be the one who provides my own answer that is driven by my own world and perspective thereof.
No. I do not believe that the world or its people have improved. In fact, I’d say that the world has gone backward.
Humans have devolved in social, psychological, education, grammatical, and critical thinking capabilities. People have handed over the decision-making, relationship-building, thinking, shopping, playing, and even disparaging abilities to machines.
Those are just a few areas that only begin to scratch the surface of where people seem to not be improving, but are moving more and more toward their Miocene ancestors’ way of life.
The sad part about all of that is that the de-evolution seems to be encouraged and pushed by “powers that be” who seemingly want sheeple masses to become dumber and more complicit by the number.
And for the life of me, I have no idea WHY.
Just a few examples of laziness and apathy that I see promoted in our current world:
Self-driving and electric vehicles. Most humans I know are so completely uneducated about the basic functionality of a combustion engine. I weep at the thought of them getting behind the wheel of any vehicle. None has taken any time to research science, meteorology, or history to understand that gas vehicles are not determining factor in climate change. Climate change is cyclical. Human, environmental, and industrial emissions DO have impact on climate – but not nearly to the extent that most people have been bullshitted into believing – and certainly not as much damage caused as will be done by lithium batteries used to power electric vehicles.
Autocorrect. This is a personal peeve because I actually know how to spell. I do not need AI to try to do it for me. I say “try” because there are actually spell check applications like Grammarly that offer INCORRECT corrections in spelling. This is because the people behind the software are those for whom English has been a second language. None of these “corrections” would be remotely necessary if it weren’t for such poor educational programs that fall far short of teaching proper grammar, spelling, writing, and speaking like they should be permitted to do.
That is a BIG DUH for me.
Education. While we’re on the subject, this is a hot topic of debate recently, one that seems to continue to spin out of control. Now, it’s been a considerable amount of time since I’ve been in a classroom, but I have taken a course or two along the way. I also take – with a grain of salt – into consideration stories I see coming from parents and teachers, sometimes even students, of high school and college curriculum. So-called progressives fight and push for their considerably misguided agendas to ensure that school and institutional education consists of nothing but social and political content. In doing so, students learn nothing more than contempt, derisiveness, and bias toward – literally – everything and everyone. I’ve never felt that should be the purpose of education.
Technology. Here’s a good one. At no time in history have humans been more able and have had more access to information and communication than they do at this very moment. However, that level of rapid-paced access has made people too lazy to think, too apathetic to gain real knowledge, too unwilling to experience the real world beyond what they consider entertainment on their phone or computer. Dependency on the digital world to think, speak, drive, spell, present, and communicate has transformed humans into thoughtless, speechless, personalityless zombies incapable of substantial social interaction and relationships.
The other night I was in a restaurant. At the table next to me was a party of six that included a toddler that couldn’t have been more than two years old. For the duration of my stay, the child had a phone in their hand, scrolling through pages like a pro and completely oblivious to the world beyond the high chair in which they sat.
I was appalled not with the child, but with the adults around them for having permitted such atrocious and untimely child activity. This is a child that will start the world with no manners, with no attributable social skills, and with absolutely no clue.
These are the generations that are being groomed and forged to perpetuate the dumbing down of not only a society, but the entire planet.
Doomful and hopeless as all of this seems, change and improvement are possible, but only if humankind recognizes that people and technology can and MUST coexist in a more balanced social, physical, and educational position.
It’s the human that has to forge this change with their own minds and bodies, not with technology. Attitudes, actions, and interactions are still the sole responsibility of individuals and those that can’t possibly be taught by or through technology. Digital instruments are tools for accessing, communicating, and presenting information.
That information isn’t generated by algorithms or software code. It is created by people who have the capability of creating, censoring, or disseminating that information. Therefore, the onus falls upon people to be responsible for producing adequate and worthwhile information.
What does that require?
Whew, boy. If I had the answer to THAT…I’D be The Lawnmower Man.
And, by now, I probably would have been destroyed by someone who believed that me with that level of knowledge and power should not exist.
There in and of itself is the complexity of our existence…in the REAL world.
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