Section 1 – Humanity’s Dilemma (continued)

Doubling down on what we do well while avoiding our most serious problems. 

What we do well is to use our mind to solve technical problems. And for good reason.  Our mind has gotten us where we are.

For thousands of years humanity spent its time focused on staying alive.  We had to eat.  We needed shelter.  We needed protection from predatory animals.  We banded together in groups for protection and a sense of belonging and identity.  We developed agriculture which gave us a more permanent bond with the land.  With our mind we created tools that made our work easier.  We developed language, then an alphabet and writing.  We moved away from oral tradition and into written cultures.  We moved away from story-telling and into record keeping.  We developed more complex and abstract thinking. 

Our work started to become more specialized.  Not everyone had to farm or hunt.  We developed trade to get things we did not have.  Specialization narrowed the focus of our work and allowed us to figure out still better ways to do things for less effort.  Having more time allowed us to figure out yet better and faster ways to do things.   Mechanization came along.  Once again, we could do much more work in much less time.

It is not surprising then that we have come to put so much faith in science and technology.  Science discovers new knowledge and engineers and technicians translate this knowledge into new technology. New technology has grown exponentially.  Along with this growth has come a narrowing of the focus of our formal education.  There is a movement today to focus all our formal education on S.T.E.M: science, technology, engineering and medicine.  This, we are told, is all that matters.  This is what our children need to learn.

And what will we do with all this technical education?  People talk about the great challenges ahead of us: space travel to the far reaches of the galaxy; gene-modification and designing more perfect babies; developing artificial intelligence to do our thinking for us. There is even talk of over-coming death and living forever!

And while we contemplate such extraordinary endeavors, we remain clueless about the simple problems which exist right before our eyes:  hunger, homelessness, drug-abuse, post-traumatic stress syndrome, poverty.  No one talks about a future without these.  No one talks about these with the same sense of mission as they do with technical challenges like artificial intelligence. 

How do we tackle these with the same sense of mission that we take on technical challenges?  

We have developed a positive feedback loop with our beliefs about the rational mind.   We view left-brain rational thought as the means by which we can continue to advance our civilization. Our success with one technology after another has convinced us that the rational mind is how we move forward into the future.

At the same time we have developed a negative feedback loop about creating true community. Our inability to bring people together for sustained periods of time have led us to believe that true community is not possible.  As Margaret Thatcher once said:  there is no such thing as society. We are only individuals endeavoring to meet our individual needs.

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