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Dark Age of Technology

Seriously, that’s what its starting feel like.

We’re continually bombarded with information on the news with absolutely no way of checking the veracity. Nowadays all that is important are rumours and speculation; instead of informed and objective reporting. Often on the news there are “people on the ground” or “as it happens” who are asked for their opinions of what is happening when it is obvious that they have no idea. It seems there are no correspondents any more, instead the media rely on Joe Public to send in barely articulate emails or resort to talking heads about what is going on.

At the moment, we can see this happening with the nuclear debate. The media have whipped up a  frenzy about the problems in Japan – they were screaming earlier that staff had been evacuated from the plant for instance. That’d be a bloody good idea if, oh, there were explosions going on? Then there’s the whole business about it being safe: these problems were caused by an earthquake and a tsunami. There’s an element of risk in everything: you could fall out of your bed while you were asleep or trip over the kerb – this was a unique combination of circumstances. Out of this scaremongering comes demands for nuclear power to be written off as an answer to the energy needs of an increasingly tech-based society.

To me, that’s part of the problem: we’re becoming so reliant on technology that we cannot function without it. We’re becoming tech-addicts, looking for the next “fix”.Mobile phones intrude on our lives daily – I wonder how many people could function for a week without one – both in our personal and work lives. Social networking has become a social problem of its own with cyber-bullying and relationships destroyed. Wikipedia is used to support facts – although these facts can easily be distorted and may be subject to whatever prejudices there are at the time. New items are reduced to factoids and talking heads. We’re pushing the boundaries of ethics with the genetic code but haven’t found an answer to poverty and hunger. We can map the stars but no human has left Earth orbit.

To me, we’re starting to reek of cultural stagnation. We’re told of new drugs that allow improved cognitive functions for those suffering dementia, only for them to be used by students to improve their memory. Even the language we use to talk to one another has changed to such an extent that grown adults are reduced to talking in child-speak or the broken English in texts or emails. No one pays much attention to the consequences of their actions. Considering the imminent shortage of fuel and power, I wonder how many more luxury items like games consoles and TVs will sell. Given the choice between keeping warm and eating, or the latest Halo game, I know which I would choose.

Games like Eclipse Phase and modern pop culture talk about Transhumanism: the truth is we’ll not be ready until we figure out where the hell we are, who we are, and what we should be doing as a species, not an individual or group.

I’ll leave off with a little snippet from Babylon 5, that pretty much describes how an advanced culture (the Vorlons) would view a race on the verge of acquiring an anti-agathic drug (i.e. once that prolongs life, and eliminates disease).

You are not ready for immortality

– Kosh Ngranek, Babylon 5 episode Deathwalker

Imagine if we had one today: an overcrowded world with limited resources.

Anyway: enough ranting. I’m off to prepare a handwritten summary of my notes from a Windows 7 implementation meeting.