Saturday, June 14, 2014

Do we really have an option for avoiding a police state future in face of technology?

I have written multiple times on my blog about the invasive and pervasive nature of the Technosphere around humanity and how its invasiveness and pervasiveness is only going to increase. Long ago I gave a talk which started with the following lines from "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

I spoke about how

"Every War that was fought
Was once a thought that someone thought
And if he/she had not thought that thought
They would not have fought"

This was part of a debate at IISc on the topic "If you want peace, be prepared for war" and I was speaking in favour of the topic

Different partititions of humanity live in different thought streams. The barriers between these partitions have become porous. Many positive and negative assumptions are being questioned. This means a period of instability at the least till (and if) sense prevails overall and peace returns. In the interim, the risk that the periods of instability can escalate into near-extinction scenarios for humanity or quasi-war type loss scenarios for health, life and property.

I think I spoke with conviction that day and my speech was well appreciated. I spoke with conviction that day because I concluded with saying something that the Buddha himself has asked people to do. Unless each human wages war with himself/herself, the prospects for lasting peace for that person are low. I write about this in my song "Dhamma ahe Bhimrao Maza" which I sang in the following youtube link with one error. In this song towards the end, I talk about how people fighting injustice first need to fight and win battles with themselves before fighting external battles. There can be no lasting resolution of any significant problem of humanity unless each human fights the war within effectively. Based on my limited understanding of the implications of the Buddha's message, I think that the prospects for a lasting peace among all humans are remote, since getting all humans to fight and win the battle within is remote.

This might sound idealistic and academic, but considering that human thought drives human speech and actions and technology magnifies the impact of this speech and actions manifold, is it surprising if I am worried about the implications for peace among humans? I can see how dramatically minor mistaken/willful speech and actions spread like wild fire through human to human social networks triggering actions involving human-to-machine and machine-to-machine networks to all the networks connecting humanity. In the past, michief remained localised more easily, now nothing remains localised. As I think about the 13 billion hits on NDTV during Indian election results day and as I wonder about the number of billions watching/following the England soccer game in Brazil tonight, I can see that the nature of the distribution of humanities attention is changing. Driven by attention/TRP seeking media and varying degree of access to different technologies to different humans,the speed and diversity with which a thought in one part of the world can trigger speech and action in another part of the world has increased. The number of types of thoughts which reach each individual impacting his/her thoughts, speech, actions has changed. But it is not obvious that these thoughts have become more peaceful yet

I do not like Government to control social life too much, but given
1. The technological means we are placing with multiple people
2. The multi-farious direct/indirect reusability of these technologies into means for destroying health, life, property
3. The growing number of unintended/unregulated aspects of the usage of technologies
Do we really have an option for avoiding a police state future in face of technology?

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