Pioneers in the Age of Information – Part 2

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So, now that your boots are comfortably on, we need to climb the mountain of why we should be socially responsible. Why should we find time in our day-to-day to exert any effort into the improvement of our planet? Well, primarily, because we are truly all in it together now. Our lives, through globalization and the Internet, are more accessible (cough NSA cough) and more connected than ever before. Never before have people known more about the rest of the world and its people. This is truly a phenomenal development in the course of our human history.

Iosif Shklovsky, the Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist, theorized that other civilizations might have existed across the universe since the beginning of time, as we know it, roughly 13.7 billion years ago. These civilizations would evolve along a timeline similar to our own and develop technology at a similar rate. Not long after these civilizations would have created radio waves capable of interstellar communication, they would be knocking on the door of their own destruction. This theory applies to us too.

As news of the first man made object to have left our solar system spreads and missions to Mars become an imminent reality, it is clear that we are closing in on this point in our own history. The technological capability of signaling throughout the universe would be paralleled by advances in weaponry that would have the potential to destroy our planet and our species. So, civilizations could be popping up around the universe, sending their interstellar greetings and then inevitably destroying themselves, their light extinguished before it had the chance to shine into the great unknown.

I realize this is only a theory and there is no real way of testing its veracity. But, just in the off chance that it holds true, shouldn’t we take action? The theory suggests that as these civilizations globalize, resistance increases to the clash of cultures. Groups become radicalized and highly advanced weaponry becomes more available. This reminds me of what we almost, and may very well still, witnessed in Syria. If the Americans had attacked Assad, his stores of chemical weapons could have fallen into the hands of even more irresponsible groups. Fast-forward to a hundred years in the future and you can imagine how many of these situations we may face.

Newton’s third law of motion says that for every action, there is an equal and opposing reaction. This could be said of foreign policy decisions too. It is no secret that drone strikes help radical militant groups recruit members, and who can’t understand why? If I had a drone hovering over my head all day and then one day it blew up my family, I’d probably be pretty furious with whoever was in charge of it too. So instead of generating these reactions, that will continue to strike back in waves of opposing force, why don’t we get ahead of the curve? Why don’t we attempt to be pro-active? We have the insight, we have the ability, we have the know-how and we have the tool, the Internet. Our international institutions are swamped with the pressure of cleaning up the messes of the world and never have the time to sit down and analyze the future outcomes of our actions. But even if they did, would we listen?

Religions around the world believe in some sort of Rapture and Armageddon and according to a recent Reuters poll, 22% of Americans believe that it will happen in their lifetime.  If it does happen, they believe they will be whisked away to some variation of heaven. So, where is the incentive in improving and ensuring the longevity of our species here on my heaven, Earth? In science, we are faced with this same doomsday clock. It will either be nuclear war or climate change that wipes us off the pages of history. The Green movement motivates followers to change with the prospect of the end of the world, the climate Armageddon. But, at least it’s pushing people in a proactive direction instead of into complacency.

So, here we are, being subjected to the end of the world rhetoric. But this is a terrible place to start the global dialogue on where we humans are headed. You need hope. You need to start with the possibilities, because if we work together and use the gift that globalization has the potential to be, we could create a world and a history to span the ages.

To be continued….

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