TED Conversations

Stefan H. Farr


This conversation is closed.

Debate: Our culture isn't adapting to our rapidly progressing technology.

There is a lot of talk about the current economic crises. Projections, promises or just plain old confusion, everybody seems to have an opinion on when and how it will get resolved or on the contrary how it will not resolve, but rather bring about the end of us.

Personally, I believe that it "can" resolve, but not by traditional economic measures, because the cause of it is not purely economic in nature. I believe, that this crises stems from a profound conflict brought about by the increasing incompatibility of our cultural, social and economic values with the ever more advanced technological progress that we are accumulating. Our inability to culturally adapt to this rapid technological progress is like a dead weight that impedes our metamorphosis as a species altogether.

Consequently, I believe that the next giant leap in our evolution must be a cultural / spiritual / intellectual / social one and not a technological one. Technologically we are way beyond what we can culturally accommodate and so any more progress in this domain will only deepen the conflict rather than resolve it.

Thank you!


Closing Statement from Stefan H. Farr

It's been a pleasure reading your comments. Thank you very much everybody for the excellent insight.

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    Oct 13 2012: Thank you all very much for your responses!

    I see there is a little bit of confusion so let me elaborate a little bit:

    If you live a kid in a candy store by itself, it will eat until eventually it will get sick to its stomach. When I talk about technology I am not talking about the day to day gadgets and toys, how fast one should acquire smart phones to, God forbid, skip an addition, that's the "kid in the candy store".

    I am talking about how we should come to our senses and start using technology in a responsible way. I am saying that we don't even realize how technologically advanced we are. If we would want to, we could probably completely switch to clean energy in a matter of years, of course it would take lots of effort, coordination and discipline, but that is exactly what I am pointing out: we have the technology for it, it's the other stuff that we lack (the collective will and need to doing that). We have the technology to improve farming but we continue to deplete the oceans of fish because "the other country depletes them too". So let's see who depletes them first? Big companies continue to treat people like objects because people allow them to do so, it is culturally normal, leading to continuous economic crises. I am saying that our economic model, based exclusively on property is just poorly modelled and full of bugs that continue to plague us again and again. We print more money when we find a pot of gold in our dirt, but we don't do that when a person is born.

    We don't see what real value is, exactly because we hide behind stupid gadgets, age masking products, and so many other things which we must "have" to get our next endorphin kick. I'm not saying those things are not important but we pursue them obsessively neglecting the big picture. I am a technology person and I love technology. I believe that technology has the power to make our lives much much better. But we need to see the real power of it and learn how to use it responsibly.
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      Oct 13 2012: Well since you put it that way Stefan i now understand where you are coming from.

      IMO there has been 3 major shifts since 1400 ad, the printing press, the steam engine and the net which we are still coming to grips with and will probably take another few years to fully integrate it into our lives and minds but it can also spur confrontation like the printing press did after a hundred years of it's use and the availability of it's product to the masses.

      Our future is bright but will always be one bumpy road.
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        Oct 13 2012: Thank you Ken, you caught exactly what I was referring to.

        I would add that, now, that we know that there is this conflict, this bumpy road, we are in a privileged position. We know about the problem, maybe we can consciously work on fixing it. Guide our culture, our way of thinking, our intellect rather than letting it to adjust on it's own. Teaching has worked so well in other domains, perhaps this side of us can be educated too.
    • Oct 15 2012: Great idea. I know what you're trying to say.
      I kind of struggle whenever I want to find a proper way or words to put this kind of question to many people around me.
      And some people don't get or confuse my intention as if it's Technology versus Philosophy or Technology versus Nature or something like that.
      That would be the last answer we're looking for.

      I love your 'responsible' word on this matter.
      'Cause whether we're aware of it or not really matters.
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    Oct 23 2012: Culture changes very slowly even in response to laws..witness the lingering resentment in the deep south to civil rights legislation or lingering corporate resentment of fair wage legislation, So when culture is slow to change even to adapt the law of the land, we should not be surprised when a new , even transformational technology or innovation,n doesn't permeate culture in depth or allow the full realization of its potential.

    If the purpose is to change culture ( rather than just sell product or in the ca of laws to force compliance through enforcement actions), then the cultural acceptance has to be an intentional focus at the outset (which raises its own set of questions and issues.)

    Most modern constitutions do not seek or embrace the idea of cultural homogeneity even though they do reflect a new consensus on certain aspects of shared community and shared national values. The engineering of a massive cultural spiritual transformational shift is certainly beyond government and apparently beyond existing religious institutions.

    As a contemplative I hear this idea of massive dynamic shift often expressed . Sometimes as the next stage of evolution of humanity, of human kind and perhaps there is some evidence here and here that this is happening but I don't really see that or expect that.

    Any individual can decide to only purchase what is needed..what is durable, practical, useful, essential..to use all resources wisely ( e.g. ,not ever buy bottled water ever again. boycottingg genetically engineered food products) to be personally responsible for what we rely on institutions to do ( teach our children, care for our elderly, deal with ) and enough of us do that as individuals we will change what is produced and how it is disrtibuted and at hat proint the cultural shift will have been effected. .

    We bring that shift about by making wise choices one by one not by advocating for or waiting for a shift.
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    Oct 15 2012: Shawn: I was reading your answers and I think we are in a great deal of agreement here, but in fact here lies the problem that brought up the conversation.

    We really DO have the technology to do all this that you are saying: solve energy crises, biodiversity loss, have more free time and better quality lives (as Karen put it so nicely) and much more that we cannot even imagine. We could solve world hunger, eliminate a lot of tropical diseases (which by the way together kill millions of people yearly but that is no loss in terms of our culture, because we didn't loose money or gold, just people).

    There are many things that can be solved, but we are stuck in the trap of "feasibility". In the western culture we don't move a finger unless it is feasible to do so. Unfortunately our definition of feasibility is only about here and now and involves nothing more than money. A clean air 20 years from now, dose not get thrown into the equation. Nor does having a disaster recovery plan in case a catastrophy hits. That's all in the future, it is not our responsibility. Our kids will deal with them. What is important is to make things feasible here and now, as in, to extract money from it in the short term and for that not only we ignore future future effects, we deliberately sacrifice the future to make the present feasible.

    We pretend we do all this for our children, but do we? Will it matter if my kids will have 10million dollars in their bank account it there won't be food, freshwater, or clean air and the streets will be filled with rioting hungry sick people? I'm not even sure that money will matter. Wealth and power only exist if the people around accept it, and that will greatly depend on the condition the general population will find itself in.
  • Oct 14 2012: Brilliant put, Stefan!

    There has to be a value shift in order to realize the potential of technology. I feel that part of the problem of ignorance is our schools. They have steadily been based on curriculum that are at least 200 years old and hasn't undergone any significant transformation or adaptation to our technological possibilities.

    How would you define progress, though?
    • Oct 14 2012: I agree that it wouldn't hurt to try to improve our education system.

      Progress? I would say that progress is anything that makes people's lives better, either on an individual level or on a societal/community/global level. I think it's clear that some technologies (toilets, medical advances, etc...) represent genuine progress, whereas the effects of other technologies (televisions, iPads, etc...) are much more obscure. As Thoreau said, "... so with a hundred 'modern improvements'; there is an illusion about them; there is not always a positive advance."
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      Oct 15 2012: Very tough question Mats. An extremely helpful point. I will think about it, include it in my analysis.
      Thank you very much.
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    Gail . 50+

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    Oct 13 2012: Please allow me to replace the word "technology" with the word "automation", because technology automates that which humans used to do or never could do.

    Now take a burgeoning global population that depends on people to be consumers in order to sustain a money-based social system. Now automate to the point where so many are automated out of jobs that there are not enough consumers. The economy (which is really a social system) will eventually collapse. This will force change.

    I agree that the next giant leap in our evolution must be cultural / spiritual / intellectual / social. There has recently been a huge leap in our understanding of WHAT a human being really is (thanks to technology). The problem is that the discoveries fly in the face of conventional wisdom and are an insult to many religions.

    In the USA, thanks to a corrupt political model that gives evangelical christians (a minority) power over the majority, education is viewed as a threat by the powerful minority. One of our states (Texas) has one party with a political platform that would outlaw the teaching of critical thinking and higher level learning where that knowledge disrupts beliefs that parents want instilled in their children.

    What we need to know to evolve beyond what we have done to ourselves is not being taught in schools. It's more than just the hyper-religious who fight education. It's the entire political structure (owned by the military-industrial complex) that establishes a stilted educational paradigm as a subsidy for mega global corporations - who worship at money's altars.

    The evidence coming out of quantum physics and the complementary study of "mind" is quite amazing and EMPOWERING. How do we convince a huge part of the earth's population that it is not "evil"?
    • Oct 15 2012: I agree with you, mostly .. You will be happy to know that most of the World's ppoulation do not actually subscribe to the fanatic Christian belief in "Evil", with all its implications. That doesn't mean , of course , that they think its OK if we go around abusing them..
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        Oct 15 2012: Who is abusing THEM? (i.e. Chrisitians). I do wish that they would stop abusing non-christians in the USA (which is the only country I can speak knowledgeably about).
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    Oct 12 2012: You can't impede the progress of technology for the sake of those unwilling to embrace the realities of life in the 21st Century. Look what we have setting trip wires for society's adaptation to technological advancements and critical thinking: Theocratic Neanderthals in our legislature, boards of education and govt. bureaus shackled to man made deities and mythologies wishing to cast off the sciences as demonic, and march us back to the Dark Ages with their folly. Pastors pumping out the bilge, and the congregations wallowing in the polluted concepts of a Young Earth and Six Day Creation disregarding the vast tonnage of contrary evidence and casting off scientific proofs as trickery. The "dumbing down" of this nation is not an imagined theory, it is a sad fact.

    We once turned to the halls of academia to welcome the next vanguard of progressive thinkers, movers and shakers, and independent thinkers. Alas, their numbers have diminished, the results of a latchkey childhood as the guidance and motivation of the parental units are taken out of the picture and are forced into the workplaces to generate the incomes needed for survival. Dinnertime input/output sessions between the family units have been replaced with notes on a refrigerator. The bright beacons we once had to guide others to higher realms of thinking and understanding are now dimmed and apathetic, seeking shelter from the harsh realities of an economically crippled nation in the virtual realms of World Of Warcraft.

    Water will seek its own level, we will pick up and rebuild from the tsunami of global economic meltdown that washed over us. There then must come yet another tidal wave washing over the land ushering in a New Era of Enlightenment. Our evolution as a species depends on it. The Universe demands it.
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      Oct 12 2012: I am not suggesting to stop technological progress to accommodate our outdated culture, on the contrary I am suggesting we open our minds and shed old habits so that we can more easily take in the wonders of the technology that we created. And I am trying to advocate that we do not need an economic meltdown, a tidal wave, that wipes out half the world population to initiate a change. I am hoping that we are smart enough that for the first time in the history we could deliberately, systematically engineer the way we perceive the world instead of simply relying on our impulses. But for that we need a large scale common effort.
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        Oct 13 2012: i thin k you make a good point ,we should open our mind and enbrace out tec
      • Oct 15 2012: Stefan: you 're right, but I guess the large scale common effort comes down to a lot of conversations, on every level , about what's true , and how do you check up on the "answers". TED for everyone. The evolution of solving mysteries by , like about thunderstorms, by science rather than Theology , is a hopefull and continuing process .A big obstacle for people has always been the mystery of "who we are". Its remarkable in science lately how the assumptions have drifted more in line with the Asian relationships of "opposites", as opposed to the mechanistic Newtonian scheme which most of our society operates.with. Consciousness manufactured in the Brain on one side, vs . Consciousness as something like an electric field on the other. Look up the "Superorganism" in Biology. for some new ideas along these lines. E.O. Wilson, the Ant expert, mentioned it. This is all going to be much more about "who we are" than any technology.
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          Oct 15 2012: I completely agree. It will come down to "Who we are". And "who we are" boils down to "what we do, with what we have at our disposal". The question is, when we look back 20-30 years from now will we be proud or ashamed.
    • Oct 12 2012: Charles your treatise is soundly written and reasoned. I would, if I may, add another perspective on what has become of the halls of academia; commercialization and the so called "business model" have devastated these areas. Many academics have to bring in funds by selling the academic imprimatur to bogus studies that say whatever the provider wishes. Additionally, the treatment of new PhDs as educators has devolved to part time piece work at below minimum wage salaries.

      This all lends credence to the general dumbing down of the people. Mr. Farr is correct. Society is facing a massive upheaval. It is adapt or die time. Those who deny it and those who attempt to impede the changes are the very ones who will cause the demise.

      At this very moment the progressive intellectual adapters are badly outnumbered by the frightened.
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        Oct 15 2012: Thank you, Sharon, for added data that I wasn't aware of. It's sad to acknowledge this "selling out" for funding going on.
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          Oct 15 2012: I think it is always a good idea to establish the extent of a phenomenon (by looking at actual data) rather than assuming that something is widespread in the sense of applying to a significant proportion of a field..
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      Oct 13 2012: Wow! You write very well! AND, you are so correct!
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      Oct 13 2012: WOW! Charles, you write so well! You are also spot-on in your assessments.
  • Nov 10 2012: I'm currently teaching in Bhutan,a country that joined the online world not many years back. The impacts are going to be huge here because the generational gap in knowledge is so big. I'm trying to arrange a placement with the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy with funding from the UN to try to get involved in spreading awareness of media literacy and the impacts of the new technologies that about to come bursting through the interpipes. It's a very interesting situation here - the issues you describe are hypertrophic.
  • Oct 25 2012: "Our inability to culturally adapt to this rapid technological progress is like a dead weight that impedes our metamorphosis as a species altogether."
    I totally agree with You.
    I know people who surely will run and hide under a stone if they discover that siri exists.
    Due to the astonishing diferences in technological knowledge the cultures' evolution run at diferent speeds generating huge internal stresses in our societies.
    Apart of that I see that we as people are not as rational as we think because having the knowledge, the technology and the power we still use them in stupid ways. We know about global warming but d'ont do anything serious about that. We know about economic theories and we go in debt. The market makers crash the markets.

    In my opinion the main problem is the lack of direction as a whole Humanity.

    We waste almost all of our lifetime and resources going to nowhere and that has to change. I think we have to define our goals for the future: our evolution.
  • Oct 22 2012: Our culture IS a form of technology. To understand what is wrong with humans, you first have to determine what you are evaluating. Any species lives based on its ability to be useful to its own future. If not, it goes extinct. Humans invented a technology unconsciously called "imagination". It is a useful extens ion of the memory process which creates a model universe based on the information we collect during development. Upon physical maturity, the human moves their id/ego into the model universe and avoids the real universe at all costs. Before the industrial revolution created so much wealth (mostly by stealing it from our future selves with debts and fossil resources), humans created tricks of community, culture, and religion to fool ourselves into not being too consumptive (greed, sloth, etc. were frowned upon). With the freedom of wealth came greater detachment from Malthusian needs, and thus, greater detachment from reality. As with all civilization processes, the end result is that generations of people who live within a refined, homogenized isolation of society do not have a clue about what it took to create and maintain that stable artificial environment, so it fails and the fringe members of the species start over again. The mean Mean do not "evolve". As with any evolutionary process, the middle of the curve is adapted to PAST environments, and some few lucky members on the outer limits of the bell curve MIGHT be adapted to living more generously(the opposite of consumption is not frugality, but generosity) and sensibly.
  • Nov 12 2012: Well yeah have you noticed that it's a device that people instead of learning use as entertainment, and causes a lot of people to become anti-social. Meanwhile the Media keeps uses it to convince people to buy into conformity and very bias unchecked facts.

    Examples Look how people feel the need to broadcast there lives on fb and twitter. Or how the history channel now has shows about gator farms or "Dick Dynasty". How Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, Stephen Hawking, or Da Vinci is an unknown figure to children and urban kids but, everyone has great concern over Kim Kardisian Marriage, Paris Hilton, Snooki, Pauly D, and other stupid celebrities who are famous for ludicris behavior.

    Take the Presindential campaign Ads, which both had really covincing agruements filled with proganda on both sides.

    Finally look at all the ads trying to less stuff you don't need like clothes, cigs, jewelry, junk food, lastest electronics that don't seem that different from the other generations. If your not truly convinced of this last statement then look at this FUNNY LINKS

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    Nov 10 2012: YEAH, agree ^ ^
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    Nov 10 2012: Thanks for your reply. But you should know that this can happen in china.
    really. Educators or civil sevents usually do this kind of stuff.
    in our city, a second-level one in china, the same road is being digged and fixed over and over again. Why do they do this? If they want to make a profit, they have to apply a project to get the money from a higher lever govenment. and sometimes they give the projects to their relatives thus they can make an indirect profit.
    My point is: in some countries, policy-making can misguide our society.
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    Nov 10 2012: Interesting thing is that I still remember the time when the Education Department of our city is struggling of whether students in junior high should use calculators. Even then, I thought the adult can be so hesitant and ridiculous.
    First, we are encouraged to use the calculator and everyone is demaded to buy one powerful Casio calculator which can even calculate the sin, cos of trangle; then, we are not allowed to use that. At last, the calculator is back.
    Maybe, the officials are just using us to make a profit, but this really leads to a contraversial question.
    Or maybe these specialists were trying to do a good thing, but in my view this constant left-and-right change should not be tested on teenagers.
    Many people in China say that our generation is one that is just like the guinea pig. How sad it is...
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      Nov 10 2012: Hi, Linda. I don't think this confusion over calculators was related to profit. Rather there was a dispute among educators as to whether mental math skills are vital and would be impaired by excessive use of calcultor, whether the thinking that develops to provide facility with arithmetic calculations is foundational to understanding algebra and higher mathematics, and so forth.
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        Nov 10 2012: Thanks for your reply. But you should know that this can happen in china.
        really. Educators or civil sevents usually do this kind of stuff.
        in our city, a second-level one in china, the same road is being digged and fixed over and over again. Why do they do this? If they want to make a profit, they have to apply a project to get the money from a higher lever govenment. and sometimes they give the projects to their relatives thus they can make an indirect profit.
        My point is: in some countries, policy-making can misguide our society.
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          Nov 10 2012: I understand that people will often promote their commercial interests in any country.

          I shared what I know about the calculator issue generally just in case you didn't know that there is a genuine pedagogical question involved.
  • Nov 9 2012: Hi Tyler. I'm not much of a FB user but I'm proficient enough to search and after a while I gave up--I couldn't find you.

    My FB locaction is : http://www.facebook.com/#!/RareBird0

    Let's knock this around a bit. This subject is where so much potential lies. Hope to hear from you. Jim
  • Nov 7 2012: I wouldn't necessarily write off the cultural evolution due to technological advancement. After all, even the simple art of the written or spoken word is a form of technology, which allowed an actual cultural and human evolution. Technology is just another thing that we can use to do the exact same thing that we have been doing for thousands of years, which is adapting to not only our environmental needs but also adapt to what culture(s) arise. The thing with human evolution is that we are evolving on par with our technology. The thing that isn't happens to be multiple sectors of the business world that continually tries to crush many of the ways that the consumers, especially creative ones, can use various forms of technology.
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    Nov 7 2012: Culturally speaking, if we took all the current technology away from the kids today, the resulting psychosis would drive us into a health-care hole in the ground. The current generation has never known a day without a cell phone or computer. To suddenly resort to doing arithmetic in their minds would break their brains.

    The older generation have become so dependent on this technology that to go back to the old ways would cause many of them to take early retirement. I say early retirement because they would realize the resources they would need for the transition to old ways of running an office do not exist outside their generation. The human power to accomplish it no longer exists. It would be temporary chaos.

    Yes, culturally we have fully adopted the new technology and any new understandings about our reality will be as a result of using and devising even more powerful technology. We are seeing the tiny fluctuations of the atom. Soon, we will see them in HD resolution, in real time.

    The technology of the future will be easily accepted by this current generation and implemented into their lives with an ease the older generation could only imagine through science fiction.

    I started down this road in 1978, pushing the new technology onto my generation who accepted it with great reluctance, having nothing but foresight to idealize it's usefulness. The current generation doesn't need foresight, they have experienced the results of new technology. In the near future, culture will have a global tone and color. Indeed, the notion of cultural is undergoing an ideological shift from what we used to call cultural nationalism.

    Two or three generations from now, the word "Culture" will start to fade into obscurity through lack of use. It will become an epistemological artifact like the word "thou" or "thine".

    I add, "welcome back Obama!!"
  • Nov 5 2012: You're right. But technology is the only medium which can facilitate an encompassing philosophy able to create a "new literacy" which can then enable a new "modernity". It would take a hundred years and a lot of luck to educate an esoteric few on what the unique powers of non-linear communication are versus all that have passed before if we stick to conventional communications methods.. I feel we are so on the same wave length though.

    Firstly, society doesn't even understand itself--it doesn't know that technology use actually changes our capacity--that this thing called "neuroplasticity" isn't some "reactive" provision to mend our brains in case we get hit in the head but is instead the constant provisional mechanism for new capacity in which we grow new interconnections that allow us to "use" or even create each new level of technology. This is a monumental dynamic around which education must be reformed (among a few others) because no human who fails a test on day is hopeless. To the contrary, with the proper remedy, the same person could become a super-achiever.

    I'd really like to converse with you about this but TED boxes are so confining. I'll offer my e-mail jim_mcg@verizon.net and assure you no obligation. I have partially written the philosophy that makes for the development of a synthesis of an "ethical intermediary" where, with a few new forms of journalism and dialog, make for that means to establish the "new literacy and its engine of acceptance" I can sense that you believe is necessary. I hope to hear from you. I'm sure you know what we are on is the fulcrum upon which the future of the Digital Revolution teters. There's big money there too.
    • Nov 8 2012: Do you have a Facebook? I'm from Piqua, Ohio. Look me up.
  • Nov 1 2012: One thing I think we could do, is change the way we teach kids. They are our future after all. As long as we come up with a way to teach them how and why we got here, things will work it's self out. I was on google earth one day and thought, why don't someone make one just like that, but it goes form the beginning of earth till now. Then you could go to the day Jesus was crusifide. Then you can go see what's happening in other parts of the world. School then can make a lesson that could teach the whole world.

    Another way we could help is by making are kids bilingual. One reason society to me is falling is, the language difference in a society full of so many. Studies have shown that kids with bilingual parents will speak both language. They learn them just by listening. So it is safe to say, you could record a different language and play them when they are in the belly till they are old enough to read and write it.
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    Oct 31 2012: At the risk of addressing this too theoretically, I get very suspicious whenever I hear pronouncements about undefined things such as "culture", "society", etc. My answer and that of everyone else has everything to do with the definition of those terms that I and they have in mind when we respond.

    For example, my response to the statement "Our culture isn't adapting to our rapidly progressing technology" depends entirely on which "culture" I'm thinking of. I live in Orange County in Southern California along with approximately 3 million others. In contrast my wife's aunt and uncle who we visited this summer, live in Marshal County Minnesota with a total population of just over 10 thousand residents. OC County has 3 cities each with populations that are no less than 10 times the entire population of Marshal County. Orange County's size is 56% that of Marshal County.

    Knowing nothing more than this you can imagine that discussions regarding the "culture" of Marshal County versus OC County will be very different. Indeed, such discussions of a city in north OC County will be as well from those in south OC County even though those cities are no more than 15 miles apart..

    Stefan said, "I believe, that this crises stems from a profound conflict brought about by the increasing incompatibility of our cultural, social and economic values with the ever more advanced technological progress that we are accumulating", followed later by "Consequently, I believe that the next giant leap in our evolution must be a cultural / spiritual / intellectual / social one and not a technological one."

    I'm not sure we can separate technology from questions of culture, spiritual, intellectual, and social context, at least I know I can't. But I do think he is right in suggeting that assuming technology alone to be the key to our problems, which it often appears we do, is also wrong.
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      Oct 31 2012: One of the things I like about the way Stefan phrased this question, is that for me the question works at all scales of culture and society from the smallest to the largest. So I assumed the usual definitions of culture and society that work at all scales. But Stefan also includes an intriguing reference to a "metamorphosis as a species altogether," implying a global scope, as if all the disparate cultures might eventually link up some how to evolve.
    • Nov 5 2012: Hi Bill. I get your point about those terms. How do you feel if instead of saying our culture or our society or even our species or world "needs" x,y or z, we said that a technological phenomenon has occurred which offers answers to trillion dollar problem--massive sums of which we keep squandering because we need a new literacy above standard literacy and above technological literacy which is not esoteric -- which technology itself could deliver, which could help a new modernity reveal itself people will want to buy into and get for their children, and that this technology itself is now so cheap and so pervasive it is possible to achieve this new literacy in just a few years with just a few players?
  • Oct 31 2012: technology has changed our living style besides our civilization. our culture is the backbone of our attitude and enhancing factor of humanity. technology is for our life comfort. it is purely physical. the culture part of it is purely inner and spiritual. it must not deteriorate at the cost of modernization/technology. well civilized/modernized man with no cultural values is not worth mentioning for the benefit of living planet.
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    Oct 31 2012: @ non tech: I think very often and more and more our discoveries DO lead to more roads being opened up from there on adding to the complexity of that which we have to navigate as our knowledge increases. That, in and of itself is a problem and, yeah, there often end up being more than originally led here but maybe we can eventually work out all the problems if we're working on a greater number of them and at an ever increasing rate. ;D YaY! No more problems. LOL :)
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    Oct 28 2012: In my view, it is not technology itself our culture got problems to cope with, it is its application more and more individuals have problems to digest.

    To me, the purpose of technology is to better and to ease our lifes, and much of it does, but it also started to work against us and to enslave us in order to maintain our benefits.

    Somewhere in the past we crossed a tipping point in which our technology began to use us and to accelerate the speed of our lifes way beyond healthy limits for most of us.

    To me there is no coincidence in rising numbers of depression disorder, burn out syndroms, stroke and heart diseases (except unhealthy diets) and personal isolation tendencies.

    Technically we should be in the most convenient and fulfilling times our species ever attained. But practically it seems, that most of us does not feel and experience it this way.

    So one may argue, that we, humans, can not value anything we never lacked or missed. And I think this got a lot to do with it, especially for generations who exclusively thrived in abundance. Yet nevertheless there are also other reasons causing the decay of personal contentment.

    This is quite a wide field, but it got to do with speed and application of our technology not with technology itself (besides weapons, of course).
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    Oct 27 2012: "We need to combine ancient wisdom with new technologies. That's all we need." -Paulo Coelho
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    Oct 25 2012: We have allowed the world to decline to a place where moral and ethical issues are so vague that any depravity can be well defended by sophistry.
    And we have placed too much emphasis on science and inventions; on knowledge and fancy gadgets; on materialism and the acquisition of wealth; all obsessively pursued at the expense of the human soul; most of the pursuits are at the expense of human relationships and dignity.
    P W Botha once said "Adapt or Die". I think its time to start making efforts to adapt; as it is now, we are not even trying.
  • Oct 25 2012: Hello there,
    quite right, for years we have had the capability to transform our socio-economic system into one that is actually sustainable, but our values got/get in the way. It is also about changing what we value most. A value war, if you will. Interestingly enough though, for years there has been a man called Jacque Fresco that has been working on social design, and intelligent management of resources. Probably the following shows the ideas in a more understandable way.

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    R H 30+

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    Oct 25 2012: As you infer, I too believe we are on the verge of a transformation unlike any in history. We no longer are just 'making tools', we are 're-assembling' our universe and our definition of what it means to be human. Unfortunately, just as no laws are made until there's a loss, we will probably be overwhelmed by our abilities before we can refocus our energies towards the ultimate importance of social understanding, cooperation, and wisdom in living.
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    Oct 23 2012: Well Stefan, I think you have posed THE CRUCIAL question - and thus; will the human race survive in any sort of sensible fashion? I have spent my life considering this question, and now, I think I can see the end game within the next generation or two. This is because of technology, as you say. This will deliver, in the next lurch of human ascent, from agriculture, animal power, steam, transistor, information...to the final push. All previous technical revolutions have managed to lever man's ability to 'produce much more efficiently'. But the next lurch will take most humans out of the loop - and this really does change everything - practically and therefore, consequently, culturally. As with all moments in time, historically and now, we are so 'up to our eyes' in solving immediate issues, we really cannot see further ahead easily. And therefore we fail to plan, the human race are poor long term planners anyway - but we are great at reacting - and will this lead us to nirvana?

    Perhaps a view from the future is the best way to understand what we really face (and its not pretty) see: Level 2 history notes Nov 25th 2199 (I hope it is thought provoking).


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    Oct 23 2012: We are adapting, you may not like the speed or the direction, but you are also assuming that we can control our adaptation.
    Can we?
    It seems to me that the biosphere self organizes and we are just a very very tiny part of it.
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      Oct 23 2012: Absolutely - we are just a small part of the biosphere - and, totally inconsequential to Mother Nature!

      But, equally - are you, as a sentient being, (not personally, but as a member of the human race), prepared to let Mother Nature go her own way and we just play along? Surely not - Nature gave us the ability to think - should we not use that facility to out-think Mother Nature? We need to take on Nature, Is this possible? This is, I believe, the real question.

      See: The Human Contradiction,