TED Conversations

Stefan H. Farr


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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 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.

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