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, 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.
  • Mats K

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    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 .

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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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        Gail .

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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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      Gail .

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      Oct 13 2012: Wow! You write very well! AND, you are so correct!
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      Gail .

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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 :!/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 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

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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, 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,

  • Oct 23 2012: The new technology of automation and robotics is upon us regardless of whether we wanted it or not. Some people worried about the "greed" of the innovators of such new technology. But I don't think that is the really important matter. The new tech in the past such as electricity, telecommunication, automobiles and airplanes, did make someone rich, but at most the patents or makers of these products either expired or died, but all of us still enjoy such comfort/convenience without even knowing who were the inventors of them. So the matter of whether these innovators should have their fair shares or not is rather trivial, would you agree?.
    As to the problem of the harmony or adaptation of our cultural life with the new tech, I would make a suggestion. We all know that we also have a population aging problem which not only poses a financial burden of the elderly population on the younger generation, it also makes up a very unhappy population of elderly who are lonely, poorly attended, and sometimes left sick without nursing attention. A solution to this is to construct a group of condominiums, each consists of an old fashioned "large family" with elderly and younger families. The elderly will have high tech assistance so that they can move freely around and have automated food services. They can even "attend" meetings, church services and entertainment, in house, by the teleconference technology. They also could make shopping trips or attend a chat or bridge party in their own room. All these new tech can be managed by the assistance of the teenagers withing the condo. This arrangement not only benefits the elderly, who in turn can also serve as tutors, counselors or companions for the children in the same condo too. In summary, we should return to the old times when people usually live in a large family where the interaction between the grandparents and the grandchildren benefits each other while without the heavy physical labor for the caretakers.
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    Oct 22 2012: ı agree with you but in the 21st century people don't care holy things such as bible or koran...corruption is everywhere notably in the cultural field people are afraid of everything we live in our small worlds without thinking ı think technology is a very little part of the situation
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    Oct 21 2012: I agree Stephan, but I offer a different point of view to consider: The conflicts are here today as the "most important" cultural publications like Bible or Koran etc. are not up-to-dated by adapting our rapidly progressing technology. "Priests" and theologies have difficulties to follow the latest developments in science - as well as scientists - too. For example famous "Logos hymn" is not up-to-dated concerning the beginning of everything. The Bible and Koran are only translated to the latest language tricks, but never up-to-dated based on the results of science.

    This situation is really sad as the people do not understand the original contexts as such any more, but on the same time they are ready to fight against rapidly progressing technology, because they do not understand modern science. If the problem with the "holy texts" and science is fixed with the aid of persistent deep co-operation, then we can stop wars caused by "different cultural backgrounds and religions"
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    Oct 21 2012: We each represent our own distinct beliefs arising from our families and cultures. These beliefs bring those of the flock together but usually separate us from the rest. Some of us do not want to forsake our beliefs no matter what the economic crises brings.

    Technology is purposefully replacing our toil of brain and brawn with ever improving machines. This is a good thing if we all shared in those gains. Some hold fast to the belief greed is good. I am certain greed is grotesque for its creed to purposely exclude others for its own survival .. while want is wonderful and drives our technological efforts. Where one person’s want will drive them to successes this is good indeed but when they then keep all of that gain for themselves just because they believe this is fair—is bad! Of course it was their sweat that made it but this is the very lie that must be destroyed. This is the belief that is deeply ingrained in most of us but must go if we are going to take that next evolutionary step. The belief I purpose to replace greed: if you make a gain and I make a gain that we will share so we both gain both gains. It’s not the righteous form but it’s a step in the righteous direction. Would you not seek to replace my hard labor if I could do the same for you? Symbol me this: Greed is Grotesque!
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  • Oct 17 2012: if my understanding of culture is still fresh; is a way of life by a group of people. With this definition set as a base form my commenting, technology isn't a way of life. culture was installed in us right from childhood. making it impossible to change it. Technology will improve and advance, whereas culture will stay the same. But I believe we can, and are even bridging the gap between culture and technology; with the youth of today.
  • Oct 16 2012: Technology requires money, and most of the 7 billion on this plants don't have any discretionary. Change historically has been made (by labor unions and others) by organized rebellion and refusal to preform. As special interests generally have much greater influence in governments than populations it is not realistic to believe political, social, or cultural change will ever take place, with or without technology, without rebellion. The refusal to conform "passively". If millions refused to go to work, buy a specific product, and/or pay a specific tax. If millions chose to not buy fuel on a specific day and date each month....change would take place simply due to "logistics". Profit and the loss there of speaks loudly! Technology is viewed and propagated by the media, which is owned by the wealthy, and view as a threat in the hands of the masses...therefore presented difficult.

    There is a difference between good technology and technology at large. When a human has to change, alter behaviors, or learn to adapt to interface with technology it is very unlikely to be successful to the adult populations at large. An example is cell phones that are so small one cannot see or push the buttons and/or one needs a PHD to operate. This phone it is not likely to be accepted or used outside of a select group willing to and having the time to adapt.

    Once, I designed an electric motor years ago that could have revolutionized power consumption (as everything manufactured either uses or is manufactured by electric motors in operation) yet the design was never used, but a company secretly attempt to patent my design without my knowledge. The electric engine has not changed in more than a hundred years and is likely the greatest potential to reduce our carbon signature. When ideas and technology threaten profit, security, and asset potential of the wealthy they are projected as of "no use or a fad"

    Technophobia is a symptom not the cause or root of the problem.
  • Oct 15 2012: I want to pose some leading questions for the amusement of the group. I will use the term spirituality but will ask the group to determine whether or not to associate spirituality to politics and/or religion.

    -What relationship exists between intellect and philopsophy?
    -What relationship exists between intellect and technology?
    -What relationship exists between spirituality and philosophy?
    -What relationship exists between social value, culture and spirituality?

    We may agree that intellect and philosophy are closely bound in as much as many of the brightest minds in history contributed to philosophy. Philosophy on the other hand typically yields questions but few absolute answers. We may also agree that spirituality and philosophy are closely bound in as much as spirituality attempts to provide answers or at least context to philosophical questions. We may also agree that technology is a significant function, although not the only function in progressing intellect. This suggests a relationship between technology, philosophy and spirituality. Finally, I suggest that cultural, spiritual and social values are closely bound. I won't attempt to qualify this statement but would suggest that the strength of this binding indicates effective cultural - social stability although I don't think this is a linear function.

    If we accept these conditions, it places spiritual leaders in an interesting position. How can spiritual leaders present philosophical questions in such a manner that cultures can evolve in the face of social change driven by technological advancement? Additionally, is there likely to be a point where advancement in technology isn't the strongest influence to social change?

    If you've read this far, thank you for your indulgence.
  • Oct 15 2012: I completely agree with you we need a S.C.I.S. (I took the liberty of making an abbreviation of Social Cultural Intellectual Spiritual) revolution.

    The problem with our world are surprisingly simple especially considering the immense complexity of every individual problem.

    The problem is money or better yet, what it has become.

    The concept of money by itself is not a bad one.

    You take a single resource that is rare and can't be copied (gold for example) and use it as an mediator between two other resources.

    A good idea but this makes the mediator or better know as "money" the all powerful middle man.

    This is why there is and always will be an never ending demand for it. Which is fine except someone came up with the great idea loaning money to others with interest.

    Anyone with knowledge of basic math can tell you this is an impossible concept unless there is a constant economic growth of at least equal the amount of interest.

    So things where fine at first. The economy was growing faster then the population (partly due to the several large wars).

    But now (actually several years ago) we hit the point where our population growth became larger then our economic growth.

    Technology has improved our way of life and people are living longer on average which is great socially but incredibly destructive economically.

    And there is really only one way to resolve this and that is to take out the middle man (read: money).

    Our world has more then enough resources to provide a high quality of life for everyone on this planet and unlike many years ago we now have the technology to automate almost all forms resource gathering and transport them anywhere often within 24 hours.

    It makes me sick to see good, intelligent people slaving away at jobs that can be done faster and better by machines. But in order to make this possible we need that SCIS revolution to make people realize money has no reason to exist in our society.
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      Oct 23 2012: Robert - I think you make an excellent point - personally I believe we are not quite there yet, perhaps there is a small gap between now and 'man out of the loop'.

      see: Mind The Gap

      The key to my mind - where you are exactly correct - is our existing ability to create massive (clean) energy for the whole world - this should be done now and there is no excuse for not doing so, (history will be harsh with us for not doing it), it solves most of the worlds core issues (water, food, transport etc). The reason we don't do it is political/business interests as we do have the resources - more than enough as you say!
  • Oct 15 2012: I am intrigued by the progress of this debate. It occurs to me particularly with regards Charles's comments and Mats initiative, how and who is to decide what "makes peoples lives better" and which people are we talking about?. There is no doubt that capitalism has made a few peoples lives very much easier and filled with pleasant distractions ( I would question if they are happier or more fulfilled than our ancestral peasants working on the land but that is an opinion). It has also made very many people lives poorer and less free than many apparently less " progressive" economic models.
    How then folks, are we to measure the well being of the whole worlds population ? I suggest to you that capitalism and the power it gives to a few is now of a global nature, and governments on the whole way behind the curve on the issue of cultural and technological development and often quite ignorant as to the behaviour of the majority. Culture I believe to be as much if not more about what people do, rather than what people think. ( the two may often be well removed, we mostly do what is acceptable to others around us. We can think what we choose (at least up until this moment we can). History is a harsh judge of those arrogant enough to believe they knew what was good for the world. Well we have the technology , perhaps we should first ask the world what would make you happy, or perhaps at least what would make people less unhappy? A big question. I am not even sure I can answer it myself!
  • Oct 15 2012: Indeed, the TED community would seem to be a progressive one, however, technology, as a progressive tool for our future betterment, Hmmmm, really ???

    Those currently making money from it, i'd suggest, are those who are still advocating it's use in our progression, but, anything reflecting on technology & it's impact, be it factual, or, an artistic representation, seems to indicate a less than positive outcome.

    Technology is moving much faster than culture because in a great many ways, what it has done, has stunted cultural development. Cultural development surely resides in the physical interaction of people, be they of the same or different backgrounds, now assess how we travel, ipods in ears, psp's etc .... children who'd rather communicate via txt speak than REAL speak, aids to cultural advancements ?

    It's easy to criticize yes, as I sit on my macbook connecting, due to internet provision, but, after reading this, how many of you will actually make the effort to connect with me & build something in terms of inter-community building or otherwise huh ?

    How many of you will give me a thumbs up or down & say I want to communicate directly with this human being ahead of the next internet fix of whatever, that will satisfy your need for that quick net fix ....

    I think that Stefan is onto something, but, Giant Leaps now, are rarely made in the areas he specified. There is a great deal of rhetoric about spirituality etc, online, but who really takes the time to develop that side of themselves when e-mails are coming regarding the next sexual encounter or bit of business that's going to enable them to buy themselves the latest gadget that looks cool & gives them a sense of status due to it's perception in the public eye

    We have so far to go & technological methods, as useful as they've become, are not for the purpose of cultural development, if anything, technology, in terms of recent timescales & it's advancement, have coincided with our regression as people.
    • Oct 22 2012: Technology has changed so quickly over the last few decades and it is sometimes difficult to study and understand fully before it changes again.

      Current technology may have replaced many of the "face to face" and physical parts of communication, but it has also enhanced and promoted more communication. Live video chat, online forums (such as this one) instant video and picture streaming are just the beginning of the next wave in technology and communication.

      As information flows faster through our world, so does the interaction. It is not physical interaction, but a global connectivity of "online" interactions that will propel us in to the future. Here's a video from a Tedx showing a device that will allow for even more interaction with the world and other individuals:

      I know more about my planet and other cultures in thanks to the internet and phone than my great grandfather and that can be attributed to advancements in technology. Your voice and mine would have less of a chance being heard if it weren't for these advancements. Videos of cultures and traditions would be widely unknown had it not been for recent technological capabilities.

      I do agree that we are regressing in certain ways, but we are progressing in others. The manner in which we connect or communicate has changed, but cultures are still alive and well. There are even sub groups to online interaction.
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    Oct 15 2012: Hi, Ted Lover, and thanks....I am thrilled I found this little oasis of rational, open-minded thinkers. I'd like to start a think tank forum for all of us to come up with what we think would be solutions to the social, economic, and political ailments wreaking havoc presently. I feel we are at a perilous brink looking down into a dark abyss. Sharon, in her comment above, is right on the money with her statement regarding the frightened.

    It seems our government is not providing any solutions and the "trickle down' sprinkler has been shut off as the fund providers we once had are now pumping money into campaigns to elect guard dogs to protect their stashes. The Mid East is about to supernova which will draw us into yet another campaign we can not afford to get involved in. And the beat goes on.....
    • Mats K

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      Oct 15 2012: "I'd like to start a think tank forum for all of us to come up with what we think would be solutions to the social, economic, and political ailments wreaking havoc presently."

      Great initiative! I would love that! Stay tuned for the 'Global Redesign Institute' which will work like a similar think tank applying the scientific method for social design and decision-making, where engineers, scientists, architects and artists will meet and collaborate in an open-source Wikipedia fashion.
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        Oct 15 2012: I look forward to this. Maybe be a part of it from the beginning. I have a blog on this subject but it's just a blog. It would be nice to find people and actually work on a solution.
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          Oct 16 2012: Excellent! We need every hand on deck. Please feel free to link the blog, I would love to read it.
        • Oct 22 2012: I think we can actually fix this issue by pushing the limits of technology even further. Technology won't go away, but how we use it is up to us. Perhaps technology like this will help:
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        Oct 17 2012: It is in my profile. I tried to add my blog when I opened the conversation, but it was censored out. I've been told many attempt to hijack conversation with spam. Although this was not my intention I will respect the rules and not post it here. I am a big believer in rules, even though they are some times uncomfortable. TED's policy is that they allow links in your profile, please refer to my blog there.

  • Oct 14 2012: On the contrary, our culture is adapting ever faster to tech - trivial example,smartphones. There is no 'next giant leap' in evolution, there never was over millions of years of slow progress.
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      Oct 15 2012: Smartphones are tools. The fact that people spend their day massaging the touchscreen instead of reading a book of doing something useful is a cultural thing. In fact that people consider that to be useful is a cultural thing.

      Don't get me wrong, I like smartphones, they are really useful in the hands of somebody who uses them as a tool to make themselves more efficient in doing what they do, liberating some of their time and thus improving their lives.
  • Oct 14 2012: Thy still don't. Look around.
  • Oct 14 2012: I would need to think things over for quite a while to decide how I feel about all of the specific ideas presented here, but I agree wholeheartedly with everyone's general feeling that it is important to think critically about the technology that surrounds us. Are all of these devices and "advances" good for us? Do they really make our lives better? Are they good for the world, or do they create just as many problems as they attempt to solve? These are questions that I think everyone should be asking themselves.

    In the same way that we scrutinize the food that we eat, so, too should we think seriously about the technology we use.
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    Oct 14 2012: I couldn't agree more ! Technological advancements are ,in part, turning our humans into a completely "digitalized" species. We can't seem to think, act , or even survive without technology! Technology can account for both the enlightenment of the few , but also the absent mindedness of the majority of our society. Technology really only accommodates those who know how to use it to their advantage. I've always believed that spirituality (not to be confused with religion), and intelectuality would possibly be a more practical accommodation for our culture because the majority just can't seem to keep up with , or even find the true usefulness of technology.

    I think i've digressed a little, but i agree with the argument you've presented.
  • Oct 13 2012: Some 40 years ago, when I was a teenager, the belief was that technology would allow us much more leisure and time to pursue self determined interest and and goals in this life. There was mention of 20 or less hours as the expected working week. Sociologist expressed concern that boredom would lead to atrophy of curiosity and the lack of the need to strive, perhaps a degeneration of the instinct to survive! Instead we have a faster pace of life. We cannot wait for anything but expect " instant" everything ( we are aggrieved if don't of get it, and ungratefully value it little if we do!).
    There is a degeneration of familly life, " no time to stop and stare". We talk of "quality" time as a few hours spent with our loved ones in a week of rushing around like a hive of demented bees! There needs to be a balance. Technology yes, it a great boon, and produces wonderful tools but they are only a tools. No doubt the invention of the wheel produced a similar gasp of awe! We must solve our sociological and population problems if the human race is to survive the next 1000 years. How we we do that? Is it possible? Can our planet survive 9 billion people, what about after that, 20 billion, 40? Do we HAVE to try it to find out? We have challenged nature who dispenses with an excess of any species without mercy, what will we replace her cruelty with ? Money ? A legal life span limit? no children till grandma dies ? Or are we lemmings to fill the planet so full of our own kind we push each over the edge ( mentally if not physically)?
  • Oct 13 2012: I disagree completely.

    Yes, society is behind technology. It always is. It always adapts. It is a messy process that has little to do with morality.

    The economy is extremely flexible. I keep getting the impression that many TED contributors think that the power holders design, build and shape the economy to produce their short sighted profits. That notion is pure fantasy. Economics is just a description of human behavior. The economy is built largely from the ground up; people form small companies that become big companies. That is exactly what happened in the computer industry in the last few decades. Humans are very adaptable as a group. The fast pace of technological change is very difficult on many individuals, but the more adaptive are taking advantage of this fast pace.

    As the supply of a resource lessens the price gradually goes up and people find other, less expensive ways to fulfill the need. We are not going to run out of food. Just the opposite. Many poor people are eating more and better foods every day. As poor people with improving incomes buy more food the price goes up and farmers plant more. If we run out of land to farm we will farm the lakes and oceans. We already do.

    The current economic crisis was triggered by greedy bankers. But the employment problems are largely the result of poor populations in places like India and China taking jobs away from people who have no real understanding of how rich and spoiled they are. It is not going to "resolve" until the standard of living of the poor people around the world rises considerably, and that is going to take decades. Meanwhile life in the richer countries is going to be tougher than what we have become used to. Get used to it. Better yet, adapt.

    And David, the Federal Reserve Bank is already paying off our debts by printing money. Not a moral method perhaps, but a method that has worked before.
    • Oct 15 2012: barry: Your post was be bit confusing: First you said it was business as ussual, then that greedy bankers were behind it. I think it is realsitic to say that we are at a crisis point similiar in intensity to 600 years ago, when the Feudal system was breaking down, and people couldn't quite figure out how "wealth" was no longer land and peasants, related by loyallties and duties, but had somehow morphed into money and trade, with bankers tolerated even if considered somewhat heretical. Peasants with rifles finally put an end to it.Right now we are seeing the approaching logical end of the Industrial Revolution process. Vast amounts of actual productivity (I'm not counting financial instruments, just stuff) and brought about by "labor saving devices" , which what do you know, are well on the way of not only reducing labor costs, but "Jobs" as well, thanks to robots and AI. And the bankers have maneuvered themselves into controllling, no, even "owning" it. It has been discovered that there is really no necessity for feeling guilty about the damage to societies that Globalization does. By playing off one set of "workers" against a lower ranking one, it is possible to get even more control, and this process can easily continue until you run out of "consumers", since they will all end up pauperized. Needless to say, such a process in not sustainable, but international bankers can easily delude themselves, about that, or simply stash their ill gotten gains in some backward police state., protected by private armies. The idea that "jobs" must be created to keep it all going is a pretty feeble hope. Slavery is more likely.And you say "printing money" is a remedy that has worked before?! When? the Weimar republic?
  • Oct 13 2012: to Ted Lover:
    You may get something different than I do but it was
    Ruby Wax:What is so funny about mental illinois?
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    Oct 13 2012: Two of you asked me if I have something concrete that I think need to be done to overcome this problem: our culture being behind our technological development.

    As a matter fact I do. I have many ideas some of them more difficult to implement than others. Some maybe even nuts by today's standards, but I deliberately did not speak of them because I believe we would fracture the topic beyond reasonable. I think this topic is huge and the many distinct aspects have many possible solutions. For this debate I was thinking more in terms of identify whether any of you agree with me, and if so identify some of the problems/conflicts or paradoxes that support your line of thinking. Things like "technology is eliminating jobs but our way of life requires us to have jobs, and there are less and less job opening but more and more people" or "we are already depleting our foodstock but 10 years from now we will have to feed more people. Logic dictates that we will run out, what then?".

    Or on the contrary, maybe some of you think that we shouldn't change, that the cycle of life is normal and the disaster that awaits us at depletion of food and resources is just a natural step in the cycle of our planet.

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      Oct 14 2012: Thanks. If you do ultimately move to the more concrete, I suggest you open that as a new thread so none of us who are interested miss it

      I expect this thread will come to the widely held position that culture and technology should progress each in consideration of the other, some expecting that will not happen without intention and some believing progressing more or less in tandem will happen naturally.
    • Oct 15 2012: Stefan: Good topics. I don't see it as hopeless, at all. Just diffficut. The energy problem has already been solved,in principle, people just don't know it yet. Thorium LFTR power has a MILLION times the energy potential of oil or gas,, and it is so plentiful that it would never be worth fighting about.
      As for overpopulation, the civilization process appears to take care of it automaticallly. It is mainly peasants and farmers who have large families, because they need them. Healtlhcare, city life and Feminism is well on the way of reducing the population. Additionally , any minor shocks to the world economy will most likely end up with large and uncontrollable disease epidemics.
      As for food and water, energy cheaper than coal (Thorium LFTRs) will take care of that as well Very cheap desalinization of water by using waste heat will give the water, and large scale reclamation projects would be feasible. In addition , Carbon neutral motor fuels could be synthesized from the atmosphere., without any increase in co2. You'll be happy to know that we don't have to rely entirely on our clueless "Leaders" in Politics and Finance to get this process going to where it was 50 years ago. The Chinese have a billion dollar program started to do it (our technology), and expect to have a couple of demonstration power plants in 2-3 years.
      I t is a shame, that with so many" educated" people in the US, we are still wasting our capital on windmills and solar panels, Ethanol, etc. They are fine, but they won't sustain a society more advaned that the Amish one. I'm not critiicizeing them at all, just saying the rest of the world is not going along with this. It is simply impractical
  • Oct 13 2012: I like my computer but it is just a tool. A means to learn & communicate on a global scale with folks like you.
    To learn your culture etc. In other words to "understand" what makes you & others the way you are. Then to accept the differences. That's what causes the problems in nature: No understanding & acceptance that we all are here to, at least try, and live in harmony. It is really simple to do: Just get your butt away from all the high tech. & take a walk into nature. Just listen, look , & learn. No speech needed. Nature will teach you all you need to know to gain wisdom.
    • Oct 15 2012: gale: I gather that you are an admirer of Thoreau, I must say that in all these years of nature meditation, it seems we have not learned the lessons you have in mind. Personally, I think the reason why is deep within our Western Worldview. Even "Atheists" are stuck with it. I'm all for understanding; it's just that this belief that Human Nature consists of a random collection of "Individuals" is fundamentally off, and the bad habits of our culture folllow pretty logically from that.
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    Oct 13 2012: Is there something concrete you have in mind? I ask this because I expect that throughout history people have raised red flags about other people's misguided values and indeed have speculated that appropriate education would create more correct or aligned values. More extremely, perhaps, there is a long history of one people's blaming others if not for evil values for tragically unenlightened ones (correctable through education).

    Let's assume, just for sake of argument, that there are only a very few evil and corrupt people about. (I know there are lots of corrupt people about, but I think many fewer than many people like to think). Let's say, rather, that we have a great collection of people who value worthy ideals but trade them off differently in their minds- ideals like peace, freedom, love, respect, personal initiative, care of family, social responsibility, self-expression...

    Now what?

    I am looking for something more concrete than broad principles of educating people, cultural change, and paradigm shifts. Often a big idea looks great and lots of people can easily nod to it, but the stumbling comes in the specifics. One of my mentors and colleagues of thirty years ago used to say, "The truth lies in the particulars." He also used to say that to solve public problems, one must have "one foot in the heavens and the others in the sewers of Oakland."
  • Oct 13 2012: I happen to think that all the new gadgets of technology are nice but I only own a computer & a Life Link cell phone.
    My PC is a learning & commutations " tool" and my cell phone is not attached to my hip.
    We do have the tools & technology to make life better for all, including nature, but self interest bars our way. I believe "greed" is a good word for it.
    The key here is to adjust our tech. to better serve the planet as a whole without further damage to nature & those who share it.
    If more tech. folks took the time to learn from nature our world & all upon it would be better served.
    Yes! I am a tree hugger & animal lover, but I also like technology. As long as it doesn't damage or hurt the very planet we live on. We have the knowledge to do this now but that big "G" word keeps getting in the way.
    Living in harmony, with all around us, isn't such a silly idea after all.
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      Oct 13 2012: i think you have a good sense of tec.

      now many of us can not live without our computers and cellphones .when we walking we play our cellphones when we get up we play our computers.

      i think most of us spend more time on these things rather than spend on our parents .as for me i always consider my computer as my son .most of the time is spent on it .

      but i think i should have a more faster dealer.maybe one day i will take apart it and replacea much faster processor.and have a new son lol

      how do you like your computer ?i am curious
    • Oct 15 2012: gale : Living in Harmony is very much an Asian idea, not at all a Western one. Anyone who is soaked with western values, is much more likely to idealize "competition" , self improvement at all costs, etc. not to mention Imperialism , war , and "Evil".Fine for taking over the world, not so good for running it.
      • Oct 15 2012: With all due respect, shawn, I've noticed, overall, there's no such thing as an Asian idea and a Western one for that matter, at least in this new generation.
        For many many Asian people, living in harmony is no longer their ways. Some people get pessimistic about this ‘e generation’, but their opinion isn't that powerful especially in the place I live in.
        Asians are getting incredibly competitive, which can be both good and bad for themselves, while not trying to follow the way their ancestors lived.
        Now the idea of 'living in harmony' has become some kind of classy philosophy for some people who seek to find a different answer in this world.

        It's a beautiful idea, but as far as I'm concerned, most people wouldn't be able to 'live in harmony' for a long time....
        Instead, we will find a way to apply this notion flexibly in many fields, and further, our lives.
        Your last quote is pretty thought-provoking. I mean, include this problem. :)
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    Oct 13 2012: What do you suggest?
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    Oct 13 2012: Not everyone wants/needs to connect, what is the use of a smart phone in an area that has no tower support? If a few countries has all the infrastructure in place but others don't it doesn't mean they are behind technologically or culturally and you're wrong, we are not evolving at any pace with technology, we are just integrating the technology into our lives to suit our individual needs that our wallets allow us to have.

    As far as i know we have always been in one form or another in a economic crisis, either it's been heating up or slowing down it's one or the other, like one of our tedsters say "Things change, new technology only creates new jobs and old jobs become extinct" I personally think there is going to be some form of a contraction globally but this could change due to new technologies that will arise to fill the vacuum and culturally we will adjust. We always have.
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    Oct 13 2012: The progress of science and technology always was such.............think of Galileo case ......
    I see more conflict were created and still being created by religions than that of by science and technology.....
  • Oct 13 2012: Look at the recent Ted talk about the Humor of Insanity. Not all changes are sane or desirable. Also, remember some of the old structures of the Human Brain. How casn we change and in what ways? Even Isaac Asimov generated half (1/2) the energy on Trantor by coal. Even Sci Fi has its limits and some things only change a little.
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    Oct 13 2012: maybe it is not obvious but it does change .
    now with the development og teconologe we live a much faster live and and we can spare time to do sports and we can acompany our family ..while there indeed are something happening .

    now we can call a meal .and they will quickly send to us and we have runing mashine and also we can video our parents . they are changing , maybe the race is not that fast to follow the tec.

    and there still need a lot to do .i think it will be done ,quickly because there is a huge market .
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    Oct 13 2012: Yes. I think it is just like the
    Dialog between man and tech:

    Man says: ----
    Tech! I am the lord and you are the servant. Keep your speed with mine! Or, you will be fired!
    My speed is the biological evolution!

    Tech says: ----
    I am the lord and you are the servant. You follow me closely! Or, I will kill you! My speed is thinking, jet, electronic, light, ...

    Who is the lord?
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    Oct 12 2012: You know what i'm waiting for? Fuzzy pedestrian walk padding to be installed on the roads, they vibrate as you are walking across them and stop once you have gone over your time limit and need to hurry up or it could be the other way round, whatever suits best for reaction response.
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    Oct 12 2012: Stefan, I do not consider myself a techno nut nor a religious nut. I hope as an engineer I can appreciate the inovations and as a religious person that I am religious fruit not a religious nut. Although there are many technolicial advancements are they necessary. Take word perfect ... as a home user WP I was terrific .... all of the follow ons were for secretaries and publishers. My cell phone is basic ... I have no need for a phone that does all but give birth. I am not in the medical field so the new techno magic in health care is not applicable to me (although I may benefit from it). As a culture we (US) embrace the engine, TV, radar, areo everything, electricity, ... Etc... These are major headings ... as a culture we do not all embrace the sub cats of these ... some individuals do on a needs basis. To be honest I think that we are advancing quite rapidly. My grandfather went from horse and buggy to men on the moon in one life time. That is quite a leap.

    The warning should be as David Hamilton stated in his reply below. Your techno toy will not be worth squat if we fall to hard off of the fiscial cliff we are facing.

    Be informed prior to the election ..... not as a victim as a result of the election.

    All the best. Bob.
  • Oct 12 2012: Can you fly a plane, repair a computer, well most can't even build a fire without matches. So you say we must change? Don't think so, I'll just buy a lighter.
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      Oct 13 2012: 500 years ago people did not feel thee need to know how to read, do math, read history, study physics. When they had a question they addressed their priest of the village and he conjured up an answer which was good enough for them.

      In the the modern world, people "waste" 12+ years of their lives learning these nonsensical things, when we could just continue to ask an "illuminated" person and be productive on the field of work since age 6.

      If you don't want to learn how to build a fire without a matches, go ahead, buy a lighter. I personally what to know how to build the lighter, fly a plane, repair a computer. And I think there are many more like me.
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    Oct 12 2012: Oh don't worry about culture. It evolves exactly as fast as we need it to. It would be illogical if this wasn't the case.
    If your theory is right, then you can expect this "giant leap" to happen soon.
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      Oct 12 2012: History shows otherwise. People continued to make use of child labour 100 years after the industrial revolution happened in spite of the fact that mechanization could have eliminated it in a very short time. Yet parents insisted sending their kids to work and employers continued to work people to death (96 hours a week) long after this was an existential necessity. It was because they didn't know otherwise.

      Our current technology does the same thing: every robot, every automation line, every tractor that ploughs the filed driven by a GPS guided computer, eliminates people's jobs. Yet instead of celebrating we are panicking and for good reason. Our social and cultural model requires us to work 40 hours a week. Without that we are toast. Just as our not so distant ancestors needed to work 96 hours a week (that was their social model).

      No, culture does not follow technological progress closely. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we can rationalize it, and act on the knowledge. Hopefully.
      • Oct 12 2012: I wish I could give this a scream up.
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        Oct 13 2012: Quote:"People continued to make use of child labour 100 years after the industrial revolution happened in spite of the fact that mechanization could have eliminated it in a very short time."

        I don't think this analysis to be correct.

        Child labor was a normal thing on farms everywhere. As half nineteenth century medical investigation discovered hygiene as a prevention for many deaths the population growth was enormous. Families had a rate of ten to fourteen children from which normally about ten didn't make it to adulthood. Now almost all stayed alive. Driven by poverty an exodus started to the cities as we see nowadays in the third world. Factories used this workforce for it was cheap and technology expensive.
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          Oct 13 2012: Absolutely correct: they used child labour because it was cheap and plentiful compared to technology. Does that make it right? In our eyes today, having a culture that caught up to the technology of those days, it is very wrong but they did not know that back then. Therefore I cannot blame them. They did what they thought was right.

          The difference is that today, we know, or at least some of us know and took the effort to point it out to all of us that what we are doing today will be very wrong in the context of future culture. Will we have the excuse that "we didn't know?".
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    Oct 12 2012: I agree. I would only add, that the true issue our culture faces in the "developed world"... Is that a sustainable economy... Won't pay back the debts of an unsustainable one. We've created so much fantasy debt in the last couple decades, local farming isn't going to pay it back... but it will save our species. The current model for doing business will collapse out of necessity, but humanity doesn't have too, as long as we can overcome our cultural conflicts through non violent means.
    • Oct 15 2012: Sorry to say, I think we really need technology; civilization does not do well in poverty. Neither does non-violent conflict resolution, Let's get going with Thorium LFTR power.