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 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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