AbdelRahman Siddig

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Are we living in the best time of human history or the worst time

When I saw A robot that flies like a bird talk I said we must be living in the best time in human history
but the fact there are 1000,000,000 hungry people living with us in the same planet not in mars in the age of the Internet and communications where you can reach any place in the world instantaneously over IP or airplane says we are living in the worst time of human history
so I think it the best time for the machines and electonics but it the worst for human
if we realy want to fight hunger we need to identify the root cause
and the root cause in brief is human behaviour
there are some people who think there are better than other
the have the right to punish , torture or even killing other people if necessary not beacuse they did thing wrong but they do not like them or they simply want take (steal) thier resources (Iraq war)
so unless The people agree they are ALL equal injustice will remain in form or hunger ,invasion of country , economical crisis or worst economical sanction against starving poor country
people and countries will continue to be at diffrent level of power ,knowledge, wealth but they all continue to be the same level of emotional and the basic human needs

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    Jul 30 2011: This is undoubtedly the best time of human history.

    Proportionally to other times in history, the level of misery (hunger, lack of: sanitation, education...) is the lowest it has been. But above all, for the first time in our history, a majority of human beings have their rights to freedom of speech and thought recognized by their ruling authorities, albeit to differing degrees in different places.

    The problems we face today are egregious and horrifying not because they are unprecedented but rather because our complete and total awareness of them is unprecedented. Technology bounds us together ever more strongly with the passage of time. As humanity begins to share a single body so too do we share ideas, love, hate, and, as the Norwegian massacre has made us most acutely feel, pain and sorrow.
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      Aug 2 2011: Hi Cabriel .C
      you said its best time in human history but for sure you wouldn't said that if you were one of the 1000,000,000 people who are starving for food every day
      who does not know what does Internet mean or if they heard the name they do not have the luxury to access it
      please bring the number of hungry people in past history and total number of population
      to compare with our time
      one big point even if the number back then was greater than or number
      1-they did not have the connectivity options we have today where you can reach any place in the world in matter of hours
      I agree with you humanity have reached very advance level in technology but in the same time reached very unacceptable level of inhumanity
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        Aug 5 2011: http://www.dailymarkets.com/economy/2011/03/21/greatest-reduction-in-world-poverty-ever-in-history-isnt-free-trade-partly-responsible/

        The article doesn't have anything to do with our discussion, but the graph was the best I could find with a quick search.

        For obvious reasons, I couldn't find a similar graph for the whole of human history. However, I think you'll agree if that any life led as the human cattle of some warlord/king/ruler of any kind (as it was for most people, in most places, for most of our history) was, to say the least, unpleasant.

        Regarding the "unacceptable level of inhumanity" you speak of I would contest that it is not inhumanity which is on the rise, but rather your standards for what is inhuman lowering. One must remember that prejudices such as racism and sexism were far more prevalent in the past than today. Their scarce allusions to in history books have to do with the fact that such things were "acceptable inhumanities", if you will, for the longer part of the human story.

        The world has always been ugly, it's just that humanity has had its eyes held shut too tightly by ignorance to recognize it, until now.
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    Jul 31 2011: Now is the best time, the past has past. and the future is yet to come, in the present we have infinite possibilities to improve.
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      Aug 2 2011: Hi Chistopher
      would you change your mind if you were among the 1000,000,000 people one sixth of humanity who there every day dream is to find food ?
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        Aug 2 2011: No I wouldn't change my mind, because given the alternative the present is infinitely better than the past.

        People starved to death in the past, and little or nothing was done about it. People ARE starving in the present and something can still be done.
        Which destiny would you prefer?
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    Jul 30 2011: I still believe that we are or have the potential to be, living in the best time in history overall. There have been many epochs that have been ideal or idealized for the few but we are now in a time when we no longer have to guess at the root causes of problems. We are even able to make mathematical equations for how societies actually work, how cooperation is generated and how prevalent evil people are.
    I am sickened and saddened by the fact that so many are starving, sickened by the greed and graft but optimistic that the power of knowledge, interconnection provided by the Internet and force of great ideas generated and espoused by good people have for the first time in history a real chance of prevailing. We will learn to call out the defectors, the greedy and the selfish and by reputation we will learn to shun their approach as we gain ground.
    • Jul 30 2011: Hello Debra, yes I agree.

      I have also noticed that with the help of the Internet, aid organizations are able to use online media and buzz to attract new donors then ever before. New websites are providing donors a new way to donate and create emotional connection between donor and recipient which helps to motive people to donate ( (e.g. http://www.vittana.org/ and http://www.the-girl-store.org/shop).

      Today billions of dollars are donated by governments and by rich individuals like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

      Finally data shows that Africa has many countries with one of the highest GDP growth rate in the world.

      I am very optimistic we will do even better in near future as the Internet and better communication helps us to see how we can help =)
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      Aug 2 2011: Hi Debra that the power of knowledge, interconnection provided by the Internet and force of great ideas
      even with all of that the number today 1000,000,000 hungry people
      yes we do not have to guess at the root causes of problems. We are even able to make mathematical equations for how societies actually work
      please run the mathematical equations and tell when the number of hungry people will drop to one million instead of one billion
      one year from now August 2012 more discoveries ,new medicines and many great TED talk will see the light
      and still more than 1000,000,000 people will be praying to see a piece of bread
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        Aug 2 2011: AbelRahman Siddig, I agree and applaud your passionate advocacy for the hungry. I know you care and you must not suppose that others do not. To have hope for the future, hope that others care too, hope that solutions are being worked on may not seem like enough but when that hope becomes real, even by just one less hungry person we are making progress.
        A few drops, a small trickle and eventually, I hope for a flood of compassion and change.
        Pessmissim and blame does nothing to change the realities so I choose to seek out the good and the hope of a better tomorrow.
        Our hearts are with you.
  • Aug 24 2011: The worst. As we move ahead in the world of technology our human instincts are moving backwards.
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    Aug 2 2011: We live in a time with a greatly increasing gap between the rich and poor.
    They may have got a robot that flies like a bird but no one will be flying in a space shuttle anytime soon or concord or blackbird.
    I am a farmer and at the moment keep hearing the world going to have a food shortage by x date. There is enough food in the world to feed 12billon people at the moment its how it distributed.
    My gut feeling is that it is the technologies like religions, democracies, and Monterey systems is the drive of this great socialism.
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      Aug 2 2011: Gareth, can you clarify your last two sentences?
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        Aug 3 2011: To clarify my last two sentences.
        There is enough food in the world grown a day to happy feed every one. Only it is the 10/90 rule
        10 percent of the population control 90 percent of the commodity’s hence the rise in obesity in the developed world.
        Living in a farming nation in new Zealand I read articles all the time on by 2020 or so on we need to increase productivity by 30-40% to keep up with world demand. When we should be working on sustainability rather than being more intensive.
        The big question is how do you fairly distribute food if there is more than enough in the world. With the 10 presenters being so materialistic
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        Aug 3 2011: I view religions as technologies used to après people but give the hope of a better after life those who suffer will grasp any sort of hope. Or religions use as fairmongering. The wealthy of the ancients probably use the fear of being stuck down or forsaken by a god to control the masses and retain there wealth I think it human nature. I remember back to preschool age 4 if a child got bulled they usually say something like my dads a police man and is going to arrest you. Religion is the same if you do wrong you are going to hell. (But don’t forget god still will love you) .how does that work?
        Fear and Hope two of humanity biggest drivers used to control the masses in form of religions (pens mightier than the sword)

        Democracies parties are only in power for a short term so are more obliged to do thing to keep people happy to get votes to remain in power instead of what really important. Take the US president hes get paid something like 400k a year so the millions they spend on there campaigns come from company that are owed big favours.

        The Monterey system is accelerator of socialism. when money became legal tender and was no longer back by gold the world economy took on the same rules as the game monopoly (number 1 rule if a bank eg cental bank run out of money the bank can make money out of paper by writing on it.)
        In this system money becomes currency and like water or electricity the current needs to flow. Or the system goes stagnant.
        It is a scary through when you look at how much money is being made in trading debt. And the paper in my hand or zeros in the bank could end up being worth nothing because it no longer has a commodity backing it.

        My view is these are some of the roots to way we are worse off today But the biggest is that people in general need to stop being so materialistic.
  • Aug 2 2011: I am sure that you understand that what I wrote was metaphorical. Evolution has no goal. The "next wave of evolution" is not what I am talking about. We are always evolving. There might be catastrophic global environmental conditions that make for the survival of certain characteristics more favorable than others. That is going on all the time. I am just hopeful that the evolutionary process will take us down a more equitable path of development in our nature. We must find a way to feed and shelter all our species with more equality. The political systems may in the future become more socialistic then they are today. All nations have degrees of the socialism I am talking about. Some more then others. Hopefully the altruistic characteristics of man will become more dominant in the future. Then there will be better times for mankind.
    Thank you for your comment.
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    Aug 2 2011: I just want share the speech of Ethiopia president in front of UN 1968
    and his speech became the famous song WAR singed by the famous singer Bob Marley
    because it address the issue of injustice

    Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
    And another
    Is finally
    And permanently
    And abandoned -
    Everywhere is war -
    Me say war.

    That until there no longer
    First class and second class citizens of any nation
    Until the colour of a man's skin
    Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -
    Me say war.

    That until the basic human rights
    Are equally guaranteed to all,
    Without regard to race -
    Dis a war.

    That until that day
    The dream of lasting peace,
    World citizenship
    Rule of international morality
    Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
    But never attained -
    Now everywhere is war - war.

    And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
    that hold our brothers in Angola,
    In Mozambique,
    South Africa
    Sub-human bondage
    Have been toppled,
    Utterly destroyed -
    Well, everywhere is war -
    Me say war.

    War in the east,
    War in the west,
    War up north,
    War down south -
    War - war -
    Rumours of war.
    And until that day,
    The African continent
    Will not know peace,
    We Africans will fight - we find it necessary -
    And we know we shall win
    As we are confident
    In the victory

    Of good over evil -
    Good over evil, yeah!
    Good over evil -
    Good over evil, yeah!
    Good over evil -
    Good over evil, yeah! [fadeout]
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    Aug 1 2011: Would it be a blow to anyones ego just to say we are living in middle of time far removed from any abstractions such as best and worst.
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      Aug 2 2011: Hi Anthony
      what cloud the root cause there are 1000,000,000 hungry people living with us?
  • Aug 1 2011: As stated above: We are living in the best of times and the worst of times! The inequality of resources is a function of the human condition. There has always been, throughout history, the haves and the have nots. We are evolving our political and economic systems and through this evolution, we will hopefully achieve a balance that will permit some level of equilibrium of our resources to our population.
    We still posses our barbaric nature. The human condition is a self centered one at this point. But it is this self preservation that allows for innovation. Hopefully, and I am the optimist here, man will learn to value and consider all living organisms in its development. Evolution may allow us to develop into a more equitable creature. There will be better times for mankind. I am hopeful.
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      Aug 2 2011: Hi Daniel
      so we will have to wait for the next wave of evolution to have the equitable creature?
  • Aug 1 2011: With respect to great inventions and science- the best time in human history. man has never been more comfortable than now.
    But with respect to greedy capitalism- probably the worst time. problem is millions are MADE to suffer so that one guy can profit. capitalism is surely a great idea. but when it gets greedy and asking for more than it needs, it turns dirty.
    and the interesting part is the two are not independent. They are connected. capitalism needs sci/tech to increase profits and sci/tech needs capitalism to push boundaries and present new challenges.
    it will be interesting to see how our world shapes up in the future. because of the connection between the two.
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      Aug 2 2011: HI Rajesh
      I agree with you
      the problem is not that we have 1000,000,000 hungry people
      but the world was aware the current market people will create this number of hungry people
      but they did not care its a crime was made intentionally
  • Jul 31 2011: It has been said that the 20th Century was a beautiful evil, and this, I think, is true of all aspects of our world. Not only did we create wonderful medicines to combat disease, but we also created nuclear weapons. I don't believe we can say if we truly are in the worst times for human kind, because I believe we are at a crossroads. We have developed to such an extent that all that is around are extremes. We have extremes of war, extremes of beauty and extremes of ideas, do we need to take steps back and look at what we have done with a bigger sense of the future? Possibly.
    The most frustrating thing about this whole concept is that there are no certainties - no yes or no, just stories and people and circumstances with millions of ways of looking at them - and most of them are valid. As fair and as progressive as this all is, in the world today we don't need people argueing over the causes or the best way to go about these things, because as many have mentioned, there are people dying all over the world due to lack of action. I know this is all horrifically vague and I wish I could be more concise - but doesn't that just sum up our times?
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      Aug 2 2011: Hi Alisa
      why we should not argue about the cause ?
      just take action
      if we did not identify the cause most probably will take a wrong action
      may be worst an action that increase the problem instead of solving it
      from your point of view why do you think there is 1000,000,000 hungry people in our current modern world ?
  • Aug 14 2011: Dear Mr. Siddig,
    I share your concerns. However, I cannot agree that we are all equal. What do you mean? For instance, I would never have married my wife, if she was in the slightest similar to me. If we were all equal, how would that help us? If every body was good at math and no one good at chemistry, who would produce fertalizers to feed the world?

    If you mean "equal" in general terms, what information does the word equal provide?
    Now it might become interesting: do you mean we have all the same rights? Or do you mean we have all the same duties? Which rights or duties would lead to an end of war and hunger?
    You say the root of all evel lies in man*s behaviour (and in there thingking). I agree if you are saying that we are all similar in emotional and basic human needs. Does this alone make us wise or does it guide our behaviour?
    I am afraid we have to take our world as a starting point. In our world the root of evil is that we do not think enough. What is a thought not directly connected to our universe/world - it is just a sentence not "applicable" to us. In my universe we are fundamentally different.
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    Aug 9 2011: My Spiritual Guru told me that science and technology can never brought peace or happiness in human life. Now I find relevance in his words looking at your concerns.
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      Aug 12 2011: I genuinely think that the global attitude to violence and loss of human life has improved over the last few centuries, at least in most societies. I think this should be regarded as a good thing, however the world is facing some challenges that are almost certain to become increasingly difficult to deal with as time goes on (climate change, extinctions, nuclear proliferation, etc).

      For most people in the world it's better to be around now than even a few hundred years ago. For the most part we have reasonably accountable civilian government and peaceful projects such as the LHC, ISS etc.

      This doesn't mean much to the huge number of people on our planet who have no access to the technological benefits of modern life including medical care and adequate nutirition and education.

      The West should be making a concerted effort to promote democracy in places such as Africa. The only way forward is to stabilise those countries and their economies (through protectionism if neccessary in my opinion) and provide the education necessary for social mobility. Sadly current efforts are obviously inadequate, and the free trade doctrine penalises countries with under-developed economies.

      So in general I think the world is a better place than it used to be albeit a more dangerous one (disease has more change of being global now we have jet liners, nuclear war). I genuinely think that technology can solve a lot of the world's problems (for example genetic engineering of staple crops has already resulted in order-of-magnitude increases in food production though it's apparent that access to food is a separate problem).
  • Aug 6 2011: Very interesting thread.
    I came across comments that history is full of inhumanity. But what history are we referring to here? Is it one which we have studied in schools, mostly of Europe up to industrial revolution and world after that as Europeans know. Do we really know history of Africa before colonization. Lets not forget : "History is written by winners".
    If we only pick western samples from history unfortunately its mostly inhuman and I lament for that. But if we travel much back than written history in to the cultures we will find most humane cultures where mere beasts were considered as family members what to speak about other humans and we will see account of kings treating subjects as own children.
    What freedom of speech are we talking about? Wake-up!! media is just an another profit making profession ( I offer my hearty obeisances to few genuine journalists).
    Democracy of one country should not be bane 2 others. UK and France are democracies long back, yet colonization kings.
    When technology and outreach was less - Greed of one Man affected small community. Now Greed of one Man can affect whole world - WoW !!

    What is the proof?
    Lets take Africa, known as land of hunger. Except Algeria, Libya, some parts of Sudan most of the land is cultivable and before colonization they had their ingenious techniques of crop growth and survival. Evidence : 1)Nile delta is one of the most fertile land. 2)Food grown in Ethiopia and many eastern African countries is exported to middle-east countries. 3)African land is grabbed from farmers by multinationals to grow Bio-Diesel crops, so that we can drive our Ferrari and speak about freedom of our speech.
    Its not that Africans are hunger from 100s of years, if so African would be an empty continent.
    Africans are not hunger by chance but by choice of Big powers. Hunger is their best control whip and WHO is icing over wounds.
    How come no WHO/UNESCO spokes person never talks on African Land Grab ?!!
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    Aug 3 2011: Surely not the worst. Maybe average human mind( with all selfish capitalist oriented stuff and child abuse drug trafficking etc) is the worst in history but general conditions are not. Lets take poverty it is only in Africa and a small part of Asia ( Myanmar suffered one 2 years ago am I right) now, in old days even Britain suffered poverty. About wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, they are sad but world has seen worse. So I don't know if this peirod is best but I believe that it is better than inquisition times.
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    Aug 2 2011: AbdelRahman, I know that one billion people hungry is a unbelievable in this "modern and advance" world that we now have and more so about the fifty thousand of our brothers and sisters dying EVERYDAY due to reasons that we have power to prevent (globaldignity.org, un.org) and about twenty thousand of them are CHILDREN!. Many go to sleep hungry and sick and simply die not to live another day.
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      Aug 2 2011: Hi Ed Schulte
      yes its both best time for technology and worst time for humanity
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    Jul 30 2011: Very good question really AbdelRahman.
    You are fortunate to born in a country with highest GDP in the world & hold an empathetic mind.
    It would be really great if can start a movement in your country to do something to fight hunger in Ethiopia and Somalia not so far from your country.
    Depending on UN or west on these issues just brings more political agenda.
    Taking care of neighbours is a great thing as well.
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      Aug 2 2011: Hi Salim
      I hope we find a very answer to my very good question
      the topic here is not about how to help 1000,000,000 hungry people
      but about identifying the root cause why there is 1000,000,000 hungry people in first place
      is it lake of resources or lake of humanity
      in regard to Qatar if you enter any mall or any shopping center you will find two or three desks for collecting donation not only in time of crisis but all over the years
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        Aug 2 2011: Hi AbdelRahman
        Actually there are number of discussions here in TED regarding cause of Hunger, can check those. I summerize the cause as below

        1) Food Politics
        2) Food being used as weapon
        3) Food wastage (i saw enormous wastage of in one of the middle East countries in each meal, with which possibly kids of Ethiopia and Somalia can survive)

        Poor country like mine also have that practice (having donation box round the year) not only shopping mall but also in Railway Stations, Airports, Bus Stops and definitely every mosque has got their own box , don't know about where those money go and how effective those to fight hunger or crisis!!!
  • Jul 30 2011: True.There are always some people too Ambitious. As human beings appeared,as the population increases,the cosmopolitan consonance are receding. The world's concordance has begun to deteriorate ever since the mankind started to live, to hunt for meat,to seize the land for crops,to kill civilian for religious promulgation, to swindle others for their property.
    But we are not going to be the world's manager, neither is anyone. what we need to do is to ameliorate ourselves, to Strive to avoid being preys.
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      Aug 2 2011: Hi Siyuan Chen
      History tell us there was a time when people lived in peace so it can be done
      there are always a world manager a country that rule the world
      like in family there are some one who has the final word
      current world manager is USA
      • Aug 2 2011: Err....Currently some wicked people exist who did not in those peaceful time. With regard to the world manager, I mean the first objection shoule be to develop personal quality to atune oneself to the world better.