parallel economy and purpose

We do not quite grasp yet the ways infotech and biotech will shape humanity by the middle of this century, and we are already struggling to find a political model for the world of today. Those two observations taken together, project a somehow alarming view of our immediate future. It sounds like we are walking over a narrow railway bridge and we already see the train coming round the hill towards us.

The most shocking foresight confront us with a near future where most of humankind will be of no use to society. Where all we will need will be procured by thinking machines. And at best only few of us will be needed to get that wave started and moving. A world with an almost full unemployment is something no known culture, religion or political system is able to envision and to cope with.

If liberalism, nationalism, Islam or some novel creed wishes to shape the world of the year 2050, it will need not only to make sense of artificial intelligence, Big Data algorithms and bioengineering–it will also need to incorporate them into a new meaningful narrative.

“21 Lessons for the 21st Century”, Yuval Noah Harari

A world with almost full unemployment will also face the need to redefine currency; exchange will lose meaning if no one can be of use to society. If all everyone needs is provided for by a horde of autonomous machines, we will have nothing of value in our hands to exchange for those goods. Some higher authority will decide at some point what we get and what we do not get. 

So here we are, the last generation of a worldview that endured many millennia, saw many wars, reached unparalleled prosperity, and finally, was left in stupor looking at a future for what no explanation was available. No wonder we stick our heads under the ground—in diversion. In this state of bliss, let me adventure a model of economy for the end of the century.

Human centric professions and jobs will likely be needed, at least until we can develop affection with machines and we can be fooled to believe they correspond us. But apart of those, it is difficult to think of what professions may be required thirty years form now. Our needs satisfied, yet not clear how are we meant to pay for them, but restless like an early retirement nightmare that starts at the end of our education, if we need such thing any more.

Yet we will, once more, adapt and survive. We will start creating with our hands again. Craftsmanship will be reborn. And all that what we will do with our hands, rescuing wisdom of old, recreating old technologies and old methods long forgotten, will become value, will become currency. And our work will once more become our source of pride and will produce us pleasure. We will exchange once more goods. Goods in a parallel economy with an inherent value equivalent to the time and the energy we will put in our creations, but most importantly yet, the passion and love that we will put in them too.

there will not be a solution

…for a problem that does not yet exist, if we are bound to the behavior of a free capitalistic economical framework.

Normally the establishment does what the establishment is expected to do; they flood the media with arguments that undermine change by highlighting the yet unresolved problems that that change will bring to the light.

Here we go with all the doubts casted upon the management of battery recycling. Or with the question of where the electric power was generated and at what environmental cost. These two problems, aren’t quite yet problems, and therefore we haven’t yet solutions for them. There is no economical incentive to tackle those problems yet. But this does not mean that they cannot be solved nor that they will not be solved, come the time they need to be solved.

Staying put with internal combustion engines is preventing new problems to endure in the old ones, yet at a high cost. A mortgage for future generations.

Whilst the automotive industry is doing its best to slow down the transition to electrical mobility, other industries, with a smaller financial baggage, face problems head on. Once, a company told us we had a new huge, much bigger that electric vehicles, problem; we all want to have internet in our pockets. And do you know what? They even had a working solution on their way to the shelves!

materialized dreams

Sometimes we wake up with a fleeing memory of our dreams. Dreams are also our most longed for feats. We dream at night and we daydream too; Both are necessary for good psychological reasons.

There are though other and more obscure dreams that haunt us both at day and night. Those dreams come often with a panoply of ghosts that we have become acquainted with at some point of time in our lives. Since then, they follow us, sometimes close by, and sometimes at a distance. They aren’t fleeing, nor pleasant, but persistent and inquisitive; Opportunists that prey on us when we are most in need of reassurance.

Those dreams take often embodiment in objects we greed. Not as much as a mockery, but as a cynical gest. They materialize in those cars some of us dream of and few of us own. Owning is indeed a funny way to see this; for it is not obvious who is here taking possession of who.

And car makers excel in anticipating shapes and symbols that may appeal to those hidden dreams. Shapes and symbols impressed in ever larger gnawing front grills, malevolent squinting headlamps, sharp shoulders that show an incredible impossibly powerful muscular tension. All in all as if they would be going to devour us at any moment, like demons on judgement day.

Shapes that convey subtle and not so subtle messages of violence, aggression, supremacy, domination, fear, anger. Those ghosts that isolate us and make us monsters. Monsters on wheels.

factoring nature

Since the beginning of time, the environment was a threat that had to be tamed. Rivers had to be bridged, mountains meant death, floods and droughts too. Humankind scrapped a life at the most benign patches of the world, in the interludes between natural catastrophes.

With mechanization and later into the digital age, the ability of humankind to penetrate former inhospitable places and exploit natural resources has seen an unprecedented explosion. So large that nature has to begin to be considered in the equation of most human activities. Yet nature has no rights or protection other that a few NGO’s. Only very large corporations can mind nature in a honest move or a gimmick, in the best case the mindfulness of very few CEO’s or the opportunism of marketing strategists.

In the 50’s you would have possibly needed half of humanity working in the Amazonas to achieve the same level of deforestation that has been relentlessly achieved in the last few years. What a few years ago was unthinkable or practically impossible, is now only a matter of finding investors.

Now, we know that nature is not unlimited. We know that nature is a very complex network of influences and balances. We know that our survival depends greatly of this myriad of balances that we are beginning to understand.

In this manner, humankind faces nowadays a dilemma that may decide the fate of our planet. Some would posit that this is how it ought to be and humankind has to move out to other planets. Others will posit that a new economy can be envisioned that considers nature as an actor in the model.

ephemeral tolerance

We live times of loud voices and bold stances. Times where the narcissist and the idiot find fertile ground to make themselves comfortable and every body around uncomfortable. These are times where those who see less and comprehend still less, strive with simplistic attitudes and weltanschauung.

Wars and catastrophic events bring in their aftermath the best of humankind together to mend those horrors. As soon as peace and order are reestablished, generations spawn that take goodness for granted and fall in a vicious circle of complacency. The sense of community slowly erodes. Fences are built. Mistrust falls over the people like thin dust in expanding waves. We begin to close into ourselves in reaction to this environment. We fall to the vices of becoming “we” against “them”. Dialogue will dry out to give way to words thrown as arrows, avoided or parried.

We become, day by day, a more fragile version of ourselves. More fearful. We see more threats. We become immersed in a slow but penetrating process of destruction of the “I, social” in spite of the “I, lone wolf”. Every time one abusive driver is on the road doing his shenanigans, everyone nearby raises a notch in their pool of discomfort. Every time a neighbor abuses shared space, everyone else looses a portion of their tolerance and willingness to cohabiting. Every time… small aggressions that stack and split us apart, not only apart from the aggressors but also apart from everybody around us; we are bathed in the dust of mistrust. One particle at a time.

demystifying the crisis of truth before we set the world in fire

If one word is traveling the world today, it is fake-news. A wrap-word that can take many meanings. A word that can express rebellion, doom, frustration, confusion, hopelessness, protest, disagreement.

Discussions will soon lead us to the word truth. And to the premise that there is not such thing as truth or fact, that all is relative to the observer. Further looking for a place where to settle a standpoint in a world that all of a sudden has no ground, we will try to set foot with scientists: they know the truth and facts after all! But then again, history proves they don’t always.

Soon we reach a point where by lack of foothold we cannot help but start to give into those transgressive words about the lack of truth and facts. And here is the point when we fall down the rabbit hole of our days. Here is were populists want to have us: lost, and vulnerable to an attack straight into the deepest convictions of our culture and society.

We fail to identify and comprehend what truth and facts are. And through this breach in our integrity, our hopes and ingenuity get lost. We stop being humans to become fearful crippled creatures under the lash of an overlord. Shadows of what we were born to, of what we can reach.

We fail to see that we are all navigating the world in search of more knowledge. That scientists, do not hold THE truth or THE facts but design models and hypothesis based on limited facts. Models and hypothesis that may later on, in light of new facts, be proven too simple to reflect reality. We fail to see that the world is complex and interrelated. And that we know yet too little to arrogantly demand A TRUTH. We need to return to our natural inborn curiosity and keep trying to understand reality.

We have become intoxicated by the vapors of science and technology, to believe that there is a response already available for all things. That politicians or states know it but hide it from us, and that Google and YouTube can tell us the truth. The liberating truth. And through this act of rebellion, we join the lines of brainless wraths, dancing mindlessly at the tune of the craziest (opportunist) of the time.

but I feed 100.000 families…

And my collapse would send fatal ripples through the whole country’s economy. So I won’t take any responsibility for the mishaps I intentionally and knowingly created with my malfunctioning products that I have sold by the millions. I won’t take any measures to correct my criminal actions even if they are technically solvable. I do not care if entire populations will become sick or have a higher risk to die because intentionally and knowingly I chose to make my products faulty.

Incidentally, my customers, my beloved morons I muster with complacency, ought to get rid of those faulty products the best way they can, and buy new ones of course from the new range of products I offer and that I promise this time are great. That those faulty left behind products will have a span of many years and will pose a continued damage to people is something I do not feel responsible for. Those morons should be glad to even have the chance to buy my products second hand, so why should they pester me now with their petty complains? I will even go to the length to do some PR about the replacement program I successfully had to extend because of the great success it was.

Laws and rules do not quite apply to me, because I feed 100.000 families, and I am a political force to be reckoned. I wasn’t elected, not even I care to make politics. But I have become one, and the wellbeing of people is definitely not one of my priorities, unless those people are stakeholders of my corporation. I only fear those who are larger than I can tame, those in the EU Council. Dangerous ones are they!

Come take some of those middle managers to prison, I can afford to lose some. I’ll get new ones and will take care that those are being well provided for. Or not. I am all too important to mind those little details. I can even find new lobbyists if needed. They can be bought with the cash I do not have to waste mending my wrongdoings. If only those warmongering journalists would shut up!

it cannot get worse

so why not voting to the party of Beppe Grillo in the next Italian elections? hypothesises the patron of my dearest luncheon place.

As regrettable as it is that some politicians would abuse the trust we place on them and fall to corruption, there are many others who do a good job. A democracy is not given, like oxygen in the air. A democracy needs a great deal of keeping. And yes, it can get worse. It can get way worse. Italy, with all its political corruption and problems, is a democracy in the EU. Many countries would give all they have to be in Italy’s place in the global politics.

We citizens with our rights and duties, have to now and then spare a thought on the delicate and yet strong balance of institutions that make up the political statu quo of our democracies. It is but for the ingenuity and effort of thousands of people and the legacy of other thousands that we have functioning countries to live in. That we are entitled to the rule of law. That we have roads and railroads, streets and street lighting, police and firefighters, hospitals and medical doctors, electricity, water and heating in our houses.

We have a great responsibility to care for what have been given to our generation, after centuries of fight and sacrifice, for each and every right we enjoy nowadays. Hence, yes, it can go way worse. It never was, and it is not today neither the time for complacency nor for voting questionable demagogues. We have already one too many of those in the world.

“Beppe Grillo, leader of the populist Five Star Movement in Italy, prides himself on his ridicule of the parliamentary system. Yet while his anti-establishment rhetoric sounds appealing, at heart it’s actually anti-democratic. And very similar to that of an infamous Italian from the past.”

Der Spiegel (March 15th, 2013)

becoming invisible

In former times, the worst possible punishment a society could impose on an individual was being sentenced to invisibility. Ayla was thus sentenced by her clan in Jean Marie Auel’s “The clan of the cave bear“. Without the support of the cavemen society, life would normally meet an end for a social being as the Neanderthal were. Our strength lays in social interaction and thus our survival. It is hence no wonder that social isolation afflict us in a special irreflexive way today.

One widespread mode of social isolation is what elderly experience as they pass the age when they are regarded as “customers”. In a capitalist economical system—as well as the communist implementation that history records (E. Fromm), an individual may be regarded as a customer as long as this individual will actively engage in economical activities by exchanging money for services and goods. As long as each of us is seen as a potential customer we do enjoy social awareness and we feel part of the whole. But as soon as we come to fit into the type of individual that is no more seen as a potential customer, society will loose interest on us, up to the point when we will feel socially isolated. It is often for this reason that people reaching their retirement age will feel anxiety and look for workarounds to still feel useful and part of the society.

It is unfortunate and a sign of our shortcomings as a society, that we let our elderly live their life in anxiety. Those people who built the world we are now living on. That created the basement of what things we are today ourselves building. We should be reminded that this fate is waiting for all of us “customers” too, unless we start doing something about it now.

There is an untapped potential in our elderly, waiting for us to channel it. Our mobile and modern lifestyle rendered them away from the traditional family environment, but our technology can bring them back where they always belonged for a very needed role that our children today, as much as ever, long and need in order to grow as whole persons.

the new lords of the new world

Back in the nineties, unchecked by most, Google and Amazon started to be. At the turn of the century, Facebook and Twitter became the place to hang out for a new generation of people. Those were among the first companies who took the potential of internet and rethought the way we researched information, shop, kept in contact with each other and shared news. And this, on its own, became a breakthrough of innovation that changed the way we lived.

Yet a huge social change was about to occur, that no one would have imagined. Despised by most, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007. Shortly after, Samsung followed suit with Google’s Android OS. A paradigm change happened that expanded like a wildfire over the US and Europe and fueled those very same Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter who moved over their platforms to this new category of personal computers. And the world changed, for ever.

At a point, those internet companies became advertising moguls, the day after they became a political issue. An issue of such size that neither the young and talented Silicon Valley nor the political class in the capitals could even imagine how to tackle. The former because of lack of political knowledge and expertise, the later because of lack of understanding what those platforms were and meant.

Here we are, we people, navigating a world that suddenly blew up in size and complexity. Even if our political class is catching up, we are now living times of wilderness. Millions of people are devoting hours every day working for internet platforms without knowing it. By tagging pictures in Instagram, giving up our business network to LinkedIn, or giving out our most inner thoughts to Google search or our most private conversations to Facebook. We have given so much private information to Google and Facebook that they stopped being interested on harvesting any more of it.

Millions of people are confused with the late affluence of news outlets and lost their judgement about what to read, what is right and what is questionable. And dark agents are operating in social media targeting people one by one to change their perception of the reality.