The third stage of cultural evolution came in 1974 when Bill Gates began work on the world’s first computer.
The Information Age began, and the digital world was born.
You would think we would bore ourselves to death with this level of consumption rampant, but instead, online courses and education have become a leading method of learning. “Instant Activism” through online campaigns allow us to research an organization, join their movement, and give our time or money to make a change.
Moore’s Law says that computing dramatically increases in power, and decreases in relative cost, at an exponential pace. In 40 years we won’t be spending two-twelfths online. Try six-twelfths. Half.
Is that really where we’re headed?
Cultural evolution no. 1, drawing, bled into digital form with visual effects, while eloquent no. 2, writing, was aided in reproducibility by word processors. Is “stage 3” the paragon that conforms all others to itself? If we’re seeing the height of cultural revolutions that all future ones learn from, we need to be cautious of its control. “…Great responsibility“, the old man said…
This shift necessitates organizations like The Center for Human Technology who are pushing Silicon Valley to reintroduce ethics into their software design.
If we are headed for a future where innovation is propelled by those who have the resources to adapt to a digital world, education and moderation are vital. Technology and social media come without “Drug Facts” labels despite having deeper addictive and detrimental effects than most drugs (The CHT created a “Ledger” of sociological effects for public awareness).
It’s revealing to discover that we no longer choose companies like Apple or Google to be “crucial” to our lives. They choose us. Or, more accurately, they choose our culture.
For better and worse, we are inundated in an “ecosystem” (a term actually used by technologists to refer to the phones, wearables, and other tech that a company employs to create an echo chamber of self-affirmation for their brand), and our maneuverability out of this system is dependent on our awareness of its existence.
We can play into a system profiting off attention or we can take steps to craft an intentional life.
My core thought is this: can we choose more of the things we bring into our lives instead of having them chosen for us?
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