The proliferation of technology has sped up exponentially with time. As our lives become more intertwined with machines, attention spans and personal interactions have continued to diminish. In response to a nonstop stream of information our minds are more scattered than earlier generations of people. There is no evolutionary or historical precedent for our current exposure to complex information. The 36 hour news cycle is a thing of the past; we are becoming increasingly obsessed with rapid consumption of information and resources. Our obsession with technology has created a world that now teeters on the edge of disaster.
We live under the constant threat of nuclear war and the press of a button can drastically alter the nature of existence on this planet. Now individuals wield the power to cause mass destruction. We must slow down the rapidity of our technological proliferation so we can control it and make it work for us rather than letting it spiral out of control. Without understanding and controlling our technologies we are creating consequences faster than we can fully assess the problems that these innovations cause.
In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, a groundbreaking book about the corruption of the global financial system, John Perkins recounts a version of the ancient legend of the eagle and the condor. This is a tale that Perkins gained while spending time with traditional cultures in South America. The story represents an ancient understanding of necessary equilibrium in the world where the rational scientific side of humanity, represented by the eagle, is balanced with the primordial spiritual side represented by the condor. Either the two birds will rip each other apart or will fly together, in harmony, ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity. The meaning of the metaphor is found in balancing of the ingenious creative forces that allow us to invent new technology with the wisdom of humanity that we see in prudent decisions and harmonious existence in the world.
In this video clip Martin Rees discusses the challenges that face man in the 21st century.