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European Visions for the Knowledge Age

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European Visions for the Knowledge Age

A Quest for New Horizons in the Information Society

Paul T Kidd (Ed)
ISBN 978-1-901864-08-3 (Paperback)
Price: See buy on-line link



Chapter 16
Restarting the Evolutionary Drive
Roman Galar
History almost always follows trends. Sometimes old trends vanish and new ones emerge. And the shape of history is decided in these rare and relatively short periods. When envisioning the next 20 years, will there be a continuation of existing trends, or is one of these crucial periods of change looming ahead?
The latter option should be seriously considered. The sudden and unexpected demise of the Soviet Union brought about a uni-polar power structure, something that many find unbearably offensive, and dispelled the most obvious reason for international co-operation. The emergence of large-scale suicidal terrorism fundamentally challenges the logic of the consumer society, which assumes that there is nothing worth dying for. A number of trends that people have taken for granted, are dissipating in absurdity.
As anthropologists maintain, it was in Neolithic times when the important change in the direction of human progress occurred. The shift was from self-perfecting to face the challenges of the natural world, toward erecting barriers separating humankind from the external. As everybody realises, this way of development has proved to be extremely successful and amazing achievements accumulated in the process. Yet, the resulting bliss produced some nasty side effects. It is dangerous that modern society acts like a sanctuary, where punishment for stupidity is suspended. Amassed wealth is used to cushion people from consequences of irresponsible behaviour and reckless lifestyles. Alas, these consequences are not so much dealt with, as delayed and appear in the form of environmental issues, degradation of social capital, etc. It is also dangerous that many decisions on everyday issues get transferred to contexts so huge and complex that human intelligence cannot cope with them any longer, and has to be replaced by relatively crude procedures. As a result, the regulatory feedback between individual choices and their longer term effects, which was the dominant element of progress, barely works.
The hopeful expectation is that a relatively mild correction to the way society functions is still possible, and in effect the evolutionary drive of civilisation will be restored. It is argued that the development and spread of information and communication technologies may be the enabling circumstance.


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