The great de-acceleration

Apparently we are living in times of the great acceleration, with quantum computing and artificial intelligence. But the question is, who are we in these times and what do we value? We view the past as characterised by simplicity and that now we are moving through a time of complexity and polarization of political views and economic circumstances.

I would put forward that we are moving backwards, towards a conservative sense of security and control despite the increased pace and breadth of what we can do with technology and online. We have the optimism and idealism of Silicon Valley conflicting with the adolescent stage adoption that we have in how we use and express ourselves through social media and the digital public domain.

Is change scary and bewildering? Are we afraid of being on the wrong side of history? Can technology solve our problems rather than enabling our expressions of the self within the flawed moment that we are. These are questions that we ask without knowing that we are.

Healthcare, education and how we consume information will be profoundly shaped through artificial intelligence. However we are at the early stages of this. How do we imagine our future in this context?

Over time we will be in much more intelligent systems. Will we be more productive and efficient or will we be on a beach siping cocktails? What is human potential and what do we see as our ‘destiny’, if there was to be one.

Climate change tells us that we are over consuming our welcome and that our relationship to nature is grounded in competition and control rather than flourishing concept of collaboration and living with. Safety and risk is troubled by our depth of interconnection and global mobility.

Nothing is given. We want prosperity and improved quality of life. While we see the benefits, how can technology take us there? What do we need to understand on the spectrum between zero and one to realize this ‘there’? We don’t yet understand how. Simulations versus real world effects remain hypothetical.

Is progress our goal when there is no teleology. The modern agenda is fragile and only a desire.

Does privacy matter for us and is it a human right? How does trust factor in?

If we frame ourselves as stewards, where does responsibly lie? Is getting rich about owning the tools that profile mass populations or about providing mechanisms of privacy in response to the mass fear of the loss of the liberty of the self?

Is there a balance between encryption for privacy, platformised business models, monopoly behavior and forms of governance and global regulation. How does innovation flourish across these tensions?

Knowledge asymmetry has been the underpinning aspect of continued inequalities, particularly in its relationship to power. More so, however is its relationship to capitalism. Economic power is deeply imbricated with social stratifications such as class. For example, systemic reinforcement of capitalist drives towards economic growth makes a laughing stock of the concept of trickle down economics. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Can we ask, what alternative models may be possible?

Does our next generation need to adapt to technology? They have grown up with it, what does this mean?

How do our visions of the future replay our past rather than construct an alternative, adaptive and resilient future?

With this thought stream I have asked questions. In doing so the narrative is not aiming for coherence. Instead, I ask you, is getting faster the way to get to where want we to go? While the literature points to accelerationism, I’d like to point to the regressive forces of division, inequality and greed (or over consumption) that seem to be eating us out from the core. A future world needs scaffolding and care from the present one. Seeking to let us destroy what we have, provides no bridge to the future. I am not a fan of nihilism.

Slow down and let diverse voices and overlapping values have the time to work themselves out. We mature through our technology rather than jump from the past to the future.

There is no way to avoid the uncertain messy present. It is our only line to what the future brings. Let’s not forget it.


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