"Progress" often makes life worse, but we claw back quality of life.
The history of civilization has seen a number of innovations completely change the human way of life. Each major change creates enormous real wealth, but also comes at a great cost to health and well-being.
For example, the shift from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to an agricultural way of life created a giant leap in food security, and enabled us to build large, permanent, useful buildings, villages, and cities. The existence of currency and trade centers allowed us to become more specialized in our work, leading to greater efficiency and higher quality goods.
" Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy." -- Benito Mussolini
Historically, prolonged extreme concentrations of wealth and outrageous income inequality tend to play out in two ways:
1) Violent Leftist/popular revolutions, such as the French Revolution, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and the Russian Revolution.
2) The rise of a Fascist state, as the elites use “fear of the other” to gain support for policies that suppress freedom and democracy, and increase coercive control of the impoverished masses. Fascism never rises without support of the elites.
In the United States, with its strong pro-capitalist institutions and values, we’re more at risk for fascism than we are for violent Leftist revolution. There are strong currents of popular fascism in the racist, xenophobic blatherings of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. More and more our lawmakers are controlled by corporate interests. Disturbing incidents where police and military are used against U.S. citizens are on the rise.
We are all cyborgs.
The day after Steve Jobs died our studio PowerMac started to show signs of failure. It wouldn’t shut down, it wouldn’t start up, kernel panics, etc. My first instinct when things are going to shit in computer land is to back everything up. It was also a good time to reevaluate my backup system.
We Are Cyborgs
Like it or not, we are all cybernetic creatures. Without machines, most of us would be barely functional. We use a combination of computer chips, hard drive and flash memory, user interfaces, global networks, and space satellites to help us communicate, navigate, think, remember, calculate, and create.
Artificial systems are slowly learning to protect themselves. Apple’s Time Machine is a good example — it’s a backup system you don’t have to think about. But we’re not entirely there yet — at this point in our technological evolution we still need to put some thought into how to protect our data (extra-brain memory).
A good backup system protects against:
I just got my test results back from 23andMe, a service that analyzes your DNA. I paid $100 for the service and agreed to a one year, $10/month subscription for updates on genetic research.
I’m impressed by the report they provided. It includes sections for disease risks (increased and decreased), carrier traits, responses to drugs, and traits (in the Traits section I learned that I’m “fast caffeine metabolizer” and a “likely sprinter”).