Date: Tue 19 Nov 2002 - 18:51:16 GMT
> An article I read about a year ago by a businessman who was selling to
> the global economy said that the greatest problem he had today was the
> pace of change. The world is changing so quickly that he couldn't use
> methods he learned at Harvard Business School to solve his business
> problems. They were obsolete before he graduated.
> I don't know how many of you have heard about Ray Kurzweil and his
> theory of the singularity, which he expounds upon in his book,
> Spiritual Machines, but in it he shows that the world is changing
> through technology at an exponential rate. Technologies capable of
> changing the paradigms of our existence are being released at an
> ever-increasing speed. At some time in the near future (he figures
> between 2020 and 2030) the computer will become smarter than humans
> and will start designing new machines that are beyond our
> The same pace of change is taking place in the fields of biology,
> genomics, physics, economics and every other field that is affected by
> the use of computers. This, to my mind, is the root cause of the
> clash of cultures. We are moving into the future at something
> approaching the speed of light and a lot of people in the world don't
> want to go with us. Change scares people. They can't or don't want
> to cope with it. It takes a lifetime just to adjust to the world we
> already know, and it looks like the planet is spinning out of control.
> In just a couple of decades, the crops we harvest have been changed
> genetically in countries all over the world. Nearly 75% of the
> soybeans grown in the world are GM products. China is training over
> 200,000 biologists to try and catch up with the West in this field.
> The country that is trying to become part of the new world doesn't
> have time to fight long drawn-out wars with its neighbors nor to sit
> around and let the infrastructure go to hell and its citizens remain
> ignorant. As the Red Queen said to Alice, it will take all the
> running they can do just to stay even.
> That, to my mind, is the main reason some people are trying to stop
> the world from running away from them. The 14th century seems like
> something they can understand and live with. The 21st century
> doesn't. There's more to Macdonalds and Wallmart than just hamburgers
> and french fries. It is a way of controlling the market and driving
> the little guy out of it. It is a technology that is more efficient
> than the old mom and pop way of doing things. Cows slaughtered in
> Chicago end up in hamburgers in Beijing a month or less later. The
> golden arches use so much beef they can control prices all over the
> world. I think this is the kind of domination the more backward and
> slower moving countries resent.
> I saw a show the other week on an African country trying to stave off
> starvation by growing chocolate for the market in Europe. People were
> processing the beans for chocolate with a wooden pestle in a hollowed
> out tree stump. What they didn't realize is that no matter how much
> more they get for their product, it won't be able to compete with
> modern production and marketing methods. Someone in another country
> will find a more efficient way to do it and the Africans will continue
> to starve.
> This is the kind of domination that is scaring the hell out of the
> third world and the people being left behind by it. They see it as a
> religious issue, but that's just a small part of it. It's the way we
> in the west are changing the world and the rate at which we are
> changing it for a people who want to keep it the same -- like
> something they have grown accustomed to and feel like they can cope
> Customs that are based on the way the world was 500 or 1,000 years ago
> don't serve us well today. Genetically modified foods must be driving
> many of them crazy. Where in the Koran and Kosherdom to they fit in?
> Before the spiritual leaders of the world can make decisions about
> what is and is not kosher, the world is covered in crops that never
> existed before. Rice now has vitamin A, fish are being farmed and
> changed genetically to grow bigger and faster, corn contains its own
> insecticide and cattle can contain the genes of pigs. How can an
> old-world person know what they are putting in their bodies and how
> can they reconcile the new world with their religious beliefs?
> The short answer is that they can't. So they feel the new world is
> being forced on them against their will and the U.S. is the primary
> force driving the changes they can't accept. The people being
> affected see it in terms of religion rather than commerce and
> technology, but they feel they are being taken over by something
> ungodly and they feel helpless to do anything about it. So they
> strike out the only way they know how -- as their religion taught
> them. Like the prophet led them to take over the West under Islam.
> Like al Quaeda was able to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan.
> And we in the West are too busy competing in the global market to pay
> attention to their fears. We feel we have to move forward with all of
> our technologies. We can't take the time to make technology conform
> to religious belief. The culture that doesn't move forward will find
> itself too far back to catch up in a short period of time. If you are
> illiterate, you're locked out of the internet and the global market.
> Cars are becoming too complex for a third-world, back-yard mechanic to
> understand and fix. The whole world and the culture that underlies it
> is becoming too complex for the people who aren't running fast enough
> to keep up. And they resent it.
> And that's the crux of the battle in my mind. It won't matter how we
> try to appease the people in the countries that are being drowned in
> the rushing river of change. We won't be able to do it. They will
> resent the changes taking place and will blame us for them. They will
> be frustrated because they can't understand what's going on or what to
> do about it. They will see us as hegemonic invaders forcing our
> culture on them. And in a sense we are. But the river doesn't stop
> just because someone is drowning in it. And neither will we.
A fine post.
> _________________________________________________________________ STOP
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