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Ben McLeish - Futurists, Technology and Cultural Lag - London Z-Day, 2010

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Ben McLeish- Z-Day 2010 Futurists - Technology - Cultural Lag The 20th century cultural theorist Walter Benjamin writing in 1940, expressed a certain sentiment towards modernity that came to be known as the shock of the new. Writing about Paul Klee's painting 'Angelus Novus', Benjamin wrote "Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned towards the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead and make whole that which has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from paradise. It has got caught in his wings and with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned." Benjamin would eventually be forced to flee Nazi occupied Germany the same year. The historical context of the man's life certainly lends an understanding to the devastation he envisioned in Klee's rather simple painting. My aim here today is not to speak to you about the past or about art but about the role of technology in society and to spend a little time discussing what exactly technology is and how it interacts with our culture at present and where it's headed. One of the many ways we'll look at technology is through a loose and often unrelated group of individuals from many backgrounds called futurists. In the arena of technology, a futurist might be understood best as an individual who extrapolates future possibilities and scenarios based on how technology is actually developing and not simply extrapolating from present-day norms of society and the perceived 'way things are'. We will quickly see what a huge difference this makes. A lot of what you hear today, if you are unfamiliar with the actual state of technology and how it develops or maybe you are just not used to thinking about it like I was (like I wasn't used to thinking about it, rather) you might feel a bit like Benjamin's 'Angel of History'. You might feel kind of pushed back by it and taken aback by what you hear. And being one of the early speakers of this event I wanted to attempt to offer some tools and ground work for the new ears to help contextualize what is being addressed here as well as hoping to engage some of the more seasoned followers that I already spotted outside. Ultimately it is our ability to be open and flexible not just to new information but to new ways of thinking no matter how alien they may seem at the time. This will give us the power to advance in the most rapid and positive way. It may also seem to you as it did to me that we simply don't have the means to achieve what we want to. This too is false and it should become obvious over the course of today's talks just how far behind we are as a society from what we have now as a species made possible through technological and scientific progress. What is technology? Is it the latest gadget? Is technology the newest web start-up? Is it personified by the newest social network application? (Audience laughs at image displayed). It's my favorite slide. Those are certainly by-products of the latest technology but they're not technology itself. Certainly the question "What is technology?" almost feels as vague and infuriating as "Why am I here?" or "What is the meaning of life?" This is probably due to the fact that the average citizen has never really needed to define the word technology in any precise sense. Just as with the word "life" is simply an ever-present term in our lives, nebulous, used in many forms and in many contexts so that a direct explanation of its meaning isn't deemed necessary. A shared understanding is simply accepted and assumed even if many of us would disagree about what our internal definition of technology is or struggle to find a definition at all. This lack of an objective explanation about what technology is and the misunderstandings that arise from it are having a huge negative impact upon our culture and our ability to progress as a global society. Let's define and contextualize what technology actually is. In attempting this, it's helpful to look at the works of Ray Kurzweil one of today's most important futurists, who spent more than three decades studying the overall patterns of human innovation as well as being the inventor of the first text-to-speech device for the blind and many other things. Looking back through the evolutionary process on our planet very specific patterns of development can be seen and not just in the development of what we term 'nature'. This slide shows the advancement of various key events within pre-history to modern history, starting at the top left. That's life beginning on this planet. Nature's evolution of RNA and then ultimately of DNA took billions of years. That takes you to the second a point on that graph. The Cambrian explosion followed this and was a period where there was a relatively rapid expansion and appearance over a period of tens of millions of years of most major groups of complex animals beginning around 530 million years ago. This was accompanied by a major diversification of other organisms including animals and Phytoplankton. Before about 580 million years ago most organisms were simple composed of individual cells, occasionally organizing into colonies. Over the following 70-80 million years, the rate of evolution accelerated and the diversity of life began to resemble today's. This accelerated rate of diversification was enabled by the fact that each step forward used the existing evolved tools such as DNA, which allowed the body plans of many diverse animals to be accelerated by 200 times that of the evolution of DNA itself. Homo sapiens was essentially the first technology-creating species which combined cognitive functions with an opposable appendage. It's interesting that that's actually a sign of positivity because it's essentially the reason why we're even here. And it took several hundred thousand years by comparison with the previous stage. The shift from primates to homo sapiens also required fewer refinements than the diverse body plans seen in the Cambrian explosion. The joint on the thumb was moved about an inch leading to a firmer grip and our skulls grew larger at the expense of a weaker jaw. If you think about it, it makes sense. As the first and only species on this planet with access to the kinds of cognitive functions that we have our jaws can be weaker than those of primates as we develop the tools to crack nuts and manipulate food and we don't need to bite to defend ourselves (at least not as much). [Laughter] The first step in our technological evolution as a species which included stone tools, fire, and the wheel lasted about 10,000 years. Compare that with the evolutionary time of DNA creation or even the Cambrian explosions. We're into the tens of thousands of years now rather than millions or billions. You'll also notice that we're already half way through Kurzweil's graph which is there. I'll make it a little bit bigger for you. Our existing technologies then became the enablers of more advanced technologies: manipulation of metals rudimentary construction and archiving technologies such as books which store, to some extent the instructions for our technologies to be passed on for use by each new generation and built upon. The printing press took only a century to be adopted. Mobile phones took around 7 years to be adopted on a worldwide level by comparison (that excludes the hilarious 'bricks' that only three people had in the 1970s) in terms of mass adoption it was about 7 years. Within the recent 100 years or so our computers have now reached a staggering rate of development. We've doubled the price, performance, capacity and speed of our computers every 15-18 months. And they are adopted on a constant level in everyday hardware. The exponential rate of acceleration relies on the current state of technology to produce the next stage. To understand this cumulative rate of development I'm going to show you this data on Kurzweil's graph in a linear format. This graph is logarithmic which means (and I'm not a math major) rather than being a linear projection like: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 we're actually jumping up in factors of 10. We're actually jumping down if you go from left to right. The space of time between 10 to the power of 10 and 10 to the power of 9 10 to the power of 2, to 10 to the power of 1 the first one is 9 billion years on that section of the graph. The last step is only a hundred years, so it gives you an idea that it's got that kind of element to it. Looking at this development in a linear fashion does make it look like nothing much has happened until the last 100 years. Show this to people who tell you that scientific and technological advances are mostly luck or by chance or serendipitous: it just simply isn't. That's the result of a linear fashion that we experience in the short lifetimes that we have. We think they move fairly slowly. But unless we're getting exponentially more lucky every year (which seems unlikely) this is exactly how our innovations look. For example, that is where we begin to walk upright and use specialized stone tools. The wheel was invented here. Everything that we have since then pretty much relies on wheels and it's happened in what appears to be almost no time at all. The exponential rate at which nature evolved each step on top of the last is continued in our evolution of technology. This is what technology is: a natural progression of the increase in sophistication of life on this planet by means other than natural selection by nature. To truly understand what technology is, is to understand that it is part of nature, an organic developmental tendency of human life. Our inventions and advances are not unnatural. They are utterly expected given that we solve the problems we come to face in the natural world with them. As the only species of life in nature survive because of their body plans behaviors and genetic predispositions allow their continued survival so technology adapts and advances with the challenges and problems we face now. Technology is also the incremental development of tools which allow us to exceed our physical and mental possibilities and advance at much greater speeds in all areas of knowledge. However, with this exponential rate of technological innovation outlined you may be asking yourself the same question I asked when I came across it and that is: Where is my hover board? If our technology is advancing so quickly our society and culture is not developing at a similar rate along with it given it is born of the evolutionary requirements. Why is that? Why are our motorways clogged, our buildings defunct, hard to upgrade and made of materials that wear out quickly? While it is true that a great deal of change has occurred in the last 10 years the rate is nowhere near that of a society in line with exponential increase in innovation and new applications of technology in Kurzweil's second graph, or the first. On the whole, our society lags behind by comparison with what we are actually capable of. When explaining this, the first and most important factor to address is this mistrust of technology that we have as a civilization. Douglas Adams, the author of "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" (who really drew me, an English student, into science) said this: "Anything that's in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're 15 and 35 is new exciting and revolutionary, and you could probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're 35 is against the natural order of things." Our overriding distrust of technology and fear of it is one of the principal blockades in exponential social growth. This stems from many mechanisms that either exist within the society structure which essentially exert pressure on the populace to maintain the established order of things. Some others are accidental or deliberate by-products of the perceptions we draw from being exposed to that society and these need to be addressed in order to be adequately discussed when considering the future. I like this because Google is a very good "finger on the pulse" of what we're looking for. The fact that 'technology is destroying humanity' comes up there is great. Also '[technology] is indistinguishable from magic.' I quite like that one as well. The most understandable reason for technophobia lies in the existence of something Simon mentioned called 'technological unemployment'. Machines have since the agricultural revolution rapidly and methodically replaced human labor force in certain areas and increasingly in more and more areas of society. Keynes said it best. He said "We're being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers have not yet heard the name but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come namely technological unemployment. This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economizing the use of labor outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labor." If you look at the US historical labor statistics by sector it shows the pattern of machine automation replacing human labor definitively. In the agricultural sector, almost all traditional workflow is now done by machine. For example in 1949, machines did 6% of the cotton harvesting in the South. By 1972, 100% of the cotton harvesting was done by machines. In 1860, 60% of America worked in agriculture while today it's less than 3%. When automation fully hit the US manufacturing sector in the 1950s 1.6 million blue-collar jobs were lost in 9 years. That sounds like a lot doesn't it? Just remember, that's 9 years and 1.6 million. In 1950, 33% of US workers worked in manufacturing while by 2002, there was only 10%. The US steel industry from 1982 to 2002 increased production from 75 million tons to 120 million tons while steelworkers employed actually went from 289,000 to 74,000. In 2003, a study was done by the world's largest 20 economies ranging from the period of 1995 to 2002 finding that 31 million manufacturing jobs were lost while production rose by 30%. This is very powerful information. It clearly crystallizes the obvious pattern of human job displacement by technological innovation. This pattern of increasing productivity coupled with decreasing employment is a new and powerful phenomenon, showing among many other things the incredible merit of the ability to automate. Where have the jobs gone? They've gone to the service sector. By 2002, the percentage of Americans employed in the service industries was 82%. For the last 50 years, the service sector has been absorbing the job losses from agriculture and manufacturing. Unfortunately this pattern is slowing fast as the computerized automation takes hold here as well. From 1989 to 1993 banks cut 37% of their human tellers and by the year 2000, 90% of all bank customers used teller machines. Business phone operators now have almost completely been replaced by computerized voice answering systems, much to our joy. Post office tellers are being replaced by self-service machines while cashiers are being replaced by computerized kiosks. There isn't one area of the service industry that isn't being affected by computerized automation. If we think creatively about the application of technology that currently exists that's not yet applied to the service sector we can easily see how the majority of all service jobs could be phased out now. Economist Stephen Roach has warned "The service sector has lost its role as America's unbridled engine of job creation." Where is the emerging new sector to employ all the newly displaced workers? There really isn't one, at least not yet. Even if there was one that it doesn't really matter it would just end up delaying the inevitable. From the elevator man to human phone operators almost all once existing agricultural positions right through to the near full automation of the manufacturing of cars a big issue in this country: Technological unemployment has become a major part of modern life. While we are based in a monetary system that rewards labor with financial stability, there will be a growing distrust mistrust and resentment in machines and automation the very tools that we originally designed to make our lives more productive and less tedious. Take a trip on the Docklands Light Railway one day in southeast London the driver of the train is likely to walk past you during the trip. (I don't know if anyone's done this, but they actually do that) It's an automated network of trains guided by sensors and central management. Counter intuitively, this is actually safer than human drivers. Given GPS technology and guidance systems sophisticated enough to fly missiles to within a foot of the desired target it's amazing how many drivers of anything we have anymore. I was on the DLR about two months ago. This guy walked past me and I guessed he was driver and I said "Are you the driver?" He said "Yeah, absolutely." He looked a bit worried and I said "I'd heard about that, and I was just wondering if it was true or not." He said “ Well, you don't seem upset and that's a good thing because about 2 weeks ago, there was woman on the train who realized that there was no driver sitting up front. She burst into tears and became uncontrollable and hysterical." He had to get a guy from central office to come down and be the driver to just sit there because we have that kind of association that human somehow is good in terms of technological exactness whereas a decent integrated system of transport is much better than humans, just because of the way we are. Machines not only take our jobs, they seem to take our lives too. Today war and instability around the world is becoming ever more high-tech. The ever-decreasing numbers of soldiers on the ground are being replaced with an increase in automated warfare. Missiles and smart bombs seem to take on a life of their own. Automated robots designed to identify and kill humans can now operate autonomously. Biological and chemical warfare has made it possible for even worse horrors in this world and it's generated a fear in physical danger to technological developments. This means there now exists the kind of misapplied technology that could see to it that the next world war would be the human race's final act. This is now relayed by embedded journalists through multimedia systems to our living room, all thanks to technology, misapplied. Computer games that re-enact war scenes are ever more sophisticated. Unmanned drones even bring that remote-control virtual-reality aspect back into real war games enabling murder from afar. No wonder we don't trust technology. This is how we presently use it on each other. The second mechanism as to why we lag far behind in what is technologically possible and relates to the monetary system, as technological unemployment rises is the need for cyclical consumption. This table shows what is meant by that and at present this buying-selling cycle is the cornerstone for the way we operate worldwide, no matter what name of the market system is used, whether it's communist, socialist capitalist. It is all based on this. The overriding model of all production and consumption as we presently structure it means that a business owner or employer pays an employee to work. That work means the creation of a product or service that can then be sold to the consumer at a profit. The money from this transaction then theoretically goes back to the employer. They cross. You can have employers that have employees and some of the money will go to somebody or something else, but essentially that cycle remains. It just happens to be parallel. This buying-selling cycle presupposes the consistent need to purchase any good or service on a regular basis in order to keep the structure from breaking down. What's the result of this cyclical consumption? It means that nothing physically produced can ever maintain a lifespan longer than what can be endured in order to maintain the needed turnover. In other words, everything produced must break down in a respective amount of time in order to continue the financial circulation needed to power the economy. This comes in the form of 'planned obsolescence'. It's not a new term. It's been around for quite long time. Planned obsolescence is essentially the deliberate withholding of efficiency so the product in question breaks down respectively fast and then you have to buy another one or upgrade it. In order to keep this cycle going, two inefficiencies need to be consistently maintained: Either a product needs to be designed with many versions in its life cycle (look at the number of Blackberry phones or laptops you can buy in the open market. People will always pick on the I-pod the amount of different types we've had in the seven years it's been around.) or an indirect inefficiency which exists in the product. Either of these two are called 'planned obsolescence'. Planned obsolescence in a second sense may be the inclusion of sub-optimal technologies in your computer that need to be upgraded in the future. It can be manifested in the need of manufacturing costs and materials of any given product to be as low as possible to maximize the profits. Build something out of cheap materials, cut corners and the item will break down. Simply put, maximum efficiency, the ability to repeatedly upgrade all the products successfully with newer technologies and the building of any item out of the best possible materials and in the most lasting way, stands in direct opposition to the profit mechanisms to dictate any company's future. For if you build a car that lasts 80 years with minimal servicing that could run at 80 mph on one battery charge for a thousand miles and didn't need conventional refueling what would happen to the auto repair industry or to the car company which cannot afford an 80-year gap between individual unit sales? What would happen to the fuel companies if fuel was used with maximum efficiency? We all know what happens. Hyper-efficient non-corroding cars which are programmed not to crash into each other have existed for a very long time. These are the creations of Jacque Fresco that you're looking at a futurist whose work I'll detail in just a moment (and yes, whose 94th birthday is today.) These will never go on sale. There is no aftermarket value in something built to last. There is no money in the problem of hyper-optimal transport and thus we remain behind the curve. Are you familiar with this story? Toyota's recent troubles are not the result of an evil company. You have to understand that. It is to be expected from a manufacturer of cars whose main incentive in survival hinges upon profit at all cost. Toyota doesn't want you to crash. They want to sell you a car but production costs need to be low. Flaws appear for whatever reason mostly production costs or design flaws. They lose millions while people lose their lives. The bottom line is that efficiency and optimization must remain outside of our technological landscape so long as we have to satisfy the profit mechanism as individuals and as corporations. Mechanism Three is the technology lag that can be loosely termed 'The Sci-Fi factor.' This can be summed up best as the automatic subconscious rejection of highly advanced science and application of technology through the conditioning of popularized and often misinformed science fiction in public culture. I've got some good examples I'm pretty sure we all know which would prove a point. To demonstrate how this perception plays out I'll turn to our second futurist Jacque Fresco, an inventor, industrial designer and social engineer whose lifelong work (and it is twice the lives of the ones that we've led) at the helm of The Venus Project dedicated to building true sustainable models of society is best summed up as follows: It is common in our mass media to read and hear commentators talk about the number of social problems that face us today such as global warming, the destruction of the Earth's environment unemployment, crime, violence, poverty, hunger and the population explosion. How often do you hear of workable plans for alleviating many of the social problems? It is relatively simple for people to criticize society. It is much more difficult to identify and implement plans to resolve the problems. The plans for The Venus Project offer society a broader spectrum of choices based on the scientific possibilities directed towards a new era of peace and sustainability for all through the implementation of a resource economy and a multitude of innovative and environmentally-friendly technologies directly applied to the social system. The Venus Project proposals will dramatically reduce crime, poverty, hunger, homelessness and many other pressuring problems that are common throughout the world today. One of the cornerstones of the organization's findings is that many of the dysfunctional behaviors of today's society stem directly from the dehumanizing environment of a monetary system. Automation has resulted in the technological replacement of human labor by machines and eventually, most people will not have the purchasing power to buy the goods and services turned out. The Venus Project proposes a social system in which automation and technology would be intelligently integrated into an overall social design where the primary function would be to maximize the quality of life rather than profits. This project also introduces a set of workable and practical values. This is in perfect accord with the spiritual aspects and ideals found in most religions throughout the world. What sets The Venus Project apart is that it proposes to translate these ideals into a working reality. We call for a cybernated society. That's the quickest way of saying it. Before we take a look at what Fresco's vision actually is let me ask you "What did you immediately think of when you saw and heard this phrase 'We believe or call for a cybernated society'?" Did you, like me when I first heard it think of... This? Or perhaps this? Hands up if you thought of this. A big fan of 'The Matrix' will. The word 'cybernated' sounds inherently dangerous, doesn't it? Why is that? What you've just experienced is called a 'cultural filter'. The constant association of the word 'cybernation' or 'cybernated' with Hollywood-starred murder machines out to kill humans for no other reason than global dominance is so heavily ingrained in our heads that the word cybernation even sounds negative when not even surrounded by a context. This is an emotional response with no basis in reality. There is no such thing as a malevolent machine only malevolent applications of technology with the arms companies of this world already doing that. The idea of innate mechanized evil is a huge misunderstanding by almost everyone alive today because we have all been subjected to the brainwashing by various sources mostly Hollywood, but we all do it in some way. A hammer is not a negative technology unless it's used deliberately to inflict harm. The same is true of a robot. Being essentially a technological extension of ourselves sometimes made in our own image, sometimes not for reasons of efficient design for the task it's matched to. Robots will do what they're designed to do. Naturally as mentioned briefly before, robots used in war will kill humans but that's the application of technology for negative ends. It is obeying humans when it does that. It is up to us to push positive applications for robotics and technology for the betterment of society. Just to make it clear how ridiculously fictional this Sci-Fi effect is, consider this and realize that a truly optimal killing machine would definitively not look like a human because it's quicker to move on wheels. What exactly do we mean by a cybernated society then? Fresco gives a decent example: In the early days of airline flight when requesting his position in the sky the pilot would guess, looking out the window and say "About a mile high." These days, such behavior on the part of the pilot would be utterly unacceptable and probably terrifying. With the introduction of Doppler radar and automated communication systems we know to within a few inches how high a plane is and don't even have to manually request it from the pilots. That is the kind of cybernation we call for, applied widespread to all facets of society. Here's another example: Once there was the elevator man (we've mentioned him briefly already). The elevator man's job was to open and close the elevator doors direct the elevator to the correct floor, up or down and to stop the elevator at the right level to match the lip of the floor so you don't trip when you walk out. These days practically every lift in the world is automatic visiting the right floors in the right order opening the doors automatically and matching the floor level exactly. If the doors are closing and a person is in the way the doors will stop and reopen. That is cybernation at work in a very miniature scale. Will the lift one day consciously crush a human that tries to enter it before deliberately and maliciously going to the wrong floor and misaligning at the floor level so the crushed and misdirected person trips over on the way out? Or as Fresco himself says: "If you smash one laptop in front of a 100 other laptops will they care? Will they rise up against you?" These are the illogical absurdities of the Sci-Fi factor at work. Cybernated society: employing social systems that are designed to make our lives better enable us to perform tasks more accurately and more efficiently and even those tasks that we can't even do at all like look at electrons. When you look particularly at that last couple of examples it's designed to relieve humanity of the dull, dreary and repetitive jobs that purely exist for now until our technology can automate them like we've done with the elevator. A society without a vision of what the future can be is bound to repeat past errors over and over again. This brief video will outline a vision designed to avoid old mistakes. This vision of efficiency, sustainability and intelligent planning can lead us into a world of unlimited human potential. This vision could be a showcase of what the world can be in our cybernated age. Science and technology could be used for human betterment and the restoration and protection of the environment serving as an example of the intelligent application of the systems approach. While some people advocate the restoration of existing worn out cities these efforts fall short of the potentials of modern technology. Modifying outmoded cities simply delays the inevitable problems. It is actually much easier in the long run to build newer cities from the ground up than to restore and maintain the old ones. A total city-system approach requires overall planning to obtain a higher standard of living for the occupants. The circular arrangement efficiently permits the most sophisticated use of available resources and construction techniques with a minimum expenditure of energy. The outer perimeter will be part of the recreational area with golf courses, hiking and biking trails and other outdoor activities. Inside this area, a waterway surrounds the agricultural belt with indoor and outdoor agriculture. Continuing toward the city center, eight green sectors provide clean renewable sources of energy using wind solar and heat concentrators. The residential district would include unique landscaping lakes and winding streams. A wide range of creative and innovative apartment buildings and individual homes will provide many options for the occupants. New and innovative methods of fast, mass-construction for housing and building systems will inject composite materials into the mold and then extrude the form upward. In some cases, multiple city apartments can be produced as continuous extrusions which are then separated into individual units. The apartments are lightweight and high strength. All of the dwellings are designed as self-contained residences. The outer surface of these efficient structures serve as photovoltaic generators converting solar radiation directly into electricity for heating, cooling and other needs. The thermocouple effect will also be used for generating energy. These individual homes are prefabricated and relatively maintenance free fire resistant and impervious to weather. With this type of construction, there would be minimal damage from floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. Their thin-shelled construction can be mass produced efficiently with little environmental restriction. Adjacent to the residential district are the planning science and research centers. The eight domes surrounding the central dome house the art music, exhibition, entertainment and conference centers. The central dome houses schools healthcare, access centers, communications networking. It is also the core for most transportation services which move people by transveyors horizontally vertically and radially anywhere in the city. This minimizes the need for automobile transportation except for emergency vehicles. Transportation between cities would be by monorail or Maglev. Waste recycling and other services are beneath the city. The plan will use the best of clean technology in harmony with the surrounding environment. The central dome also houses the cybernated complex which serves as the brain and nervous system of the entire city. It might project a 3D virtual image of Earth using satellite communication systems which provide information on weather, agriculture transportation and overall functionality. This cybernated system will use environmental sensors to help maintain a balanced-load economy which avoids overruns and shortages. For example, in the agricultural belt electronic probes monitor and maintain the water table soil conditions, nutrients and more. This method of electronic feedback can be applied to the entire city system. With computers now able to process trillions of bits of information per second they are vital for arriving at more appropriate decisions for the management of the cities. Colonization of the oceans is one of the last frontiers remaining on earth. Prodigious ocean city communities will evolve as artificial islands floating structures, undersea observatories and more. These large marine structures are designed to explore the relatively untapped riches of the oceans provide improved mariculture, freshwater production, energy and mining. They could also provide almost unlimited riches in pharmaceuticals chemicals, fertilizers, minerals and other energies. Ocean cities would be resistant to earthquakes and greatly relieve land-based population pressures. Unsinkable floating sea domes will provide for those who prefer unique offshore or island living. In the event of inclement weather they could easily be towed ashore mounted and anchored to elevated support structures. Mariculture and sea-farming systems are used to cultivate and raise fish and other forms of marine life to help meet nutritional needs. These marine enclosures are designed as non-contaminating integral parts of the ocean system. A sustainable environment can be achieved through the infusion of technology and cybernetics applied with human and environmental concern to secure protect and encourage a more humane future. In the final analysis, we are one people and we share one planet. To conclude: We must call for the upgrading of all aspects of society to the most present-day automation and technological practices. It is time to free ourselves of the repetitive, pointless or unnecessary tasks that our present-day system produces and requires. We have to defeat our shock of the new to get past this Sci-Fi notion the fear of technology and change and instead welcome and embrace real sustainable practices the world over. By realizing that slight modifications to our present system will do nothing while we base our processes behaviors and decisions on monetarism of any kind nothing will change and the age-old problems of war, poverty and politics (the last being the worst of course) will remain with us. We must learn to see our society as emergent, continually improving and changing, building upon what we have discovered even if it means rewriting those things we once held sacred or dear. We once burned people at the stake for suggesting that our solar system is heliocentric rather than geocentric. The same shifts will happen over and over again, and we must learn not to resist but move with those truths that we discover and prove through the scientific method. And finally, each and every one of us needs to demand the acceptance of what our society actually is. It always was, and always will be a global society, one human race one set of problems that affect us all and that we must share in the attempted resolution of those issues as we share in the problem itself. Walter Benjamin attempted to flee Nazi-occupied France into Spain with the ultimate aim of heading to America. On the 27th of September 1940 at the Spanish-French border town of Portbou his party was denied access into Spain which would've been the watershed to their freedom. Benjamin took his own life that night at the place he was staying. It is thought an overdose of morphine was the case. Defeated by the system the world lost yet another great thinker to be consoled only by his writings which remained. Benjamin is still in Portbou today. I'm reminded of Benjamin's fate a great deal when I look at our situation. His final journey very much forms a parallel with where we are headed as a race, should we not decide each for ourselves and then together to drop this corrupt, paralyzing system we have the world over and replace it with a system of efficiency, abundance resource management and global partnership and the best that technology truly has to offer us. I sincerely hope that when we reach our own border we will have dismantled the barriers first. We have the means to do so. Now we have to undergo the hardest revolution of all: It's a revolution in your own mind a shift in the cultural and social spirit of the age: The Zeitgeist. Our movement is now one year old now with some 362,000 members worldwide. Today is only the third instance of this, our yearly event with 320 relatively simultaneous events worldwide and we're just getting started. I hope I've helped introduce the broad strokes of what is possible and why we are where we are now. Thank you. [Applause]

Video Details

Duration: 40 minutes and 20 seconds
Year: 2010
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Producer: Ben McLeish
Views: 291
Posted by: ltiofficial on Sep 3, 2011

Lecture on futurists, the current state of technology and the culture lag holding us back from developing fully and equally as a global society.

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